What is Gluten and why do people go Gluten Free?

 I talk a lot about gluten-free in diets such as paleo; low carb, Atkins or in the most extreme conditions where gluten is excluded; IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or coeliac disease, where your immune system reacts to gluten and attacks the lining of the gut.

Other things to note are IBS, which is a lot more common than people think (I have it!) It’s just not something people talk about.

I’ll be doing a post for IBS to go with #secretsuffers it’ll be #secretsuffers of IBS, where I talk about why It’s such a taboo subject and why people don’t take it too seriously when they should. I talk a lot about gluten free so I thought I’d explain what is is, how it works on the body and why we don’t need it..you’ll be shocked, there are some crazy misconceptions of it!

What is gluten?

Gluten is found naturally in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and a cross between wheat and rye called triticale. It can also be manufactured and is often added into common foods, It’s what gives so many foods their structure, It makes foods stretchy and gummy, like in pizza dough, it’s chewy! Gluten makes that elasticity happen. 

What is a gluten-free diet?

A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes the protein gluten” however, in the new fan dangle diets we have now, gluten-free diets can also exclude sugars and starches. The important thing to remember with a gluten-free diet is that it can be a weight loss aid but is primarily used in hospitals and as an aid to medical conditions..such as the treatment of celiac disease.

Foods to avoid:

In addition to pure wheat, all of its forms are also off-limits. This includes:

“wheat starch, wheat bran, wheat germ, couscous, cracked wheat, graham flour Kamut matzo semolina spelt. barley bulgur oats (oats themselves don’t contain gluten, but are often processed in plants that produce gluten-containing grains and may be contaminated) rye.” Excerpt from yahoo/food.

It’s hidden in a lot of items you wouldn’t expect too; such as soy and fish sauces, miso, vinegar, imitation crab, seitan, oats, natural flavouring, and salad dressings. Broths and soups, cookies, flavored snack foods, candy and chocolate, ice cream, and rice mixes.

Why do people go Gluten-Free?

There are many reasons people go gluten free, allergies, fad diets, weight loss and medical advice to change their diets. Gluten can be a big culprit to many digestive problems, from bloating to sickness and diahorrea, so it’s normally the first to go on a healthy diet plan. Gluten free foods are now available in ready meals, I’ve recently reviewed a selection of goodies that are GF.

Allergies
A gluten allergy is the body’s inability to digest or break down the gluten protein found in wheat and certain other grains. Gluten intolerance (also known as a gluten sensitivity) can range from a mild sensitivity to gluten to full-blown celiac disease.If you suffer from bloating, whether mild or severe, after eating bread and glutenous foods then you may possibly have an intolerance or sensitivity to gluten.
Signs to look out for are; fatigue, constipation, mood swings, prone to headaches and symptoms of cold and flu, on the other side suffers can also have sleeplessness, diarrhoea, depression, insatiable appetite or a craving for sugary foods.
 
I spoke to fellow women with intolerances:

Lisa Bollins I’m gluten free. Mine’s due to intolerance, although I find I can sometimes get away with a little bit without making me too ill. I changed to being gluten free in July after doing an elimination diet to discover what was making me ill and found since cutting it out I feel so much better.
If it comes up in conversation I usually just say why I am, and how it makes me feel etc. I hear a lot of people go on a gluten free diet to help them to lose weight, which I don’t think really helps! Personally,  I lost weight when changing to being gluten free, but really that’s because I was so ill!

Elyse Silver Yep I’m a diagnosed celiac so have to eat a gluten-free diet to stay alive I tend to get quite annoyed with people who say ”Oh I’m going to go on the gluten free diet” or ”it’s just a fad” well no, it’s not a fad. It started off as a way for people with celiacs disease, to stay alive.
It also annoys me when people believe they’re celiacs because they ‘get a little bit bloated after eating bread’ that’s so not what celiacs is, it’s not an allergy it’s an incurable autoimmune condition.

