For people in large areas of the country, a supper without chapati is simply unimaginable. What most of them probably do not know is that a protein that gives the dough a subtle elasticity to get a final chewy texture can herald a bouquet of health problems in the long run.
Blame the dreadful gluten — a name that has changed the course of western diets, mainly vegetarian, in past years and has now come to haunt Indians.
Primarily found in grains like wheat, barley and rye gluten is a complex protein that not all of us can digest (blame your genes). This situation leads to gut disorders—some even life threatening — and other serious conditions.
“Celiac disease is one such common autoimmune disorder that can occur in <g data-gr-id="41">genetically-predisposed</g> people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.The damage makes it hard for the body to absorb nutrients, especially fat, calcium, iron and folate. If there is an underlying genetic susceptibility then gluten is one of the most inflammatory substances of the modern era,” said Dr Yogesh Batra, a senior consultant (gastroenterology) at BLK Super Specialty Hospital in New Delhi.
<g data-gr-id="46">Gluten-sensitivity</g> can cause inflammation leading to <g data-gr-id="45">malabsorbtion</g> in the entire small intestine. This can result in an overall reduction of absorption of nutrients throughout the gut.
For such people, the protein causes <g data-gr-id="52">inflammatory</g> response by causing premature death of intestinal lining cells which cause a “leaky” gut.
This indirectly allows the proliferation of infective bacterial flora to get into the blood stream causing septicemia, warns Dr Suvarna Pathak, dietitian coordinator at Nanavati Super Specialty Hospital in Mumbai.
“Owing to these destructive responses of gluten, it may cause cancer or mutations. Sometimes, this protein can also lead to neurological disorders, epilepsy or <g data-gr-id="44">schrizophrenia</g>,” Dr Pathak said.
“It can also lead to height shortening, affects normal growth of the body and overall cognition difficulties,” adds Dr Deepak Lahoti, senior consultant (gastroenterology) from Max Super Specialty Hospital.
Most of the gluten-sensitive people don’t realise the ‘harakiri’ happening inside their gut. For testing gluten intolerance, many symptoms are evaluated like stomach disorders, celiac disorders and autoimmune response of swelling and rashes.
Some of the other symptoms can be iron deficiency, muscle cramps, tingling sensation in the legs, sores in the mouth and missed menstrual periods. “There are blood tests and intestinal biopsy tests to reveal your gluten sensitivity. Genetic testing for gluten susceptibility can also be done,” Dr Batra said.
According to Dr Pathak, “Turmeric and ginger are good as turmeric purifies the blood and destroys the carcinogens whereas ginger is anti-inflammatory aiding in digestion.” Probiotics also help in decreasing the effects of gluten to a great extent.