Gluten is in almost everything from wheat, grains, rye, beer, barley, and nutritional supplements to cosmetics. Despite the natural occurrence of gluten in most food supplies, you can also extract, concentrate and add it to other products to increase protein content, flavor, and texture.
Gluten contains a pliable quality, an ingredient that works as a binding agent in baked foods and bread to give them shape and a chewy texture. Although eating whole grains like wheat lowers the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, there are concerns that it causes a health disorder known as celiac disease. Critics come after gluten, causing people to doubt its credibility as a healthy diet. But what exactly is gluten, and what foods contain it?
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Gluten is the name of a protein found in certain grains, including wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten acts as a glue that holds, and it has an adhesive property that gives an elastic texture to most foods, maintaining their shape and giving them a chewy texture.
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You can naturally find gluten in barley, wheat, rye, and Triticale (a cross hybrid of rye and wheat). You can also find it in processed foods like oats, bread, pasta, cereal, and pizza.
You will find gluten in whiskey since rye contains components used in fermentation. In addition, barley is also a component used to brew beer and manufacture stock feeds.
While Gluten is the term we use to define proteins found in many cereal grains, we can separate those in wheat into gliadin and glutenin. Gliadin makes the grain components fold and form a solid spherical shape, while glutenin forms an elongated rope-like shape.
Although barley and rye have a fraction of gliadin protein, the leading cause of adverse reactions in protein. They also have additional gluten types: Hordein in barley and Secalin in rye.
Foods made from grains, especially wheat, contain the highest amount of gluten. However, most processed food contains additives that may have wheat. Other naturally gluten-free foods may get contaminated by gluten.
The most common foods with gluten include:
|Grains That Contain Gluten||Examples of grain products|
|Wheat||From varieties and derivatives such as spelt, durum, farina, farro, couscous, semolina, kamut, einkorn, wheat bran, wheat berries, bulgur, wheat starch, emmer, wheat germ, and graham flour.|
|Barley||Types of barley include hulled barley. Hulless barley, barley flakes, pearl barley, and barley flour.|
|Rye||Grain is used for flour, bread, and beer. You can also eat it whole: boiled rye berries or rolled, similar to rolled oats.|
|Triticale||A cross hybrid between wheat and rye. Common in bran and refined flour. Other triticale products include sprouted grain, fermented bread dough, malt, baked dough, and cooked and dried pasta|
Although Gluten is a natural component, most food ingredients contain extracts and concentrate extracted from gluten. Most processed foods that have wheat, rye, and barley contain gluten. Some of the processed foods that may have gluten include the following:
|Processed foods||Types of processed foods with gluten|
|Bread||Rolls, white bread, buns, potato bread, bagels, biscuits, and flour tortillas|
|Pasta||Spaghetti, macaroni, lasagne, fettuccine, gnocchi, dumplings, and ravioli,|
|Cereals||All cereals contain wheat, like oats|
|Baked Goods||Cakes, muffins, cookies, pies, doughnuts, pancakes, and waffles.|
|Beer||Beer from malt and other liquors that have wheat additives in their ingredients.|
|Crackers||Chips and pretzels|
|Gravy and soups||Most soups and gravies are canned food with wheat extracts as a thickening agent. For powder and liquid soups and sauces, check labels for "gluten-free."|
Gluten contamination happens when gluten-free food comes into contact with gluten. It can happen in several ways during cultivation, processing, packaging, and manufacturing. Unfortunately, foods like oats can mix with small crumbs of gluten and can be risky for gluten-intolerant people.
However, gluten contamination can occur during cultivation, especially in foods like rice and corn, which share the same method as rye and wheat. Also, during processing or manufacturing processes, certain foods can mix.
Most people are more cautious of gluten in food products, but you might find that certain non-food products have some forms of unseen gluten. Despite the claim by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordering gluten-free labeling standards for food products, they did not include other items that may contain gluten. Other ways to contact gluten are through non-food items such as medications, cosmetics, and contamination.
