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How to avoid gluten

How to recognize gluten that’s not obvious on the label.

Going gluten-free? You’ll need a little know-how to figure out which foods you need to avoid.

You probably know that gluten — a protein — is in anything made from wheat, rye, or barley. But did you know it’s also in some less obvious products, such as lunch meats and soy sauce?

Here’s what to look for.

Gluten Ingredients

First, check the ingredient label for wheat, barley, and rye.

Next, look for some of the other things you might see on an ingredients label that signal gluten.

“Reading the ingredients label on the foods you buy and knowing what to look for are the keys to identifying and avoiding gluten,” says Shelley Case, RD, author of Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide.

Case’s book lists these items:

  • Barley (flakes, flour, pearl)
  • Breading, bread stuffing
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Bulgur
  • Durum (type of wheat)
  • Farro/faro (also known as spelt or dinkel)
  • Graham flour
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • Kamut (type of wheat)
  • Malt, malt extract, malt syrup, malt flavoring
  • Malt vinegar
  • Malted milk
  • Matzo, matzo meal
  • Modified wheat starch
  • Oatmeal, oat bran, oat flour, whole oats (unless they are from pure, uncontaminated oats)
  • Rye bread and flour
  • Seitan (a meat-like food derived from wheat gluten used in many vegetarian dishes)
  • Semolina
  • Spelt (type of wheat also known as farro, faro, or dinkel)
  • Triticale
  • Wheat bran
  • Wheat flour
  • Wheat germ
  • Wheat starch

These other ingredients may be less familiar to you, but they also contain gluten:

  • Atta (chapati flour)
  • Einkorn (type of wheat)
  • Emmer (type of wheat)
  • Farina
  • Fu (a dried gluten product made from wheat and used in some Asian dishes)

Gluten Foods

Double-check the ingredients label on these items, as they’re possible sources of gluten:

  • Beer, ale, lager
  • Breads
  • Broth, soup, soup bases
  • Cereals
  • Cookies and crackers
  • Some chocolates, some chocolate bars, licorice
  • Flavored coffees and teas
  • Imitation bacon bits, imitation seafoods
  • Medications (check with your pharmacist)
  • Pastas
  • Processed foods
  • Salad dressings
  • Sausages, hot dogs, deli meats
  • Sauces, marinades, gravies
  • Seasonings
  • Soy sauce

Gluten-free foods have become much more common, so you can probably find a version that does work for you. Even communion wafers now come in gluten-free versions.

Continued

Tips to Going Gluten-Free

When Katie Falkenmeyer of Sherrill, NY, decided to go gluten-free, the learning curve in front of her was a little daunting. Figuring out which foods were really gluten-free wasn’t easy. But after a few trips to the grocery store — and with the support of her nutritionist — identifying gluten on an ingredient list is now second nature.

“It took time — and a lot of ingredient label-reading — to figure out what foods were gluten-free,” Falkenmeyer says.

She and Case offer these tips:

  1. Work with a registered dietitian. A dietitian can help you make sure you get all the nutrients you need and totally eliminate gluten, Case says.
  2. Take your time. Trips to the grocery store might take longer when you first go gluten-free. Plan on spending extra time reading the labels and educating yourself on the key words that signal a gluten ingredient, Falkenmeyer says.
  3. When in doubt, ask. Call food companies to find out if their products include gluten, or the steps they take to make sure their products are gluten-free, Case says.
  4. Watch the cost. Gluten-free products might be a little more expensive than food with gluten, Falkenmeyer says. Bargain shopping and coupons can come in handy.
  5. Ask your pharmacist to find out if your medications contain gluten. If they do, ask your doctor about alternatives.

Everyday Items You Don’t Have to Worry About

The good news is that gluten isn’t everywhere, especially once you move beyond the kitchen.

“One of the most common myths out there about gluten is that it’s an ingredient in envelope glue,” Case says. “But an analysis of the largest envelope manufacturers in the U.S. showed this isn’t true: Envelope glue is made from cornstarch, and is gluten-free.” You also don’t need to worry about beauty care products, such as shampoo or lotions, that you don’t swallow, Case says.

Sources

Shelley Case, RD, author, Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide.

Katie Falkenmeyer, Sherrill, NY.

Daniel Leffler, MD, director of research, Celiac Center, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Celiac Disease.”

Victoria Groce is a medical writer living with celiac disease who specializes in writing about dietary management of food allergies.

Emily is a fact checker, editor, and writer who has expertise in psychology, health and lifestyle content.

How to Avoid Gluten

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

  • Gluten-Free
    • Grains
    • Other Foods
    • Beverages
    • Cooking/Dining Out
    • Products
  • Low-Carb

Around 1% of the U.S. population is gluten-intolerant due to celiac disease.   Gluten intolerance can also occur due to a condition called non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or NCGS. Since most cases of NCGS are self-diagnosed, it’s unclear how common the diagnosis truly is. Following a gluten-free diet can help these individuals reduce symptoms.

If you think you’re gluten-intolerant, it is important to get a diagnosis from a medical professional. A 2015 study in the journal Digestion found that 86% of those who believe they’re gluten-sensitive can actually tolerate it.   This means their symptoms were due to a cause unrelated to gluten. Concerned individuals should speak to their doctor before starting a gluten-free diet.

Grain Products With Gluten You Should Avoid

Celiac disease patients and the gluten-intolerant should avoid all food products with wheat, rye, or barley in the ingredients list, or that indicate manufacturing in the presence of wheat, gluten, or gluten-containing ingredients. Some celiac patients also need to avoid oats.

If you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, avoid any food containing the following:

  • Wheat berries, wheat bran, and wheat germ.
  • Barley, barley malt, barley flour, or any form of the word barley.
  • Rye, rye flour, pumpernickel flour, or any form of the word rye.
  • Oats, oatmeal, oat flour, oat groats, or any form of the word oats, if your doctor advised you to avoid oats. If your doctor permits oats on your gluten-free diet, look for gluten-free oats.
  • Flour, including instant, bread, cake, enriched, graham, and all-purpose flours. Flours made from safe grains include corn flour, millet flour, and rice flour.
  • Triticale
  • Einkorn
  • Spelt
  • Semolina
  • Durum
  • Bulgur
  • Kamut
  • Couscous
  • Malt, unless specified as being made from a non-gluten source (such as corn).

Common Food Products Containing Gluten

Now that you know the grains you should avoid, you’ll need to learn which food products commonly contain these ingredients. Be especially alert for the presence of wheat and gluten in the following:

  • Breads, pastries, cakes, cookies, crackers, doughnuts, pretzels, and all other baked goods.
  • Breakfast cereals, both hot and cold.
  • Pasta, including gnocchi, spaetzle, chow mein, lo mein, and filled pasta. (Gluten-free alternatives are rice noodles, pure buckwheat soba noodles, and pasta from allergy-friendly manufacturers.)
  • Cream-based soups, gravies, and thickened sauces.
  • Breaded meats or vegetables, such as fried chicken or jalapeno poppers.
  • Dumplings, meatballs, lunch meats, meatloaves, and similar foods are often held together with breadcrumbs or flour.
  • Beer. (Gluten-free beers are available.)
  • Salad dressings, Worcestershire sauce, and other condiments.
  • Soy sauce. (Look for wheat-free tamari as an alternative.)

Caution! These Ingredients Contain Gluten, Too

Consumers should look out for the following ingredients on the label and avoid any foods, supplements, or vitamins containing the following unless the label indicates they are from a non-gluten source:

  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • Modified food starch
  • Vegetable starch or vegetable protein
  • Gelatinized starch or pregelatinized starch  
  • Natural flavorings

Dining out Gluten-Free

Dining out poses a challenge for those with a gluten allergy because it’s not always clear whether or not dishes contain gluten. There is a new trend towards restaurants catering to their gluten-free population and even having a separate menu with items free of gluten. When in doubt, ask your server how a dish is prepared and ask for substitutions whenever possible.

How to Avoid Gluten

A gluten-free diet involves excluding foods that contain the protein gluten, including wheat, rye and barley.

Most studies on gluten-free diets have been done on people with celiac disease, but there is another condition called gluten sensitivity that also causes problems with gluten.

If you are intolerant to gluten, then you need to avoid it completely. If not, you will experience severe discomfort and adverse health effects ( 1 , 2 ).

Here is a complete guide to the gluten-free diet, including a delicious sample menu. But first, let’s start with the basics.

How to Avoid Gluten

Gluten is a family of proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and spelt.

Its name comes from the Latin word for “glue,” as it gives flour a sticky consistency when mixed with water.

