There is a lot of buzz now about gluten-free foods. Many people are confused about what gluten is and why they should avoid it. Here are some frequently asked questions about gluten-free foods.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a name for proteins that are found in cereal grains. This would include barley, rye, triticale and wheat. Gluten acts like glue in foods, helping to bind them together.
• Barley is found in beer, food coloring, malt, malt vinegar and soups
• Rye is found in cereals, rye beer and rye bread like pumpernickel
• Triticale is a cross between wheat and rye and is found in bread, cereals and pasta
• Wheat is found in baked goods, breads, cereals, pasta, roux, salad dressings, sauces and soups
What is a Gluten-free Diet?
A gluten-free diet consists of avoiding any food that contains gluten. This diet is difficult to follow and constitutes a big change. Fortunately, with the interest in gluten-free diets, many stores offer an array of gluten-free products. Foods allowed on the diet include fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, eggs, meat, poultry, fish, and many dairy products.
Some grains and starchy foods that contain no gluten are: amaranth, arrowroot, beans, buckwheat groats (kasha),cassava, chia, corn, corn meal, flax, gluten-free oats, millet, potato, quinoa, rice, sorghum, soy, tapioca, teff and yucca. You can find various flours that are gluten-free such as bean, corn, nut, potato and rice flour.
What is the Rationale Behind Adoption of the Diet?
A gluten-free diet is prescribed for people who suffer from Celiac Disease. It is an autoimmune disorder where gluten causes inflammation in the small intestines. When gluten is eaten, the body overreacts and attacks the small intestine. This can damage the villi which absorb nutrients. This means the body cannot receive the nutrients well.
One percent of the general population has Celiac Disease. Some people are sensitive to gluten but do not have Celiac Disease. They have a non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Many of them will go gluten-free or at least lower the amount of gluten in their diet.
What are the Health Benefits of Gluten-free Eating for the General Population?
Going gluten-free may reduce the chance of inflammation in other parts of the body, so if someone has issues with their joints, not eating gluten may ease their symptoms. Some people say avoiding gluten can give you more energy. There has also been reported a change in autistic children when placed on a gluten free diet.