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What Is Gluten?

If you are concerned about gluten intolerance or gluten allergies, this is the article for you. We’ll explain gluten intolerance, discuss what gluten free means and what a gluten free diet consists of, explore places to purchase gluten free food and also discuss the other health risks that being gluten intolerant can pose. Read on to learn more about gluten!

What is gluten intolerance?

Gluten intolerance is when an individual cannot consume gluten without an adverse reaction. Symptoms can vary from individual to individual. Common symptoms include diarrhea, bloating and gas, abdominal pain and mental fogginess to name just a few. One way to determine if gluten is causing your symptoms is to eat a gluten free diet for a period of several weeks to see if the symptoms dissipate.

What does gluten free mean?

Gluten free means a food that does not contain gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. While oats do not technically contain gluten, it is generally categorized as a gluten containing food because it is processed with other grains that do contain gluten and becomes contaminated.

What is a gluten free diet?

Eating gluten free consists of avoiding all foods that contain wheat, rye, barley and oats – and any derivative of those grains. At first glance it seems simple enough, until you discover that many ingredients contain a wheat, rye or barley byproduct. Cooking your own food is the best way to begin a gluten free diet, and then slowly add processed foods in while being vigilant about checking labels.

Where can I buy gluten free food?

Fortunately gluten free food is widely available. Most grocery stores carry at least a few gluten free products and health food stores are an even better bet. The best selection of all can be found online. There are hundreds of products and lots of retailers who carry specialty items from gluten free pasta to pizza dough – all just a few clicks away.

Does being gluten intolerant have any other health implications?

It can. Some people who are sensitive to gluten have an allergy or a reaction that causes symptoms that are irritating but not life threatening. Others have a more serious disease called celiac disease. Individuals with this disease cannot eat gluten at all because it actively damages their small intestines which leads to nutrient loss and in extreme cases can be life threatening. If you’re concerned that you may have celiac disease be sure to see a healthcare professional right away. (For more information on this topic, be sure to read our article on celiac disease symptoms.)