Gluten 101

So what exactly is gluten?

Gluten is a protein that can be found in processed wheat, barley, malt, spelt, rye and many other grains. However, gluten itself is not a grain; it’s simply a component found in some grains. Not all foods from the grain family, however, contain gluten. Examples of grains that do not have gluten include rice, corn, buckwheat, millet, and quinoa.

Gluten is the binding agent in baking that gives baked goods their texture and consistency. It’s the reason why cakes and breads rise so high, and why pizza dough or bagels have their doughy texture. Gluten is also the “glue” that holds breads and pasta together and helps breads and baked goods keep their shape.

There are several types of people who must stay away from gluten: those who are celiacs and those who are gluten intolerant. Approximately 1% of the United States population suffers from celiac disease. Celiac disease is a severe type of gluten intolerance since it results in an abnormal immune response to gluten and damages the small intestine. People can be gluten intolerant or have a wheat allergy without actually having celiac disease. 

Many common symptoms of celiac disease or gluten intolerance include fatigue, stomach aches, constipation, bloating, headaches, migraine headaches, compromised immune system, nutrient deficiencies, joint or muscle pain, frequent sicknesses and infections. The list goes on; everyone is different and can experience different symptoms and even multiple symptoms.

Wheat allergies are not that different from other food or respiratory allergies. Common symptoms of a wheat allergy can include eczema, hives, asthma, allergic rhinitis, cramps, nausea, or vomiting. Less common symptoms include bloating, depression or mood swings, headache, fatigue, or joint and muscle aches and pains.

An elimination diet is probably the most accurate and effective way to identify whether you might be gluten intolerant.

Advertisements

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: