Poor little gluten. A few years ago, no one thought about it at all. Now, it’s all anyone can talk about. And not in a good way. Like Sean Penn before and after the El Chapo interview.
But what is gluten, and why is everyone so mad at it?
In 10 seconds: Gluten is an umbrella term for the proteins in wheat. You now know more than any of these people!
What foods contain gluten? Wheat (including white flour, wheat flour, durum wheat, spelt, wheat germ and wheat bran), rye, and barley.
Why do people avoid it? For the 3 million Americans with Celiac disease, gluten permanently damages the lining of their intestine and prevents it from absorbing nutrients. So…yeah. They definitely can’t have any.
Other people avoid it because they have what’s called non-celiac gluten sensitivity. It’s a catch-all term for people who tested negative for Celiac disease and a wheat allergy, but find their symptoms subside after starting a wheat-free diet and return after re-introducing it. Symptoms range from brain fog and depression to abdominal pain and bloating.
Recent studies reveal that it may actually be a sugar in wheat–and not the protein after all–that’s causing these symptoms. While we wait for more conclusive studies, it makes good sense to avoid foods that make you feel sick. With one big caveat. If you exclude gluten, please make sure you’re eating a balanced diet and getting enough of the nutrients usually found in wheat-based foods like fiber, iron, zinc, magnesium, B vitamins, and calcium. Deal?
Note: A version of this post originally appeared on HealthWarrior.com (I write nutrition content for their website/e-mail list)
Here are 3 gluten-free recipes you might enjoy: