Gluten: Another Fad or the Real Deal?

By Trevor Chetcuti on 14 Feb 2014
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Gluten - Another Fad or the Real Deal

We are becoming more and more aware of the impact gluten has on our diet
Photo: Ongjulian

Over the years we’ve seen many fads come and go when it comes to healthcare.

Things we should eat, things we shouldn’t, fruits from exotic locations, herbs, vitamins, minerals; the list goes on and on.

Recently, gluten has gained a lot of public attention due to its effect on our diet. We are seeing a rise in gluten free products, and conditions such as coeliac disease are becoming part of our common vocabulary.

But is Gluten Really a Big Problem, or is it Just Another Fad?

Gluten is a protein found in most of our grains. When we ingest gluten it joins to receptors on our intestinal track, releasing a substance known as zonulin.

This zonulin then causes the spaces between the cells in our intestine to widen, allowing substances, including gluten, to enter directly into our blood stream.

“The simple truth is that gluten is a substance that affects everyone in a different way.”

Our immune system launches an attack on the gluten protein, releasing antibodies that try to fight it off. In the meantime, gluten starts creating issues within our brain inhibiting the function of an enzyme called Glutamate Decarboxylase.

This enzyme is responsible for breaking down insulin and converting Glutamate, our main excitatory brain hormone, to GABBA, our main inhibitory brain hormone.

Everyone Has a Response to it

This response occurs in every single person who consumes gluten. However, the immune response can be exaggerated in those who have certain genetic mutations. These mutations are known as the HLA DQ2 and DQ8 mutations, both of which are now available to be tested through your GP.

This exaggerated response can predispose people to thyroid dysfunction and coeliac disease in addition to other symptoms often associated with gluten exposure such as anxiety, insomnia, neurological issues and moodiness.

Unfortunately, while gluten is known to create many issues that can now be explained biochemically and physiologically, most practitioners still only recognise gluten as a problem for coeliac sufferers.

Major sources of gluten

Photo: Emily Carlin

Why is Gluten Such a Problem Now?

Due to the manipulation of wheat in the post-World War II era, the concentration of gluten in wheat is greater than it was in the past.

However, the milling of many other gluten-free substances on equipment that is used to mill wheat has led to a cross contamination of many other products such as buckwheat.

“Unfortunately… most practitioners still only recognise gluten as a problem for coeliac sufferers.

The simple truth is that gluten is a substance that affects everyone in a different way.

That said, gluten has the potential to do harm to every individual, not just those suffering with coeliac disease.

No matter who you are, restricting your intake of gluten can only help to improve your health.

Major Sources of Gluten

Wheat
Rye
Barley
Spelt
Couscous
Malt

Hidden Sources of Gluten

Processed meats (such as sausages and ham)
Beer
Oats
Soy sauce
Marinades
Gravies
Sauces
Coated popcorn
Chips

More information can be obtained from the Coeliac Society of Australia.

About the Author

Dr Trevor has a passion for helping people that goes beyond what most people expect. He has a knack for getting to issues quickly and an amazing knowledge for all things health and wellbeing. With extensive study in areas such as Physiology, Nutrition, Supplementation, Applied Kinesiology, Neuro Emotional Technique and Chiropractic, Dr Trevor's skills at working with a wide range of health and performance issues have become widely respected.

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