What is Gluten In?
The largest source of gluten comes from products made from wheat. For this reason, many people associate the word with wheat and wheat derivatives. To a certain extent as well, many health conscious consumers are also careful to watch out for products made from rye and barley. However, the pervasiveness of gluten is far more extensive than even conscientious shoppers often realize. It is used in a number of products that have nothing to do with cereal grains. This is because of its unique ability to bind links between air and water.
The word “gluten”, in fact, was coined as a deliberate reference to this glue-like, cross-linking ability. When gluten is added to bread products, it causes them to rise during baking. It also adds stability to ice cream, ketchup, and other condiments such as salad dressing, marinating sauces, and gravy.
What is Gluten Intolerance?
It is actually a group of three conditions that can affect up to 10 percent of the population. These conditions are wheat allergy, celiac disease, and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. While diagnosis of these conditions is often imprecise and difficult, there is cause to believe that gluten intolerance, to any extent, can contribute to a variety of other health conditions.
Many of these intolerances create an abnormal autoimmune response whenever wheat or its proteins enter the body. Allergy to wheat can cause a person to break out in hives, experience breathing difficulty, or suffer from digestive concerns. Celiac disease, which is rare, but very severe, can cause irritation of the small intestine and damage to its lining. Celiac disease can also cause weight loss, bloating, headaches, and fatigue.
What is Gluten Free?
A gluten free food product is one that does not contain gluten. Typically, this term is more often used to describe a gluten free diet. There are many such diets that are recommended through various print media and online sources. The Global Healing Center recommends that you build a gluten free diet around organic foods that are additive and chemical free. We also recommend that you consider some of the many supplements, such as VeganZyme®, that help break down gluten in the body and reduce the body’s sensitivity to its proteins. Even if you are not sensitive to this pervasive plant protein, such supplements can help your body better digest and process its chemical makeup.
GLUTEN FACTS: Gluten—an elastic protein that has the ability to trap air, much like a balloon—is formed when two important proteins in wheat flour, glutenin and gliadin, bond together in the presence of water. Whether we are trying to create more of it in rustic bread or pizza dough or working to limit its development for tender baked goods like cakes and muffins, there’s no denying gluten’s importance. But beyond our conceptual understanding of it, is there a more tangible way to see and feel gluten? We ran a simple experiment to find out.
We made two basic doughs by mixing flour and water in a food processor until a smooth ball formed. For one dough we used cake flour, which contains between 6 and 8 percent protein, and for the other one we used bread flour, which usually runs from 12 to 14 percent protein. After making the doughs, we placed each in a mesh strainer and massaged them under running water to wash away all of the starch. Once the water ran clear (a sign that the starch was gone), we were left with two piles of essentially pure gluten. The differences in the appearance and texture of the two doughs were a dramatic confirmation of the profound impact of gluten.
Science: What is Gluten? Here’s How to See and Feel Gluten
Video Length: 3:23 min