In recent years the abundance of gluten free products lining the shelves has increased and confused the average grocery store shopper.
What is gluten anyway? Is gluten free healthier? Why are gluten free products so expensive? These are questions that I have been asked when I tell people I’m gluten free. Well I’m glad that you asked me all of those questions, so let me explain.
Gluten is the protein found in flour. Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (wheatberries, semolina, spelt, graham, rye, barley and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye. Gluten is also found in malt, malt syrup, malt flavoring, brewer’s yeast, an wheat starch. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together. Gluten can be found in many types of foods, even ones that would not be expected.
Gluten is associated with celiac disease an autoimmune disorder that results in damage to the lining of the intestine when foods that have gluten are eaten. I learned a lot about Celiac disease because I had a co-worker that had it and I have an inquiring mind so I asked questions. I too deal with an autoimmune disease, Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and a few years after learning about Celiac disease I took an ALCAT food allergy test and discovered I have a sensitivity or allergy to gluten along with a host of other foods, minerals and additives.
Many Americans have unhealthy digestive systems so we have issues with gluten, but also we consume too much sugar, alcohol, meat and dairy products which are all acidic and cause damage to our bodies.
When gluten gets into our blood systems our bodies sees it as a foreign object and attacks it, and as a result we suffer with autoimmune diseases and we have leaky gut. The way the whole grain and whole wheat is processed is what makes it unhealthy.
**NOTE**According to the FDA, if a food contains wheat starch, it may only be labeled gluten-free if that product has been processed to remove gluten, and test to below 20 parts per million of gluten.**
Some foods that contain gluten
- Breakfast foods (biscuits, pancakes and French toast)
- Baked goods (cakes, cookies and pie crusts)
- Tortillas (made with flour)
- Gravy and Sauce (wheat flour is used as a thickening agent)
- French fries– be careful of batter containing wheat flour or cross-contact from fryers
- Potato chips – some potato chip seasonings may contain malt vinegar or wheat starch
- Candy and candy bars
- Soup– pay special attention to cream-based soups, which have flour as a thickener.
- Multi-grain or “artisan” tortilla chips or tortillas that are not entirely corn-based may contain a wheat-based ingredient
- Salad dressings and marinades– may contain malt vinegar, soy sauce, flour
- Soy sauce (though tamari made without wheat is gluten-free)
- Cheesecake filling – some recipes include wheat flour
- Lipstick, lipgloss, and lip balm because they are unintentionally ingested
- Communion wafers
- Play-dough: children may touch their mouths or eat after handling wheat-based play-dough. For a safer alternative, make homemade play-dough with gluten-free flour.
Cross-contamination occurs when foods or ingredients come into contact with gluten, generally through shared utensils or a shared cooking/storage environment.
Places where cross-contact can occur:
- Toasters used for both gluten-free and regular bread
- Cutting boards
- Deep fried foodscooked in oil shared with breaded products
- Shared containers including improperly washed containers
- Condiments such as butter, peanut butter, jam, mustard, and mayonnaise may become contaminated when utensils used on gluten-containing food are double-dipped
- Wheat flour can stayairborne for many hours in a bakery (or at home) and contaminate exposed preparation surfaces and utensils or uncovered gluten-free products
- Pizza –pizzerias that offer gluten-free crusts sometimes do not control for cross-contact with their wheat-based doughs
There is so much more I could share about gluten, but I’m sure your ead