What is Gluten?

view of a huge field of mature wheat

It seems that everywhere you go there is talk about gluten. There is gluten-free bread, gluten-free pasta, and even gluten-free pizza.

Many people have found that they have intolerance to gluten so they try to stay away from it. There is an actual condition called Celiac disease that results in serious reactions if gluten is ingested. So what exactly is gluten?

Gluten is a protein composite found in most grains. A protein composite is not a single protein but made up of several proteins such as gliadin, glutenin, hordein, and secalin.

They all come from a group of proteins knowns as protamine. Gluten can be found in products containing wheat, barley, rye, spelt, and kamut. Gluten has a component that lets it make products more elastic by binding the flour products together creating a chewy texture.

Many people think that gluten is only used in breads, pastas, and any products that have wheat or flour. But there is gluten in things you may never have even thought of, such as prescription medications, supplements, and vitamins. It is also used in different flavorings and sauces so trying to eliminate it completely from your diet can be very challenging.

What foods contain gluten?

  • Wheat products that includes all types of breads and bread crumbs that contain barley, bulgur, bran, orzo, spelt, semolina, kamut and wheat.
  • Pasta in all kinds of shapes that is made of farina, wheat or semolina.
  • ​Baked items including: cakes, cupcakes, bagels, pastries, pie crust, pizza crust, tortillas, muffins, hot dog and hamburger buns, and pastries.
  • ​Cereals made from the same grains listed in the wheat products list.
  • Processed meats and chicken products that have been breaded, some lunch meats, and even hot dogs.
  • ​Other items you may have not even considered include beer, candy, potato chips, canned vegetables in a sauce, couscous and French fries from a restaurant.
  • ​Basically if you are not sure about something, check the labels first. More and more companies are labeling their food products “gluten-free” and there are even restaurants that have gluten free items on their menu including gluten-free pizza.

What are some symptoms that might make you think you are gluten-intolerant?

There are three different reactions to ingesting gluten: a wheat allergy, Celiac Disease, and Non-Celiac Disease. A wheat allergy is similar to any other allergies in that you will have a reaction right away to anything that has wheat in it.

You may break out in a rash or have pains in your stomach. People who suffer from Celiac Disease end up with a rash, severe stomach pains, and diarrhea. This condition aggravates an inflammation in the wall of your intestines resulting in much discomfort.

Non-Celiac Disease generates similar symptoms but they are not the same ones as in Celiac Disease or a wheat allergy. It may sound confusing and the symptoms are all in the same area. If you are not sure if you are gluten-intolerant or may have Celiac Disease, check with your doctor and he will be able to confirm your symptoms.

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