Health & Wellness

What IS Gluten? – Gluten Free Awareness Month Post #1

Hi friends! Long time, no post! And happy May, a.k.a. Gluten Free Awareness month!!! Last week I took a small break from posting and revamped the site a little bit but I am more than excited to be back in action!

As I just stated, the month of May is Gluten Free Awareness month! If you don’t know, I have Celiac Disease therefore gluten is a BIG “no no” for me. So you are probably reading this for one or two reasons, 1. you’re an avid blog reader of mine (THANK YOU!) and/or 2. you’ve been hearing a lot about this “gluten free” stuff and want to know more (AWESOME!) Well this month, yes the whole month, I am here to tell you all about this crazy word that seems to be floating around more and more! I will be sharing not only facts and information about gluten but also recipes and some of my staples to help live the best gluten free life there is! So without further ado, let’s get started!

What IS gluten? I wanted to start out with this because it is SO SO SOOO important to know what gluten is before understanding why some people can’t have it and how it effects the body. Gluten is what you find in most of your breads, cereals, or anything containing wheat, rye, or barely. It is a combination of two proteins (prolamins and glutelins) that are responsible for the elastic texture of dough. So, to put it in simpler terms, gluten is essentially glue (GLUten), it is what holds your favorite breads and pastries together. It is also used to prevent caking and sticking, as well as preserving foods and supplements.

Understanding what gluten is will make it easier to understand how it effects a person’s gut health. Gluten is a gut irritant, causing inflammation in the intestines and gut lining. You know, the bloated feeling you get after eating pizza or a bowl of pasta? Yep, that is more than likely from the gluten. Gluten is the number one cause of bloat in most individuals.

However, although it is uncomfortable to sit around with a bloated belly, a person with Celiac Disease experiences much worse. I’m not going to go into detail on Celiac Disease today (there will be another post on that this month) but to get an idea, Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease that triggers an immune response when an individual eats gluten, causing damage to the small intestine. A person who ingest ANY amount of gluten with this disease experiences an array of painful symptoms. Like I said, I won’t get into it too much, but you get the general idea.

Gluten is everywhere. It is in things that most of us would’t even guess. Of course it is present in all breads, cookies, and pastries (unless indicated gluten free) but it is also in foods such as salad dressings, sauces, candy, seasonings, dietary supplements, medications, and even skin and beauty products. For someone who has to avoid it, it is definitely hard at first but totally simple once you get the hang of it. Of course there are many other issues revolving around this harmful protein, like cross contamination and how to actually live a gluten free life, but for this post I wanted to touch on the main factor of the problem, that being gluten.

Let’s talk about gluten free food. Now a days you see it in almost every store. Labels reading “gluten free” or “wheat free”. It is easy to pick up a box of gluten free cookies and think you’re eating ‘healthier’, but chances are you probably aren’t. Even though the product you are buying may be gluten free, doesn’t mean it is free of all other harmful additives and fillers. Gluten free products typically have a higher fat and sugar content. After all, they have to hold together somehow. So those of you that can eat gluten, always be careful when grabbing the gluten free option, and those of you with Celiac Disease, READ LABELS. (There will be a post on this too).

Now what is the difference between “gluten free” and “wheat free”? Gluten free foods should be FREE of all things gluten, including cross contamination and how and where they are prepped. These foods should be safe for individuals with Celiac Disease. Wheat free products are not always safe, however. The product may contain no wheat or gluten but it may have been prepped in a factory that processes wheat and/or made on shared equipment. So again, be careful.

Becoming gluten free and following a gluten free diet can definitely be beneficial to individuals without an allergy or intolerance. However, if you can eat it without having any harmful symptoms, there’s really no need to take it out of your diet. Taking it out for an extended period of time can actually cause you to become intolerant to it, then forcing you to eliminate it for good.

I could sit at my desk all day, blabbering about gluten, but I won’t torture you all at once. Like I said many times before, learning and understanding what gluten is will help you better understand the many topics surrounding it. I am so excited to be bringing light to a subject that although is becoming more popular, isn’t so mainstream just yet.

I hope this helped clear up any questions any one reading this may of had! If not, feel free to message me or shoot me an email! I will posting more about this topic the rest of the month so be sure to check back!

Don’t forget to leave a comment on here or on my Instagram page (@iamdevonjade) and share any thoughts you may have on gluten and/or living a gluten free lifestyle!

XOXO,

D.J.

4 thoughts on “What IS Gluten? – Gluten Free Awareness Month Post #1”

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