Tuesday, May 10, 2016
More and more people are opting for a gluten-free diet, but what IS gluten, and what’s so bad about it?
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a composite of gliadin and glutenin, two proteins found in wheat, barley and rye. These proteins help hold the grains together, providing the elasticity needed to make bread, pasta and other food staples. Some people have difficulty digesting the proteins and find that consuming gluten causes digestive problems, such as bloating and irritable bowel, along with other unpleasant symptoms.
Where is it found?
Gluten is found in most foods that are produced using wheat, barley or rye grain. It’s not just bread and dough you need to look out for, gluten is also found in common foods like salad dressings, sauces, seasonings and even beer. If you’re trying to eliminate gluten from your diet, you’ll need to read labels carefully, and remember to look for all the different ways gluten may be listed on a label. Many popular gluten-free foods are now clearly marked, which can help you find suitable alternatives. And you’ll easily find lots of information online about maintaining a gluten-free diet.
How do I know if I’m allergic to gluten?
When someone says they’re allergic to gluten, this usually means they have celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestine when triggered by gluten consumption. People with the disease will typically experience digestive problems along with other symptoms, like a skin rash or even seizures, when they eat foods containing gluten.
If you don’t have celiac disease but think your body may be sensitive to gluten, a “gluten challenge” – eliminating gluten from your diet, then reintroducing it to see if symptoms subside and then return – can determine whether gluten is the culprit in any symptoms you’re experiencing.
As always, consult your doctor if you believe you may be experiencing symptoms triggered by gluten. Your doctor will be able to perform a more conclusive diagnosis and determine whether or not you need to restrict your diet.