There are an increasing number of people who are suffering a reaction to gluten and are consequently removing it from their diet completely. However in many cases people remove gluten from their diets unnecessarily because of a misunderstanding of various aspects of intolerance towards gluten intolerance, the main reason being that they misunderstand exactly what gluten is. The following is an explanation as to what gluten is, the types of gluten and how gluten occurs.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is an elastic and rubbery protein. It is generally found in wheat and wheat products, but it can also be found in other products. It can be found in rye, barley and to a smaller extent in oats. Products that are always free from gluten include maize and rice.
One of the main characteristics of gluten based products is a doughy texture, therefore, food groups such as breads and baked goods are the main types of product found to contain gluten, as gluten is the substance that provides the spongy feel to the products.
Gluten is also used in a wide variety of other foods due to its excellent qualities as a thickening and binding agent, it also has uses in flavour enhancers and protein supplements. As a thickening agent gluten can often be found in soups, broths, sauces and gravies and as a flavour enhancer it can be found in things such as vinegars, dairy products and coffees. It can also be used as a stabilizer in the gum that is used to seal envelopes.
However gluten is not the only protein that is contained in wheat, rye and barley. All of these foods contain lots of other proteins, some of which may cause an allergic reaction. There are therefore other substance in these foods that can be causing your allergic reaction so you are not necessarily suffering from a gluten allergy.
If your body displays symptoms of gluten intolerance with food related to gluten you should not automatically deduce that you are allergic to gluten. It could mean that you are allergic to one of the other substances contained in these foods. It is therefore very important that you have your allergy check out by a specialist to ensure the correct diagnosis.
There are a number of adverse reactions to gluten allergy, these can include:
- Swelling of the tongue and mouth
- Skin Rashes
- Weight Loss
Gluten allergy is immunological and can in some cases cause a condition known as anaphylaxis which in extreme situations can be fatal.
Explanation Of Gluten Intolerance
Gluten intolerance occurs when you become sensitive to gluten, the proteins in the gluten damage the small vain like cells that are attached to the wall of the intestine. These cells known as villi are responsible for your bodies intake of water and nutrients such as folic acid, calcium, vitamins and iron. When the villi are damaged it results in a reduction of nutrients to the body. It is therefore very important that if you think you may suffer from gluten intolerance that you seek professional medical attention.