They are everywhere. Dairy free, fat free, sugar free, even sodium free foods. And now, some foods are labeled as “Gluten Free”.
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Gluten, what is it? Why do some foods need to be labeled as gluten free? I’m going to answer all those questions and more in this article. By the end, you will feel much more educated and informed on the subject of gluten and whether it is something you personally should stay away from or take part in.
What is Gluten?
As defined by Wikipedia, gluten is: A mixture of proteins found in wheat and related grains including barley, rye, oat and all their special hybrids. It gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture. When dough is kneaded, it promotes the forming of “gluten strands”. Thus creating the chewy sensation in baked products.
What is Gluten primarily used for?
As mentioned in the definition above, gluten is used to give an elastic type of consistency to breads and some oats. This is done so that these grains are more pleasing to the palette. Think of the way tortillas stretch a little when you pull them or the spongy feeling sour dough has when you bite into it. Those are a few examples of the consistency gluten provides to breads and other formed grains.
What is the meaning of a Gluten Free diet?
A diet that is labeled as gluten free, is one that doesn’t include the consumption of any foods that contain gluten in them.
Why do people choose Gluten Free?
For people with Celiac Disease, eating gluten free is not a choice. The only treatment for this auto immune disease is to consume a diet that is 100% gluten free. However, a diet that is gluten free may also benefit others. Many people are born with or develop a gluten intolerance. This intolerance can cause gastrointestinal issues, symptoms related to IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), skin issues or neurological side effects. Many people with a gluten intolerance seem to bloat very badly. There are many social media posts done by health gurus, fitness trainers and people in the medical field, who show themselves posed before eating a meal that contained gluten and then afterwards. The side by side comparisons are normally pretty shocking. Gluten tends to make many people swell in their abdominal region, hands, face, and feet. The majority of people that eat gluten free, do so to prevent the feeling of discomfort they feel when they consume gluten.
What are some commonly consumed gluten containing products?
- Processed Cheeses
- Nondairy creamers
- Hot Dogs
- Salad Dressings
- Wheat Breads
As you can see, there are many non-bread food items that contain gluten. Gluten has a tendency to be hiding in places we wouldn’t expect it. Why? Because gluten is commonly used as a “space filler”. Meaning that it can add volume and various consistencies to foods, thus taking up more space and costing the manufacturer less money.
Does this article have you wondering if you have a gluten intolerance? Well, there is a way to find out! Remember how I mentioned the before and after pictures of people earlier? Try out this method for yourself. The next time you know you are going to be put in the position where gluten will be in the foods you are consuming, take a picture of yourself before you eat the food and then another one about 30-45 minutes after. Are you swollen and puffy? If so, talk to your doctor about gluten intolerance.
The key to health and happiness is making changes in your eating and physical activity habits that you can keep up for the rest of your life. We are offering a complimentary ebook, The Diet Haters Guide to Weight Loss that will give you the tools you need to succeed. There is no obligation- Request your copy today!