There’s much more to going gluten-free than a change of diet. We know that gluten is sneaky, and harmful to those with coeliac — even sharing utensils can be life threatening — but there’s more than a few myths going around. So in light of Coeliac Awareness Week we’re getting to the raw truth and debunking some common mistakes surrounding gluten.
Deli and processed meats like salami can often contain modified starches (containing gluten) to help bind the ingredients together. You might also find gluten hiding in your favourite Californian sushi roll. The so called “crab meat” that they use isn’t real crab and contains wheat — so sneaky!
Sauces & Condiments
Many condiments like tomato sauce, mustard, gravy and salad dressings contain wheat and starch to help thicken the product. So look on the label for “modified food starch”.
This definitely doesn’t look like bread, but yes, it too contains gluten found in its wheat ingredients.
You might have thought soy sauce was made from soy beans, but think again it’s got wheat! If gluten is out you can buy gluten-free soy or try tamari sauce for a good alternative.
Did you guess these? Pickles are often made from malt vinegar, which is a by product of gluten.
Unfortunately hard lollies also contains the gluten protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. But if you’ve got a sweet tooth don’t worry, there are gluten-free products out there.
Many beers are not gluten- free, so it’s best to steer clear from beer made from wheat, barley and rye. Malt and malt flavouring also contain gluten and distilled alcohols like vodka might also be made from wheat. But wine drinkers are in the clear because they’re made from grapes. Cider is also made from fermenting apples so most of these drinks should be gluten-free.
If, after ingesting food containing gluten, your child exhibits symptoms of a gluten intolerance, it is a good idea to see its doctor and have a panel of tests performed which will confirm or exclude a diagnosis that might spell a gluten free lifestyle from thereon out.
In that case it’s not just “a good idea” it’s a medical necessity that, while impacting your child’s quality of life in some areas, will ensure it will not suffer from the consequences of its illness.
In all other cases, “gluten free” is not a good dietary choice.
Standard Response to All Gluten Question follows:
Gluten is the product of two grass proteins, glutenin and gliadin, who – combined with water – when experiencing shear or pressure form into a mesh that lends springiness to doughs and traps air for leavening.
On its own, it’s utterly, completely, and totally, harmless. It does not lead to weight gain and does not help you lose weight because even in high gluten concentrations it doesn’t comprise more than a trace of the whole. Furthermore, gluten is enriched in the amino acids glutamine and proline, which actually renders it biochemically difficult to digest. Gliadin peptides are resistant to degradation by gastric, pancreatic, and intestinal brush-border membrane proteases, and thus remain in the intestinal lumen after gluten ingestion.
In the ~1% percent of Americans who have a light to severe allergy to gluten it will cause inflammation and malabsorption.
Gluten is vilified by some who just don’t like grains or want you to eat them. Again, there’s nothing wrong with eating grains, like everything else (from bacon to soy, from beef ribs to celery stalks) it’s the amount that can make a difference and hurt you or make you obese.
But the notion that a no-gluten diet is “a good idea” as a general practice is nonsense.
 Per a review article about Celiac in the New England Journal of Medicine http://www.nejm.org/doi/f
For those interested in the genetics: Celiac disease doesn’t develop unless a person has alleles for HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8 proteins. Even so, studies in siblings and identical twins suggest that the contribution of HLA genes to the genetic component of Celiac disease is <50%, meaning that these genes are necessary, but not sufficient, to cause symptoms.
Jonas M Luster