What It Means to Follow a Gluten-Free Diet

Gluten is a protein that is present in grains like wheat and rye. Most people are able to digest gluten normally but some people’s systems cannot process gluten, because they have either an allergy or a specific intolerance. The inability to digest gluten is known as celiac disease. Eating gluten can be painful for these people and might even lead to other medical conditions. There are also individuals who believe that gluten is linked with certain diseases. These are all reasons why gluten-free diets are becoming more common.

GlutenA gluten-free diet excludes all sources of gluten from every meal. The severity of the intolerance and the reason for following the diet can affect how stringently the gluten is avoided. A person with a mild intolerance might be able to eat some gluten throughout the day. A person who has celiac disease cannot have any gluten. One of the primary problems that is encountered when avoiding foods that contain gluten is that the protein is widely used as a food additive and is not always listed as an ingredient. Gluten is used as a thickener, as a stabilizer, and as a way to make baked goods chewy. Use of gluten in processed food production is so common that it can be difficult to determine what foods, additives, or ingredients contain the protein.

The number of gluten meal plans that have been developed has increased dramatically in the last decade. Older plans simply involved avoiding breads and processed starches. Modern meal plans are much more complete. A person who is avoiding gluten can use substances like almond flour, rice flour, or bean flour to make baked goods. There are gluten diet recipes for everything from cakes to breads that are made completely of gluten free products. Most of these gluten-free meals contain all of the same nutritional benefits as meals that do contain gluten.

One of the problems with gluten diet lists and gluten diet recipes is that cross-contamination makes it risky to use prepared or canned products in a meal. Grains that are processed through a machine will leave a residue that can be transmitted to another product. Fortunately, many food companies are now manufacturing gluten-free prepared and processed foods in dedicated facilities. This allows individuals who are avoiding gluten to have the same convenience and options that are available to anyone else. It has also helped to raise the standards of gluten-free foods.