What is gluten exactly and why it can harm your health?
Today, let’s take a closer look at what is gluten and what exactly makes it so unhealthy for us. Let’s start at the beginning, where all sides still agree.
Gluten is the storage protein of wheat. It is divided into gliadin (soluble in alcohol) and glutenin (insoluble in alcohol). It is the most important protein fraction in cereals.
As you know, seeds are the sprouts of grain. These grains contain everything a new plant needs to grow: Mainly carbohydrates as a source of energy, fiber for strength, vitamins, minerals and protein. Gluten is the storage protein to ensure the growth of the new plant.
Each grain has its own storage protein, and in oats, for example, it is called Avenin. Gluten is the main protein in wheat. To simplify it, we generalize gluten to the storage proteins in all cereals.
After all, the properties are similar. The gluten in wheat is the most important quantity for us – and is actually the storage protein with the most harmful effects in the body!
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Is gluten unhealthy?
Now that we have clarified what it is, let’s jump right in: Is gluten unhealthy? You hear something else all the time, there is either a warning or an all-clear from all sides. But where lies the truth?
The truth is in the body. How does the body react to it? Does it have any advantages for the body or only disadvantages? How can we measure the disadvantages?
We take a look at the experience of many therapists and doctors who recommend gluten-free nutrition to certain patients.
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Gluten and the will of the grain to survive
Imagine that you are a cereal, for example, a large stalk with wheat. You are the mother and the many small seeds are your children, your life insurance. If you want to reproduce, you need to make sure your children survive and are becoming prey.
How do you do that? In the plant world, we see two important principles of how plants protect their seeds:
1. They form toxins that directly poison or kill the predator. Poisonous mushrooms or deadly cherries would be good examples. You would consume these seeds at most once as a predator. Then never again – if you still live afterward.
2. They make the seeds indigestible for the predator. When the predator comes and wants to eat your children, he simply cannot digest them. If your children are so indigestible that they harm the enemy, what then? Then this predator will not return and bother your children, will it?
This is the case with cereals as well. Gluten is a protective mechanism for cereals against predators. The grain contains many defense mechanisms to sabotage the predator’s digestion and harm the body. It is an important repellent and an explanation of why it is so harmful to the body.
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Is gluten unhealthy? Effects in the body
The grain defends itself by all means against being eaten. Gluten is not only a storage protein but also gives the seeds of the grain their structure. How does it sabotage your gastrointestinal tract?
Gluten is a protein. Proteins are long pearl necklaces made of amino acids that have a certain 3-D structure. It has such a complex and tightly packed 3D structure that it is challenging for the body to break it.
The stomach acid is difficult to attack, neither can digestive enzymes. Natural, not fermented gluten is difficult to digest and not a valuable, but rather a stressful protein for your body.
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In biology, we can observe that the body develops allergies to many proteins that it cannot digest. Gluten can either remain undigested in the intestine and cause damage or get into the body undigested in another way.
Then it is a foreign protein against which your immune cells make antibodies. This also causes gluten intolerance and celiac disease.
Gluten itself and other components in cereals inhibit the digestive enzymes that break down carbohydrates and proteins. Which makes digestion even more difficult.
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Poor biological value
The biological value is a grade of how valuable the amino acids contained in a protein are for your body. Animal proteins always have a higher value than plants.
Storage proteins in plants, i.e. gluten, in particular, have poor biological value. They bring fewer body benefits to your system than animal protein.
We summarize: The storage protein is difficult to digest, inhibits enzymes in digestion, favors allergies, gluten intolerance and has a poorer biological benefit for the body than animal protein.
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That alone is enough to say that the storage protein is unhealthy. Healthy protein sources do not sabotage digestion; nor do they have poor biological value.
Gluten meets these negative criteria and harms your body to a far greater extent than was addressed in this post. To discover more about gluten and the havoc it can wreak within your body, continue reading here:
Gluten 101 - Looking At The Danger Of Gluten Even To A Healthy Body
Now that you know more about what is gluten and what negative effects it can have on your health, I would like to hear your story and opinion regarding this topic. So feel free to share your thoughts in a comment below.
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