What the Heck Is Gluten?

March 19, 2014

Gluten free diets seem to be ALL the rage right now. I’ve started requesting the gluten free option on menus at restaurants and started experimenting with different types of flours when I bake (which isn’t too often), yet I don’t really know why gluten free is a better option. I don’t even know what gluten is.

My husband is currently in New York City at the International Culinary School studying the art of Bread making (the image above is his bread). Bread has been my enemy for years and my husband is becoming a master baker. I gotta figure out how this is going to work because  no one can resist the smell for fresh baked bread. At the ICC gluten free bread is included in the curriculum, however it is done reluctantly. Not everyone has to avoid gluten, not everyone will have a negative reaction to gluten and from what I understand (from what my hubby has learnt) those to see negative effects from eating bread most likely are reacting to all of the preservatives and unnatural ingredients used in mass processed bread.

Gluten is a substance present in cereal grains, especially wheat, that is responsible for the elastic texture of dough. A mixture of two proteins, it causes illness in people with celiac disease. According to some health care providers, those who have celiac disease are the only people who really should eliminate gluten from their diet. For a person with celiac disease just one bite of a glutenous food damages their small intestine and can cause a range of symptoms including abdominal pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. If you think you have celiac disease you should get tested, just eliminating gluten from your diet is not enough, especially if your intestines have been damaged – AND you must be consuming gluten to be tested.

Many have turned to a gluten-free diet to loose weight. For some with an intolerance eliminating gluten from their diet may reduce the bloating they feel after they eat bread, but it won’t make you loose weight. However gluten free products do not have the same nutritional value as product with gluten. Not to mention by just eliminating gluten, you are not getting to the heart of the problem.

In researching for this blog I’ve found so many contradictory articles for and against the gluten free diet. What they all agree on is that you should get tested if you think you have celiac disease.

From my experience, if I eat a lot of carbs in one day, especially pasta I find that I bloat. However when I eat fresh, home made baked goods, I do not bloat. Hmmm, this seems to bring me back to what I’ve been saying all along. Eating clean is the way to go. Our grandparents and great grandparents did not have weight problems. Obesity was not an issue in the 50’s – because everything you ate was made at home – not mass produced in a factory. Time to go back to basics!