Many of you have heard of some celebrities who follow a gluten-free diet. If you’ve also heard about the tremendous health benefits, you may be wondering if the gluten-free diet is the way to go. After all, more than 55 diseases have been linked to gluten. And 99% of people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity go undiagnosed. If you find out that you have a gluten sensitivity, you are correct along with what is believed to be more than 30% of the population. Knowing how to identify and avoid it is vital to your health. So what is gluten?
What is gluten?
Gluten is a group of proteins found in many cereals such as wheat, barley or rye. The word “gluten” comes from the Latin word for glue. Gluten makes the dough sticky and makes the bread airy and fluffy. Gluten is considered a “sticky” protein because it holds the nutrient storage spaces in plants together. Gluten is frequently used by food manufacturers as a binder and filler.
Gluten sticks to the lining of the small intestine and causes substantial inflammation as your body attacks the cells of the small intestine. There is also a painful irritation that prevents you from absorbing the nutrients you eat from food. Overexposure to gluten can cause leaky intestines. Celiac disease is the most serious condition associated with gluten. Those who have been diagnosed with celiac disease should follow a gluten-free diet plan for life.
To identify and avoid gluten, you must read ingredient labels. There are common sources of gluten, but you need to know the hidden sources of this poisonous protein.
Common sources of gluten-free foods:
Any form of wheat, barley, or rye:
- ancient wheat grains such as semolina, spelled, kamut, and triticale
- oats (for cross contamination)
Gluten is not found in rice, millet, corn, or quinoa.
Gluten in not-so-obvious food sources:
- cold cuts and cold cuts
- Corn fritters
- dry roasted walnuts
- sauce cubes
- Instant Pot or Restaurant Mashed Potatoes
- Beef, Chicken and Vegetable Broth Cubs
- processed crab
- sauces and condiments (ketchup, barbecue sauce, and many others)
- scrambled eggs in a restaurant (in some places they mix a little pancake batter)
- vegan meat substitutes
Gluten is in almost everything because it is a very common additive in food. Worse, our government does not require gluten to be labeled on packages, so it is hidden under the names: “hydrolyzed vegetable protein,” “food starch,” “vegetable protein,” and even “natural flavors.”
Additives and preservatives:
- artificial colorant
- baking powder
- caramel coloring / flavoring
- citric acid (can be fermented from wheat, corn, molasses, or beets)
- fat substitutes
- food starch
- glucose syrup
- modified food starch
- natural flavors
- Wheat starch
Gluten in non-food sources:
- beauty products
- herbal medications, supplements, and formulas
- Play-doh and paintings
- postage stamps and envelopes
Even manufactured foods labeled gluten-free are not. Our government and the FDA allow food manufacturers to use “gluten-free” on their labels if the gluten content is less than 20 parts per million (ppm). Eating even a minimal amount of gluten can have serious consequences for a person suffering from celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, colitis, and many other diseases. To ease symptoms, repair your gut, and increase your overall well-being, it’s important to be able to identify and avoid gluten. You will live a healthier life by following a strict gluten-free diet plan.