This glue-like property helps gluten create a sticky network that gives bread the ability to rise when baked. It also gives bread a chewy and satisfying texture ( 3 ).

Unfortunately, many people feel uncomfortable after eating foods that contain gluten. The most severe reaction is called celiac disease.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the body mistakenly harms itself. Celiac disease affects up to 1% of the population and can damage the intestines ( 4 ).

If eating gluten makes you feel uncomfortable, it’s best to tell your doctor.

These are the most common ways to test for celiac disease ( 5 ):

  • Blood test. A blood test will look for antibodies that incorrectly interact with the gluten protein. The most common test is a tTG-IgA test.
  • Biopsy from your small intestine. People with a positive blood test will likely need to have a biopsy. This is a process in which a small tissue sample is taken from your intestine and checked for damage.

It’s best to get tested for celiac disease before trying a gluten-free diet. Otherwise, it will become hard for your doctor to tell if you have celiac disease or not.

People who don’t have celiac disease but feel they may be sensitive to gluten can try a strict gluten-free diet for a few weeks to see if their symptoms improve. Be sure to seek assistance from a doctor or dietitian.

After a few weeks, you can re-introduce foods that contain gluten into your diet and test for symptoms. If a gluten-free diet doesn’t help your symptoms, it is likely that something else is causing your digestive problems.

Gluten is a family of proteins that is found in certain grains. Eating it causes harmful effects in people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.

Most people can eat gluten without experiencing side effects.

However, people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease cannot tolerate it.

People with other disorders like wheat allergy and non-celiac gluten sensitivity also frequently avoid gluten.

Aside from an allergy, there are two main reasons why someone would want to avoid gluten.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease affects up to 1% of people worldwide ( 4 ).

It is an autoimmune disease in which the body mistakes gluten as a foreign threat. To remove this “threat,” the body overreacts and attacks the gluten proteins.

Unfortunately, this attack also damages surrounding areas, such as the gut wall. This can lead to nutrient deficiencies, severe digestive issues and anemia, as well as increase the risk of many harmful diseases ( 6 ).

People with celiac disease often experience sharp stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, skin rashes, stomach discomfort, bloating, weight loss, anemia, tiredness and depression ( 1 ).

Interestingly, some people with celiac disease don’t experience digestive symptoms. Instead, they may experience other symptoms like fatigue, depression and anemia.

However, these symptoms are also common in many other medical conditions, making celiac disease difficult to diagnose ( 7 ).

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is believed to affect 0.5–13% of people ( 2 ).

People who are classified as having non-celiac gluten sensitivity do not test positive for celiac disease or a wheat allergy. However, they still feel uncomfortable after eating gluten ( 8 ).

Symptoms of non-celiac gluten sensitivity are similar to those of celiac disease and include stomach pain, bloating, changes in bowel motions, tiredness and eczema or a rash ( 2 ).

However, non-celiac gluten sensitivity is highly controversial. Some experts believe this sensitivity exists, while others believe it is all in people’s heads.

For example, one study tested this theory on 35 people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Scientists gave participants both a gluten-free flour and a wheat-based flour at separate times without identifying them.

They found that two-thirds of people could not tell the difference between the gluten-free flour and wheat-based flour. In fact, nearly half of the participants had worse symptoms after eating the gluten-free flour (9).

Also, these symptoms may be caused by other irritants like FODMAPS — short-chain carbohydrates that can cause digestive problems ( 10 ).

Nevertheless, some evidence shows that gluten-sensitivity exists ( 11 ).

At the end of the day, the evidence surrounding non-celiac gluten sensitivity is mixed. However, if you think gluten is making you uncomfortable, it’s best to let your doctor know.

Most people can tolerate gluten, but it causes problems in people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

To make it easier for you to avoid gluten, some food labels include an allergy panel. This will tell you if a common allergen is present. Gluten containing ingredients are often listed, along with things like milk or nuts.

Don’t you wish all manufacturers were this helpful?

Products that don’t include such information are more challenging. Gluten can hide itself in unfamiliar terminology. If you are new to the gluten free diet you may not yet recognize these ingredients. The table below gives some examples of things to watch out for.

Avoid gluten in disguise

  • Rye flour
  • Flavourings (suspect even if it says natural)
  • Edible starch (food starch)
  • Binders
  • Bran
  • Wheat protein
  • Thickening
  • Glucose syrup (often made from wheat)
  • Matzo meal
  • Brown rices syrup (often made from barley)
  • Brown rices syrup (often made from barley)
  • Caramel color
  • Wheat flour
  • Fillers
  • Seasonings (suspect)
  • Seasonings (suspect)
  • Wheatgerm
  • Whole Grain
  • Wheat starch
  • Malt
  • Spelt (an old form of wheat)
  • Imitation seafood (such as crab sticks)
  • TVP (Textured vegetable protein)
  • Dextrin

Check with the Manufacturer

How to Avoid Gluten

So what do you do if a product lists a suspect ingredient?

  • Avoid it in case?
  • Take the risk?

Your safest option is to try phoning the manufacturer for more information. Tell them you need to avoid gluten and ask if the product is safe for you to eat.

You may be lucky, and get a knowledgable person on the other end of the phone. But this is not always the case. Sometimes the manufacturer doesn’t know if a food is safe for you to eat. How come? If they use bought-in ingredients they may need to go back to their supplier to find out for you. Some companies are happy to do this, others less so.

You may need to repeat this exercise, as the ingredients in foods change! Something that is safe now, may not be in 6 months time. Always check labels for such wording as “new recipe” just in case.

The Manufacturing Process

OK, so you have read the list of ingredients and all seems fine. Nothing in there that should cause any trouble. But then you notice some smaller print at the bottom of the label.

“Produced in a factory also handling milk, gluten, egg and nuts.”

How to Avoid Gluten

“What should you do now? Does this mean the food is unsafe? Removing every trace of gluten from equipment used for other foods can be difficult. My personal preference is to avoid foods with such labels.

There is another thing to be aware of in the manufacturing process.

Some foods are sticky. Wheat flour helps to keep them from sticking together, or to the machinery. As this is not classed as an ingredient, it is not required to include it on the packaging. The quantity present in the food is minimal, but can still cause issues.

Talking of quantities.

Even if a normal sized candy bar is gluten free, don’t assume that a smaller bar will also be safe. Believe it or not the ingredients can differ! Always read the label.

What happened to me!

Let me end with a personal story.

OK, so you have read the list of ingredients and all seems fine. Nothing in there that should cause any trouble. But then you notice some smaller print at the bottom of the label.

“Produced in a factory also handling milk, gluten, egg and nuts.”

What should you do now? Does this mean the food is unsafe?

Removing every trace of gluten from equipment used for other foods can be difficult. My personal preference is to avoid foods with such labels.

There is another thing to be aware of in the manufacturing process.

Some foods are sticky. Wheat flour helps to keep them from sticking together, or to the machinery. As this is not classed as an ingredient, it is not required to include it on the packaging. The quantity present in the food is minimal, but can still cause issues.

Talking of quantities.

Even if a normal sized candy bar is gluten free, don’t assume that a smaller bar will also be safe. Believe it or not the ingredients can differ! Always read the label.

Eight Simple Steps to Ditch the Gluten

Adah Chung is a fact checker, writer, researcher, and occupational therapist.

  • Overview
  • How It Works
  • Pros and Cons
  • How It Compares
  • Getting Started

If you’re diagnosed with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, you’ll need to learn how to eat gluten-free, since doing so is essential to your long-term health. Or, you may decide to try a gluten-free diet even without a diagnosis—you may believe gluten-free may help you lose weight or improve another health condition you have.

But what does it really mean to “go gluten-free”?

Regardless of your reasons for choosing a gluten-free diet, this can be a tricky diet with a massive learning curve, especially at first. But if you follow these nine steps—preferably in order—you should be well on your way to safely eating gluten-free.

Clean Out Your Kitchen

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Axel Bueckert / EyeEm / Getty Images

Before you can start the gluten-free diet, you need to clean out your kitchen and get rid of everything you no longer can eat. Learn the foods that contain gluten. They include:  

  • most breads, crackers, cookies, and snack foods
  • most mixes
  • most pasta
  • many frozen food products
  • many canned soups
  • some ice creams

This isn’t an exhaustive list, unfortunately; gluten appears in many places you wouldn’t expect. If in doubt, throw it out: Give away or dispose of everything, especially wheat flour and baking mixes. When doing so, you’ll need to be careful not to breathe any airborne flour, which can make you sick.

You’ll also need to replace any open condiments since they’re likely to have been cross-contaminated with gluten (when someone touches the tip of a squeeze bottle to bread or sticks a used sandwich knife in a jar, the bottle or jar could make you sick). The same goes for spices you’ve used in baking since those likely have been cross-contaminated by wheat flour.

