After finding out I was allergic to gluten, one of the main questions I get asked is “What is gluten?”
Gluten is SO many things. Its not just bread. Its not just bagels.
Today, I’m gonna break it down for you… give you a little gluten-free survival guide.
First of all, “What is gluten?”
Gluten is a protein found in wheat and related grains, such as barley, rye and spelt. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helps it rise and keep it shape, and gives bread that chewy texture that we all love. Does that mean that gluten-free products have no elasticity and are not dry but chewy?… Well it depends.
What effect does gluten have on the body if someone is allergic or has a sensitivity to it?
If someone with celiac disease (an autoimmune disorder) eats gluten, the body has an immune response which sends autoantibodies which causes inflammation in the small intestine. This leads to various issues, such as bloating, abdominal paint, weight loss, malabsorption, and the list goes on.
Gluten sensitivity also exists, but is highly disputed. People with this sensitivity experiences the same adverse reaction to gluten, but test negative on a celiac test.
Besides having chronic stomach issue my entire life, I had terrible eczema, brain fog and was overly exhausted in the months before going gluten-free. The brain fog was the first to go when I eliminated gluten.
What is a gluten-free diet?
For one, gluten-free does not mean carb-free, nor does it necessarily mean that it is means you are healthier.
Products with gluten include the obvious wheat, barley, rye and spelt, but also include things you would not even thing of such as, soy sauce, licorice, beer, malt, most alcohol, seasoning and processed cheese.
Gluten-free products include things made with corn, rice, buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth and beans. Real dairy products, fruit, vegetables, meats, eggs and legumes are gluten-free. Wine, tequila (certain brands), potato vodka and rhum are also GF.
Can anyone have a gluten-free diet?
The biggest issue with gluten-free products is the ingredients they substitute to make up for taste and texture. There is no harm in going gluten-free, but buying package gluten-free food is not a healthier option than eating whole-grain toast.
If you are seriously considering going gluten-free, my recommendation would be to go see a professional dietician who can give you a plan with the proper information. I tried going gluten-free myself several times and it never worked out until I saw a dietician who guided me through the process of eliminating gluten.
Hope this post was helpful and answered your questions about gluten!