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.
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.
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
The most common symptoms of celiac disease are:
- digestive discomfort
- tissue damage in the small intestines
- skin rashes
- unexplained weight loss
- foul-smelling feces
For this reason, doctors often find it challenging to diagnose celiac disease. In fact, in one study,
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.
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.
There are plenty of healthy whole foods that are naturally gluten free, including:
- fish and seafood
- dairy products
- 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.
Sources of gluten in the diet include:
- cakes, cookies, and pastries
Many processed foods may also contain gluten. Anyone who wants to avoid gluten will need to read labels carefully.
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.