Gluten free - what is it? What are the benefits and harms of gluten?
Gluten free ... What is this stranger who has interested people so much? He even divided them into two camps - defenders and opponents of consumption. The first vehemently defend its safety and utility, others with no less fervor urge to abandon this product in favor of gluten-free dishes. Let's find out if there is a happy medium in this debate.
If you ask chemists or biologists what gluten is, then we will hear from them: this is a complex organic compound, a protein that does not dissolve in water. It is based on combinations of various amino acids, such as gliadin, prolamin, glutelin. We think this answer will satisfy only chemists. We, ordinary people, want a more understandable explanation. Something like "this is a protein, there are amino acids in it, our cells are made up of them, which means we need them."
Naturally, the term "gluten" is not Russian, in Latin it sounds like gluten. We call it the familiar word gluten. After hearing this familiar name, many housewives immediately remembered the process of kneading dough.It is in the test that gluten was born.
Place of gluten in nature
From the outset, gluten did not bother anyone. He was born in cereals, of which he liked most of all wheat, oats, barley, and rye. He was not friends with buckwheat and rice, was slightly familiar with corn grits. Gluten accumulated all summer in small houses-grains, which were collected from the field in the fall and sent to the mill. The millers turned the grain into flour, in which the protein sat quietly and did not let anyone know about itself.
And the flour got into the kitchen - the hostess wanted to bake gingerbread or crispy buns. As soon as she poured the flour in water, gluten immediately appeared in all its glory and showed what it could do, turning the mixture of flour and water into a sticky mass. It should be noted that gluten is not soluble in water, but only interacts with it. From this mass you can easily form a dough of any consistency.
So, we can make a small conclusion: gluten is the glue that glues the flour with water so that the ingredients do not crumble. In addition, it adds vitamins of group B, bread, calcium, iron to bread, gives flour products elasticity, improves their taste and increases their beneficial properties.
Secret test item detected
The life of gluten, quiet and unknown to anyone, changed dramatically in the distant 18th century. People began to rapidly learn the world in which they live. This affected food production. Until that time, women every day baked bread and did not attach any importance to this process. Sometimes they complained that some kind of naughty flour, did not want to knead, the dough did not rise, the bread crumbled. The male chefs did not behave like that at all. Faced with similar difficulties, they did not complain, but tried to understand why the same process proceeds differently. As a result of a long search, the famous Cesare Beccaria was able to declassify the composition of the test and extracted gluten from it. What did it give to humanity?
Now they learned how to separate gluten from flour and use it independently. As it turned out, it is very easy to do. You need to leave ready-made batter in water. Gradually water will dissolve everything except gluten. The starch solution is drained, and the remaining gluten is crushed, dried and compacted. In industrial conditions, this process is carried out using thickening separators.Dry protein is packed and actively used in the food industry.
Wheat or gluten - the substitution of values
Before we continue our story about the adventures of the gluten protein, we need to shed a little light on one event that indirectly influenced its further fate. It happened in connection with the desire to overcome hunger.
The first problem is to get a good harvest in poor environmental conditions. Having solved it, you face a storage problem. It is difficult to save grain, as it quickly deteriorates. And if we consider that this is the staple food throughout the world, this is a global problem.
The solution to these problems was the removal of such a grain that would be resistant to bad weather conditions, would contain more nutrients and could be stored for a long time. And such a grain was bred in the fifties by the breeder Norman Borlaug. The peculiarity of this variety is its high content of gluten.
Everyone fell in love with this variety, but not because it solved the problems of hunger, but because it contained a large amount of gluten. Wheat natural protein, which is extracted from high-quality flour, has become more valuable in the eyes of producers than wheat.
Gluten euphoria in the food industry
Highlighting gluten into a separate product, food manufacturers quickly found application to its main properties:
- It improves the structure of the dough, is a good preservative - bakery products (dough, macaroni, cookies, flakes, sliced bread) instead of flour in large quantities add pure gluten, so the product does not dampen, does not get stale, has a crisp crust, remains for a long time air.
- Gluten does not dissolve in water and, when interacting with it, forms fibers - manufacturers of semi-finished meat products (frozen meatballs, dumplings, sausages, minced meat, sausages, crab sticks, sausages, chips, ham, all smoked products) are very fond of this property, since they use this component in their products, to replace them with a part of raw meat.
