I feel like we need to take a moment to educate ourselves on what Gluten is, what it means to be gluten free and how you can go about doing it. There is a lot of confusion out there, making it more of a trend to be “healthy” when it is actually a very serious thing, so lets discuss this.
Gluten is proteins found in wheat (wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, KAMUT® khorasan wheat and einkorn), rye, barley and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together. Gluten can be found in many types of foods, even ones that would not be expected.
Gluten is found in Wheat, Barley, and Rye, which are the 3 biggest contributors.
Wheat is commonly found in:
- baked goods
- salad dressings
Barley is commonly found in:
- malt (malted barley flour, malted milk and milkshakes, malt extract, malt syrup, malt flavoring, malt vinegar)
- food coloring
- Brewer’s Yeast
Rye is commonly found in:
- rye bread, such as pumpernickel
- rye beer
Triticale is a newer grain, specifically grown to have a similar quality as wheat, while being tolerant to a variety of growing conditions like rye. It can potentially be found in:
Unfortunately if you have Celiac Disease, you have to be Gluten Free. Celiac disease is an immune disease in which people can’t eat gluten because it will damage their small intestine. If you have celiac disease and eat foods with gluten, your immune system responds by damaging the small intestine.
However many people have decided to go Gluten Free due to intolerances, which is when a person has difficulty digesting a particular food, lose weight, boost energy, treat autism, or generally feel healthier. However, besides being intolerant or having Celiac, there is no evidence based research that supports any of the other reasons.
Going Gluten Free
Avoiding gluten means more than giving up traditional breads, cereals, pasta, pizza, and beer. Gluten also lurks in many other products, including frozen vegetables in sauces, soy sauce, some foods made with “natural flavorings,” vitamin and mineral supplements, some medications, and even toothpaste.
It is important to know that it can set you up for some nutritional deficiencies. Fortified breads and cereals have become a major source of B vitamins in the United States. Although breads made with white rice, tapioca, and other gluten-free flours are becoming more common, they are generally not fortified with vitamins. This can be a problem for anyone, but it’s especially worrisome for women who are pregnant or may become pregnant. They need vitamin B9, more commonly known as folate or folic acid, to prevent birth defects. Taking a gluten-free multivitamin-multimineral supplement is a good idea for anyone trying to avoid gluten. Whole wheat is also a major source of dietary fiber, which the bowels need to work properly.
Before you make the jump, please consult with a doctor. Being Gluten free is not easy, its restrictive and expensive.
Gluten Free Substitutes
- Brown, white and wild rice
- Almond meal flour
- Coconut flour
- Guar gum
- Pea flour
- Potato flour
- Soy flour