Gluten: How much does it harm the body?

Gluten: How much does it harm the body?

In recent years, more and more people have been wondering whether or not they should eliminate gluten from their diet.

In this case, we are talking about those who do not have celiac disease, a condition of the small intestine caused by gluten. It goes without saying that those who have gluten intolerance (as they are commonly called celiac disease) should avoid it, as it destroys the intestinal mucosa, leading to several unpleasant symptoms, including malnutrition.

But what about other people, those who haven't been diagnosed with celiac disease? Should they avoid gluten or not? And if so, in which cases?


For example, some have blamed gluten for weight gain, the bloating we sometimes feel, or for gases. Before attempting to answer all of these questions, we need to clarify what gluten is.


Foods that contain gluten

Gluten is a complex protein, consisting mainly of gliadin and glutelin, which bind to starch in the endosperm of the seed.

It is found mainly in wheat and other similar cereals such as barley or rye and to a lesser extent in oats.

Thanks to the gluten, the dough is joined by the flour and then inflated the bread. But apart from cereals, we can find it in quite a few processed foods, as the industry uses it as a binder and a flavor enhancer.

For example, meat has no gluten. But the sausages contain gluten to give them a better texture and taste. Other products in which the industry makes gluten are sweets, shrimps, sauces, vegetable cubes, and more.


Who should avoid it

The proportion of those suffering from celiac disease in the general population is about 1%. Usually, this autoimmune disease is manifested from infancy with the introduction of cereals into the diet and rarely into adulthood.

Like any autoimmune, the body attacks the celiac body itself. In this case it targets the intestinal cells involved in the breakdown of gluten.

The symptoms of the condition are painful. Celiac disease causes bloating, cramping, gas, abdominal pain, fatigue, and even anemia due to lack of absorption of iron and vitamins.

However, there is a higher percentage of people than those suffering from celiac disease, who have some mild discomfort when eating gluten-containing foods.

Science has created a new term, that of gluten sensitivity, which is not related to celiac disease. In English it is referred to as Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS). Some studies show that the phenomenon is 6-10 times more common in the population than in celiac disease.

People who report problems with gluten and do not have celiac disease are a heterogeneous group, meaning that symptoms are not common to all. Here too, an immune response appears to be triggered, starting in the gut and spreading elsewhere.

These people usually complain of gastrointestinal problems, headaches, rashes, joint pain, numbness in the legs and more rarely for neuropsychiatric disorders. These symptoms occur after eating gluten-containing foods and disappear as soon as the gluten is completely cut off from the diet.


Is Gluten Fat or Not?

There are nutritional theories that blame gluten for weight gain. Some people who cut gluten managed to lose pounds,

However, there is no scientific evidence to confirm or disprove it. It is certain that by reducing processed products and bread you will reduce your calorie consumption, and therefore your weight.

White bread, unlike black bread or wholemeal bread, does not contain the fibers necessary for the normal functioning of the intestine and body. Therefore, it has little nutritional value.

It is advisable, however, to consult an expert who will give you specialized advice, depending on your problem and what you want to achieve. For example, by limiting certain foods to gluten, there is a risk that your body may be missing some of the nutrients and vitamins that these foods have, which will need to be supplemented by other foods.



Melanie Uhde, Mary Ajamian, et al, (2016), Intestinal cell damage and systemic immune activation in individuals reporting sensitivity to wheat in the absence of coeliac disease, BMJ Journals, Vol 65,

T.A. Kabbani, R.R. Vanga, et al, (2014), Celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity? An approach to clinical differential diagnosis, US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health,

U. Volta, M.T. Bardella, et al, (2014), An Italian prospective multicenter survey on patients suspected of having non-celiac gluten sensitivity, BMC Med,


By Dr Angel,

Αggeliki Koskeridou

Holistic Doctor – Counseling Psychotherapist

Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

MSc Health Psychology

insta: dr_aggelikikoskeridou_official 

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