Donate unopened gluten-containing packages, jars, and cans to a food bank or hand them over to a friend. Alternatively, if you’re planning on sharing a kitchen with family members or housemates who don’t eat gluten-free, you’ll need to segregate those products.

Since it’s possible to get symptoms from the tiniest morsel of gluten, you’ll need a new toaster. You’ll also need new plastic and wooden utensils and non-stick pans if you use them. Replace all these kitchen tools when you go gluten-free since they can’t be cleaned thoroughly enough to keep you safe.

For some people, this is a difficult, emotional process—you may find yourself mourning the foods you used to enjoy. If that’s the case, it can help to focus on the positive effect the gluten-free diet will have on your health. Also, if you can afford it, use this opportunity to treat yourself to a new kitchen tool you’ve been coveting.

Start With Fresh Produce and Meats

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Ariel Skelley / Getty Images

Many people think they simply need to drop wheat from their diets—or even just bread—in order to go gluten-free. But it’s unfortunately a lot more complicated than that. As you no doubt learned from cleaning out your kitchen, gluten appears in foods ranging from soups to sauces, and it’s not always obvious from the ingredients.

There are many, many foods you can eat on the list of gluten-free foods. But by far the best way to avoid making common mistakes when first going gluten-free is to limit your diet to unprocessed foods at first. Unprocessed foods are products you find in the supermarket that don’t have ingredients lists printed on their labels; for example, fresh fruits and vegetables and fresh meat, poultry, and fish are examples of unprocessed foods.  

On an unprocessed food diet, you can eat:

  • fresh fruit
  • fresh vegetables
  • beef (only from the meat counter and unseasoned)
  • chicken (only from the meat counter and unseasoned)
  • pork (only from the meat counter and unseasoned)
  • fish (only from the fish counter and unseasoned)
  • milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • eggs

To follow an unprocessed foods diet, shop around the edges of the supermarket, in the fresh produce and meat departments. If you can handle dairy products (many people with celiac disease have lactose intolerance, at least at first), you also can add dairy products. Eat as simply as you can, using only fresh herbs, salt, and pepper to season your foods.

The safest grain to add to your diet is plain rice—Lundberg Family Farms produces rice that’s certified gluten-free. Try grains such as corn in moderation, if at all, and don’t introduce packaged foods—including those labeled “gluten-free”—until you have a better feel for the diet and how it affects your system.

How to Avoid Gluten

People with celiac disease need to avoid foods that contain gluten. Other people may do so because they have sensitivities or intolerances to this group of proteins.

Below, anyone who is on a gluten-free diet or who aims to reduce their intake of gluten can find lists of foods to avoid and alternatives to consider.

How to Avoid Gluten

People understandably associate gluten with grains, but a range of other foods, drinks, and products such as supplements can contain it.

Grains that contain gluten

  • wheat
  • rye
  • barley
  • triticale, a hybrid of wheat and rye
  • seitan, which is often used as a meat substitute
  • wheat varieties and derivatives, such as: spelt, durum, couscous, semolina, farina, farro, kamut, einkorn, wheat berries, bulgur, wheat bran, wheat starch, wheat germ, emmer, and graham flour

Foods that usually contain gluten

  • breads, including bagels, flatbreads, and pita
  • pastas and some other noodles
  • cakes, crackers, and biscuits
  • pies and pastries
  • some breakfast cereals
  • breadcrumbs and coatings
  • croutons
  • many meat substitutes
  • malts, such as malt extract, syrup, flavoring, or vinegar
  • brewer’s yeast

Food that may contain gluten

Check the list of ingredients or ask at a restaurant before consuming:

  • french fries
  • gravies and sauces
  • salad dressings, marinades, and vinegars
  • soups
  • processed meats
  • soy sauce
  • potato or tortilla chips
  • bars and similar snacks
  • cereals and granolas
  • stuffings
  • egg dishes in restaurants

Alcoholic beverages

Alcoholic drinks that contain gluten include:

  • beers
  • ales
  • lagers
  • malt beverages
  • dessert wines
  • wine coolers

However, gluten-free varieties of many of these drinks are available. Also, most distilled alcoholic beverages are gluten-free.

Nonfood items

It is important to note that the following products can also contain gluten:

  • medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements
  • lipsticks and lip balms, which a person can easily ingest
  • playdough, the toy
  • communion wafers

Cross-contamination

Some otherwise gluten-free foods come into contact with gluten during preparation or processing — potentially making them unsuitable for people with celiac disease.

Common areas of cross-contamination include:

  • cutting boards, toasters, and utensils
  • shared food containers, which may hold butter, mayonnaise, or peanut butter, for example
  • restaurants, such as pizzerias
  • anywhere that foods are deep-fried
  • bakeries
  • oat production facilities

For people with celiac disease, research suggests that the usual threshold for gluten consumption 10 milligrams (mg) per day.

Having a diet with a gluten content of 20 parts per million (ppm) should put most people below the 10 mg threshold.

The amount of gluten in foods varies widely. “Gluten-free” products must contain fewer than 20 ppm of gluten, according to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruling.

This means that to hit the 10 mg daily threshold, a person would have to eat 17 slices of gluten-free bread, if each slice contains 20 ppm. Or, for context, they could eat an amount of regular flour the size of a pen’s tip.

While the FDA have set guidelines about how much gluten many so-called gluten-free products can contain, there are no such rulings for alcoholic beverages or meat, poultry, or certain egg products, which are regulated differently.

As a result, anyone looking to limit their gluten intake needs to check labels carefully and consult staff at restaurants.

The following are some alternatives to products containing gluten:

  • buckwheat, as groats or flour
  • quinoa, as a grain or flour
  • rice, as a grain or flour
  • potato flour
  • soy flour
  • chickpea flour, which is sometimes called gram flour or besan
  • corn, from cornflour to taco shells
  • amaranth
  • millet
  • oats, but only those labeled gluten-free
  • sorghum
  • cassava
  • tapioca
  • pastas made from lentils, peas, corn, rice, or buckwheat
  • gluten-free breads, pastries, wraps, and sweet treats
  • cauliflower, as a pizza base, for example
  • zucchini, carrot, or squash noodles

People on gluten-free diets may also enjoy dishes that do not resemble those containing gluten and are rich in vegetables, fruits, and beans, and pulses.

Celiac disease is a serious health issue. It causes the immune system to attack the gut, and the resulting damage to the intestinal lining can prevent the body from absorbing enough nutrients.

For a person with this condition, it is crucial to avoid all gluten and take precautions against cross-contamination.

Other people experience health issues caused by eating gluten but do not fit the diagnostic criteria for celiac disease. In this case, a doctor may diagnose gluten intolerance or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

If someone is unsure whether they have an allergy or intolerance to gluten, they can try eliminating foods containing gluten from their diet, to test whether their symptoms improve.

If after reintroducing gluten to the diet, the symptoms return, this is a good indication of a gluten sensitivity.

The symptoms of a sensitivity may include:

  • abdominal pain
  • nausea
  • bloating
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • joint and muscle pain
  • chronic fatigue
  • a headache
  • brain fog
  • depression

Anyone with these symptoms or other concerns should receive professional care.

A 2018 review suggests that a person’s tolerance to gluten may, in part, be determined by the composition of their gut bacteria and genetic factors.

The authors also noted that consuming processed gluten-free products may lead to a nutrient deficiency and a diet too high in trans fats and salt.

If you’re chronically ill or even if you’ve had persistent allergies, you may well have attempted to avoid gluten in your diet at some point. From the data, this generally seems to be a good idea, which leads me to the question, “Should Everyone Avoid Gluten?” And as always, the answer is not all that simple.

If you’ve clicked around this blog, then you might have already seen that I am a BIG believer in gut health. I truly believe gut health is the key to our overall health. If someone can achieve and maintain a healthy gut, numerous other health issues will gradually start to disappear. Because our health is shown to be directly related to the gut.

You may already have some preconceived notions about gluten and the issues it causes for certain people – especially those who have Celiac issues or gluten-intolerances. I’ll hazard a guess that you might not know the exact reasons why some people steer clear from gluten. You might be surprised to hear me say that gluten should be avoided by everyone – including those with a clear health bill.

And I am not just saying this because I’ve personally had gluten issues, although that certainly is what led me to research and learn more about this protein complex. I strongly suggest that gluten is at the top of everybody’s “Foods-to-Remove-From-Their Diet-List, and I’ll tell you why.

But first, what is gluten?

