Gluten and gluten-free diets have been getting talked about more and more over the last few years. If you are curious about gluten, and want to learn more about what it is all about, below are some important points that can help you gain more understanding about it.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a group of proteins that are naturally found in grains like barley, rye, spelt, and wheat. They have adhesive and viscoelastic properties that give dough that elastic quality and make bread and other foods chewy.

What foods contain gluten?

Because barley, rye, spelt, wheat, and other grains contain gluten, foods that use them as ingredients also contain gluten. Therefore, baked goods, noodles and pastas, cereals, snack foods and other foods that are made using these particular grains are not recommended if you have a gluten intolerance or allergy.

Even condiments, sides, and beverages that make use of these grains have gluten, too. Watch out for cream sauces, gravy, and other types of sauces that are made with flour. Soups, salad dressings, and other meal enhancers are also on the list. Even certain malts, lagers, and ales contain gluten as well.

What negative side effects do some experience when they eat gluten?

Some people who consume gluten can encounter adverse effects even with only a very small amount of gluten in their systems. Below are examples of common problems that can occur:

Celiac disease – This condition is an autoimmune disorder in which the body sees gluten as a threat or invader.

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity – This condition occurs when you test negative for celiac disease but still experience negative reactions to gluten. Its symptoms include stomach pains, bloating, diarrhea, and exhaustion.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – This condition is one of the most common digestive disorders. Its symptoms include constipation, diarrhea or both, bloating, abdominal pains, gas, and cramping.

What foods are gluten-free?

Below are examples of natural, gluten-free foods to include in your gluten-free diet:

·         Eggs and milk: most cheese is gluten free, but some thickened dairy products may contain gluten

·         Meat and fish: breaded meat and fish is likely not gluten free unless otherwise stated

·         Fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds: all of these are gluten free, however some nuts and seeds may be processed on equipment that also processes grains

·         Herbs and spices: Be careful of spice blends as these may contain flour or other grains

There are some grains, starches, and flours that are gluten-free too. Examples are rice, corn, buckwheat, almond flour, cornflour, soy flour, coconut flour, potato flour, and chickpea flour. These days you can easily buy these products in bulk. Allergen free flour or gluten free flour can be found online by searching “bulk gluten free flour” or “bulk allergen free flour”. While you can save a lot of money buying in bulk, gluten free flour can also be purchased in smaller amounts either in a store or online.

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