The nutritional enemy that most of us don't truly understand.
By Gabriela P. Escarra
Gluten is found in wheat and other similar grains
Gluten is a glycoprotein or glucoprotein (molecules of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen combined with two types of proteins: glutein and gliadin). It is commonly found in foods that contain wheat, barley, spelled, farro, Kamut, bulgur, and oats, as well as pasta, cakes, bread, cookies, and muffins, among others.
At the time of cooking or when they are in contact with water, the two proteins bind to form what is known as gluten. This is a binding entity, meaning that its primary function is to bind molecules. An obvious example of this is the dough or mixture used to make bread.
In this combination, gluten is responsible for uniting all the ingredients and promoting the necessary elasticity and volume to the dough. It also has a structuring effect, which makes the dough retake its original shape after stretching. This is the reason why the use of gluten is so common in many recipes.
Foods rich in gluten can create an unbalance of the intestinal flora.
The harmful effects of gluten
The word gluten comes from the root "glu" which means glue. Therefore, one can say that gluten has adhesive properties. In the human body, it creates a layer of mucous (a sticky mass) in the intestine. This inhibits the proper absorption of food, thus creating an imbalance (dysbiosis) of the intestinal flora.
Dysbiosis causes several maladies because it decreases the effectiveness of the immune system, creating a weakness in the body and leaving it without protective barriers to defend against any disease or virus.
Also, gluten directly affects the health of people with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder characterized by an inflammatory reaction in the mucous membrane of the small intestine that hinders the absorption of macro and micronutrients.
The consumption of this protein may also affect people with autism. In fact, a balanced diet free of gluten and dairy products can sometimes improve the behavior of individuals with autism.
There are plenty of gluten-free products in the market today.
There are a variety of foods suitable for those suffering from these pathologies as well as for those who want to start a balanced, gluten-free diet to improve their digestive and intestinal system. A good example is quinoa, a gluten free seed rich in protein, fiber, and omega 3 and 6. This seed can supply the consumption of pasta and even rice, which despite being gluten free, can become tiresome if we eat it too often. ■