Gluten

Gluten is a family of proteins mainly found in wheat, but also in other grains like rye and barley. It is the “glue” that helps food maintain their shape and these proteins are responsible for the stretchiness of dough when you’re making bread and the sponginess of a loaf after baking. (This is why you’ll never find a good spongy gluten-free loaf.)

Traditional Bread

Sure, you might have just asked yourself, “Don’t they eat bread in Europe all the time?” Yes, but there are so many different factors that go into bread-making practices and regulations in Europe versus the United States.

In Europe, a lot of bread is still produced in the traditional way. In France, it’s still possible to nip down to your local boulangerie and get a beautiful freshly baked baguette. While it may look similar to the baguettes you can get in a local US supermarket, there is certainly a major difference in baking, ingredients, process, etc.

In France, bread makers let the dough sit for a period of time, allowing a fermentation process to start. This fermentation breaks down the glutenous proteins in the bread, essentially predigesting the bread and ensuring the harmful gluten is not in a form that could cause a huge amount of damage to your body. Let’s be honest here, I’m not sure this was their intention when they started baking baguettes over 100 years ago, but it works. If this traditional French baking is to be trusted, you only have to leave your baguette out for 48 hours. If it’s not rock hard by then, it’s not French bread. Instead, that is just an indication that this bread is not stuffed with sugar and chemicals in the attempt to extend its shelf life. That’s just not the French way.

That being said, this baking method is not foolproof and individuals may still have issues because gluten is a complicated little protein. However, these issues are mostly related to the health of the individual and their unique ability to repair from any minor gut damage.

Wheat & Gluten Regulations

Another factor to consider is the quality of the wheat and the environment it is grown in. Over time, humans have hybridized wheat to allow for higher yields.

What does this mean?

Well, it means humans have chosen specific qualities in the wheat to cross pollinate for the next crop yield. For example, if you want a really tall grass, you’d choose a really tall grass to pollinate from. For the next crop yield, farmers would choose the tallest grass from the new batch to pollinate from, and so on.

Farmers are predetermining or favoring the specific qualities of grass that create tall grass. Just like evolution, over time, the qualities that are being selected are becoming more and more prominent.

I wanted to show you a picture here of the difference in modern wheat, but I can’t because of copyright. Instead, just look at this Google Search for modern wheat vs. ancient wheat. And if you want to deep dive into the different types of wheat Oregon State University has some amazing information.

It just so happens that our modern variety of wheat has a higher gluten count, a quality which is sought after in order to make a more spongy, fluffy bread texture. Your run-of-the-mill cheap white bread loaf from your local supermarket is a great example of a bread made from high gluten count wheat.

Natural News claims that gluten content has increased from 5 percent to 50 percent in the space of 60 years! So if we’re confident that gluten causes damage in all human guts, and we increase the amount that we are eating dramatically, it’s not surprising that we are seeing so many more issues now.

Instead, we could choose heirloom wheat. These are varieties that look like the wheat we used in the past. It’s still possible to grow them today and you’ll find them in the bakery every now and then.

Does gluten truly damage the gut?

From what I’ve read, I believe gluten does damage the gut. Let me explain what I’ve learned.

In the gut, we have tiny junctions, or intestinal barriers, that allow small digested particles through. When our gut becomes damaged for any reason, these small gaps become larger allowing for undigested particles, bacteria, and viruses to pass into our bloodstream.

When gluten enters the gut it stimulates the release of a protein named zonulin. Zonulin is responsible for widening the junctions in the gut, allowing for more unwanted particles to pass into the bloodstream. This is not good.

Not only does gluten cause a short term problem, but it can be catastrophic in the long run. Gliadin, a component of gluten is then allowed to pass into the bloodstream which can cause Molecular Mimicry. In other words, your immune system sees the gliadin as an intruder and correctly attempts to remove it. Well done, immune system.

Sadly, gliadin, the component of gluten, looks eerily similar to our own body – at least in the eyes of our immune system. This means that once our immune system has identified gliadin as Enemy #1, it mistakenly misidentifies our own body as Enemy #2 and starts attacking ourselves!

This, my friends, is the basis of autoimmune disease – something many of us are fighting in today’s world.

Therefore, the more gluten you ingest the more damage you are likely causing to your gut lining.

Now, if we were using heirloom wheat, we would most likely be able to recover from the small amount of damage that occurs to our gut lining when we ingest gluten. But not everybody easts or has access to heirloom or quality wheat or grains. Especially in America.

When we’re looking at 50% of wheat having extremely high gluten content, and a large percentage of the American population having a wheat heavy diet – you can see how gluten can start becoming a health issue.

How to Avoid Gluten

Those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities understand the importance of avoiding gluten at all costs. Even the tiniest amount of gluten can leave them sick for days. If you are in the process of healing your gut, you are likely trying to avoid gluten too. Unfortunately, it is not as easy to do as one might think. If it were a mere matter of not eating breads, cereals and baked goods life would be less complicated. Instead, it is a complicated mine field ready to trip you up at a moment’s notice. The good news is there are steps you can take to lessen the risks of encountering gluten cross contamination.

At Home

If you share a kitchen with a roommate or have family members that regularly eat gluten products, cross contamination is always a risk. You can reduce the risk by following a few simple guidelines.

  • Keep the kitchen clean and cooking tools separated.
  • Scrub the counter tops and keep them free of any crumbs.
  • Carefully clean cooking tools and serving pieces between uses.
  • Keep gluten free products away from gluten products.
  • Use a second gluten free toaster oven.
  • Label gluten free products with a permanent marker.

Dining out

Eating at home is easier as you know how your food is prepared and you are vigilant about avoiding cross contamination. Restaurants may not adhere to such strict protocols to avoid gluten contamination. You may order an egg dish that was prepared in the same pan as an order of whole-wheat pancakes. Fried items can be prepared in the same fryer as breaded items. It is one thing to ask about the ingredients and another to know how the food is prepared. The best way to advocate for yourself is to ask that your food be prepared in the following manner:

  • By using separate and cleaned cutting boards and utensils
  • In a thoroughly cleaned and separate pot or pan
  • Food preparers take extra caution to avoid cross contamination.

At the Grocery Store

“Gluten-free” does not always mean free of gluten. Gluten has many different names and a product that says its gluten free may still be unsafe for those with gluten sensitivity. The Food Allergen Labeling Consumer Protection Act, passed in 2004 requires that fool allergens such as wheat, peanuts, eggs and dairy be listed on food labels. The FALCPA does make it a little bit easier to tell if a product has some form of gluten, but it generally requires wheat to be mentioned. You need to read the label and watch for gluten containing additives and other hidden sources of gluten. Anything with wheat in it will be on the label; however, ingredients such as barley, rye, oats or their derivatives may not be. Look for terms like hydrolyzed vegetable protein, hydrolyzed plant protein, and textured vegetable protein, all of which may have wheat in them.

The process used to manufacture, ship and store food presents issues too. There is a high likelihood the same plant that produced regular chips also produced the gluten free variety, offering plenty of opportunity for cross-contamination. Unless the label says “certified gluten free” or “pure uncontaminated” it is best to assume cross contamination may have occurred.

At the market, look for gluten free products in their own section. Most times the gluten free items are on the same shelves as along the wheat products. This offers up yet another opportunity for cross contamination.

Ask for Help

Bringing your family and friends into the gluten free community is a great way to enlist everyone’s help with keeping you and those around you healthy. Seeking out support groups, where you can share recipes, best practices and exchange information is another way to stay on track. Speaking with a registered dietician will help you learn, how to read food labels, what to avoid and gain a better understanding of potential risks.

These steps are vital for those with Celiac disease and those with gluten sensitivities to avoid illness. They are also helpful if you simply wish to avoid gluten in an effort to heal your leaky gut and reverse the effectives of inflammation causing lectins found in grains.

Overview

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye and is present in any food or drink made from or containing these grains.

A gluten-free diet doesn’t contain any foods or drinks made from gluten.

Who can’t eat gluten?

It’s a common myth that a gluten free diet is healthier than a diet containing gluten. This isn’t true, both can be healthy.

A gluten free diet is only vital for people diagnosed with coeliac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis, they need to follow a lifelong gluten-free diet to treat these conditions.

What to eat and avoid

If you’re following a gluten-free diet you need to ensure you’re only eating foods that don’t contain gluten.

Foods to avoid

The following foods and drinks contain gluten and should be avoided:

  • pasta
  • pizza bases
  • flours
  • breakfast cereals
  • bread
  • biscuits
  • squashes and fizzy drinks that contain barley
  • lager
  • stout
  • ales

You can find gluten-free alternatives to these foods and drinks in your nearest supermarket, health food shop or on prescription.

