WTH is gluten and what does that mean for me?

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So, you know what gluten is. Because all your friends say they cut it out of their diet. Or think it’s the latest diet fad. But do you REALLY know what it is? It isn’t even detrimental to most people. So I will break it down for you, because regardless of if you have a gluten intolerance or not, you should really know and understand what you’re eating. Let’s break it down real simple (mind the pun)

what is gluten:

Gluten is the combination of two proteins which are found in cereal grains, particularly wheat. This is the most common grain that is in everything from breads, to cakes, to biscuits and pasta. Gluten is the reason that dough is stringy and elastic like.  

Think: rye, oats, wheat, spelt

Going further: The two proteins in gluten are called gliadin and glutelin.

why can’t I eat it?

The question is not why CAN’T I eat it, because you can- unless you are a coeliac.

(Coeliac is the medical term used to diagnose an intolerance to gluten and their foods from which they are present in)

When you are diagnosed as a coeliac, this means your body produces an abnormal immune response when it attempts to break down gluten proteins during the process of digestion.

What happens if a coeliac consumes gluten?

If someone is diagnosed as a coeliac, when they consume gluten, their body triggers a reaction within the intestine that prevents the body from absorbing nutrients from food. The villi (the lining of the intestine) flatten and become damaged, and thus do not absorb vitamins and minerals. If the case is severe enough, consumption of excess gluten can lead to stunted growth and weak bone structure.

Often those who suffer are not diagnosed until their 20s or later, due to symptoms taking a long time to develop and make it evident of a gluten intolerance.

What do you do if you are gluten intolerant?

Upon diagnosis, one would start a gluten free diet, which omits all wheat derived products and may include alternatives. All regular foods which contain wheat are omitted to prevent a triggered reaction. Cakes, biscuits, pasta,pastry and desserts all usually contain gluten; as well as a majority of packaged foods. Thus, diligent care  must be taken when initiating a gluten free diet. It becomes very important to have a cautious mind when eating out, as cafes, restaurants and dining precincts are often uneducated or unaware of the presence of gluten in their meals, so it is therefore important to understand what gluten is and where it is present.

Vital tip: By law in Australia, food companies are required to list gluten as an ingredient in ingredient lists and nutritional information on packaging. Always look for the bold text in these lists to ensure you can eat said product. Also notice where foods are processed, as they may still be processed in the same area as wheat products.

You can therefore improve your own life, or your friend’s life just by understanding gluten!

For more information, visit

http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders

http://www.livescience.com/39726-what-is-gluten.html

What are your favourite gluten free meals around Sydney? Do you recommend any good restaurants? Please let me know below in the comments!

Until next time, Sydney Brunch Lyf x

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5 thoughts on “WTH is gluten and what does that mean for me?

    1. The problem is people just jump on the bandwagon and say “oh, gluten is bad. I quit gluten”. But it actually is a good part of the digestion and absorption of nutrients. So unless you’re a coeliac it is really important people know the difference, and you’re right, especially with the growing trend of cautious consumption habits!

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