What gluten is

Have you ever heard someone say they're "going gluten-free"? You might be wondering, what is gluten, and why is it something people avoid? Gluten is a protein naturally present in grains like wheat, barley, and rye.

Imagine it as a glue that binds these grains together, providing them with structure and that delightful chewiness we experience in bread and pasta. For most people, gluten is a perfectly harmless component of a balanced diet. However, for individuals with specific medical conditions, consuming gluten can trigger negative reactions.

Foods That Contain Gluten

Gluten hides in many everyday foods, so being aware of its sources is key. Here are some common culprits:

  • Wheat-based products: Bread, pasta, pastries, cereals, crackers, cookies, cakes, flour (wheat, spelt, durum, semolina)
  • Barley: Barley itself, barley flour, barley malt
  • Rye: Rye bread, rye flour

But that’s not all, gluten is also present in many everyday foods such as:

  • Sauces and dressings: Soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, salad dressings
  • Soups and broths: Some commercially prepared broths may contain barley
  • Processed foods: Many processed snacks and convenience foods contain wheat flour or other gluten-containing ingredients.

Side Effects of Gluten

Since there are certain side effects of gluten, some people should avoid it. For instance, for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, ingesting gluten triggers an immune response that damages the small intestine. This can lead to a variety of symptoms, including: 

  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhoea, constipation, or bloating
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Weight loss or difficulty gaining weight
  • Nausea and vomiting

People with a wheat allergy also experience an immune response to gluten, but it's different from celiac disease and can cause more severe symptoms like hives, swelling, and difficulty breathing.

What is Gluten Intolerance?

While not everyone who experiences discomfort after eating gluten has celiac disease, some may have a sensitivity or gluten intolerance. This means their body has difficulty digesting gluten, leading to digestive issues and other symptoms.

If you suspect you might have a gluten sensitivity, it's important to consult with a doctor for proper diagnosis. They can recommend tests and guide you on managing your symptoms.

The Takeaway

Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. It's generally harmless, but for people with celiac disease, wheat allergy, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, it can cause a range of health problems.

By understanding what gluten is and where it's found, you can make informed choices about your diet. If you experience discomfort after eating gluten, talk to your doctor to determine the cause and create a personalised plan.

Visit Amala Earth to explore gluten free foods along with various other mindful eating products to help you start your wellness journey today.

FAQs on What is Gluten

What is gluten and is it harmful?

Gluten itself isn't harmful for most people. However, individuals with celiac disease, wheat allergy, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity can experience negative reactions after consuming gluten.

What is gluten and why should I avoid it?

You only need to avoid gluten if you have a diagnosed medical condition related to it. If you suspect gluten sensitivity, consult a doctor for diagnosis and guidance.

What gluten does to the body?

For people with celiac disease, gluten triggers an immune response that damages the small intestine. For others with a sensitivity, it can cause digestive issues and discomfort.

What foods are high in gluten?

Wheat-based products like bread, pasta, and cereals are high in gluten. Additionally, barley, rye, and some processed foods can contain gluten.