Oats don’t contain gluten but they can easily become contaminated with others cereals containing gluten during the production stage. Because of this, people with coeliac disease are advised to eat specifically prepared uncontaminated gluten-free oats.

However, even with uncontaminated gluten-free oats, a small percentage of people remain sensitive to avenin – a protein found in oats which is similar to gluten.

If you have coeliac disease you can choose to include gluten-free oats in your diet at any stage. If your symptoms return you must stop eating oats and seek the advice of a health professional.

Gluten-free foods

There are many foods and drinks that are naturally gluten-free, such as:

  • meat
  • fruit and vegetables
  • rice
  • dairy foods
  • eggs
  • pulses
  • fruit juice and cordials
  • flavoured water
  • fizzy drinks
  • cider
  • wine
  • sherry
  • port
  • spirits and liqueurs

A dietitian can help to identify which foods are safe to eat if you’re unsure.

Gluten-free food prescriptions

If you have a confirmed diagnosis of coeliac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis, you can access gluten-free foods on prescriptions through your GP or Scottish Gluten-free Food Service.

Food labelling

By law, foods labelled as ‘gluten free’ can contain no more than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten and are safe for you to eat.

Always check that food and drink is gluten-free before buying. You can do this by checking the label. A dietitian can help to explain the labeling of gluten-free foods if you’re unsure.

Preparing food

If you eat a gluten-free diet, it’s important to not contaminate your gluten-free food with other foods that contains gluten.

Preventing food contamination

To stop cross-contamination, wipe down surfaces and always clean pots and pans with soap and water.

When preparing food, always use:

  • separate breadboards to keep gluten-free and gluten-containing breads separate
  • a separate toaster or toaster bags
  • different butter knives and jam spoons to prevent breadcrumbs from getting into condiments

You should also use separate containers when storing or freezing gluten-free and gluten-containing foods.

Eating out

When dining out, always tell the staff that you require a gluten-free diet to ensure your food and drinks are prepared without gluten or cross-contaminated with gluten-containing foods.

Try to choose dishes from the menu that are more likely to be gluten-free such as rice or potato based dishes and try to avoid pasta or flour based dishes. If you’re unsure, ask the waiter which menu items might be suitable.

Many restaurants and takeaways now offer gluten-free meals as part of their menu. By law, restaraunts and food outlets must tell you which items may contain gluten.

Phoning ahead

You might find it useful to phone ahead to explain:

  • why you need a gluten-free diet
  • what foods you can eat
  • how the food should be prepared and served to avoid cross-contamination

If there’s nothing suitable on the menu, chefs are usually happy to cook something specific once they know why.

Hospital visit

If you’re coming into hospital on a planned admission then you should let pre-assessment staff know that you need a gluten-free diet.

If it’s a non-planned admission then staff need to know you require a gluten-free diet before you eat any hospital food.

Medicines

All medications and drugs that your GP prescribes are gluten-free.

Over-the-counter medicines

Over-the-counter medicine’s that have a product licence (PL) number on the packet are gluten-free. Your pharmacist can tell you if a medicine has a PL number.

Side effects

The side effects of some medications are similar to the symptoms that occur after eating gluten. If you have any unexpected side effects, speak to your GP or pharmacist.

Hidden gluten places some consumers at risk

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Jane Anderson is a medical journalist and an expert in celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, and the gluten-free diet.

Robert Burakoff, MD, MPH, is board-certified in gastroentrology. He is the vice chair for ambulatory services for the department of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, where he is also a professor. He was the founding editor and co-editor in chief of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.

  • Nutrition
  • Diagnosis
  • Symptoms
  • Gluten Sensitivity
  • Living With
  • Related Conditions

If you’re new to the gluten-free diet—or even if you’ve been gluten-free for a while—you need to understand what the term “gluten-free” actually means on food and product labels. In the end, “free” doesn’t necessarily mean “zero.”

Instead, it suggests an acceptable level of gluten as determined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Unlike food allergens, manufacturers are not required to disclose gluten on food labels—only wheat—making it all the more difficult to choose “safe” products if you have extreme gluten sensitivity.  

To make selection easier, you need to find out where gluten is hidden in foods. Some of these are straightforward (such as products containing wheat, barley or rye), while others are less than obvious. Other products still may only contain gluten some of the time.

Secondly, you need to know what the FDA requires from a manufacturer in order for their product to be certified gluten-free.

How to Avoid Gluten

Alternative Names for Gluten

The following terms represent the most commonly used Latin terms for wheat, barley, and rye. If you see any of these, the product contains gluten:

  • Triticum vulgare (wheat)
  • Triticale (a cross between wheat and rye)
  • Hordeum vulgare (barley)
  • Secale cereale (rye)
  • Triticum spelta (spelt, a form of wheat)

Ingredients That Always Contain Gluten

The following terms represent ingredients that always contain gluten:

  • Wheat protein/hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • Wheat starch/hydrolyzed wheat starch
  • Wheat flour/bread flour/bleached flour
  • Bulgur: A form of wheat
  • Malt: Made from barley
  • Couscous: Made from wheat
  • Farina: Made from wheat
  • Pasta: Made from wheat unless otherwise indicated
  • Seitan: Made from wheat gluten and commonly used in vegetarian meals
  • Wheat or barley grass: Will be cross-contaminated
  • Wheat germ oil or extract: Will be cross-contaminated

Ingredients That May Contain Gluten

Depending on the source, all of these ingredients potentially can contain gluten. The FDA does require food manufacturers to declare wheat-containing ingredients on their labels. However, other gluten-containing grains potentially could be used to make some of these ingredients.

You’ll need to check with the manufacturer to find out for certain whether or not a food that includes one or more of these ingredients are safe on a gluten-free diet:

  • Vegetable protein/hydrolyzed vegetable protein: Can come from wheat, corn or soy
  • Modified starch/modified food starch: Can come from several sources, including wheat
  • Natural flavor/natural flavoring: Can come from barley
  • Artificial flavor/artificial flavoring: Can come from barley
  • Caramel color: Now considered a safe ingredient, but if you’re in doubt, check with the manufacturer
  • Modified food starch
  • Hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP)
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
  • Seasonings: May contain wheat fillers
  • Flavorings: May contain wheat fillers
  • Vegetable starch: May contain wheat fillers
  • Dextrin and maltodextrin: Both sometimes made from wheat

Gluten-Free Certification

A food with no gluten-containing ingredients still can be cross-contaminated with gluten during processing. This is why it’s extra important to pay attention to labels if you have extreme gluten sensitivity and to only choose foods certified gluten-free.

In August 2013, the FDA announced a new rule for gluten-free food labeling. According to the rule, manufacturers must ensure that their products contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten in order to carry the “gluten-free” label.  

Some gluten-free advocates insist that the FDA standard is inadequate and that symptoms can develop at 10 ppm and lower. Countries like New Zealand and Australia have already embraced a certification standard of less than 5 ppm.  

The gluten-free food labeling requirements only apply to packaged foods. The rule doesn’t apply to meat, poultry, or unshelled eggs or to distilled spirits and wines made with 7% alcohol by volume or more.

There is no standard symbol for gluten-free foods. Manufacturers can simply print “gluten-free” on their label as long as it is truthful. Moreover, there is not one certification criterion in the United States.

There are a number of other organizations that offer certification, each with their own tests and standards for acceptable gluten levels. These include:

  • Gluten Intolerance Group
  • Celiac Support Association (CSA)
  • Allergen Control Group
  • Certified Naturally Grown
  • Non-GMO Project
  • NSF International
  • National Organic Program
  • Kosher Certification Agency
  • USDA Organic
  • Crossed Grain Trademark

The Gluten Intolerance Group’s Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) is one example of an organization that offers certification to foods with less than 10 ppm of gluten.

For people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, choosing a product with the GFCO label, for example, can make all the difference between good and less-than-good digestive health.

How to Avoid Gluten

When looking at an ingredient list, it would be so easy if it said “This item contains gluten!” Unfortunately, that is not always the case. You need to do your research and gain the knowledge to know exactly what you should be looking for in order to keep yourself safe and free of gluten.

Gluten is in many staple items and ingredients, many of which you wouldn’t even think of because gluten is not just found in wheat. Wheat-free items can still contain gluten because it is also found in barley and rye and can be referred to by different names. We have provided a list for you of many of the items and names to be aware of so you know what to avoid and be careful of.

