More and more people are talking about gluten, celiac disease and ditching gluten, wheat and grains all together with paleo, Whole30 and the newly popular ketogenic diet.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat. It’s a key component to giving breads and baked goods an elastic and fluffy quality, which can be difficult to reproduce without it. Besides being found in wheat and wheat products, it’s in a lot of packaged and processed foods that may or may not be obvious when you’re at grocery store or eating out.
Why Can it be an Issue?
Gluten can be cause a wide range of problems for people. People with celiac disease have an autoimmune response to gluten, meaning their immune system sees the proteins that break down from gluten as invaders and attack it. Gluten can also cause inflammation, digestive issues, skin issues, and issues with the flora in your gut.
Avoiding gluten can clear up these issues and help give your digestive system a bit of break and allow it to heal. If you haven’t been diagnosed with a gluten allergy or intolerance but think gluten could be causing problems for you, try removing gluten from your diet for at least a month before slowly reintroducing it. You can work with a nutritionist, naturopath, or other health professional to get more guidance if you need it.
Grains with Gluten and their Flours
Wheat is the main grain that contains gluten. There are many varieties of wheat that come in many different names. These, and the flours made from them, should be avoided if you have a gluten allergy or intolerance.
Malted Barley Flour
Other Foods That Usually Contain Gluten
Wheat and its many varieties are used as ingredients in so many foods, especially processed foods. The list below are foods that normally contain gluten. With pre-made or packaged foods, like vegetable broth, it really does depend on the specific recipe the company uses.
Always check ingredient lists and check if there’s a certified gluten free variety you can try. When you’re out at a restaurant, confirm with the waiter and the kitchen that what you’re eating doesn’t have any gluten in it.
Artificial Coffee Creamer
Brown Rice Syrup
Instant Coffee or Tea
Dressings and Marinades Seasonings
Vegetarian Meat Substitutes
Vital Wheat Gluten
Other Names for Gluten
Gluten can also be on the ingredient label under different names that are harder to recognize.
Depending on the exact formulation of some of these ingredients, they could be made from soy or corn and not contain gluten. Since most usually don’t say what it’s derived from, avoid these when looking at food to buy or make sure that the food carries the certified gluten free label or clearly states that it’s a gluten free product.
Avena sativa Cyclodextrin
Brown rice syrup
Dextrin, malt, maltodextrin
Fermented grain extract
Hydrolyzed malt extract
Hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP)
Hydrolyzed soy protein
Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
Modified food starch
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
Samino peptide complex
Whey protein concentrate
Whey sodium caseinate
White vinegar or white grain vinegar
Some of the easiest ways to avoid gluten are to stick with whole, unprocessed foods that are naturally gluten free. Produce, meat, seafood, nuts, and beans are all gluten free. Rice, quinoa, and corn are gluten free grains, as well as many others. Focus on whole foods first and you’ll find eating and living gluten free isn’t a struggle.
And with the growing awareness of celiac disease and gluten intolerances, more food products are being made to be gluten free friendly. More restaurants are providing gluten free options or highlighting that they’re dishes are gluten free, too, making it easier to enjoy being gluten free.
Aimée Suen is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner who shares nourishing, gluten-free recipes and nutrition wisdom at Small Eats. She is driven to help others enjoy whole foods and empower them to find their own healthy in all aspects of life, one small step at a time. When she’s not in the kitchen, she’s practicing yoga, in the gym, or learning something new. You can find Aimée on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.
Main Photo Credit: baibaz/shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit: 5 second Studio/shutterstock.com; Third Photo Credit: Natalya Okorokova/shutterstock.com; Fourth Photo Credit: Heike Rau/shutterstock.com; Fifth Photo Credit: baibaz/shutterstock.com