Gluten sensitivity, also known as gluten intolerance is a spectrum of disorders in which consumption of gluten enriched foods can cause symptoms identical to coeliac disease or wheat allergy. Gluten is a protein found in processed foods from wheat, rye, barley, triticale and oats. Its gluten that gives baked products its elasticity and spring.
Gluten free diet is recommended to patients suffering from coeliac (celiac) disease, a life long auto immune disease where the small intestine is incapable of absorbing nutrients. There are also a subset of people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, who don’t have coeliac disease but are gluten sensitive. Since there is no cure to coeliac disease, following a life long gluten free diet is the only solution to avoid further complications like malnutrition, osteoporosis and infertility. It includes avoiding all foods containing gluten and processed food products that use it as a food additive in the form of ‘dextrin’.
Anyone who is sensitive to gluten should be cautious while shopping for products and ensure that they are safe to eat. Some of the foods that may contain gluten are:
- All cereal and baking products, pastas and noodles and snacks made with wheat, semolina, couscous, barley or oats.
- Processed meat products prepared with breadcrumbs and batter.
- Thickened soups, meat pies and frozen meals
- Dairy products like ice cream and some soy milks
- Canned / Processed Fruits and vegetables
- Some condiments, malt vinegar, sauces, gravy, yeast and salad dressings
- Drinks made with milk powder and cereal coffee substitutes
- Beer and Lager
However, gluten free substitutes are now widely available in the market today. It is important to read the labels of all packaged or prepared foods for gluten free mentioning.
- Gluten-free flours made from soy, rice,buckwheat, chestnut, corn, potato, and chickpea
- Xantham gum
- Gluten-free baking powder
- Gluten-free pasta and noodles
- Rice noodles
- Soba noodles made entirely from buckwheat
- Polenta or ground rice
- Unprocessed meat products
- Eggs, full cream / low fat milk, low fat milk, cream, cheese and soy milks
- Non-sauced fruits and vegetables
- Breads and biscuits made from rice and corn.
- Gluten-free condiments such as maple syrup, tomato paste, tahini, jam
- Tea, Coffee, Mineral Water, Sprites, Liqueurs and gluten free Boutique Beers
In countries like US, UK and Australia, foods are labelled as gluten free. But carefully go through the ingredients for incidence of gluten.