Lately, the awareness of gluten has been on the rise as more people are becoming interested in consuming foods without gluten. But what is gluten? And should it be avoided in the diet?
Gluten is the name for the proteins (also called prolamins) found in wheat, rye and barley. Normally, these proteins are easily digested and absorbed - but for those who are diagnosed with celiac disease, or for those who have gluten sensitivities - they should be avoided.
Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disease where the immune system perceives gluten as harmful. When wheat, rye and barley (and sometimes oats) are eaten, they trigger an immune response that damages the lining of the small intestine, and subsequently restricts its ability to absorb nutrients.
Replace the Grains, Keep the Nutrients
Enriched grains provide a substantial amount of iron and B vitamins in the diet. When replacing these grains, enriched or whole grain non-gluten products may be chosen as a substitute; or some may choose to eat more buckwheat, quinoa, or any of the grains shown in the table below.
|Rice (all forms)||Nut Flours||Potato|
Other Foods Safe to Eat
There are plenty of other non-grain foods that do not contain gluten. Fruits, vegetables, dairy products, beef, poultry, fish, nuts and eggs are all safe to eat and an important part of a nutrient-rich diet.
What to Look For On the Food Label
Pay attention to the food labels and read the ingredient statements. If the following items are found in the ingredients, it means that wheat, and therefore gluten, is in the product: Bromated flour, bulgur, durum flour, enriched flour, farina flour, gluten flour, graham flour, phosphate flour, plain flour, self-rising flour, semolina. Check out the Wendy's menu items that do not include gluten.
Before beginning a non-gluten diet, it is advisable to consult a physician to ensure healthy outcomes.
For more information on celiac disease, visit the Celiac Disease Foundation website at www.celiac.org.