Blog by: Akshay Kulkarni
Gluten is a storage protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Gluten can also be found in derivative of wheat, barley and rye gains such as malt and brewer’s yeast. Gluten gives dough its elasticity, acting like a glue, giving bread its classic chewy, soft texture.
Wheat Products (Triticum) contain gluten, Including:
- Candy Bars
- Bakery Items
All species of wheat contain gluten, including durum, semolina, spelt, kamut, einkorn, faro and triticale. Any products containing triticale, a hybrid of wheat and rye. Gluten is found in a wide variety of foods, even those you wouldn’t expect, such as soy sauce and even some french fries. Foods containing wheat, barley or rye contain gluten, but the protein can also be hidden in many foods as an additive, especially processed foods. Gluten can also sometimes be found in certain medications, personal hygiene products and more.
A majority of people can tolerate eating gluten. However, those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (sometimes referred to as “gluten sensitivity” or “gluten intolerance”) suffer a variety of symptoms after consuming gluten. Celiac disease is a serious, genetic autoimmune disorder triggered by consuming gluten. When a person with celiac disease eats gluten, the protein interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food by damaging a part of the small intestine called villi. Damaged villi make it nearly impossible for the body to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream, leading to malnourishment and a host of other problems including some cancers, thyroid disease, osteoporosis, infertility and the onset of other autoimmune diseases. Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity has been coined to describe those individuals who cannot tolerate gluten and experience symptoms similar to those with celiac disease yet lack the same antibodies and intestinal damage as seen in celiac disease.
There are a variety of grain, flour and starch alternatives that naturally do not contain gluten and thus can be consumed by those on a gluten-free diet. These include:
- Brown, white and wild rice
- Almond meal flour
- Coconut flour
- Guar gum
- Pea flour
- Potato flour
- Soy flour
A gluten-free diet excludes all products containing wheat, barley and rye ingredients. Those who are gluten-free can still enjoy a healthy diet filled with fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, fish, beans, legumes and most dairy products. Such ingredients are naturally gluten-free, and safe for individuals who do not have allergies to these respective food groups.