Gluten Free Foods – What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten is found in foods that use these grains in the ingredients. Common foods that contain gluten include breads, cereals, and pasta. Even though these may be the most common foods there are many others that contain gluten as well. Wheat especially is hidden in many foods that the average person consumes every day.

Oats are a grain that is questionable for this subject. Some people with gluten intolerance can eat them. Some research indicates that oats themselves do not contain gluten but they usually are manufactured with wheat products, causing cross-contamination. Due to this contamination oats often get left off of a Gluten free food list. Other research explains that oats contain a protein that is very similar to wheat and should not be included in a gluten free diet. Oats continue to be debated for this issue.

Gluten is most often used in bread dough to make it chewy. It also helps to make the dough less sticky. Gluten is also an aid for the bread to maintain its softness and its shape. Wheat flour and wheat starch is another gluten product that helps to create softness and shape in bread based products. Wheat starch is often used as a thickener for soups, dressings, marinades, and other liquid food products.

The number of people who maintain a gluten free diet is growing. People with Celiac Disease, gluten intolerance, and Autism often stay strict to a diet with no Gluten. There are other reasons why a physician may suggest a Gluten free diet. People who suffer from acid reflux, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, and many other medical concerns may try a diet without Gluten. The diet may give relief from the symptoms associated with any of these medical diagnoses.

Gluten free foods include most whole fresh foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, and meats. There are grains that do not contain gluten such as millet, wild rice, corn, quinoa, and soybeans. Other foods such as bread, pasta, and cereals can be purchased as long as there is a certified gluten free label on the packaging. These certified foods are made in food manufacturing plants where there is no other gluten products made at that specific location. Other processed food labels should state the use of gluten but have to be read very carefully by the consumer.

There may be great health benefits to starting and maintaining a gluten free diet. People who want to begin eating gluten free should consult their family physician. A physician can also be a good resource for a gluten free foods list. A doctor may also provide other ways to incorporate healthy whole foods and grains that do not contain gluten into a daily diet.

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