What is a Gluten-free Diet?

Gluten is a family of proteins found in grains, including wheat, rye, spelt, and barley.

Of the gluten-containing grains, wheat is by far the most common.

Glutenin and gliadin are the two main proteinsTrusted Source in gluten. Gliadin is responsible for most ofTrusted Source the adverse health effects of gluten.

When flour mixes with water, the gluten proteins form a sticky network that has a glue-like consistency.

This glue-like property makes the dough elastic and gives bread the ability to rise during baking. It also provides a chewy, satisfying texture.

Interestingly, the name gluten derives from this glue-like property of wet dough.

Most people can tolerate gluten with no adverse effects.

However, it can cause problems for people with certain health conditions.

This includes celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy, and some other diseasesTrusted Source.

Celiac disease

Celiac disease, also spelled as coeliac disease, is the most severe form of gluten intolerance. It affects about 1% of the population.

It is an autoimmune disorder in which the body treats gluten as a foreign invader. The immune system attacks the glutenTrusted Source, as well as the lining of the gut.

This damages the gut wall and may cause nutrient deficiencies, anemia, severe digestive issues, and an increased risk of many diseases.

The most common symptoms of celiac disease are:

However, some peopleTrusted Source with celiac disease may not have digestive symptoms but may have other symptoms, such as tiredness or anemia.

For this reason, doctors often find it challenging to diagnose celiac disease. In fact, in one study, 80%Trusted Source of people with celiac disease did not know they had it.

Some people may find starting a gluten-free diet rather challenging.

The first thing a person needs to do is read the labels on everything they eat and drink.

Gluten, especially wheat, is an ingredient in a surprising number of foods. Gluten is also present in barley, rye, and any products that contain these ingredients, such as rye bread.

In this diet, people should eat mainly healthy whole foods, as most whole foods are naturally gluten-free. Avoid processed food, cereals, and grains that contain gluten.

Gluten-free grains

Several grains and seeds are naturally gluten free and available to purchase online. These include:

However, while oats are naturally gluten free, cross-contamination can occur if a facility processes oats alongside other gluten-containing grains such as wheat. Therefore, it is safest only to consume oats with a gluten-free label.

Gluten-free foods

There are plenty of healthy whole foods that are naturally gluten free, including:

  • meat
  • fish and seafood
  • eggs
  • dairy products
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • legumes
  • nuts
  • tubers
  • fats, such as oils and butter

It is generally better for people to choose naturally gluten-free food rather than processed gluten-free products. These tend to be low in nutrients and high in added sugar or refined grains.

Most beverages are also gluten free, except beer unless labeled gluten free.

Various gluten-free recipe books are available to purchase online. Many gluten-free foods are also available online, including gluten-free bread and gluten-free snacks.

Read about which foods are gluten-free here.


Sources of gluten in the diet include:

  • wheat
  • spelt
  • rye
  • barley
  • bread
  • pasta
  • cereals
  • beer
  • cakes, cookies, and pastries

Many processed foods may also contain gluten. Anyone who wants to avoid gluten will need to read labels carefully.

For many peopleTrusted Source, avoiding gluten is not necessary.

However, for people with certain health conditions, removing gluten from the diet can make a huge difference.

If people cut out gluten products and do not properly replace them with other carbs in the diet, they could be at risk for inadequate fiber, calories, and B-vitamin intake. A person should always consult with a healthcare professional before trying a gluten-free diet.

People should also make sure to choose healthy foods. A gluten-free label does not automatically mean that a food is healthy, and gluten-free processed food is still processed food.

Gluten is a group of proteins found in grains. Many popular foods often contain gluten, including bread and pasta.

In recent years, many people have become concerned about consuming gluten and may believe it can cause health problems.

However, research suggests that gluten is safe for most people and that other conditions may cause the symptoms that some may attribute to consuming gluten.

A person should always consult with a healthcare professional before adopting a gluten-free diet.