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What is Gluten & What is a Gluten-Free Diet?
Posted by Physician's Preference on 3/4/2014

We've all heard of "gluten" and a "gluten-free" diet. It's all over the news, it's on the labels of our food products, it's even on the menus at our favorite restaurants. Everywhere we go, someone we know is following a gluten-free diet.

So what exactly does that mean? What is gluten? And what is a gluten-free diet? We're here to break that down for you today.

Those who follow a gluten-free diet must avoid foods that contain this protein found in these grains, as well as any ingredient derived from them, such as flour, or anything made with flour, such as bread, cereal and pasta. 

Though avoiding wheat, rye, barley and flour may seem fairly simple, there are many foods and food ingredients that contain not-so-obvious gluten ingredients. Many processed foods, sauces, soups and salad dressings also contain gluten. Oats are technically gluten-free but are often contaminated during growing or being processed in facilities that handle wheat so only certified gluten-free oats should be consumed.

What is gluten? Simply put, gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. 

What is a gluten-free diet? A gluten-free diet is the elimination of gluten-containing foods from your diet, such as:
  • Any foods made out of wheat, rye, barley and non-gluten-free oats
  • All flours, with the exception of almond and coconut or certified gluten-free oat flour
  • Bread (even potato bread)
  • Wheat pasta
  • Baked goods
  • Cereal
  • Tortillas
  • Packaged foods, like chips and crackers
  • Beer/lager
More importantly, when following a gluten-free diet, it's essential that you focus on a whole foods approach that contains lean meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes and raw nuts.

Because March is National Nutrition Month, we will be focusing on gluten all month long! From gluten-free recipes and top sources for gluten information, to most common sources of hidden gluten and even more recipes, our goal is to ensure you are well-informed and educated on things gluten-free.

Is there anything specific you would like to learn in regards to gluten? Leave your comments or requests in the comments section below or shoot us a quick message on Facebook!

Bill Robinson Date 3/4/2014
The one best thing anyone can do for their health is give up WHEAT.
Wendy Bain Date 3/4/2014
How do I tell if it's gluten or wheat that disagrees with my body?
Stephanie Howard Date 3/4/2014
Hi Bill, We could not agree more!
Gayle Vaughan Date 3/4/2014
How do we know we are gluten intolerant? I know my body feels extremely better without it..but what are the actual signs?
Stephanie Howard Date 3/4/2014
Hi Wendy, Wheat is gluten, therefore, if you are reacting to wheat, you are reacting to gluten. Have you tried a wheat-free/gluten-free diet?
Stephanie Howard Date 3/4/2014
Hi Gayle, Our Gluten Certified Practitioner, Amber Littler, PA-C will be touching on that exact subject in just a few days! Look forward to a list of symptoms caused by gluten!
elizabeth carroll Date 3/4/2014
for some, like my husband, who does not have celiac, isn't the bigger problem w all the GMO's? it is my understanding that the gmo's are really what our bodies are not tolerating and more often than not the foods that contain gluten also consistently contain gmo's. these days wheat is mostly harvested before it has reached its full maturity in order for the farmers to harvest multiple times a year to maximize the economics of the growers. therefore it is not allowing the whet to go through its natural process of maturing hence being rejected by our bellies.
ReBecca Lingenfelter Date 3/4/2014
Thank you so much for all the information this month on gluten. Could you put up some information about what can happen to a persons body when they are gluten intolerant and don't cut gluten from their diets. My three toddlers are gluten intolerant and it took a very long time for their immune systems to recover from the damage gluten did. My immune system never recovered. When I was a child people didn't know what gluten intolerances were. They just treated the chronic symptoms. Thank you so much.
Gayle Weber Date 3/4/2014
Thanks for the emphasis on gluten. We definitely need more awareness of the relationship between gluten and autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. FYI, unless you are strictly paleo, you can have gluten free bread. There are gluten free bread flours if you prefer to make your own. Of course, if you're also yeastfree, that's not an option.
Shari in Houston Date 3/4/2014
It took a DNA test for me to find out that I had all 4 genes positive for Gluten Intolerance. Now that I am gluten free and follow a yeast free diet, One must follow a GF diet to ahd max-there is no on or off appraoch. You are able to eat brown and wild rice, I was able to wean off Nexium for acid reflux, which I had been on for years! Been Nexium free for over 2 months and no problems! GF diet is most important for anyone that wants to be healthy! Plant based diet is the healthiest with a little fish.
Stephanie Howard Date 3/4/2014
HI Elizabeth, Because a large percentage of processed foods are genetically modified and because a decent amount of the same processed foods contain gluten, it's very possible that we're reacting to not only the gluten, but the GMOs as well. Great question! Our advice: steer clear of gluten and GMOs!
Stephanie Howard Date 3/4/2014
Hi Rebecca, We can definitely touch on this subject. Most likely, if someone who suffers from gluten intolerance continues to consume gluten, they will continue to suffer from the same symptoms and most likely start to suffer with more symptoms, too, making the sensitivity even worse.
Stephanie Howard Date 3/4/2014
Hi Shari, It's great to hear you're doing so well on a gluten-free/yeast-free diet! We would definitely agree that a plant-based diet is an excellent decision for your health!
Lisa Lallinger Date 3/5/2014
I just found a wonderful multiple seed rice bread at whole foods. It is gluten free, yeast free, soy free, corn free and dairy free with no processed sugar. It is very good, especially toasted. My whole family is gluten free and feel much better for it!
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