I’ve even written a blog post on it, don’t get me wrong not eating gluten has so many benefits, especially if you’re low in a specific type of bacteria (firmicutes and bacteriocides) in the gut, you’ll have difficulty digesting complex carbs, but it’s the disrespect and naivety that comes from some people that irks me. 

How it makes us swell:

This snippet is an explanation of how vegetable smoothies pass through our system and why adding fibre into your food can help your digestive system better.

“Imagine a bucket (that’s your stomach).
Next imagine the bucket full of hay. (the bulky fiber in the veg)
Pour your vegetable juice through the hay.. Goes in pretty quickly, right?
Now, If you crushed and squashed it into a paste it take a pretty long time to move to the bottom of the bucket!”

Similar to my explanation of fiber, but swap out the word fibre for gluten and add in a ‘rising’ chemical that transfers into gas. Your ‘quick’ filling stomach, fills up with gas from the natural digestion process but with gluten intollerances you get an additional burst of gas as your stomach needs extra help to break down the gluten. That’s why we get swelling – From the additional gas.

Do you need to go gluten free?

I have recently written up a going gluten free guide, if you feel you’re bloating, tired or just not yourself you could do with eliminating whole groups of food. By removing whole groups you can workout what is causing or solving your problems. An elimination diet is recommended by the NHS and by most GPS when dietary issues first flare up.

Don’t sweep it under the rug, get yourself sorted.

Gluten free diets often remove some of the high-calorie foods in our lifestyle, leading people to eat fresh home cooked meals. Home cooked gluten free meals would be high in vegetables and meat, these are things that fill people up quickly and healthy.
I’m no ambassador for it, but I mention it a hell of a lot, Paleo. Paleo diet is a ‘from the earth’ healthy eating plan where you only eat foods that have grown from the earth that are ‘good for you’ low in fats.sugars and excluding grains. These diets are so good because they’re gluten free and low calorie, meaning you can eat plates and plates of healthy foods and only really intake a few 100 calories.
 
However..There’s a dark side to gluten free..

Having read the back of ‘many o packets’ I can confidently say, ready-made gluten free food packs are calorific! As you know gluten almost acts as a bulking agent, swelling foods up and making them chewy, stretchy and thick, so when removed other things must be added, sugars, fibrous powders and fats. These things create emulsions given back the chewy texture we’ve come to love but they’re adding in a heap load of calories.
 
So If you’re thinking of going gluten free, stick to home cooking and only buy ‘ready meals’ if you really need to. I’ve done reviews on gluten free foods and if you’re looking for new gluten free alternatives (there are tonnes on the market, books,food boxes ,ready mixes, even gluten-free doughnuts! ) if you need it then having ready meals is really great but like I said, check your labels for calorie content.

 

Hope this helps you with the misconceptions of gluten free,
 or even to diagnose your own troubles.
 

 

 

 

44 Comments

  1. 04/05/2016 / 8:25 am

    I am lucky that I don’t suffer with intolerances, but I have friends who do, so I am a little more clued up now and can cater for them too! Thank you

  2. 04/05/2016 / 8:25 am

    I am lucky that I don’t suffer with intolerances, but I have friends who do, so I am a little more clued up now and can cater for them too! Thank you

  3. 04/05/2016 / 1:21 am

    Sounds interesting, I wouldn’t consider going gluten free myself because I’m not adversely affected by it, and I’m already vegan so food options (especially eating out) are limited for me as it is!
    – Emily from http://www.emilyunderworld.co.uk β™‘

    • 05/05/2016 / 9:10 am

      That’s good, I’m glad you know what effects you and what doesn’t. I find that so many people just assume it’s a fad-diet. Even some of the people who’ve commented haven’t fully understood that Gluten is something people are allergic to, they still think it’s just something to replace with ‘gluten-free’ options. *sigh*.
      – Thanks Emily πŸ™‚

