The latest hype in food awareness seems to be a demand for gluten free foods. It’s becoming more and more popular to find foods without it, though many don’t understand what it is, nor why people don’t want it in their food.
Gluten is not a grain. It is a component of grain that makes bread chewy, bagels dense, and helps to cause bread to rise.
Not all grains have gluten. Some are naturally gluten free and therefore it’s superfluous to print Gluten Free on its label. Grains such as buckwheat, oats, rice and soy do not have any gluten. Wheat, however, does, which is largely why it is the main ingredient in bread. That added substance is what works with yeast to help give bread all its characteristic qualities.
Anything with barley, wheat and/or rye will contain gluten, but be aware that some unexpected foods may also contain this substance.
Naturally Gluten Free Foods
Many foods do not contain gluten in their natural state. Those who are looking to eliminate gluten from their diet may safely consume the following foods:
- Raw fruits
- Raw vegetables
- Fresh eggs
- Unprocessed meats
- Natural Cheese
- Brown Rice
- Corn Meal
Foods that May Contain Gluten
Many processed foods may have additives that contain traces of this substance, and it may or may not be clearly labeled. When choosing gluten free foods, be extra careful about the following:
- Hot dogs
- Ice Cream
- Soy Sauce
Why Can’t Some People Eat Gluten?
In some people’s digestive systems gluten can cause an abnormal immune response, causing intense discomfort and bloating. It’s often difficult to diagnose exactly why these symptoms occur, since most people don’t link such a common food as bread with making them feel ill. Celiac Disease is one possible diagnosis of this gluten intolerance, though not all who experience gluten intolerance have this disease.
Once gluten is eliminated from the diet, most people with this condition feel much better.
The Response to the Demand for Gluten Free Foods
Thankfully, food producers are responding to demand for foods that do not contain this substance. It’s becoming easier and easier to find breads, pastas, and cereals that are completely gluten free. Be aware of misleading labels, however. Just because a label indicates that it is gluten free, doesn’t mean that it had gluten in the first place. Many foods never have and never will have gluten, but food manufacturers and labelers will try to capitalize on the fact that you might not know that, and therefore choose to purchase their product based on the gluten free claim.
Options are becoming more and more available for those who wish to eliminate or avoid gluten in their diet. As with any dietary restriction, it’s important to find alternatives to maintain a well-rounded and balanced diet. Thankfully, food producers are responding to this demand and are beginning to offer options that can satisfy a number of dietary preferences and needs.