Gluten Free Facts

The Basics

 

What is gluten?

Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley, rye and related wheat species such as spelt and kamut.  It helps baked goods keep their form and chewy texture and is also added to other food items more and more, both for consistency and taste purposes.

Helpful Hint:  Buckwheat, contrary to its name, is not actually wheat and does not contain gluten.

 

What foods contain gluten?

The obvious foods that contain gluten include foods made from a flour base.  Wheat, barley, and rye based breads, cookies, pastries, and bagels all contain gluten.  However, hidden sources of gluten are abundant in many packaged goods from soy sauce to spice mixes, to breath mints.  More and more companies are voluntarily labeling their products as gluten free and some even go through a gluten free certification process.

Here is a short list of foods that can have hidden gluten:

  • Sausages
  • Luncheon meat
  • Blue cheese
  • Gravy and gravy powder
  • Baked beans
  • Self basting turkeys
  • Sauces
  • Soups
  • Seasoning Mixes
  • Mustards
  • Instant coffee
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Chocolate
  • Potato chips
  • Soy sauce
  • Hot Chocolate
  • Licorice
  • Pickles
  • Salad dressings
  • Curry powder
  • White pepper
  • Malt vinegar
  • Marinades
  • Candy
  • Breath mints
  • Oats (while naturally gluten free, there is a risk of contamination through harvesting, milling, and processing; Udi’s only uses certified gluten free oats) (1) (2)

 

For a full list of unsafe ingredients, click here:

http://www.the-gluten-free-chef.com/foods-containing-gluten.html

http://www.celiac.com/articles/182/1/Unsafe-Gluten-Free-Food-List-Unsafe-Ingredients/Page1.html

Who should eat a gluten free diet?

Some people must eat a gluten free diet because they’ve been diagnosed with Celiac Disease or Gluten Sensitivity, in which the only cure is a gluten free diet.  Others eat gluten free because they suspect gluten is causing them undesirable symptoms that they wish to avoid.  Still others have learned that gluten can cause inflammation and therefore they seek to eliminate it from their diet.  No matter what your situation, a gluten free lifestyle may be of benefit to you.

 

Who can get Celiac Disease or have a Gluten Sensitivity?

The short answer is: anyone.  Some are more predisposed to have this disease or intolerance than others, especially if a family member has been diagnosed.  It has been noted that northern European countries, specifically Nordic countries, as well as Italy and Ireland have a higher rate of Celiac Disease, and approximately 1 out of every 133 Americans have Celiac Disease.  (7)

http://www.ajcn.org/content/69/3/354.full  

 

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder where gluten triggers the immune system to attack the lining of the small intestine.  Over time, Celiac Disease can cause malabsorption, leading to a wide range of health problems such as iron and mineral deficiencies, osteoporosis, liver disease, infertility, neurological disorders, and even some forms of cancer.  (3, 4)

For more information, click here:

http://www.uchospitals.edu/pdf/uch_007937.pdf,

http://www.celiac.com/

 

Celiac Disease and Diabetes

About 1% of the total population has celiac disease. It is more common in people with type 1 diabetes. An estimated 10% of people with type 1 diabetes also have celiac disease.

For more information, click here:

www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/planning-meals/gluten-free-diets/

http://spectrum.diabetesjournals.org/content/15/3/197.full

What is Gluten Anyway and Where Is It?

By Danna Korn, Living Gluten Free for Dummies, 2nd edition

Gluten has a couple of definitions; one is technically correct but not commonly used, and the other is commonly used but not technically correct.  Here’s the common definition:  Gluten is a mixture of proteins in wheat, rye, and barley.  Oats don’t have gluten, but may be contaminated, so they’re forbidden on a strict gluten-free diet, too.   

You can find lots of information about what you can and can’t eat on a gluten-free diet at www.celiac.com or other websites.  But you need to have a general idea of what kinds of food have gluten in them so you know what to avoid.  Foods with flour in them (white or wheat) are the most common culprits when you’re avoiding gluten.  The following are obvious gluten-glomming foods:

  • Bagels
  • Beer
  • Bread
  • Cookies, cakes, and most other baked goods
  • Crackers
  • Pasta
  • Pizza
  • Pretzels

But along with these culprits come not-so-obvious suspects too, like licorice, many (read ‘most’) cereals, and natural flavorings.  When you’re gluten-free, you get used to reading labels, calling manufacturers, and digging a little deeper to know for sure what you can and can’t eat.

You have to do without these foods, but you really don’t have to do without.  There’s a subtle but encouraging difference.  Food manufacturers make delicious gluten-free versions of just about every food imaginable these days.