This question has generated a lot of ink in the past few years.
What is gluten and what is it made of?
Gluten is mainly made up of two types of plant proteins: prolamins and glutenins.
Gluten proteins play a key role in bread-making: in fact, they make it possible to transform the flour into a supple, elastic and stretchy dough (the word gluten comes from the Latin glutinum which means glue or glue), and give the crumb its both soft and resistant consistency. As gluten improves gas retention, the bread therefore takes on more volume.
Among the prolamins, we can cite alpha-gliadin from wheat, spelled and kamut, hordein from barley, secalin from rye, zenin from maize, avenin from oats, Sorghum cafirin, millet panicin etc. There is also a small amount of prolamin in rice (orzenin).
Prolamins are considered to be more particularly toxic than glutenins.
Opinions differ as to the toxicity of certain prolamins, but it is not excluded that all prolamins are a source of problems in some people.
Has it always been part of our diet?
Until recently, men were all hunter-gatherers. With the Neolithic Revolution and the emergence of agriculture and animal husbandry around 10,000 years ago, its grain consumption gradually increased.
Since the beginning of agriculture, grains, especially wheat and corn, have undergone multiple genetic manipulations so that the grains we eat today no longer resemble those we ate 10,000 years ago (the current wheat has 42 chromosomes compared to 14 for the original wheats).
However, genes take a very long time to evolve. If we compare the extraordinary slowness of genetic evolution to the extraordinary speed of genetic transformations in human food, we immediately understand that we cannot count on the phenomena of adaptation - in any case genetic - to ensure a harmonious relationship between humans and their food. Indeed, the recent introduction of gluten in human food seems to cause, in some people, disorders of all kinds which sometimes go well beyond digestive and intestinal disorders.
What are its effects on our health?
If we talk about disorders related to gluten consumption, we will immediately think of celiac disease.
If you would like to take a quick look at the history of celiac disease, I invite you to click on this link.
Thanks to the research and combined efforts of many researchers, but also to advances in science and improved bowel biopsy techniques, we now know that celiac disease is in fact a disease triggered by the consumption of certain family proteins. prolamins, which is found in many cereals as mentioned above. Ingestion of these prolamins by genetically predisposed people causes a chain reaction that results in a reaction of the immune system, resulting in inflammation of the wall of the small intestine leading to progressive destruction of the intestinal villi (tiny projections in shaped like fingers lining the lining of the small intestine) which play a crucial role in the absorption of food. This villous atrophy frequently leads to intestinal disorders (chronic diarrhea, bloating, indigestion, gastric acidity, nausea, vomiting, etc.) and nutritional deficiencies which, in turn, can lead to chronic anemia, weight loss, blood problems. growth in children etc. Due to the chronic porosity of the intestine ("leaky gut"), this disease can also cause other extra-digestive disorders (chronic fatigue, irritability, depression, anxiety, concentration disturbances, eczema, joint pain, fragility). bone, tooth enamel abnormalities, fertility disorders, headaches, migraines, chronic canker sores, etc.), and even triggering other autoimmune diseases.
Nevertheless, according to certain studies and as Julien Venesson underlines in his book "Gluten, how modern wheat poisons us", it is important to note that not all genetically predisposed people necessarily develop the disease, which once again demonstrates the influence of our environment on our genome by so-called epigenetic modifications.
Today there are no medicines to treat the disease, but people who have it can lead normal lives thanks to a gluten-free diet.
What does it mean to be gluten intolerant?
In recent years we have also been talking about “Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity” (“SNGC”) in scientific studies. Various synonyms are also found as gluten intolerance without celiac disease, gluten hypersensitivity or sensitivity, wheat sensitivity etc. In this document, I more often use the term "gluten intolerance".
In the case of gluten intolerance without celiac disease, although ingestion of gluten still causes symptoms similar to those of celiac disease as previously mentioned, including symptoms that can affect all systems of the body and affect behavior, the mechanism is different in the sense that intolerance does not generate the appearance of autoimmune disease. The general clinical picture is therefore less serious.
Neither celiac disease nor gluten intolerance are allergic reactions. A food allergy causes an immunological reaction usually more immediate than the reaction due to celiac disease or gluten intolerance, such as redness, edema, itching, anaphylactic shock.
During my consultations, I observe that gluten intolerance can be hidden behind many pathologies, from irritable bowel to diseases affecting the joints, such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, via autism or even epilepsy, to name a few examples. And that strict gluten avoidance, among other things, can significantly improve symptoms. This obviously does not have the value of scientific proof, but nevertheless shows that a simple dietary change without side effects can greatly improve the health of patients.
But beware of the excesses of “gluten-free” products! If you want to know more about this subject, I invite you to click on this link: Beware of the excesses of « gluten-free".
How can I help you?
A gluten-free dietary change is a real upheaval in our eating habits because it requires the elimination of foods that occupy a prominent place on our plates: bread, pasta, pizzas etc. It is naturally not without its share of difficulties and questions: "Where to get healthy and quality substitute products?" "," How do you do your shopping without spending 2 hours reading the labels "? , "How to replace bread for breakfast?" "," What if I am invited to a restaurant or to a friend's house? "," What meal to bring to work? "," Should I force this change on my whole family? "Etc. All of these questions are legitimate and if we embark on this change alone, it can be a real obstacle course.
So if you want personalized support to start your new diet with peace of mind, learn to read labels, distinguish between “gluten-free” (healthy) and “gluten-free” (unhealthy), boost your motivation, learn how to bake your own bread, pasta, your pizzas and your pastries with gluten-free flours, and treat your whole family, do not hesitate to contact me. The result is a considerable saving of time, zenitude, and above all immense relief and regained vitality if you suffer from one or more of the many symptoms linked to celiac disease or gluten intolerance!
- Dr. Fasano A. (2017), Se libérer du Gluten (édition Marabout)
- Venesson J. (2013), Gluten, Comment le blé moderne nous intoxique (Thierry Souccar Editions)