What Is A Gluten-Free Diet?

You may have heard gluten-free diet term several times and wonder what it is and what it is good for. If you’re new to this diet, below questions may be one of yours:

  • What is gluten?
  • What is a gluten-free diet?
  • Where is gluten found?
  • What is gluten-free diet good for?
  • What can I eat and not eat in gluten-free diet?

Okay, let’s answer your curiosity (^_^) one by one:

What is gluten?
Gluten is a general name for the proteins present in cereal grains -- especially wheat -- that is responsible for the elastic texture of dough. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as glue that holds food together.

What is a gluten-free diet?
Basically, a gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes the protein gluten.

Where is gluten found?
Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and a cross between wheat and rye called triticale.
Wheat is commonly found in breads, baked goods, soups, pasta, cereals, sauces, salad dressings, and roux.

Barley is commonly found in malt (malted barley flour, malted milk and milkshakes, malt extract, malt syrup, malt flavoring, malt vinegar), food coloring, soups, beer, and Brewer’s Yeast.

Rye is commonly found in rye bread, such as pumpernickel, rye beer, and cereals.

Triticale is a newer grain, specifically grown to have a similar quality as wheat, while being tolerant to a variety of growing conditions like rye. It can potentially be found in breads, pasta, and cereals.

There are many food items that may contain gluten, often in hidden or unexpected ways.

What is gluten-free diet good for?
A gluten-free diet is primarily used to treat celiac disease. Gluten causes inflammation in the small intestines of people with celiac disease. Eating a gluten-free diet helps people with celiac disease control their signs and symptoms and prevent complications.

Some people who don't have celiac disease also may have symptoms when they eat gluten. This is called non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

What can I eat and not eat in gluten-free diet?

The most cost-effective and healthy way to follow the gluten-free diet is to seek out these naturally gluten-free food groups, which include:
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Meat and poultry
  • Fish and seafood
  • Dairy
  • Beans, legumes, and nuts
Many items that usually contain gluten have gluten-free alternatives that are widely available in most grocery stores, making living gluten-free much easier. However, minimally processed fresh foods are a crucial part of a healthy gluten-free diet. It is very important to base your diet around fruits, vegetables, meats, and other healthy food groups.

And foods to avoid? As a rule, traditional wheat products such as pastas, breads, crackers, and other baked goods are not gluten-free. All packaged food in the UK and the EU is covered by a law on allergen labeling, meaning you can tell whether or not a product is suitable for a gluten-free diet by reading the ingredients list.

Switching to a gluten-free diet is a big change, and like anything new, it takes some getting used to. You may initially feel deprived by the diet's restrictions. It may help to try to focus on all the foods you can eat instead of not to eat.

If you're just starting with a gluten-free diet, it's a good idea to consult a dietitian who can answer your questions and offer advice about how to avoid gluten while still eating a healthy, balanced diet.

photo: thebitingtruth.com

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