Is Gluten Bad for You?

In this brief guide, we will address the query: “Is Gluten Bad for You?” Additionally, we will explain when and why it should be considered to avoid Gluten. At the end of the guide, it will be presented some recommendations on what Gluten sources prefer if you are not avoiding Gluten in your diet.

Is Gluten Bad for You?

Gluten is completely safe and it does not represent any concern to your health (1) if  you do not have any diagnosis of celiac disease or gluten sensitivity (2).

What is Gluten and Where is it Found?

Gluten is the major protein used as energy storage by several grass-related grains, for example, wheat (the most common source of gluten), barley, and rye (3). It is formed by two minor proteins: gliadin and glutenin (2). 

In foods, Gluten is the main component responsible to form a dough, useful for making breads, cookies, pasta, among other bakery products (3). However, Gluten is not digestible in the human intestine, since this is a protein, a susceptible organism could recognize it as hazardous, triggering immune reactions (1).

When should you avoid Gluten?

You are suggested to avoid gluten if you are (or were) diagnosed with Celiac Disease or Gluten sensitivity (2,3). 

Celiac Disease is considered as an autoimmune disease. Although there is no single cause for Celiac Disease, there are many factors involved in its occurrence. For example, the genetic predisposition of the person combined with the consumption of Gluten (2,3).

The immune response triggered can affect your small intestinal cells, the main symptoms, after Gluten consumption (2,3), are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Steatorrhea

Celiac Disease is present in approximately 1 % of the population worldwide and is diagnosed by biopsy and immunology tests. The treatment for this disease is a Gluten-free diet or using enzymes to digest Gluten (4).

Gluten sensitivity refers to an allergic reaction to Gluten consumption (but with absence of Celiac Disease) (3). In this case, the symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

Gluten sensitivity symptoms disappear after avoiding Gluten in diet; it is diagnosed by an expert physician with a placebo-controlled trial (3).

If you are experiencing some of these symptoms after Gluten consumption, you should look for a medical opinion (5).

What are the benefits of eating Gluten?

The consumption of Gluten products has some benefits (6), mainly by its content in fiber and vitamins, for instance: 

  • Helps you maintain a healthy weight
  • Promotes your intestinal health
  • Could helps to reduce your blood cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases

What can I consume if I must avoid Gluten in my diet?

If you must avoid Gluten in your diet, you are still able to consume a wide variety of foods; all meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, fishes, eggs, and milk products are gluten-free! (7) 

If you want to eat bread, cookies, or pasta, make sure that those products are made with corn, rice, sorghum, amaranth, quinoa, or buckwheat, because those are gluten-free cereals (or pseudocereals) (7).

Should you avoid Gluten in your diet?

No, you should not avoid Gluten iIf you are a healthy person without any diagnosis of gluten sensitivity or celiac disease (3). 

According to different studies (8,9,10), gluten-free diets without professional supervision could increase cardiovascular risk, nutritional deficiency, or obesity. Sometimes gluten-free products are high in fats, sugars, and/or salt to mimic the taste or texture properties of non-gluten free products.

What sources of Gluten are better to consume in your diet?

The best Gluten sources to consume in your diet are whole-grain bread, corn tortillas, and whole-grain pita bread instead of refined flours (white bread, cookies, among others) (12) because they are rich in fiber, minerals,antioxidants, and vitamins (11).

For further information about a healthy diet guideline, you can check this USDA/DGA guideline.


In this brief guide, we addressed the query: “Is Gluten Bad for You?” Also, we explored when and why should be considered to avoid Gluten, finally, we also explored some recommendations on what Gluten sources prefer if you are not avoiding Gluten in your diet.


(1).  Behrendt I, Fasshauer M, Eichner G. Gluten intake and metabolic health: conflicting findings from the UK Biobank. Eur J Nutr, 2021, 60(3), 1547–59.

(2).  Pultz IS, Hill M, Vitanza JM, Wolf C, Saaby L, Liu T, et al. Gluten degradation, pharmacokinetics, safety, and tolerability of TAK-062, an engineered enzyme to treat celiac disease. Gastroenterology, 2021, 161(1), 81-93.e3.

(3).  Diez-Sampedro A, Olenick M, Maltseva T, Flowers M. A gluten-free diet, not an appropriate choice without a medical diagnosis. J Nutr Metab, 2019, 2438934.

(4).  Gujral N, Freeman HJ, Thomson AB. Celiac disease: prevalence, diagnosis, pathogenesis and treatment. World J Gastroenterol, 2012, 14, 18(42), 6036-59. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v18.i42.6036.

(5). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Celiac Disease [Internet]. [cited on 18 April 2023]. Available in:

(6). Jonnalagadda SS, Harnack L, Hai Liu R, McKeown N, Seal C, Liu S, Fahey GC. Putting the whole grain puzzle together: health benefits associated with whole grains—summary of American Society for Nutrition 2010 Satellite Symposium.  J Nutr, 2011, 141(5), 1011S-1022S.

(7).  Wieser H, Segura V, Ruiz-Carnicer Á, Sousa C, Comino I. Food safety and cross-contamination of gluten-free products: A narrative review. Nutrients, 2021, 13(7), 2244.

(8).  Makovicky P, Makovicky P, Caja F, Rimarova K, Samasca G, Vannucci L. Celiac disease and gluten-free diet: past, present, and future. Gastroenterol Hepatol Bed Bench, 2020, 13(1):1–7.

(9).  Zingone F, Bartalini C, Siniscalchi M, Ruotolo M, Bucci C, Morra I, et al. Alterations in diets of patients with nonceliac gluten sensitivity compared with healthy individuals. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol,. 2017, 15(1):63-68.e2.

(10).  Vici G, Belli L, Biondi M, Polzonetti V. Gluten free diet and nutrient deficiencies: A review. Clin Nutr, 2016, 35(6), 1236–41.

(11).  Seal CJ, Courtin CM, Venema K, de Vries J. Health benefits of whole grain: effects on dietary carbohydrate quality, the gut microbiome, and consequences of processing. Compr Rev Food Sci Food Saf, 2021, 20(3), 2742–68.

(12) USDA/GDA. Start Simple [Internet]. [cited on 18 april 2023]. Available in:

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