Some Items To Avoid:

  • White flour
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Durum wheat
  • Graham flour
  • Triticale (a cross between wheat and rye)
  • Wheat starch
  • Wheat bran
  • Wheat germ
  • Couscous
  • Cracked wheat
  • Durum
  • Einkorn
  • Emmer
  • Farina
  • Faro
  • Fu (common in asian foods)
  • Gliadin
  • Graham flour
  • Kamut
  • Matzo
  • Malt
  • Semolina
  • Spelt
  • Barley
  • Barley malt
  • Bulgur
  • Oats (oats themselves don’t contain gluten but can be grown in fields or processed in plants that produce gluten-containing grains causing the oats to become contaminated)
  • Rye
  • Seitan
  • Mir

Item To Be Aware Of:

Gluten may also be present in the following items so always double check the labels or call the manufacturer if you are not sure!

  • Chicken broth
  • Malt vinegar
  • Salad dressings
  • Veggie burgers (if not specified gluten-free)
  • Soy sauce
  • Teriyaki Sauce
  • Ponzu Sauce
  • Seasonings and spices (anti-caking agents can contain gluten)
  • Gravy
  • Beer and some spirits
  • Broth in soups
  • Bouillon cubes
  • Breadcrumbs and croutons
  • Some candies
  • Fried foods (can be a breaded coating or oil cross contamination)
  • Imitation fish
  • Some brands of lunch meats
  • Hot dogs
  • Modified food starch
  • Seasoned chips and other seasoned snack foods
  • Self-basting turkey
  • Seasoned rice and pasta mixes
  • Sauce Mixes
  • Medications- pills and syrups
  • Mouthwash
  • Toothpaste

For a complete list of unsafe foods and ingredients to avoid, please visit the celiac.com website HERE

For a list of SAFE gluten free foods and ingredients from celiac.com VISIT HERE

(We promise- this list is longer than the ‘unsafe’ list!!)

How to Avoid Gluten

Going gluten-free may be the biggest health trend of the past decade, but there’s confusion over whether gluten is problematic for everyone or just those with certain medical conditions.

It’s clear that some people must avoid it for health reasons, such as those with celiac disease or an intolerance.

However, many in the health and wellness world suggest that everyone should follow a gluten-free diet — regardless of whether they’re intolerant or not.

This has led millions of people to give up gluten in hopes of losing weight, improving mood, and getting healthier.

Still, you may wonder whether these methods are backed by science.

This article tells you whether gluten really is bad for you.

How to Avoid Gluten

Though often thought of as a single compound, gluten is a collective term that refers to many different types of proteins (prolamins) found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye) ( 1 ).

Various prolamins exist, but all are related and have similar structures and properties. The main prolamins in wheat include gliadin and glutenin, while the primary one in barley is hordein ( 2 ).

Gluten proteins — such as glutenin and gliadin — are highly elastic, which is why gluten-containing grains are suited for making bread and other baked goods.

In fact, extra gluten in the form of a powdered product called vital wheat gluten is often added to baked goods to increase the strength, rise, and shelf life of the finished product.

Gluten-containing grains and foods make up a large portion of modern-day diets, with estimated intake in Western diets around 5–20 grams per day ( 1 ).

Gluten proteins are highly resistant to protease enzymes that break down proteins in your digestive tract.

The incomplete digestion of proteins allows for peptides — large units of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins — to cross over through the wall of your small intestine into the rest of your body.

This can trigger immune responses that have been indicated in a number of gluten-related conditions, such as celiac disease ( 3 ).

Gluten is an umbrella term that refers to a family of proteins known as prolamins. These proteins are resistant to human digestion.

The term gluten intolerance refers to three types of conditions ( 4 ).

Although the following conditions do have some similarities, they differ greatly in terms of origin, development, and severity.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is an inflammatory autoimmune disease caused by both genetic and environmental factors. It impacts around 1% of the world’s population.

However, in countries like Finland, Mexico, and specific populations in North Africa, the prevalence is estimated to be much higher — about 2–5% ( 5 , 6 ).

It’s a chronic condition associated with the consumption of gluten-containing grains in susceptible people. Though celiac disease involves many systems in your body, it’s considered an inflammatory disorder of the small intestine.

The ingestion of these grains in those with celiac disease causes damage to enterocytes, which are cells lining your small intestine. This leads to intestinal damage, nutrient malabsorption, and symptoms like weight loss and diarrhea ( 7 ).

Other symptoms or presentations of celiac disease include anemia, osteoporosis, neurological disorders, and skin diseases, such as dermatitis. Still, many people with celiac disease may have no symptoms at all ( 8 , 9 ).

The condition is diagnosed by intestinal biopsy — considered the “gold standard” for diagnosing celiac disease — or blood testing for specific genotypes or antibodies. Currently, the only cure for the disease is total avoidance of gluten ( 9 ).

Wheat Allergy

Wheat allergy is more common in children but can impact adults as well. Those who are allergic to wheat have an abnormal immune response to specific proteins in wheat and wheat products ( 4 ).

Symptoms can range from mild nausea to severe, life-threatening anaphylaxis — an allergic reaction that can cause difficulty breathing — after ingesting wheat or inhaling wheat flour.

Wheat allergy is different from celiac disease, and it’s possible to have both conditions.

Wheat allergies are usually diagnosed by allergists using blood or skin-prick testing.

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity

A large population of people reports symptoms after eating gluten, even though they don’t have celiac disease or an allergy to wheat ( 10 ).

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is diagnosed when a person does not have either of the above conditions yet still experiences intestinal symptoms and other symptoms — such as headache, fatigue, and joint pain — when they consume gluten ( 11 ).

Celiac disease and wheat allergy must be ruled out to diagnose NCGS since symptoms overlap in all of these conditions.

Like those with celiac disease or an allergy to wheat, people with NCGS report improvement of symptoms when following a gluten-free diet.

Gluten intolerance refers to celiac disease, wheat allergy, and NCGS. Although some symptoms overlap, these conditions have significant differences.

How to Avoid GlutenFor people diagnosed with celiac disease or who are gluten intolerant, it’s important to be aware
of how cross-contamination of gluten can occur.

When gluten-free foods come into contact with foods that contain gluten, cross-contamination can occur. Even in the manufacturing process, cross-contamination is a threat. If the equipment has not be learning or sterilized prior to the manufacturing of gluten-free products, cross-contamination can occur.

It’s important to check labels that include a “may contain” statement if cross-contamination is likely. However, this type of statement is voluntary. Additionally, you still need to check the actual ingredient list. If you cannot determine whether a food contains gluten, don’t buy it or check with the manufacturer first to ask what it contains.

Cross-contamination can also occur at home if foods are prepared on the same surfaces or with utensils that weren’t thoroughly cleaned after being used to prepare gluten-containing foods. For example, using a common toaster for gluten-free bread and regular bread is a major source of contamination. Develop a plan to prevent cross-contamination at home, school or work.

Dining out at restaurants can present another risk of cross-contamination. If planning to eat out, try calling ahead and ask the restaurant if the have gluten-free menu choices that are truly gluten-free, including being prepared so as to avoid cross-contamination.

Here are a few recommendations from Today’s Dietician on how to avoid cross-contamination:

• Don’t use wooden spoons or cutting boards that also are used to prepare gluten-containing foods because the spoons and boards can harbor residual gluten and bacteria. Metal or plastic are better options.

• Cover shared grilling surfaces when barbequing because unless the grill reaches 500˚F or higher for 30 minutes or longer, grilling won’t eliminate any residual gluten.

• Buy a separate waffle maker or bread maker if the one the family uses doesn’t have parts that can be disassembled and placed in the dishwasher.

• If using a separate toaster isn’t possible, use toaster-safe toaster bags such as Celinal Toast-It or Vat19 ToastIt, available online.

• When planning parties at home, prepare a buffet of foods that are 100% gluten free to prevent accidental cross-contamination among family members and guests.

• Buy squeezable condiment containers for ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise to prevent double dipping. If you don’t purchase squeezable containers, mark condiment jars as safe depending on whether they’ve been exposed to gluten-containing foods.

• Store gluten-free products on the top shelf of the pantry or refrigerator so other foods don’t accidentally cross-contaminate them.

• In supermarkets, don’t buy unpackaged foods stored in bins. The scoops used to place the foods in bags or containers may have been previously used on nearby gluten-containing foods and may not have been sufficiently cleaned.

• Use different colored stickers to distinguish between gluten-containing and gluten-free products in the pantry and fridge.

• Purchase a colander in a different color for gluten-free foods so it doesn’t get mixed up with the colander used for gluten-containing foods.

• Buy gluten-free grains that are certified gluten free to ensure cross-contamination didn’t take place during processing.

• Buy gluten-free flours marked as gluten free from reputable companies that are more likely to test for gluten.

• Avoid purchasing imported foods. Other countries may not abide by the same gluten-free standards as the United States.

