You have probably seen “gluten-free” muffins, breads, pastas and more on store shelves. If you have a Pinterest page, gluten-free recipes likely pop up once in awhile, telling you to Zoodle squash in place of noodles. With gluten becoming such a common ingredient to avoid, we wanted to discuss what gluten is and why people decide to go gluten-free.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein that you will find in just about any wheat product, including wheat berries, farro, spelt, semolina, rye, and barley. If you have ever watched the Great British Baking Show, you probably know that gluten helps bread and other baked goods maintain its overall structure. Gluten is what makes dough stretchy and helps bread rise. That’s actually why many gluten-free baked goods tend to be a bit denser than their wheat-filled counterparts.
There’s nothing inherently bad about gluten – it’s a natural protein that is found in wheat and other grain products. The issue that many people encounter with this protein is that they are overexposed to breads and grain-filled baked goods and have become sensitive to it. Others, like those with celiac’s disease or gluten enteropathy, have an autoimmune reaction to gluten.
An autoimmune disease is simply when the human body’s immune system mistakes healthy cells for intruders and attacks them. Common autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, type 1 diabetes, and celiac disease.
Should I Avoid Gluten or Can I Chow Down?
There are many reasons to cut down on or completely cut out eating gluten. The more severe reason is celiac disease. This is an autoimmune reaction that occurs when you eat something containing gluten. Your autoimmune response can damage the inside of the small intestine and lead to an inability to absorb the nutrients from your food properly.
Diagnosing celiac disease is a serious business. It’s important to get a full physical exam, blood test, and likely a biopsy of your small intestine to verify that this is the issue. Sometimes, even this full examination cannot definitively tell you if you have celiac. So, if you have gas or bloating when you eat products containing gluten, experience changes in bowel movements, have had unexplained weight loss, feel exhausted, are chronically fatigued, suffer from depression, have unexplained chronic health difficulties or feel weak, you may want to cut out gluten immediately – even before seeing a doctor.
Gluten sensitivity is not celiac disease, but it can still give you plenty of discomfort – and can be extremely destructive to your body. While a sensitivity to gluten can seem mild, it actually may be the source of attacks to the gut, brain, nervous system, bones, and more. Therefore, it’s important to take gluten enteropathy seriously. If you get migraines, have unexplained weight fluctuations, chronic skin problems, exhaustion, unexplained aches and pains, and are prone brain fog, it’s time to cut gluten out of your diet.
Foods With Gluten Are Easy to Avoid!
Luckily for anyone considering going gluten-free, there are a ton of delicious foods out there made just for you! So, instead of giving you a list of all the food you can eat, we are going to give you the much shorter list of foods with gluten in them that you should avoid:
- Brewer’s Yeast
- Khorasan wheat
- Einkorn wheat
- Modified food starch
- Some Natural Flavors
- Wheat Starch
- Wheat Glucose
- Wheat Germ
There are a ton of options for gluten-free flours like amaranth flour, brown rice flour, chia flour, coconut flour, chickpea flour, and more. So, if you love bread or baked goods, you don’t necessarily have to get them all up. Just choose options that are gluten-free.
Do you need more information on a possible gluten sensitivity or celiac? Contact us today. We are here to help you improve your health and reduce the many symptoms that can come with gluten intolerance.