Gluten: intolerance, sensitivity or allergy ?

Interview with Dr Ilham AZGHARI

By Jasmin

Disclaimer: Dr Ilham Azghari is in no way sponsored nor sponsoring any products, has no financial interest, nor does she promotes any specific diet. Dr. Ilham Azghari shares her professional honest scientific opinion based on her studies, experience and ethics as a medical professional.

I am Dr Ilham Azghari, specialist in hepato-gastroenterology and medical nutrition, I practice my profession in my specialized clinic in Rabat (Hay Riad), I was trained at the Faculties of Medicine of Rabat and Amiens with an additional diploma in medical nutrition given my passion and interest in the subject and the close link with gastroenterology.

Dr Ilham Azghari,Hépato-gastroentérologue, Cabinet de gastroentérologie, nutrition médicale et proctologie Angle Av Annakhil et rue Arrayhane, rés. Les Palmiers2, N 4, Hay Riad, Rabat. Tel: 0537564064 Email: 

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May you first please explain what is gluten ? Where is it found naturally ?

Dr Ilham AZGHARI: Gluten is a molecule made up of several proteins (prolamins and glutenins) and is found in wheat, barley and rye. Oats do not normally contain gluten in their composition, but the fact that it is collected, ground and transported with the other wheats, make it ultimately contains gluten by contamination. Corn, rice and millet, do not contain gluten. Gluten is the substance that gives elasticity and viscosity to a dough.

What role does gluten play in our organism ? Is it essential to our organism or not ?

Dr Ilham AZGHARI: Gluten is an excellent source of proteins, therefore excellent source of amino acids including the essential ones – which the body cannot synthetize and can only get through diet. The amino acids found in gluten can be found in other food, so substitution is possible. (Learn more about proteins and amino acids here)

Gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity or allergy? What is the difference ? And what to substitute it with ?

Dr Ilham AZGHARI: Indeed, the pathological conditions linked to gluten consumption are diverse. The firsts to mention is gluten intolerance namely celiac disease, and non-sensitivity to gluten. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease present in genetically predisposed individuals, which means that, due to the presence of certain autoantibodies, a contact with gluten triggers a destruction of the intestinal cells, and therefore a defect in absorption, which leads to multiple deficiencies.
The treatment is a strict gluten-free diet for life, it can be replaced by corn, rice, along with the protein intake from legumes as well. 

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity in the other hand, is a condition characterized by a set of primarily digestive symptoms that improve on a gluten-free diet in people in whom celiac disease and wheat allergy have been eliminated.
It should be noted that the exclusive cause of non-celiac gluten sensitivity is still debated.

Dr lham, the gluten free diet is one of the most trendy diet among health fanatics. Is the gluten-free diet actually beneficial ? Is there any consequences behind it ?

Dr Ilham AZGHARI: At the current state of knowledge, the gluten-free diet has not shown any benefits in terms of health except in cases of the gluten-related disorders mentioned previously (celiac disease).

Adopting a gluten free diet without any medical indication is nothing more than self-impose a restrictive diet in vain.

Dr Ilham as usual it has been a pleasure. Thank you for your time and see you soon for our next interview.

Dr Ilham AZGHARI: My pleasure. To our next interview.

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