How to Avoid Gluten

  • When choosing pasta, what you can have instead is rice or zucchini noodle.
  • If you want oatmeal, attempt gluten-free oatmeal instead.
  • Bread, you can look at bread made from rice flour or almond flour.
  • How about wraps they are usually made from wheat try corn wraps.
  • What can you have instead of wheat there are flourless options or to use cornmeal.

How to Avoid Gluten

What to Know about Food Labels

Ingredients to look for on the food label and avoid.

  • flour
  • triticum vulgare
  • triticale
  • hordeum vulgare
  • secale cereal
  • triticum spelta
  • malt
  • spelt
  • wheat germ
  • wheat protein
  • semolina

What to make When you have very little Time?

What to do when you have been rushing around all day dealing with kids. Not a lot of time. Maybe only 10-15mins to cook. You need to feed hungry little ones. What can you make with very little time.

  • omelet
  • nuts
  • veggie and hummus
  • gluten-free corn chip with cheese

How to Avoid Gluten

Preparing Meal at Home Main Focus on Gluten-Free

When you start to eat gluten-free option, it can be a lot to take in. After you become comfortable with 2-3 dishes, you can make slight changes by changing the spices or changing the protein or vegetable.

  • Roast with rosemary carrot and onion
  • Bake chicken thigh with roasted garlic and pepper spice
  • Beef stew with lentil potato and peas

You can start off with a simple dish or something you like. Just experiment.

Saving Money with Gluten-free Choices

What you can do to save money when starting gluten-free is to add more vegetables to your dishes. Try to spend more time in the kitchen, you can make your own snacks. Choose one meal with bean, chickpeas or lentils.

Gluten-free Breakfast

When you think of breakfast, it usually contains carbohydrates. What you can have instead is the following:

  • salmon with gluten-free cracker
  • yogurt with nut
  • bowl of fruit
  • omelet
  • avocado with gluten-free toast

It is best to start small with eating gluten-free rather than to overwhelm yourself.

You know how hard it was to give up gluten-laden items like bread, those buttery-divine croissants, pizza and pasta. You’ve managed to purge gluten from your diet and embark on the road to recovery. What an accomplishment! Let’s call it: Phase 1. If there were no more gluten in the world, our work would be nearing completion.

But how does someone with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity manage to share a kitchen with cheerful gluten eaters? How do you keep yourself safe in the one place that should be your haven, your own home?

If you can’t clear all gluten from your home, you’re potentially exposed to gluten with every bite you take, from shared peanut butter jars to those mysterious bits in the microwave, to cracker crumbs everywhere. Gluten-free veterans can all share stories when they discovered contamination sources in the unlikeliest of places.

How to Avoid Gluten

Studies show that even 10 mg of gluten per day (less than a few crumbs!) can cause problems for those with celiac disease. So…preventing cross-contact is critical!

Fortunately, maintaining a safer kitchen is a realistic goal, and those who’ve gone before you have many tips to share for peaceful cohabitation with your gluten-loving room-mates or loved ones! As a registered dietitian diagnosed with celiac disease who also counsels people following a gluten-free diet…here are some of my tips to prevent cross-contact:

12 Tips for Avoiding Gluten Cross-Contact in the Kitchen

  1. Store all gluten-free products in labeled containers. Use a sharpie pen or place brightly colored-stickers on everything that must remain “GLUTEN FREE.”
  2. Keep all gluten-free foods in their own area of the pantry, on shelves above those containing gluten. This keeps dust and crumbs from raining down on your formerly safe products.
  3. Squeezable condiments such as mayo, relish and mustard are the best thing since sliced (GF) bread! For dips and spreads in jars, always pull out a portion into a clean, labeled jar for yourself as you unpack your groceries. Or buy 2 containers of items (e.g., peanut butter) and label one “GLUTEN FREE.” Store the GF labeled containers with your other GF goodies.
  4. It may seem obvious, but this can be overlooked when you’re in a hurry: Always make sure you wipe a clean counterspace before preparing any of your own foods.
  5. While you’re at it, throw the wash rag in the laundry when you’re done. Invest in a large supply of cleaning cloths, because you never want to wash your pan or counter with a rag full of snickerdoodle crumbs.
  6. Have a separate cupboard or drawer with a designated set of tools such as spatulas, wooden spoons, cutting boards, cookie sheets, etc.
  7. Invest in a dedicated gluten-free toaster. If not, you can share a toaster oven if you pull out the rack and clean it between uses. Another option is to buy special “toaster bags” that hold slices of gluten-free bread and allow safe toasting in a regular toaster. These reusable bags can be purchased online or in some retail stores.
  8. Please don’t even think about sharing a bread machine, food processor, waffle iron, sifter or colander. These range from challenging to impossible to clean well enough.
  9. Clean your microwave between uses and cover your food with a paper towel. Who knows what all those bits are?
  10. Clean your BBQ grill thoroughly before cooking any GF foods or, if that’s not possible, cook your food on heavy-duty aluminum foil.
  11. If you are having a party with mixed foods, place the gluten-free foods first in line with their own serving spoons. Let the gluten-free folks serve themselves first in case spoons get mixed or blobs go flying about.
  12. Finally, if you bake, bake gluten-free foods on separate days to minimize exposure in the air and on surfaces. If you bake on the same day, do the gluten-free foods first, let them cool, and store them safely before moving on to the standard items.

Always take the time to educate and enlist the help of your family, roommates and friends. They love you and want to see you thrive. Even the messiest partners and children will learn to wipe their crumbs and spills, avoid double-dipping, and ask you when they’re not sure. They will definitely eat your gluten-free pretzels, though: they’re delicious.

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How to Avoid Gluten

A gluten-free diet is a diet that does not include the grains wheat, barley, rye or hybrids of these grains. This includes all varieties and forms of these grains, such as spelt (a type of wheat) and malt (which is made from barley). A gluten-free diet is called a gluten-free diet because the grains that must be avoided all contain a protein called gluten. Now how you should avoid this gluten and live a more healthy life is what this article is centered on.

There are various ways of selecting the best techniques for living a gluten free life, but I would just like to focus some key points.

1. Shopping list

Now, this is the foundation on which other points rest. When you go shopping, ensure that your shopping list is full of gluten free items, such as; sweet potatoes, rib-eye steak, yellow lentils, asparagus, lamb kebabs, guacamole, spring vegetable soup, mangoes, marinated pork, rice, corn, millet, sorghum, wild rice, teff, buckwheat, quinoa and amaranth and many more gluten containing food items. All these have one thing in common, they are all gluten free.

2. Become a cook-a-holic

Now, why this is important is because when you eat out, you have no idea what’s in the food as an ingredient, so there is a high chance of getting foods that have gluten in it. However, if you already love cooking, then this won’t be a problem for you. All you need to do is to have knowledge about the nutritional class your cooking ingredients belong to.

3. Dedication

This comes in very handy when you forget to pack snacks for the road and then find yourself craving food. At this point, you will be tempted to park at the nearest gas station to get food, but then, most or all of the available snacks might not be gluten free, so instead of risking it why not just stay firm and control your craving and stay dedicated to staying gluten free. Some days, when you get back from work or classes too tired to cook and you pop open the refrigerator and see pizza, please ignore it and just go for popcorn instead.

4. Choose the right kind of company

Why stay in the company of people who have no clue what your dietary goals are? The thing is that you do more harm to your diet goals when you find yourself in the wrong kind of company. As a result, all your efforts to avoid gluten would go to waste if you eat gluten containing foods due to peer pressure. When you are happy, everything falls into place. Find suitable groups to fit in, join social communities and ensure that you only socialize with people who really know how you feel, and make these people your friends. There is no point in sulking over people who step on you over and over again.

Living a gluten free life only applies to people with celiac disease, which is a serious genetically-based autoimmune disease. When gluten is eaten by a person with celiac disease, it triggers an immune system reaction that damages the lining of the small intestine. When the lining of the small intestine is damaged, nutrients cannot be properly absorbed. Once gluten is completely removed from your diet, the intestine is able to heal. Stay conscious and live a healthy life.

How to Avoid Gluten

Deciding to go gluten-free is a lifestyle change that can make you feel worlds better if you are sensitive to gluten.

Unfortunately, it may make eating out at restaurants more tricky. However, there are several things you can do to still enjoy an evening out while avoiding contact with gluten.

Gluten is a protein compound found in wheat, barley, rye and many processed foods. As we detailed in a previous article, about one percent of the population has celiac diease, an autoimmune reaction to gluten, which can lead to inflammation and the inability of the body to absorb essential nutrients. While celiac disease is receiving much more attention nowadays, it is estimated that only about 17 percent of those afflicted know they have it.