Some non-food items that may have gluten are as follows:
|Non-food items with gluten||Description and examples|
|Medications||Some OTC medications containing gluten include Advil, antibiotics, blood pressure medications like amlodipine, cholesterol, and birth control pills. You can also find gluten in vitamin supplements used as a binding agent.|
|Cosmetics||Products such as lip balms, lotions, and moisturizers|
|Playdough||Playdough products contain a starch-based binder, salt, lubricant, a retrogradation inhibitor, surfactant, hardener, preservative, humectant, color, and fragrance, some of which have gluten|
Cross-contamination happens when a gluten-free food product comes into contact with food items containing gluten. It can be fatal to people with celiac disease despite the amount of gluten content. Cross-contamination usually happens in households during food preparation.
The most common places for cross-contamination to happen include:
Here are some beneficial gluten-free grains
|Quinoa||Quinoa flour that makes pancakes, tortillas, or quick bread. Also, crusts and casseroles|
|Buckwheat||Has gluten-free antioxidants and reduces heart disease|
|Sorghum||Sorghum has high compounds that help reduce inflammation and blood sugar levels. Examples of sorghum products are the cereal grain, sorghum flour, and sorghum syrup|
|Corn||Corn or maize is the most common gluten-free cereal grain around the world. You can boil, grill, or roast corn. You can add it to salads, soups, or casseroles.|
|Teff||In gluten-free baking, try to substitute wheat flour for teff flour. Also, mix teff with chili to make a natural thickening for dishes|
|Amaranth seeds||The seeds are a good substitute for wheat since they are gluten-free.|
Although Gluten is found in wheat, some processed food products fit a gluten-free diet. Such food includes
|Gluten-free Processed Foods||Examples|
|Bread||Bread made by gluten-free starch from potatoes, rice, corn, tapioca, and pea.|
|Pasta||Gluten-free pasta from different grains, like millet, buckwheat, corn, quinoa, amaranth seeds, and rice.Also, noodles from fiber extracts from the roots of a konjac plant called glucomannan.|
|Cereals||include maize, millet, rice, sorghum, and teff|
|Baked goods||Baked food from rice flour, tapioca starch, and potato starch ingredients.|
|Beer||Beer is made from sorghum, millet, and teff instead of barley and wheat.|
When cooking gluten-free food, it is essential to do the following:
Gluten intolerance is an adverse reaction to gluten proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye. The reaction can cause certain disorders such as celiac disease, Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), and wheat allergy. Some gluten-intolerance symptoms include bloating, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, headache, fatigue, and numbness.
A: Gluten can cause a severe autoimmune reaction in some people. An autoimmune reaction to gluten is known as celiac disease, which damages the small intestine.
A: Some gluten-free foods include potatoes, rice, cereals, fruits, and vegetables. In addition, dairy products are 100 percent gluten-free. However, some people may add Gluten to the cheese during manufacturing.
A: A gluten-free diet does not have foods that contain gluten, a protein found in several grains. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, and processed gluten-free foods are ideal for a Gluten free diet.
A: Watch out for these foods with gluten:
A: No, potatoes do not contain gluten. They are gluten-free.
A: Rice is naturally gluten-free, however, it is more likely to come into contact with wheat, barley, and rye during the cultivation, harvesting, and production process.
A: Natural cheese is usually gluten-free. However, some manufacturers add gluten during the manufacturing process. Therefore, it is advisable to check the labeling before you purchase.
A: Pure oats are gluten-free. However oats are likely to be contaminated during packaging, hence check gluten-free labeling.
A: Most dairy products, such as cheese, butter, and milk are naturally gluten-free.
Avoiding gluten can be tricky at first, and it's more important to learn and identify the most common sources of gluten. Staying away from most of the foods above and substituting them with gluten-free foods can help you refrain from gluten.
All in all, some gluten in whole grains is good for glute-tolerant people. The main way to be careful is to check ingredients when purchasing packed foods. In addition, having naturally Gluten-free foods in your diet is crucial.