Gluten intolerance: Learn all about symptoms and food options

Gluten – or rather its absence in eatables – has become popular in recent years. But are you intolerant to gluten and need to switch to gluten-free options? Scroll down to get all the answers.

While only 1 percent of the global population has Celiac disease – an autoimmune disorder which triggers an immune response if the individual consumes gluten- many more are intolerant to gluten products. Gluten intolerance is sensitivity to gluten which can be controlled by minimizing or removing gluten from your diet.

To learn about the symptoms of gluten intolerance and alternative diet options, Health Shots reaches out to nutritionist and dietitian Avni Kaul.

What is gluten?

Starting from the basics, the nationally recognised nutritionist explains exactly what gluten is.

“Gluten, a special protein, is present in grains of rye, barley and wheat. It provides these grains structure, flexibility, and holds them together.” Without gluten, foods such as bread and pasta would fall apart a lot more easily. Or, they might have a stiff, hard texture instead of one that is flexible and slightly chewy.

gluten intolerance
Both wheat and rye have gluten! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What is gluten and what are the sources of gluten?

Several bread based products – like sliced bread, pastries, muffins – pastas, doughs, crusts and crackers are the common sources of gluten. A less obvious source is processed meat.

Gluten intolerance occurs when the body does not respond to gluten properly. The condition is also known as gluten sensitivity or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). “In gluten intolerance, the gluten protein might pass into your colon undigested or only partly digested. This could lead to a series of uncomfortable symptoms that one experiences post consuming gluten.”

Symptoms of gluten intolerance

Gluten intolerance can cause an individual to have constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or excess bloating. But symptoms of gluten intolerance are not limited to digestive disorders only. It can also result in bone or joint pain. Upon consuming a gluten-rich meal, if you find yourself nursing a headache or feeling fatigued; there’s a chance that you have gluten sensitivity. Brain fog-difficulty in thinking – or unexplained mood changes are some other possible signs of NCGS.

gluten intolerance
Getting sick after eating gluten is gluten intolerance, Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Alternative food options if you are gluten intolerant

When you are looking for alternatives, you need to know that not all the whole-grains are gluten based. So, you can still have the other sources of whole grains. “Avoid barley, rye, and whole wheat. Pick brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, and millet instead.”

All fruits and vegetables are naturally gluten free. But you may want to steer clear of frozen and processed fruits and vegetables.

Also, read: Itching, flushing or diarrhea: Watch out for symptoms of alcohol intolerance

Broadly speaking, all the unprocessed plant or animal based proteins are gluten free. Nuts and seeds, legumes, chicken, red meat and seafood – all of these are welcome to your food platter.

“When we talk about dairy products, avoid flavored and processed milk.” Your gluten-free diet can easily include milk, butter, ghee, cream and paneer. It’s also a yes for raw fruit juice, tea and coffee. But beverages that are distilled or with added flavourings are a no-no.

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