Gluten is basically a protein found in grass-related grains, states Saumya Mishra, a nutrionist based in Dubai. So, if you’re consuming wheat, barley or rye-based products, you are essentially consuming gluten. It adds elasticity to dough, which can only ferment if it has gluten. But, people can be allergic to this protein.
Mishra said: “When people are just allergic to gluten, it is non-celiac gluten allergy. There are a lot of reasons for this, such as environmental factors, poor digestion. But, those whose allergies are genetically predisposed, suffer from celiac disease.”
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It is estimated to affect one in 100 people worldwide, as stated by the US-based Celiac Disease Foundation.
Mishra said: “The symptoms can be common and vague, such as gas, bloatedness and loss of appetite. Unless someone gets a proper diagnosis from a doctor, it cannot be confirmed. In patients with celiac, even a small amount of gluten can damage the small intestine. The only option is to go completely gluten-free.”
When buying food products, patients are advised to check the labels. If there is no label, Mishra advises checking the ingredients. Patients must know what are the food items that consist gluten.
When it comes to weight loss, some people adapt gluten-free diets to cut out on carbohydrates. But, is this advisable?
Mishra said: “It cannot be one-size fits all. It may work for some people. But, you need to eat a balanced diet and burn more. Gluten-free diets will help, but they are not sustainable.”
Dr Kavita Virat Shukla, a homeopathy doctor based in Dubai, explained how for patients with gluten intolerance, homeopathy has a solution.
She said: “We can increase a patient’s immunity through homeopathy. This way, the amount of nutition absorbed isn’t affected. Patients could get malnourished, followed by anaemia and hair loss issues. But, once the patient is diagnosed, they can immediately start medication.”
However, for those suffering from celiac disease, Shukla admits that going gluten-free is the only option.
She said: “Celiac is an autoimmune disorder that is inherited. There are finger-like projections in the small intestine, which get hampered. Once this pathological change is done, it cannot be reverted. Patients have to balance their diets if they are diagnosed with celiac.”