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What is Gluten? by Alejandro Chaban

What is Gluten? by Alejandro Chaban

What is Gluten?

Let’s remember that we don’t have to copy everything we read on a magazine or follow the latest fad that our friends or that girl you secretly admire on Facebook are raving about. Not everything is meant to be tried by everyone like for example, following a GLUTEN-FREE diet.

First, let’s really understand what gluten is. According to the dictionary:

gluten. (noun). :  a tenacious elastic protein substance especially of wheat flour that gives cohesiveness to dough

The word gluten is derived from the Greek language and it basically means “glue.”  Because of its elastic and sticky properties, gluten is the ingredient that prevents a piece of bread or cake from crumbling.  But, when this ingredient interacts with our intestines, it interferes with our metabolism and the absorption of nutrients.  Also, because it has an insignificant nutritional value by itself, gluten provides little benefits for our body.

Gluten is commonly used in the food industry as an additive in many products: sausages, hamburgers, cold cuts, sauces, breads, cookies, crackers, cereals and pastas, among others.  The reason why many people seek a gluten-free diet is because a small percentage of the population is intolerant or allergic to gluten and they are forced to look for food options without it.  Even if they avoid eating bread, there are many other products that contain gluten in small quantities.  These products are the ones people who are allergic to gluten look for in their “gluten free” version.

Currently there are other additives that can substitute gluten and that is why a lot of products are marketed as “gluten free”.  Moreover, there are people who think that eating food with gluten makes you gain weight, thus they also seek a “gluten free” option when buying their food.

Avoiding gluten has its benefits.  There are people who experience higher energy levels and a better digestion when they eat gluten free.  Additionally, there are many that believe that eating without gluten helps the body absorb nutrients more efficiently and lose weight.  By seeking products without this ingredient, we are also forced to choose a wider variety of food items that can give our diet other nutritional values.

But eating “gluten free” is certainly not for everyone.  In order to be able to do it, you would have to stop eating all types of flour and ingredients made with wheat such as Pasta, Couscous, Bread, Flour Tortillas, Cookies, Crackers, Pastelitos, Cereals, Beer and Oatmeal, among others.  This can make it much more difficult and expensive to shop for food.

Here are some tips to find out whether you are intolerant or allergic to gluten:

• Check with your doctor.

• Go through a “detox diet.” Begin eliminating food that is made with gluten and see how you feel.  If you feel better, keep going.  Otherwise, perhaps you should check with your doctor or get tested to detect your tolerance level to gluten.

• Get your blood tested for IgG-gliadin.  If you are allergic to any type of food, your immune system will be activated and produce antibodies.  These immunoglobulin E antibodies called, IgE’s, will be present in your blood and tissue.  The IgG-gliadin test specifically looks for the antibodies that your immune system develops when they are exposed to gluten. If you have the antibodies, you are allergic to gluten.  If you have symptoms similar to the allergy, but not the antibodies, you are probably sensitive to products containing gluten.

• Eliminate gluten from your diet.  There is no cure for celiac disease or for a gluten allergy. The only viable treatment is to avoid gluten completely.  However, this can be complicated as wheat is used as an additive in things like soups, sauces and salad dressings, but if you are aware of this, you can lead a normal life, gluten free. Here are some ideas for Gluten Free products 


Alejandro Chaban 

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