  4. 04/05/2016 / 1:21 am

    Sounds interesting, I wouldn’t consider going gluten free myself because I’m not adversely affected by it, and I’m already vegan so food options (especially eating out) are limited for me as it is!
    – Emily from http://www.emilyunderworld.co.uk β™‘

    • 05/05/2016 / 9:10 am

      That’s good, I’m glad you know what effects you and what doesn’t. I find that so many people just assume it’s a fad-diet. Even some of the people who’ve commented haven’t fully understood that Gluten is something people are allergic to, they still think it’s just something to replace with ‘gluten-free’ options. *sigh*.
      – Thanks Emily πŸ™‚

  5. 03/05/2016 / 7:25 am

    My sister has a gluten free diet because it effects her skin. I do think people have almost jumped on the bang wagon with gluten free.

  6. 03/05/2016 / 7:25 am

    My sister has a gluten free diet because it effects her skin. I do think people have almost jumped on the bang wagon with gluten free.

  7. 03/05/2016 / 6:47 am

    This is very informative. I didn’t know any of this. Although I am not gluten free, it’s good to know.

  8. 03/05/2016 / 6:47 am

    This is very informative. I didn’t know any of this. Although I am not gluten free, it’s good to know.

  9. 03/05/2016 / 5:32 am

    A very informative post. I don’t follow a gluten free diet myself, but I can understand how it can benefit so many people in so many ways. It’s good that there are options these days too.

  10. 03/05/2016 / 5:32 am

    A very informative post. I don’t follow a gluten free diet myself, but I can understand how it can benefit so many people in so many ways. It’s good that there are options these days too.

  11. 02/05/2016 / 10:16 pm

    This is a really helpful articles. I haven’t experimented too much with gluten free ingredients but I’ve tried a couple of gluten free desserts.

    • 05/05/2016 / 9:08 am

      Gluten free ingredients and products aren’t the best, they’re often filled with additives (as the gluten is removed) you’re best off just working with veggies as an alternative option to glutenous foods you’d normally eat. – I’m glad you enjoyed the article!

  12. 02/05/2016 / 10:16 pm

    This is a really helpful articles. I haven’t experimented too much with gluten free ingredients but I’ve tried a couple of gluten free desserts.

    • 05/05/2016 / 9:08 am

      Gluten free ingredients and products aren’t the best, they’re often filled with additives (as the gluten is removed) you’re best off just working with veggies as an alternative option to glutenous foods you’d normally eat. – I’m glad you enjoyed the article!

  13. 02/05/2016 / 9:50 pm

    Great post some useful information here for those that need to go gluten free.

  14. 02/05/2016 / 9:50 pm

    Great post some useful information here for those that need to go gluten free.

  15. 02/05/2016 / 8:40 pm

    I don’t have a gluten allergy but I have friends who have allergies. I have IBS and have some of the symptoms associated with gluten but I am not sure.

  16. 02/05/2016 / 8:40 pm

    I don’t have a gluten allergy but I have friends who have allergies. I have IBS and have some of the symptoms associated with gluten but I am not sure.

  17. Lynette
    02/05/2016 / 8:23 pm

    I think a lot of people go gluten free because they think it’s bad for them, when really there’s no need to cut it out unless there is an allergy there. My other half had IBS and we thought he would need to cut it out, but he didn’t have to in the end. Which is a good thing as it’s so hard to find gluten free alternatives where we live.

    • 05/05/2016 / 9:06 am

      Yep! Exactly that, so many people just think of the words ‘gluten’ as some scary word (around 10 years ago it was the word ‘fat’ and then it was ‘sugar’) but now gluten is the scary monster hiding in foods. It’s really not, most people do have a mild intolerance to gluten and should consider cutting it back, especially since we now eat around 80% of our intake as gluten and processed foods BUT, it’s not necessarily the worst thing you can eat.
      I’d much rather someone eat a bowl of pasta then a plate of fried foods. – Thank you Lynette πŸ™‚

  18. Lynette
    02/05/2016 / 8:23 pm

    I think a lot of people go gluten free because they think it’s bad for them, when really there’s no need to cut it out unless there is an allergy there. My other half had IBS and we thought he would need to cut it out, but he didn’t have to in the end. Which is a good thing as it’s so hard to find gluten free alternatives where we live.

