5 Most Commonly Asked Questions About Gluten

The words “Gluten”, “Gluten-free” and  “Gluten-intolerance” are increasingly becoming a part of our food vocabulary every day. Many food brands and food labels boast about being “Gluten-free”. But without having a nuanced understanding of those terms, how can we make better choices for ourselves?

Here are answers to 5 of the most commonly asked questions about gluten:

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a kind of protein composite found in certain cereal grains, mainly wheat, barley and rye. 

When mixed with water, gluten proteins form a glue-like consistency which is what makes dough elastic and gives bread the ability to rise and trap moisture during the baking process. Interestingly enough, this glue-like property is where gluten gets its name from. 

Is it bad for you?

Some bodies react to gluten adversely, as in some people, gluten can cause inflammation in the small intestine which can lead to health problems such as intestinal discomfort and bloating. If left unchecked, it can also cause severe damage to your digestive process in the long run.

How do I know if I’m gluten intolerant?

Gluten intolerance is often confused with Celiac disease, which is a severe autoimmune condition. When someone with Celiac disease consumes gluten, it triggers an immune response that erodes the intestinal lining over time. 

In contrast, gluten intolerance causes short term indigestion and bloating. Other common symptoms of gluten intolerance include constipation, diarrhoea, abdominal pain,  fatigue, headaches, nausea and fatigue. 

If you experience these symptoms after consuming foods that contain gluten, or suspect you have a gluten intolerance, you should speak to your doctor immediately to get a proper medical diagnosis. 

Which foods contain gluten?

Grains like wheat, barley and rye and their by-products are the main sources of gluten. It goes without saying that anything made with wheat flour – such as bread, rotis, tortillas, pizza bases etc – should be avoided. Other common sources of 

  • Baked goods (Unless baked with gluten-free flour): Bread, cakes, cookies, crackers etc.
  • Cereals, granola and croutons
  • Pasta and noodles made with wheat

Pro tip: Just because you’re gluten intolerant doesn’t mean you have to avoid baked goods entirely. Instead, you can bake with or eat baked goods made with gluten-free flours, such as Buckwheat flour or Quinoa Flour.

Which food’s don’t contain gluten?

Some of the safest gluten-free foods are as follows:

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