Gluten consists of two proteins- gliadin and glutenin. It is the gliadin protein that people react negatively to.
When flour is mixed with water, gluten forms a sticky cross-linked network of proteins, giving elastic properties to dough and allowing bread to rise.
When gluten reaches the digestive tract and is exposed to the cells of the immune system, they mistakenly believe that it is coming from some sort of foreign invader, like a bacterium.
In certain people who are sensitive to gluten, this causes the immune system to mount an attack against it.
Celiac disease is the most severe form of gluten sensitivity. When gluten is ingested, the immune system not only attacks the gluten proteins, but it also attacks an enzyme in the cells of the digestive tract and intestinal wall.
The immune reaction can cause degeneration of the intestinal wall, which leads to nutrient deficiencies, various digestive issues, anemia and fatigue.
Despite the recent increase in gluten free diets, Celiac disease is still believed to only affect 1% of population.
Aside from celiac disease, it is also possible to have a gluten sensitivity. Although there is no clear definition of gluten sensitivity, it generally refers to having some sort of adverse reaction to gluten and an improvement in symptoms when a gluten-free diet is adopted.
In non-celiac gluten sensitivity, there is no attack on the body’s own tissues. However, many of the symptoms are similar to those in celiac disease, including bloating, stomach pain, fatigue, diarrhea, as well as pain in the bones and joints.
Given that there is no clear definition of gluten sensitivity or a definite way to diagnose it, the only true way of knowing is by eliminating gluten temporarily and then reintroducing it to see if any symptoms reappear.
Although certain conditions do indeed require or benefit from not including gluten in the diet, going ‘gluten free’ has become a healthy diet trend as of late. Individuals that have chosen to avoid gluten in their diet have stated that they have noticed having clearer skin, better digestion, a reduction in weight, less fatigue and clearer thinking.
Not everyone needs to be on a gluten free diet and the majority of the population can indeed digest this protein. Wholegrains that do contain gluten are still a good source of fibre, B vitamins and iron and have shown to be helpful in preventing diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer.
If you do need to or choose to reduce the amount of gluten in your own diet, the good news is there are now a wide variety of gluten free alternatives so that everyone can still enjoy things such as bread, pasta, cereals and even pizza! Other grains such as quinoa, millet and amaranth have become more popular. Flour made from rice, tapioca or besan have been incorporated into baking with ease. Breads that are made from sprouted grains that are easy for digestion are also quite common now. Pasta can be found that has been made from corn, rice or even quinoa!
We have recently posted a link to the My New Roots website that offers a gluten free bread recipe called The Life Changing Loaf of Bread. It was so popular that we thought we would share a follow up recipe on the same blog titled The Life Changing Crackers!
If you are feeling inspired, these crackers are an easy and delicious place to start with gluten free cooking:
Life Changing Crackers- http://www.mynewroots.org/site/2014/07/the-life-changing-crackers/
Gluten Free Grains include:
Grains that contain gluten are:
At The Source Bulk Foods we like to cater to people with all kinds of dietary requirements and therefore carry a broad range of gluten free options for our customers. If you are unsure about any of our products, be sure to ask our friendly staff.