Pick any aisle in your local grocery store and you will see many packages with “gluten-free” labels. Or maybe you have a friend who requires to eat “gluten-free” foods. Gluten-free foods and products are made available for specific individuals who require foods without gluten.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and their various forms such as triticale. It gives structure to baked goods and can be used for a thickening agent or flavor enhancer.
Who should avoid eating gluten?
Most people do not have a problem with gluten. However for some people, eating foods with gluten can make eating foods a little less pleasant. People who have been diagnosed with celiac disease, a gluten sensitivity, or in some cases people who have severe wheat allergies should choose foods labeled “gluten-free”. A 100% gluten-free diet is the only treatment for celiac disease today.
What is Celiac?
Celiac disease is a condition in which gluten damages the lining in the small intestine and keeps certain foods from being used for food. The disease is diagnosed by a medical professional using a blood test and intestinal biopsy.
What types of foods should a person who cannot eat gluten choose? The following foods are considered gluten-free:
- All plain meat, poultry, fish, and eggs (does not include breading or gravies)
- Milk, butter, margarine, cheese, and plain yogurt
- Fruits and vegetables
- Legumes and nuts
- Corn and rice
- Gluten-free oats (oats not processed or in contact with gluten containing foods), hominy, and buckwheat
- Oats are naturally gluten-free. However, they can be contaminated with gluten if they are processed and distributed with other grains that contain gluten. Always check the ingredients label for information on whether or not a food contains gluten.
Gluten Free Foods and Health
Many people believe not eating foods with gluten is a more healthy option. The fact is many foods which are gluten-free are not enriched with essential vitamins and minerals as other gluten containing foods. Following a healthy eating pattern which includes reducing foods high in saturated, trans fat, sodium, and added sugar is the best option for a healthier you!
Bottom line, people with Celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, and those with severe wheat allergies should not eat foods made with gluten. If you think you might have one of these conditions, speak with your doctor before removing foods containing gluten.