What is Gluten?


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What is Gluten?

It seems as if nowadays, almost everyone is blindly shunning gluten, hearing word of its evils gossiped throughout the health-conscious community but not quite sure as to why it is so very heinous.   In fact, it seems as if the vast majority of trendy socialites who are going “gluten-free” are not all too sure why, exactly, they are!  A study conducted in 2013 showed that up to one-third of American citizens are actively working towards totally eliminating gluten from their diets2.  What is gluten, and why are we as a nation beginning to entirely turn our backs on this long-loved dietary staple?


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Gluten is the general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley1.

 

Wheat gluten is predominantly found in:

  • Cereals
  • Breads
  • Baked goods
  • Pasta
  • Sauces
  • Salad dressing
  • Soup

Barley gluten is predominantly found in:

  • Malt
  • Malt vinegar
  • Beer
  • Food coloring
  • Soups

Rye gluten is predominantly found in:

  • Rye breads (such as pumpernickel)
  • Rye beer
  • Cereals

 

Some individuals, including those who suffer from celiac disease, are gluten-intolerant – meaning they cannot properly break down gluten during digestion. Gluten intolerance is fairly common; seeing as it is estimated that 1 of every 141 American citizens suffers from celiac disease2.  However, gluten seems to have gotten a bad rap – even amongst those not suffering from celiac or any other gluten intolerance.

 

As it turns out, gluten is not really so “bad” after all!  Eating gluten-free is both costly and inconvenient, and those who do not have celiac disease will likely not be harmed by consumption of wheat products.  In fact, consuming a gluten-free diet when not necessary can potentially do more harm than good.  Those eating diets free of gluten and not suffering from a wheat intolerance are likely missing out on nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber that they would otherwise be consuming as part of a regular diet3.  Committing to going completely gluten-free means entirely altering one’s diet, seeing as wheat products make up a significant amount of foods within the standard American diet.  For those suffering from celiac disease or any other severe gluten intolerance, eliminating gluten is essential – for those who have never experienced any negative side effects directly resulting from gluten consumption – think twice before jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon!

 

Yours in Good Health,

Cayla Clark


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  1. http://celiac.org/live-gluten-free/glutenfreediet/what-is-gluten/
  2. http://authoritynutrition.com/6-shocking-reasons-why-gluten-is-bad/
  3. http://www.webmd.com/diet/truth-about-gluten

 

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