Gluten seems to be in spotlight for the wrong reasons. Gluten is the generic term used for the storage protein in grains like wheat, barley and rye. Gluten is the latin name for ‘glue’ and signifies the doughy complex of proteins within the wheat plant.
The Journal of Plant Physiology, 2005, reveals that modern wheat is capable of producing over 23,000 different protein varieties, all of which can trigger immune responses. In fact, it is gluten that causes an immune response in individuals who have celiac disease or are gluten sensitive (non-celiac gluten sensitive or intolerant — NCGS/NCGI), or are allergic to wheat. The fact is that no human has the enzymes to digest gluten and this causes inflammation and a leaky gut in many. Most modern varieties of wheat are immunogenic.
It is hybridised and is a by-product of three different varieties combined into one. In the last 50 years, the varieties of wheat have much higher gluten content due to hybridisation. It seems to be responsible for serious health problems, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other autoimmune and hyperactivity disorders.
All proteins are digested by breaking down into smaller parts called peptides and amino acids. Gluten is split into gliadin and glutenin. Gliadin is water soluble while glutenin is insoluble and is responsible for the strength of the dough. It is glutenin which imparts adhesive plastic-like properties to flour. It is this wheat protein which binds the atta together. Without gluten, it is difficult to roll out chapattis or make bread. Elasticity is a natural property of this protein.
The composition of gluten makes it different to break down. At best, it breaks down in components that are not fully absorbed. In other words, this protein contributes little to nutritional intake. For those who are sensitive to it, gluten can be irritating to the gut and the immune system. Dietary changes for elimination must me done under the guidance of a qualified professional.