Many others who do not have celiac disease suffer from non-celiac gluten sensitivity. These individuals may experience a range of symptoms, from fatigue to digestive distress, that can be alleviated by avoiding gluten.

When choosing a restaurant, your safest bet is to select one with a gluten-free menu and a certification from organizations including the Gluten Free Certification Organization or the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. Restaurants with these certifications have had their staff trained in avoiding cross-contamination for gluten-sensitive individuals.

If you choose to go to a restaurant without a specific gluten-free menu or certification, you will need to be very careful. Avoiding anything with flour, breading and processed sauces is essential. This, however, may prove difficult, as many restaurants use packaged sauces, which do not always have ingredient labels when bought in large, bulk containers.

How to Avoid GlutenIn an interview , Dr. Tom O’Bryan shares a great tip that was told to him by Jaqui Karr, a certified nutritionist with celiac disease. She shared with him that when she goes to a restaurant, she immediately asks for the owner, explains she has celiac disease and cannot have anything with gluten, and asks him or her to personally ensure that there is no gluten in her food if he or she wishes to avoid a call to the emergency room from the restaurant.

Using this method, Ms. Karr reports that she eats at restaurants frequently with no issues.

Following a gluten-free diet helps people diagnosed with celiac disease to keep a check on the signs and symptoms and prevent any untoward complications. Here are the foods to be avoided in case of gluten allergy.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease affecting the small bowel. This condition occurs as a result of a reaction to gliadin, which is a gluten protein most commonly found in wheat, rye, barley, and oats. When the body is exposed to gluten, the enzyme in the tissue known as transglutaminase changes the protein, which causes a reaction in the bowel area and results in inflammation. The body, in its response, generates antibodies to fight gluten, which results in the antibodies attacking the villi of the small intestines. People suffering from gluten allergy show symptoms, like diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, etc. In some cases, people can also suffer from joint pain, depression, skin disorders, muscle cramps, mouth sores, etc. Hence, the affected person should know which are the foods to avoid in case of such an allergy. Foods with Gluten When you switch to a gluten-free diet, foods to avoid are many, yet there are a number of foods, which can still be consumed. When you visit the supermarket, you will have to check the packaging of the food product to know whether the food is gluten-free or not and whether it can be included in your diet. You will have to make a lifestyle change so that you are able to incorporate the changes in your diet. The foods that contain gluten are given in the table below. It is important to note that this is not a conclusive list. Therefore, talking to your healthcare professional will prove beneficial.

All-purpose Flour Bagels Barley Barley Grass
Beer Beverage Mixes Binders Biscuits
Blue Cheese Bologna Bouillon Bran
Bread Bread Crumbs Bread Pudding Breaded Fish
Breaded Meats Breaded Poultry Brewer’s Yeast Bulgur Wheat
Cake Candies Canned Baked Beans Cereal
Cereal Binding Chicken Nuggets Chilton Cold Cuts
Commercially Prepared Broth Commercially Prepared Chocolate Milk Commercially Prepared Soup Cookies
Couscous Crackers Croissants Croutons
Custard Donuts Dumplings Durum Flour
Edible Starch Emulsifiers Farina Flavorings
Flour Tortillas Fried Vegetables Fruit Fillings Gravy
Gum Hamburger Buns Hotdogs Hotdog Buns
Hydrolyzed Plant and Vegetable Protein Ice Cream Ice Cream Cones Kasha
Macaroni Malt Malt Flavoring Malt Vinegar
Matzo Modified Food Starch Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) Muffins
Non-dairy Creamer Noodles Packaged Cereals (even corn cereals) Pancakes
Pasta Pastries Pie Crusts Pizza Crust
Potato Chips Pretzels Pudding Rolls
Root Beer Rye Salad Dressing Semolina
Some Spice Mixtures Self-basting Turkey Soy Sauce Spaghetti
Spelt Stabilisers Stuffed Foods Suet
Syrups Tabbouleh Teriyaki Sauce Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
Toasts Vegetables with Commercially Prepared Sauces Waffles Wheat
Wheat Flour Wheat Grass Wheat Protein Alcohol (made from gluten-based grains)
Groats Kamut Laxatives Mayonnaise
Marshmallows Rice syrup White pepper Sausage

There are certain foods which are available with gluten as well as without it, like candies. Hence, you will have to read the label carefully before you buy anything. As is the case with food allergies, it is also important to know the foods, which can be consumed. Some foods may not trigger an allergy immediately; hence, it is better to talk to your doctor so that you do not suffer from any health complications. Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and should not be substituted for the advice of a medical professional.

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The first step in avoiding gluten is to identify which foods contain gluten.

It is also important that the way any food is made is free from contamination from gluten. Avoiding the risk of cross contamination can sound a bit daunting when you first make gluten free food but it needn’t be. You just need to take some sensible precautions.

Identifying which foods contain gluten

Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye. So anywhere you see these ingredients, the food will contain gluten.

Wheat flour is usually the basis for breads, pasta, cakes, breakfast cereals, pastry, biscuits and many sauces.

The more difficult areas to identify gluten are the other food products that are made from wheat, barley and rye. For example:

1) Stabilising agents are made from gluten and added to products such as ice-cream. The basic recipe for ice-cream does not contain gluten. However these stabilising agents are added to some commercial ice-creams. You cannot tell by looking or tasting which ice-creams contain these stabilising agents and which don’t. The only way of identifying whether something contains a stabilising agent is to read the label.

2) Malt which is found in a wide variety of products such as beer, whisky, malted shakes, Horlicks, Ovaltine, Maltesers, malt vinegar and malt loaf is made from malting grains, usually barley. Any time you see malt listed on ingredients labels, it is safest to assume it will contain gluten unless is specifically says gluten free.

3) Cous cous. This is increasingly used in salads etc. This is made from wheat so cannot be used by someone avoiding gluten or wheat. Rice or quinoa is a useful substitute for cous cous.

4) Soy sauce. Usually contains gluten, you need to find one that specifically says it is gluten free.

5) Chocolates. Some chocolates contain gluten, even those that are straightforward dark or milk chocolate. So always check the label.

Food labelling

The starting point for identifying gluten is the ingredients labels you will find on all commercially sold food. The quantity of information on food labels has improved enormously over the past few years making it easier to identify gluten containing products, if you know what you are looking for. Otherwise they can sometimes look like an overwhelming list from a chemistry lesson.

On 1st January 2012 a new law on gluten free food labelling came into effect in the UK which should help significantly in identifying gluten free products. The law applies to both pre-packed and loose foods, so manufacturers, restaurants, cafes etc will all be equally affected.

There are now three labels to look for:

1. “Gluten-free”
This term is now covered by law for the first time and applies only to food which has 20 parts per million (ppm) or less of gluten.

2. “Very low gluten”
This term is also covered by law and applies to foods which have between 21 and 100 ppm.

3. “No gluten-containing ingredients”
This term is not covered by law so is optional for food producers. It tells you that the food was made with ingredients that don’t contain gluten and that the food producer has good cross contamination controls in place.

People’s level of sensitivity can vary so some individuals may be able to tolerate slightly higher levels than others. Only the first level of less than 20ppm, labelled “gluten free” is regarded as safe for all coeliacs.
You can only learn by experimentation how sensitive you are.

If you are cooking for someone who has to avoid gluten ask them about their level of sensitivity and whether you can include products from groups 2 and 3 above. If in doubt, stick to gluten free only.

Avoiding cross contamination

It is important to avoid cross contaminating gluten free foods with gluten. This need not be daunting, some simple steps will help keep things safe.

Try to avoid cooking gluten containing foods and gluten free at the same time. This is particularly the case if you are using normal wheat flour or bread as it is easy for the flour and crumbs to remain on work surfaces, cooking utensils etc.

Follow normal cleaning rules – wipe down surfaces, clean pots, pans, cooking utensils with soap and water.

There are some specific things to watch out for:

– Cutting boards. You may want to get separate cutting boards if you will be cooking gluten free food regularly. This is particularly if you use wooden boards which have tiny pores where it is easy for crumbs and flour to remain.

– If you use toasters for normal bread, it will be impossible to remove all the crumbs. So either toast your gluten free bread under the grill or use toaster bags.

– Baking trays can often have baked in food stuffs from previous use, despite cleaning. This is the case particularly with older trays. If you cannot get it completely clean, cover the tray with foil or greaseproof paper.

– Watch when you use food mixers. Double check that the bowl and mixer/whisk/hook are completely clean. Also check the underside of your mixer above the bowl is clean and the splash guard (if you have one). It is easy for bits of flour to get trapped around these areas and fall into the next food you prepare.