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February 17, 2014


Gluten is a mixture of two proteins present in cereal grains, especially wheat, which is responsible for the elastic texture of dough. It’s easy to say that just wheat flour is the major source of gluten, but there a number of products that may contain wheat in various forms that aren’t gluten-free, and sometimes it's hard to tell from looking at these products whether or not they are safe for people with conditions like celiac disease. Lists of these foods certainly exist and some countries label foods as free of this substance. Additionally there are numerous foods listed that contain some form of wheat, some obvious and some far less easy to tell by simply reading an ingredient list.

Some of the more obvious foods that contain gluten include most bread unless labeled gluten-free, a majority of baked goods, crackers, baking mixes for cakes, muffins, biscuits and cookies, and most prepared cookies. Other foods in this list are the majority of pastas, which are made from durum wheat, couscous, foods that contain graham flour, anything with pearl barley, and the majority of breakfast cereals. Pizzas, pizza rolls, hot pockets,stuffing and stuffing mix, breadcrumbs, and pretzels also usually have wheat flour in them in some form. Some of these products can be purchased in wheat-free form and are labeled accordingly.

Other products contain gluten with ingredient lists that aren’t as apparent. Products with any form of starch, autolyzed wheat protein, brewer’s yeast, malt, farina, Kamut, dextrimaltose or maltodextrin, textured vegetable protein, vegetable starch or meal, may either be predominantly wheat products or contain wheat. Some foods to look for that may contain these ingredients include:

  • Most beers and some wines
  • Malt vinegar
  • Malted cereal or farina cereal
  • Prepared gravies or gravy packages
  • Many types of soup
  • Baked beans or chili
  • Some salad dressings
  • Certain brands of sausages
  • Pate
  • Stock cubes or bouillon
  • Less expensive cold cuts


Gluten intolerance is also called celiac disease and is an inherited condition that causes an extreme physical reaction when they ingest gluten from grains like wheat, barley, and rye. The condition is not curable, and can become severe, damaging the small intestine and causing poor absorption of vitamins and minerals or malnutrition. Though it usually cannot be cured, gluten intolerance can be addressed by avoiding products which contain gluten. This is becoming easier to do with many low or gluten-free foods available, which make good substitutes for foods with gluten. It's a good thing that such foods have been marketed, since about one in 100 people may suffer from gluten intolerance.

People with gluten intolerance respond to gluten by having an immune reaction. This can cause a variety of symptoms. Diarrhea, fatigue, anemia, sudden malnutrition, weight loss, weight gain, and muscle cramps may all result. The condition is usually diagnosed through blood testing to see if antibodies develop in response to gluten. When the condition is discovered, gluten intolerance is then treated by a modified diet. 

It is extremely important to adhere to a diet free from wheat, barley, and rye for life, even when symptoms are no longer present. As people don't get over gluten intolerance, and each time gluten is ingested, a sufferer may be risking the health of his intestines permanently.

Since gluten intolerance can so severely affect health, many products now contain labeling that says "gluten free," or indicate if products contain gluten. This type of labeling may be found in a lot of natural foods stores, which are the resource of people with gluten intolerance. Alternative flours, vitamins without gluten, and products that are gluten free are easiest to find at health food or natural foods stores, and are usually most accurately labeled.

Having gluten intolerance doesn't mean a person cannot eat a relatively normal and standard diet. Unless he or she has other severe food allergies, most proteins, vegetables, and many grains are available, and he or she may be able to use types of flour other than wheat, barley, and rye. Some people tolerate soy flours and rice flours very well. People with this condition should speak to their doctor or nutritionist regarding alternatives to standard wheat, rye, and barley flour or gluten.

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