- It is a thickener due to starch and viscous features. This property is used in the production of those products where it is necessary to achieve a uniform structure and a thick consistency: sauces, processed cheese, ketchup, ice cream, mayonnaise, sweets, yogurt, cottage cheese, dairy semi-finished products, sweets with filling, dressings, gravies.
Effects of euphoria
Culinary experiments gradually began to give fruit. The urban population is accustomed to eat semi-finished products that are high in gluten. What does this mean for the body?
Imagine that for breakfast you eat cottage cheese, for lunch - sausages or frozen meatballs with bread or wheat cereal, and for dinner a salad of crab sticks or ice cream. During the day you snack on buns or chips. If you recall the gluten content in the foods you ate, then at the end of the day you understand that your body received a monthly dose of this substance in a day. Guess how he will feel after that?
The effect of gluten on the human body
What happens in the body when it gets gluten? The benefits and harms of this protein are determined by two factors - heredity and quantity.
Firstly, there is a small group of people on the planet who have not been friends with gluten since birth. They suffer from a syndrome discovered by several doctors in different countries. This disease is called Guy-Herter-Heubner syndrome. The body of this group of people is unable to produce an enzyme that cleaves peptide gluten chains. Chemists have already told that they are amino acids bound in a complex protein.The body must disassemble them into separate elements and use for their own purposes. People with this syndrome do not have the necessary tools to do this.
Secondly, people whose food is based on products containing gluten consume it in very large quantities. It accumulates in the body, the digestive system wears out. As a result, a person develops an acquired allergy to gluten - the so-called gluten intolerance.
What is dangerous overeating gluten
The digestive process takes place with the participation of gastric juice. If the supply of gluten in the body is small (as it was when we consumed it naturally as part of normal cereals and bread), the enzymes of a healthy person are able to process them. However, if gluten comes in large quantities, the body does not cope.
As a result, unprocessed residues accumulate in the intestines. Gradually, they destroy the villi of the mucous membrane, and the papillae, which are supposed to absorb nutrients, stop responding and lose their sensitivity. As a result, two painful conditions develop: poisoning and starvation.
Through the damaged walls of the intestine harmful substances enter the blood. They poison the body, destroy the nervous system, harm the work of the brain. Due to the fact that the villi of the intestine is not fully capable of absorbing the beneficial substances, a person loses many trace elements from food that the body itself is unable to produce.
Gluten protein goes underground
From euphoria, society fell into hysteria. Gluten, previously praised by everyone, has become a terrible killer. In fact, the fault lies not with the protein, but with the producers who use it for other purposes. The latter refuse to admit their guilt and do not want to change anything in the production of their products.
As a result, in the composition of products manufactured in industrial conditions, wheat gluten can be found less often - it was replaced by such strange components as modified starch, textured vegetable protein, hydrolyzed thickener and other combinations. However, all these names are translated into simple Russian as “wheat gluten”.
Side Effects of War with Gluten
The desire of people to be healthy took advantage of other manufacturers of products that have excluded gluten.What did this entail? Vegetables, fruits, natural fish and meat, beans and nuts became fashionable. However, there are new concepts in cooking. For example, today people have the opportunity to try gluten free bread. What kind of bread is it and how could it be made?
Most often, flour products that do not contain gluten protein are made from flour of those cereals that do not contain this protein. It can be rice, buckwheat or corn flour. However, such dough has to add more fat and synthetic thickeners so that it does not crumble and has a viscosity. The result - the product does not contain gluten, but is still harmful to the body.
How to avoid a dangerous effect on the body of gluten food, if gluten-free analogs are also harmful? The answer is very simple! No need to reinvent the wheel. Remember what gluten is. He is not an enemy; from the very beginning he lived in a grain of wheat until he was made a hero.
If you want to avoid its harmful effects, just eat the way you did before. Prepare delicious meals at home yourself, especially from vegetables. Do not abuse the meat store semi-finished products.If you have a congenital allergy to gluten, follow a diet.
Another food industry paradox
Although more and more people are switching to a healthy diet, food manufacturers are not going to give up, and the relatively recent discoveries in the chemical industry have instilled a new round of optimism in them. What is it based on?
For a long time it was believed that corn grits did not contain gluten. However, today at the hearing of many such a thing as corn gluten. What is this paradox? This is a new invention of food industry, which was obtained quite by accident.
Since corn is mainly used for the production of feed, it is often processed. When they tried to make starch and molasses from corn, they got waste in the form of gluten. The most interesting thing is that this type of gluten protein is not harmful to the villi of the intestines, so ahead of us are waiting for new products, which will include a new type of gluten.