|Posted by Jackie Hitchcock on February 3, 2014 at 6:55 PM|
Gluten-free? Maybe you've seen this label on products and wondered what it means, or maybe you scour the aisles in search of it. What exactly is gluten, why are so many people choosing gluten-free and could it just be a new diet craze? We're going to answer those questions!
Gluten is the protein found in most grains, including wheat, rye, spelt, barley and their derivatives. On it's own, gluten (also called seitan), has a rubbery texture and is partially responsible for the elasticity of most baked goods. A gluten-free product may contain alternatives such as; rice, corn, bean, buckwheat, teff, amaranth, tapioca, potato, coconut, almond, quinoa, sorghum, hemp and millet. Some varieties of oats are also gluten-free.
Why do people switch to a gluten-free diet? There's an increasingly large group of people, referred to as Celiac, whose must live a gluten-free lifestyle in order to remain healthy. People with Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disorder, must avoid gluten completely in their diet as well as in personal products. A number of people are also affected by gluten-intolerance, which is a less severe reaction to gluten with varying symptoms. In addition, some people follow a gluten-free diet simply for it's associated health benefits which include weight loss, more energy and a better mood. A link between gluten and neurological/psychiatric problems has been recognized for decades.
Gluten-free awareness and labelling of products has arisen quite quickly due to increased demand. The sudden change to a gluten-free diet by thousands of people may seem like another diet craze, but it's one that's not likely to go away. It's important to recognize that gluten-free living is a must for some people and a healthly choice for others. Gluten-free is not just a fad!