Gluten – pros and cons

Gluten is a protein consisting of gliadin and glutenin, which is found in wheat and other cereals such as oats, barley, rye, kamut (coarse durum wheat) .

Gluten has a very low nutrition value. In fact, the primary function of this protein is to serve as a binder that allows the flour to bind and makes the baking of bread possible.

In genetically predisposed people of all ages consumption of even small amounts of gluten-containing foods triggers an immune reaction in the small intestine and causes chronic inflammation. This in turn may lead to the disappearance of the intestinal fiber. This process is accompanied by a series of symptoms, which vary for different people.

There is a spectrum of disorders associated with gluten, including celiac disease, gluten intolerance and wheat allergy. Wheat allergy is an adverse immunological response specific to wheat proteins. Distribution of documented allergy to wheat is quite low, amounting to only 0.1 % of people in Western countries. Since wheat allergy can be treated by avoiding wheat-containing foods, a wheat-free diet may be easier to follow rather than a strict gluten-free diet.

Gluten sensitivity (also known as gluten intolerance) is characterized by increased immunological reaction to gluten in genetically susceptible individuals. The clinical diagnosis is usually based on a gluten-free diet. The most common symptoms of gluten sensitivity such as fatigue and headaches, stomach ache, including bloating, diarrhea and flatulence are avoided by switching to a gluten-free diet.

Despite the health claims in favor of gluten-free diet, no published scientific evidence supports these claims concerning the general population. In fact, there is evidence showing that gluten itself may provide some health benefits and avoiding gluten cannot be justified for otherwise healthy individuals.

Regulation (EU) No 828/2014 of 30 July 2014 on the requirements for the provision of information to consumers on the absence or reduced presence of gluten in food.

People with celiac disease suffer from a permanent intolerance to gluten. Wheat (i.e. all kinds of Triticum, such as durum wheat, spelta and Khorasan wheat), rye and barley have been identified to contain gluten. The gluten in these foods can lead to adverse health effects for people intolerant to gluten and therefore their consumption should be avoided.

Regulation (EC ) № 41/2009 on the Commission sets out harmonized rules on information provided to consumers about the absence ( “gluten-free ” ) or reduced presence of gluten ( ‘very low gluten’ ) in food. The rules of this Regulation are based on scientific data and ensure that consumers are not misled or confused by the information provided in different ways regarding the absence or reduced presence of gluten in the diet.

In the context of revision of the legislation on foodstuffs intended for particular nutritional use, Commission Regulation (EU) № 609/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council repeals Regulation (EC) № 41/2009 of the Commission from July 20 2009. The Regulation should ensure that after that date, information on the absence or reduced presence of gluten in the food continues to be based on relevant scientific data and it is not provided in a different way that might mislead or confuse consumers, in accordance with the requirements established in Article 36 (2) of Regulation (EU) № 1169/2011.

Manifestations of gluten intolerance

A typical malabsorption syndrome, chronic diarrhea; Weight loss; Bloating

Atypical presentation: Secondary malabsorption; Dermatitis herpetiformes; Hypo / hyperthyroidism; Infringement of tooth enamel

Asymptomatic form: Presence of histological changes; Noticeably absent symptoms