What Is Gluten? An Overview

Gluten is a storage protein that occurs naturally mainly in Wheat, Barley, Rye, and Oats.

Wheat gluten has first appeared as an ingredient during the 6th Century in Chinese noodles. It’s popular in Chinese, Japanese, other East, and South Asian cuisines. Wheat bread is comprised of 75-85% gluten of total protein.

Use

  • They give chewy textures to their products.
  • It adds Supplementary protein in many vegetarian diets.
  • Chewier dough’s found in pizza and bagels are formed by further refining of gluten.
  • Pastry products are formed by less refining of gluten.
  • It’s used in cosmetics, dermatology, and hair products.

Why Gluten-Free Diet is Suggested ?

The peptides of gluten trigger Gluten related disorders. Now, what are these disorders? and what are the consequences they can cause to our bodies? Let’s take a look at those disorders and consequences.

Celiac Disease

This is caused by a reaction to gluten. Due to gluten exposure abnormal immune response is generated by production of autoimmune antibodies that affects different organs of the body.

Symptoms

  • This disease may develop at any age.
  • Symptoms include mild or absent gastrointestinal symptoms such as chronic diarrhea, abdominal distension, loss of appetite, malabsorption, and normal growth failure among children.

Consequences

  • 50 epitopes of gluten at least may produce cytotoxic, immunomodulatory, gut permeating activities.
  • The toxic peptides can cause cellular damage and elicit an innate immune response.
  • Cell apoptosis is a natural process but gluten in those patients affected by this disease increases cell apoptosis (programmed cell death) and interferon type I ( inflammatory mediator) production.
  • Those peptides also inhibit the synthesis of nucleic acid, proteins and reduce the cell viability.

Wheat Allergy

It’s a typical food allergy that involves immunoglobulin E and mast cell response. It is rare and prevalent in adults. Allergy is caused due to seed storage proteins in wheat.

Symptoms

  • Common symptoms are atopy, nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, urticaria, asthma, hay fever, angioedema.
  • Symptoms that occur rarely are depression, mood swings, arthritis, anaphylactic shock, bloated stomach, chest pains, diarrhoea, muscle and joint aches, palpitations, dizziness, swollen tongue or throat, psoriasis, irritable bowel syndrome(IBS).
  • Repeated exposure may cause severe reactions.

Consequences

The time-limited immune response does not cause any harm to the body tissues. (wheat allergy and coeliac disease are different).

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity

A condition of multiple symptoms that occurs when switched to a gluten-free diet, after coeliac disease and wheat allergy are excluded. It’s a common syndrome of gluten intolerance. NCGS syndrome is caused when people start themselves a gluten-free diet without previously tested coeliac or without having any dietary prescription from a physician.

Symptoms

  • Gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome or non-gastrointestinal disorders such as allergies, neurological diseases or psychiatric disorders, chronic fatigue, headache, atopic diseases.
  • NCGS may be a chronic disorder of coeliac disease(according to a study).

Dermatitis Herpetiformis

It’s a chronic autoimmune disorder with a blistering skin condition. It’s not related to or caused by the herpes virus. It is a cutaneous manifestation of coeliac disease. It has an association with the human leukocyte antigen, coeliac disease, and gluten sensitivity.

Symptoms

  • The disease is prevalent in men more than women and seen at the age of 15-40 age.
  • Chronic papulovesicular eruptions are seen on the surfaces of buttocks, back of the neck, elbows, etc.
  • Intense itching and burning are the first sign of this disease.
  • The last stage of the development of symptoms is the healing of lesions.

Consequences

Untreated dermatitis herpetiformis and coeliac disease can lead to intestine cancer due to continuous inflammation of the intestine.

Gluten Ataxia

It’s an autoimmune disease triggered by gluten ingestion. Its progression can be prevented by early diagnosis and treatment along with a gluten-free diet.

Symptoms

  • About 40% of people affected show intestinal damage and less than 10% don’t show any gastrointestinal symptoms.
  • Ataxia lacks biomarkers in some cases and also it is of unknown origin. It is called as Primary Auto-immune Ataxia(PACA) in those cases.
  • Gait abnormality, tremor of upper limbs, speech changes, and abnormalities in eye movement are also seen.

Consequences

  • Cerebellum, the balance center of the brain that controls coordination and movements is damaged. Loss of Purkinje cells is also seen.
  • Death of neurons

Treatment

The treatment for all the gluten-related disorders is following a strict gluten-free diet life long as it helps in the healing of the intestine.

A gluten-free diet (GFD) is the only helpful treatment for all the disorders caused due to the intake of gluten.

Summary

  • Gluten is a storage protein that occurs naturally mainly in Wheat, Barley, Rye, and Oats.
  • Wheat bread is comprised of 75-85% gluten of total protein.
  • It adds Supplementary protein in many vegetarian diets.
  • It’s used in cosmetics, dermatology, and hair products.
  • The peptides of gluten trigger Gluten related disorders.
  • Those disorders are coeliac disease, wheat allergy, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, Dermatitis herpetiformis, and gluten ataxia.
  • A gluten-free diet (GFD) is the only helpful treatment for all the disorders caused due to the intake of gluten.