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Why Do Some People Avoid Eating Gluten?

Celiac disease breaks down the lining of the small intestine.
Dermatitis herpetiformis is a telltale sign of celiac disease.
It is possible to make bread without wheat or gluten.
Barley contains gluten.
Gluten allergies can manifest as hives.
Related to millet, teff is a small, gluten-free grain that can be used in breads and cereals.
People who have an intolerance to gluten may experience abdominal cramps after consuming wheat products.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2014
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People usually avoid eating gluten because of a health issue. Some people notice that they do not feel as well when they eat it, and they decide to eat a diet free of it so that they feel better. Others have actually been diagnosed with an intolerance or celiac disease, and their doctors have advised them to stop eating gluten. In any case, being knowledgeable about which foods contain gluten can help you avoid it, if you are trying to cut it out of your diet. When you invite guests who are eating a gluten-free diet, being aware of potential sources is very important.

Gluten is a type of protein found particularly in rye, barley, and wheat, as well as in lesser amounts in kamut and spelt. Oats and teff may be contaminated with this protein because they are often processed in mills which handle grains with gluten in them. Gluten is highly elastic and strong, making it the core of bread dough because it is this protein in dough which allows it to be kneaded and risen. Unfortunately, some people have adverse reactions when they eat it, particularly when it comes from wheat, which is accompanied with other compounds found naturally in this grain.

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Many people avoid gluten because they have an intolerance, also known as celiac disease. People with celiac disease experience an immune system reaction which actually breaks down the lining of the small intestine. This leads to malabsorption of nutrients, meaning that people with celiac are not getting the nutrition they need. The condition can be difficult to diagnose, as malabsorption has many causes, and some people are not diagnosed with Celiac for quite some time.

Wheat ears along with a small pile of wheat kernels (also known as wheat berries).

Another type of immune system reaction can lead to dermatitis herpetiformis, a skin condition characterized by itchy, painful lumps or hives. The condition often accompanies celiac disease, and is sometimes a symptom which leads doctors to a celiac diagnosis.

Other people are merely gluten sensitive, meaning that they sometimes experience intestinal discomfort after eating it, or they occasionally have irritated skin. Individuals with a sensitivity may prefer to simply avoid this protein, since it makes them feel unwell. Other people may avoid it because they are on an elimination diet to determine the cause of an allergy, or because they have been advised to stop eating it for a set period by a doctor.

Most breads contain gluten.

While eating a small amount is unlikely to kill someone with a sensitivity or celiac, it can make that person feel ill later. Therefore, it is important to these individuals to check on the contents of their food, and they may ask probing questions to make sure that there is no gluten in their food. Wheat, especially, tends to be used as a filler in surprising places, especially in packaged products. For this reason, people on a gluten-free diet tend to seek out foods which are clearly labeled as such, and you may want to do the same if you are cooking for them.

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Discuss this Article

truman12
Post 13

I have been hearing a lot about these gluten free diets but I'm not sure I could go entirely gluten free myself. Are there any health benefits to eating a reduced gluten diet?

whiteplane
Post 12

I used to date a girl that did not eat any gluten. She had stopped eating it before I met her so I was never able to see any of these symptoms in action, but she insisted that when she ate gluten she got horrible joint pain. She went to a number of doctors and could not get any effective treatment until she decided to go gluten free.

I have mixed feeling about the whole guten free craze, but if it makes you feel better you really can't argue with the results. I would happily give up toast if it meant that my joints were not in extreme pain all the time.

LisaLou
Post 11

I have to follow a gluten-free and a dairy-free diet. Sometimes this can be kind of a pain, but the benefits are worth it. Even when I was younger I would get stomach aches, but never connected it to wheat and dairy products.

Everyone has different tastes, but for me it was easier to give up dairy products than wheat products. I can easily substitute almond milk or coconut milk for regular milk.

I love fresh baked bread though, and most grains contain some kind of gluten. I have had to do a lot of experimenting to find gluten-free foods that really taste as good as what I like them to. Wheat is also in so many more products than what people realize and you really have to become a label reader.

julies
Post 10

My brother was having a lot of intestinal problems and his chiropractor is the one who mentioned he might try to stay off of gluten to see if he noticed a difference.

It took a few weeks before he really felt much better, but over the course of a month or two, there was a huge difference. He lost 17 pounds in the process, and he doesn't have the intestinal pain he had before.

I do know it is quite a bit easier to find gluten-free foods than it used to be. Many health food sections will have lots of choices, and there are also a lot more options at restaurants. One of the few grains he can have is quinoa because it doesn't contain any gluten.

myharley
Post 9

My aunt is in her mid 80's and just a few years ago she found out she was allergic to gluten. I don't know how long she has had this problem, but eating foods that contained gluten never bothered her when she was younger.

The older she gets, the more it really bothers her if she does eat gluten, so she has changed her whole diet. Even when something looks or sounds good that has gluten in it, she has the discipline to stay away from it because she knows how miserable she will feel if she eats it.

golf07
Post 8

@anon133183 -- I think that would be worth checking out. The few things I have eaten that were gluten-free didn't taste very good. I have had pancakes and brownies made without gluten, but they sure didn't taste like what I am used to. Thankfully I am not allergic to gluten and think it would be hard to replace foods in my diet that contain gluten.

anon133183
Post 7

Did you see the Gluten-free pastry chef compete on Cupcake Wars (week of Dec 7, 2010 on The Food Network)? Judges were delighted that they couldn't tell the cupcakes were gluten-free. Raved about her baking. I'm going to check it out.

goofyflutist
Post 6

If I am not gluten intolerant and cut out gluten, will I have a reaction if I were to accidentally ingest gluten again?

anon110426
Post 4

I was searching on the topic "gluten" and what I am especially trying to find a definition of gluten and henceforth what should be known about it - what disease or complications which can develop or what should be learned about it. None of the articles I read has given any meaning of it, Can you assist me on that? make

pharmchick78
Post 3

Is there a serious taste difference in regular baked goods and gluten-free baked goods? I always see these gluten free cookie recipes and gluten free cakes, but I've never gotten up the courage to try one. What do they taste like?

gregg1956
Post 2

@closerfan12 -- Although pure buckwheat is gluten free, a lot of times it can be contaminated if it's processed on the same machinery as foods with gluten.

I would play it safe and either get gluten-free buckwheat, or something similar, like gluten-free oats, or gluten-free breakfast bread.

No sense taking chances, you have to keep those mother-in-laws happy!

closerfan12
Post 1

Does buckwheat have gluten? My mother in law is coming to visit for a week and I know she always likes to eat buckwheat in the morning. However, she's recently been saying that she's gluten-intolerant.

I don't think she's actually been diagnosed, but all that aside, should I buy the buckwheat for her breakfast when she comes to visit, or do I need to look for some kind of gluten-free buckwheat?

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