19 July 2018

The kind of scary things that can happen to your body when you eat gluten

And what happens if you cut it out for the wrong reasons.

It gets a bad rap, but what actually happens when you eat gluten? We found out exactly what happens to your body if you suffer from an intolerance. Plus: What happens when you think you do, but actually don’t.

Guys, cutting it out without the facts isn’t wise. Here’s why…

Read more: What happens to your body when you give up dairy

1. Gluten is hard to stomach

“Gluten is a large protein with a low surface area,” says gastroenterologist Dr Ayesha Akbar. “As proteins pass through the digestive system, a greater surface area helps enzymes break them down.” How can you aid digestion? Aim to chew 15 times per mouthful to keep those enzymes working.  

2. You could have a bad gut reaction

“In the less than 1% of the population who suffer from coeliac disease (a hypersensitivity to gluten), the body launches an autoimmune response to it, leading to nutrients not being absorbed,” says Dr Akbar. Another five to 8% still experience some sensitivity, leading to stomach upsets, but the rest are golden.

Read more: “I’m a nutritionist and this is the eating secret I swear by for clear skin and less bloating”

3. Your body might struggle to break it up

When you get down to the nitty gritty, this highly contentious substance is made up of the peptides gliadin and glutenin. Once these enter your intestines, the enzyme tissue transglutaminase (tTG) breaks them down. It’s here that coeliacs’ bodies attack gliadin, disrupting their ability to absorb nutrients from the food.  

4. But giving it up can mess with your system

Think skipping the spaghetti will give you extra va-va-voom? Think again. “Giving up gluten can increase tiredness,” says Dr Akbar. “Foods containing gluten also provide other nutrients and losing these can cause deficiencies that lead to fatigue.”

Focus on eating more fruit and veg over wheat substitutes.

Read more: 5 simple eating rules Melinda Bam swears by

5. And your bloat could be caused by something else…

Bread leaving you bloated? Don’t be quick to blame gluten. “It’s not uncommon to experience bloating after eating wheat-based foods,” says Dr Akbar. “But how much of that water retention is down to gluten and how much is because of short-chain carbs (like wheat) is hard to say.”

This article was originally published on

Image credit: iStock


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