    • 05/05/2016 / 9:06 am

      Yep! Exactly that, so many people just think of the words ‘gluten’ as some scary word (around 10 years ago it was the word ‘fat’ and then it was ‘sugar’) but now gluten is the scary monster hiding in foods. It’s really not, most people do have a mild intolerance to gluten and should consider cutting it back, especially since we now eat around 80% of our intake as gluten and processed foods BUT, it’s not necessarily the worst thing you can eat.
      I’d much rather someone eat a bowl of pasta then a plate of fried foods. – Thank you Lynette πŸ™‚

  19. 02/05/2016 / 7:12 pm

    I always try to go for gluten free options with bread and pasta and things where possible because it makes me feel a little better x

  20. 02/05/2016 / 7:12 pm

    I always try to go for gluten free options with bread and pasta and things where possible because it makes me feel a little better x

  21. 02/05/2016 / 6:50 pm

    What a great post, I have friends who have to have a gluten free diet for health reasons and it amazes me what people think gluten free is and what they pass off as gluten free x

  22. 02/05/2016 / 6:50 pm

    What a great post, I have friends who have to have a gluten free diet for health reasons and it amazes me what people think gluten free is and what they pass off as gluten free x

  23. 02/05/2016 / 4:58 pm

    This is really interesting I have to admit I don’t know much about gluten and the difference it makes excluding it from your diet. x

    • 05/05/2016 / 9:01 am

      I wrote up an exclusion diet plan recently, sometimes you don’t realise the effect it has on your body (as 80% of people don’t realise they have issues with gluten). Bloating,gas & constipation aren’t normal life, but people just get used to it..

  24. 02/05/2016 / 4:58 pm

    This is really interesting I have to admit I don’t know much about gluten and the difference it makes excluding it from your diet. x

    • 05/05/2016 / 9:01 am

      I wrote up an exclusion diet plan recently, sometimes you don’t realise the effect it has on your body (as 80% of people don’t realise they have issues with gluten). Bloating,gas & constipation aren’t normal life, but people just get used to it..

  25. 02/05/2016 / 4:16 pm

    This was an interesting post to learn! one of my friends eats gluten free foods

  26. 02/05/2016 / 4:16 pm

    This was an interesting post to learn! one of my friends eats gluten free foods

  27. 19/03/2016 / 4:05 pm

    I did not know graham flour was a thing. Graham flour = wheat/gluten but gram flour = chickpeas and is gluten free. Not fun if you’re asking in a store as they sound the same! I have covered “what is gluten” on my blog too (it was my very first post)!

    • 19/03/2016 / 7:06 pm

      I’m gluten free too, through choice though.. I eat a paleo diet so chickpeas are off the menu too! πŸ™‚
      I’ve just looked, it’s a great article! I hope you stick with blogging, It’s such a great community! Hopefully we’ll keep bumping into eachother! x

  28. 19/03/2016 / 4:05 pm

    I did not know graham flour was a thing. Graham flour = wheat/gluten but gram flour = chickpeas and is gluten free. Not fun if you’re asking in a store as they sound the same! I have covered “what is gluten” on my blog too (it was my very first post)!

    • 19/03/2016 / 7:06 pm

      I’m gluten free too, through choice though.. I eat a paleo diet so chickpeas are off the menu too! πŸ™‚
      I’ve just looked, it’s a great article! I hope you stick with blogging, It’s such a great community! Hopefully we’ll keep bumping into eachother! x

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