In recent years, the immunogenic characterization of gluten, the identification of intestinal syndromes characterized by an increased sensitivity to gluten and the appearance of new dietary fads have led to an exponential increase in the number of non-celiac people subjected to gluten-free diets.
In this scenario, many athletes have also experienced the effects of a gluten-free diet on their own skin, describing general improvements.
The literature, however, is still working on the scientific characterization of the possible results obtainable through a gluten-free diet in non-celiac subjects.
Gluten is a protein macro-aggregate present in different cereals, including wheat, made up for over 80% of proteins known as glutenins and prolamins.
Such proteins, especially the gliadin, due to their particular three-dimensional conformation, are responsible for the adverse immunological reactions typical of the celiac patient. In fact, the hyperactivation of the immune system in the intestine leads to progressive damage to the small intestine mucosa, with consequent villous atrophy.
The derived symptomatology, albeit multifaceted, could determine the appearance of recurring disorders, such as malabsorption, diarrhea, weight loss, crampy abdominal pain and growth failure in the pediatric population.
The gluten-free diet
As mentioned, the gluten-free diet is, at the moment, the only valid therapeutic remedy for the celiac patient.
In fact, it has been demonstrated that the total elimination of gluten from the diet of a celiac patient can easily lead to an improvement in the histological picture, reducing inflammation of the intestinal mucosa and promoting a better absorption profile of micronutrients, as well as a rapid regression of the complained symptoms .
Considering the presence of gluten in some cereals, in order to achieve a gluten-free diet, it would be sufficient to avoid the consumption of wheat, rye, barley, triticale, kamut, malt, as well as flours and derivative products.
Fortunately, already in nature it is possible to find valid gluten-free substitutes, such as corn, rice, sorghum, oats, millet, buckwheat, amaranth and quinoa, to which are added a series of gluten-free industrial products, substitutes for pasta, bread and various bakery products.
All gluten-free video recipes for celiacs
No limitation, however, exists in relation to the consumption of fruit, legumes, dried fruit, oils, vegetables and unprocessed products of animal origin.
For this reason, a nutrition professional could develop, without any problem, nutritionally balanced gluten-free diets, even for users with particularly high needs such as athletes.
Advantages of a gluten-free diet in NON-celiacs
If the clinical improvements linked to the elimination of gluten from the diet of celiac patients are clear and well characterized, the potential effects on the healthy population are still poorly understood.
At present, a gluten-free diet would look like:
Even more limited is the evidence relating to the use of a gluten-free diet in sports.
If, from a strictly empirical point of view, some athletes describe an improvement in concentration capacity and energy yield, and a generalized improvement in performance, the studies currently published highlight:
At the moment it is not yet possible to draw certain conclusions regarding the effectiveness of the gluten-free diet in sports.
Indeed, the few published studies seem to contradict the empirical observations made by many athletes.
Therefore we await further works that can better clarify the usefulness and potential risks of a gluten-free diet in non-celiac subjects.