What Is Gluten?

Many of you have heard of certain celebrities following a gluten-free diet. If you also hear of the tremendous health benefits, you might wonder if gluten-free is the way to go. After all, more than 55 diseases have been linked to gluten. And 99% of people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity go un-diagnosed. If you discover that you have gluten sensitivity, you are right along with what's believed to be more than 30% of the population. Knowing how to identify it and avoid it is vital to your health. So, what is gluten?

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a group of proteins found in many grains such as wheat, barley or rye. The word "gluten" comes from the Latin word for glue. Gluten makes dough sticky and causes bread to be airy and fluffy. Gluten is considered a "sticky" protein because it holds together nutrient storage spaces in plants. Gluten is frequently used by food manufacturers as a binder and filler.

Gluten binds to the lining of the small intestine, causing substantive inflammation as your body attacks the cells of your small intestine. Painful irritation also occurs, making you unable to absorb the nutrients you consume from food. The overexposure of gluten can lead to leaky gut. Celiac disease is the most serious condition associated with gluten. Those who have been diagnosed with celiac have to follow a gluten-free diet plan for a lifetime.

In order to identify and avoid gluten, you need to read the ingredients labels. There are common sources of gluten, but you should be aware of hidden sources of this poisonous protein.

Common Gluten Food Sources:

Any form of wheat, barley or rye:

  • breads
  • cakes
  • cereals
  • cookies
  • crackers
  • muffins
  • pancakes
  • pasta
  • pies
  • pretzels
  • waffles
  • ancient wheat grains such as semolina, spelt, and Kamut and triticale
  • oats (by cross-contamination)

Gluten is not found in rice, millet, corn or quinoa.

Gluten in not-so-obvious food sources:

  • alcohol
  • candy
  • cold cuts and luncheon meats
  • corn chips
  • dry roasted nuts
  • gravy cubes
  • Instant or restaurant mashed potatoes
  • meat, chicken, and vegetable stock cubs
  • processed crab
  • sauces and condiments (ketchup, barbecue sauce, and many others)
  • scrambled eggs in a restaurant (some places mix in a little pancake batter)
  • vegan meat substitutes
  • vitamins

Gluten is found in almost everything because it's a very common additive to foods. Even worse, our government does not require gluten to be labeled on packages so its hidden under the names: "hydrolyzed vegetable protein," "food starch," "vegetable protein," and even "natural flavors."

Additions and Preservatives:

  • artificial coloring
  • baking powder
  • caramel coloring / flavoring
  • citric acid (can be fermented from wheat, corn, molasses, or beets)
  • coloring
  • dextrins
  • diglycerides
  • emulsifiesrs
  • enzymes
  • fat replacers
  • flavorings
  • food starch
  • glucose syrup
  • glycerides
  • maltodextrin
  • modified food starch
  • natural flavors
  • stabilizers
  • starch
  • wheat starch

Gluten in non-food sources:

  • beauty products
  • medications, supplements and herbal formulas
  • Play-doh and paintings
  • postage stamps and envelopes

Even manufactured foods labeled gluten-free are not. Our government and the FDA allows food manufacturers to use "gluten-free" on their labels if the gluten content is below 20 parts per million (ppm). Eating even a minute amount of gluten can have severe consequences for a person that suffers from celiac disease, Crohn's disease, colitis and many other diseases. In order to relieve symptoms, repair your gut, and increase your overall wellness, it's important to be able to identify and avoid gluten. You will live a healthy life by following a strict gluten-free diet plan.