What Is Gluten?

Published 6/10/13

What Is Gluten?

Not too long ago, few people even knew what gluten was. Fast-forward to today and gluten-free diets are becoming more and more popular. Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye and as a result is found in most of the foods we eat on a daily basis. Even though few of us actually know what gluten truly is, most of us secretly love it. Gluten is what makes bread light and fluffy. Gluten is what allows pizza dough to be stretched into a large circle. Gluten is even used to help thicken soups and sauces such as salad dressings or soy sauce.

Should You Eat Gluten?

If you have Celiac Disease or are gluten sensitive, you should definitely stay away from gluten. With Celiac Disease, your body considers gluten to be an unwelcomed intruder and will launch an immune response to fight the gluten, resulting in damage to the small intestine. If you do not have Celiac Disease and you are not gluten sensitive, it is perfectly healthy to consume a diet that includes gluten.

Switching from a gluten diet to a gluten-free diet is not only a huge hassle but it can actually do more bad than good.  Gluten is found in just about every single processed food. Taking up a gluten-free diet results in fewer choices for food, which can be good because it can prevent you from over-eating but at the same time it can decrease the amount of nutrients you are getting from your diet. A gluten-free diet can result in you missing out on vital nutrients such as fiber, iron and all the B vitamins. Also, gluten-free diets can have more fats or sugars than your typical diet. In the absence of gluten, which food makers use to bind their food together, food manufacturers will instead use fats or sugars to bind the food, thus increasing your fat or sugar consumption. It is important to know the potential downfalls of a gluten-free diet so you can plan accordingly and make sure you are still providing your body with the nutrients it needs to operate in a healthy and balanced manner.

Switching to a gluten-free diet is no small task and should not be taken up unless you take it seriously and plan it carefully. When going gluten-free, you must place extreme focus on fruits, vegetables, lean protein, dairy, and gluten free grains. Going gluten-free can be extremely healthy, if done right. It is not recommended to try half-heartedly or to just try and wing it because you may end up doing more harm than good to your body.

Do you have Celiac Disease? Are you gluten sensitive?

Symptoms of Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity include anemia, fatigue, random and sudden weight loss, chronic diarrhea and constipation, infertility, and extreme abdominal pain and bloating. If you have these symptoms often and they occur after eating, it is highly recommended you visit a doctor and complete a physical. 

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Gluten Free Dutch Sugar Cookies 1 cup rice flour1/2 cup tapioca flour1 cup cnrotsarch1 teaspoon baking powder2 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum1 teaspoon salt1 cup sugar1 cup Butter Flavor Crisco1 egg or 1/4 cup liquid egg substitute2 teaspoons vanilla1/4 cup potato starch, for kneading 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Have on hand 2 ungreased cookie sheets. 2. In a small bowl, whish together the flour mix, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt. Set aside. 3. In the bowl of your mixer, cream sugar and crisco. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients, mixing enough to combine. The dough will be a soft ball. With your hands, knead in enough of the potato starch to make the dough easy to handle and roll out. 4. Using about half at a time, place a piece of plastic wrap over the ball and roll out to about 1/8 inch thickness. 5. Cut into desired shapes and place on pan. 6. Decorate with coloured sugars before baking or use frosting to decorate after baking. 7. (With this dough, you can use all the scraps.) Just scrape them together and roll out again. They will not get tough. 8. Bake for about 13 minutes. Cool very slightly before removing from the pan. Was this answer helpful?
1/7/14 7:10pm

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