What is Gluten Free?

GlutenfreeGluten-free is the name given to products or foods that are completely devoid of gluten.

Gluten, a form of protein normally found in the starchy or “white” part of certain grains – like wheat, kamut, spelt, barley, rye, oats and triticale – is responsible for giving raw bread, pizza dough, and dessert dough their elastic quality which later results in the delightful, chewy texture bread fans prize. Gluten is also used as a food additive in the form of flavoring, stabilizing or thickening agents because of its versatile nature.

So why do some people strive to avoid it? Sadly, some adults and even children have a rare immune deficiency that causes extreme inflammation of the intestines when they eat anything containing gluten. No one knows why some people contract this disease, which is called Celiac Disease and for which there is no cure to date.

So, what do suffers of Celiac Disease eat? They learn to live a gluten-free lifestyle and become gluten sleuths, reading all labels, as gluten can hide in any number of places. You might be thinking that this is an extreme carb-free diet, however those with Celiac Disease can enjoy plenty of gluten free starches such as corn, potatoes, rice, and tapioca.

Other grains and roots can be enjoyed like amaranth, arrowroot, millet, quinoa, sweet potato, taro, teff, and yam, as long as they are not processed with any other food or a plant that processes foods with gluten.

Here are some foods that you might not think contain gluten, but they do:

  • soy & teriyaki sauce
  • malt beverages, including all beer
  • matzo
  • bleu cheese (made with bread mold)

You should also be careful of the following, as they may contain gluten:

  • food coloring
  • miso
  • stock/bouillon cubes
  • vitamins
  • dried fruit

Gluten-Free Foods

For a comprehensive list of gluten-free foods and shopping sources, check out Joy Bauer’s book Food Cures. For any recipes that are gluten-free, be sure to purchase your groceries from a “gluten free source”:

First published September 2008.

Comments

  1. I found these terrific gluten free chewy cookies. The chocolate cookies are the best. They’re also organic, vegan, and low glycemic.

  2. Kim Day says:

    I am having trouble with constipation, & am following a gluten free diet for celiac disease

    • It’s not good when the old pipes aren’t working. Be sure to drink plenty of water and try decreasing the amount of starches you eat such as potato, gluten free bread and especially rice. Increase the amount of green leafy veggies. A lot of my friends who have celiac have a tendency to over do it on rice and that can be tough on the intestines.

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