Gluten is a buzzword right now. Most folks recognize it has something to do with bread, but what really is gluten? Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale-a cross between wheat and rye. Triticale is a cereal grain created by plant breeders. This protein helps with the structure of the food by acting like a glue to maintain its structure.
Since gluten is not highly understood, many people aren’t sure if they should eat it. Here are some practical tips when navigating gluten. Individuals with a diagnosed celiac disease (or even those with a gluten sensitivity) should avoid gluten. When these individuals consume gluten, they most often experience bloating, diarrhea, and frequent migraines. Even very small amounts of gluten can trigger these symptoms. Thankfully for us, the FDA has a gluten-free (gf) labeling requirement to help consumers on a gluten-free diet recognize these products easier. To be labeled gluten-free, the product must contain fewer than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten.
Gluten is found in many foods that most individuals may not realize. When avoiding gluten here are a few tips and tricks.
- Be sure to always check the ingredient label before consuming any food.
- Some uncommon sources of gluten include sauces, marinades, gravies, processed meats, vegetarian meat alternatives, and soups.
- When eating out, be sure to ask your waiter or waitress what menu items contain gluten or if they have a gluten-free option on their menu.
- Some code words for detecting gluten include crusted, crispy, fried, and coated. Be extra cautious if these words are found.
For the rest of the population that does not have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, it is important to understand that gluten is not the bad guy. Foods with gluten can be apart of a healthy lifestyle. As with any food item, it’s essential to remember moderation. Some days you can have your cake and eat it too!