Gluten, or glue in Latin, is a protein naturally present in wheat, barley and rye and that helps to “bind” breads, pasta and cakes giving them elasticity.
For some people gluten is forbidden: the ones who suffer with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder. In their case gluten contributes to the inflammation of the small intestine. As a result the villi deteriorate not allowing the adequate absorption of vitamins and minerals so important to our organism such as iron, folic acid and calcium. Some of the symptoms associated to this disease are anemia, irritability, weight lost, abdominal discomfort and prolonged diarrhea.
The percentage of people with celiac disease is, however, reduced and it has remained more or less stable. What has considerably rised in the last few years is the number of people with gluten sensitivity, maybe because of increased awareness regarding this subject. In these cases an immune system response does not occur, but gluten consumption may create gut distress like stomachaches, bloating, excess gases and diarrhea, but not only this. A good way for you to know if you are gluten sensitive is to remove it from your diet for some weeks. You can learn how to do this here.
The challenge now is to discover where´s gluten?
As I mentioned earlier gluten is naturally present in wheat, rye and barley.
- Wheat: you may find it in breads, pasta, cookies, biscuits, quiches, pies, pizza, lasagna, couscous, bulghur, seitan (wheat gluten). Spelt and kamut are wheat varieties
- Rye: mainly in breads
- Barley: one of the most famous ingredients in beer
Oats don´t contain gluten intrinsically. The problem is that they are processed in factories where wheat is also processed so there is the possibility of cross contamination. In other words, it´s good to buy gluten free oats.
What about alternatives? Besides oats, there are other grains such as:
You can know more about each of them in my post Sick of Wheat? Check Out These Alternatives .