We’ve all seen and heard the term ‘gluten-free’ come up on our radar in the last 5 years seemingly out of nowhere. We can’t help but ask ourselves… what is all the hype about? Is it worth it? What even is gluten? We researched for you, so you don’t have to. Read on as we break it down for you as simply as possible. Is gluten-free realty the way to be?
What in the world is gluten?
Gluten is a glue-like property that makes dough elastic and gives bread the ability to rise while baking. Gluten is also responsible for the chewy satisfying texture of the bread. Gluten is a family of proteins found in grains, including wheat, rye, spelt, and barley, wheat being the most common by far. Common foods that contain gluten are Wheat-based bread, wheat-based pasta, most cereals, most baked goods sauces such as soy, barbecue, salad dressing, ketchup, and others, and some beverages like beer, drink mixes, and chocolate milk.
What is the problem with gluten?
Now that we know what gluten is, what are the issues that arise from it? According to health experts, most people can tolerate gluten with no adverse effects or issues. Those with certain health conditions like Celiac Disease, gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy, and other gluten-related disorders, can be affected by consuming gluten-containing foods and beverages. Celiac disease is the most common and severe form of gluten intolerance. It affects about 1% of the population. It is an autoimmune disorder in which the body treats gluten as a foreign invader. The immune system attacks the gluten, as well as the lining of the gut. This damages the gut wall and may cause nutrient deficiencies, anemia, severe digestive issues, and an increased risk of many diseases. There is also a condition called non-celiac gluten sensitivity when a person does not test positive for celiac disease but still reacts negatively to gluten. Some experts do not believe that this is a legitimate condition. They think that substances other than gluten cause these adverse effects.
What to do about it?
When deciding on your health and diet always consult with your doctor about the pros and cons and effects that avoiding certain food groups can have. Whether or not gluten is worth skipping altogether is up to you and your doctor to decide. We want to know about YOUR experience with gluten. Tell us in the comments below.