More and more people of all ages worldwide suffer from an intolerance of the protein composite “gluten”, also called celiac disease. But what exactly is “gluten” and what are the symptoms for those affected by it? It is a composite of proteins that only occurs in cereal flour: mainly in wheat but also in barley, rye and oat. Eating these cereal crops leads to small intestine problems for gluten intolerant people: the hairs of the bowel mucosa, responsible for nutrient uptake, are attacked by the body’s own defense cells, which leads to inflammations and a harder food digestion.
But why are some people more affected than others? There are different types of celiac diseases with varying degree of severity. But that doesn’t mean that there’s one type without any consequences: even when there are no immediate problems after eating food containing gluten, the intestine is still damaged. The most common medical conditions are abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea and the accompanying weight loss. The only treatment so far is a gluten free diet, which isn’t really complicated: you just focus more on food like vegetables and legumes, fruit, eggs, dairy goods, fish, meat and rice. Fortunately, the disease is well-known nowadays so that restaurants and grocery stores offer a wide range of gluten-free products.
Today, many people follow a gluten-free diet even though they are not intolerant, because they are convinced, that it is healthier for the body. However, this hasn’t been scientifically proven yet. But it is possible that digesting wheat proteins became more difficult for the human body due to years of genetic modification. Proteins are a complicated bunch.
Hopefully, we were able to give you an understanding of the gluten problem. If you want to gain more insight, watch the TED-Ed video! Of course it’s multilingual thanks to alugha.
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