For Whom are Gluten-Free Foods Useful?

Sales of gluten-free foods are increasing, even though the products are up to five times more expensive than conventional foods. The gluten protein is a natural component of many types of grain. It’s inside the seed. There it supplies the germinating plants with the amino acids and proteins they need to grow. Most grains contain gluten, such as wheat, rye, spelled, and barley. Only people with proven celiac disease have to do without gluten completely.

Celiac disease: Antibodies against gluten attack the intestines

With celiac disease, the immune system produces antibodies that attack the gluten – but unfortunately also the gut, where they destroy sensitive cells. About one percent of the population is affected. Celiac disease patients usually suffer from digestive problems and a lack of nutrients, becoming thinner and weaker. Other symptoms such as fatigue and reduced fertility, psychiatric disorders, or migraines can also be associated with celiac disease. There is no cure. Those affected must avoid wheat and other gluten-containing foods for the rest of their lives. Even the smallest traces of gluten are harmful.

Wheat Sensitivity: Fatigue and tiredness

People who suffer from wheat sensitivity should avoid wheat flour – that is up to five percent of Germans. Signs are exhaustion, tiredness, and overwork. The clinical picture used to be called gluten sensitivity. However, new studies show that components from wheat could trigger sensitivity – so-called ATIs, for example, natural insect repellents of the plant.

Small amounts are usually not a problem for people with wheat sensitivity. But if they largely avoid wheat, they feel better.

Carbohydrates can also make you sick

But carbohydrates are also suspected of triggering inflammation: special sugar compounds (FODMAPs) that are poorly absorbed by the small intestine. They are found in fruits, vegetables, cow’s milk, and bread.

Digestive problems are the result, but not infrequently also other complaints such as joint pain or headaches. Diagnosis is difficult because the disease can only be detected by omitting products containing wheat.

Nutritionists from Lübeck have completed a study in which they gave people with irritable bowel syndrome different types of bread to eat. One baked with commercially available wheat flour with high FODMAP content. The other with a specially developed flour with a lower FODMAP percentage. The irritable bowel patients who received the low-FODMAP bread reacted significantly less with this bloated stomach. That means it was better tolerated overall.

“Gluten-free” may increase the risk of diabetes

Gluten-free products can have disadvantages for healthy people: A study has shown that people who avoid gluten have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If, for example, you do without whole-grain bread for no reason, you automatically avoid healthy fiber, which is also important for a healthy heart and has a positive influence on blood pressure.

Ingredients in gluten-free foods

For example, many gluten-free foods contain starch, corn, sugar, fat, thickeners, and ascorbic acid. The ingredients should ensure a pleasant consistency or serve as a preservative.

Compared to conventional products containing gluten, vitamins, and roughage, such as vitamin B 12, zinc, folic acid, and magnesium, are often lacking.

Expensive gluten-free substitutes

Gluten-free foods are more expensive than their corresponding gluten-containing foods. In a sample, Markt compared the prices of six products with and without gluten, including fish fingers, pasta, and biscuits. Markt found the biggest price difference in sliced ​​bread: the gluten-free version of the same amount of bread cost more than five times as much.

Reasons for price differences

Gluten-free products cost more because the selection of raw materials and cleaning processes in production is more complex. Nevertheless, the German Celiac Society finds it unfair that people with celiac disease have to pay more for their food than people without celiac disease. There is financial support for Hartz IV recipients and for people with a degree of disability of 30 percent – but celiac disease is only recognized with a degree of 20 percent.

The Central Association of Health Insurance Funds rejects the demand for grants. At Markt’s request, the association wrote that gluten-free food was “not a medicine”. According to a ruling by the Federal Social Court, the statutory health insurance companies only paid for measures “that specifically serve to combat illness. Additional costs (…) that the insured person has in everyday life because of the illness are to be attributed to the general standard of living”.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top