What the Heck is Gluten? by Terry Ryan
What the heck is gluten? by Terry Ryan, Health Blogger
Gluten, gluten, gluten. That’s all you hear about if you are on social media sites like FaceBook. It’s bad for you, or it’s not bad for you. What the heck is it?
Gluten is the glue that keeps bread together. It gives it the chewiness that we all have come to know and love. Gluten is a mixture of hundreds of distinct proteins within the same family, although it is primarily made up of two different classes of proteins: gliadin, which gives bread the ability to rise during baking, and glutenin, which is responsible for dough’s elasticity.
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Sounds great doesn’t it? Here comes the problem. Your body may not like this protein. It views it as an invader and send out the attack squad, your immune system, and goes into red alert.
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Who does this affect?
About 18 million people are gluten sensitive. And these are not just celiac disease patients where the villi is destroyed and makes the assimilation of nutrients from the food difficult. I’m referring to the average person who has heartburn or IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). They most probably have a gluten-sensitivity and don’t even know it.
Do you have bloating, cramping and/or diarrhea? You may be gluten sensitive.
Does gluten cause autoimmune disease?
First of all, what is an autoimmune disease?
Autoimmune disease is the body attacking and damaging its own tissues In the case of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which I have, it is an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid. The protein in gluten causes the immune system to go awry and it attacks the thyroid. Thereby destroying the thyroid’s ability to produce thyroid hormones. I’ll be on synthetic hormone replacement for the rest of my life.
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Should people avoid gluten?
I think so. As people say, the bread today is not your great-grandmother’s bread. What is so different? First of all, all the pesticides, herbicides and fungicides sprayed on wheat used by farmers to protect the wheat from insects, and then Roundup is sprayed on the new wheat to force it to mature faster for a quicker harvest, and therefor, more money in the farmer’s pocket. Avoiding wheat for the purpose of just avoiding chemicals is a good reason alone not to eat bread…therefore, gluten. And you may not have an autoimmune disease set off by gluten right now, but it is something that might be destroying your body slowly overtime, so why take the chances.
Giving up gluten has improved my health, eliminated my aches and pains in my joints, and helped me lose weight. It has also helped my friends with other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
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What to do to avoid gluten.
Avoid completely bread, crackers, cookies, and pasta are obvious ways, but did you know that a lot vitamins and prescription drugs use gluten as a filler? I switched my thyroid prescription from Tirosint to Synthroid after I found out that Synthroid had gluten as a filler. Yes, even a little gluten will harm you if you are gluten sensitive. You can’t go half way with being gluten. You should not eat any for best results.
Here are some other hidden gluten:
- Barley (flakes, flour, pearl)
- Breading, bread stuffing
- Brewer’s yeast
- Durum (type of wheat)
- Farro/faro (also known as spelt or dinkel)
- Graham flour
- Hydrolyzed wheat protein
- Kamut (type of wheat)
- Malt, malt extract, malt syrup, malt flavoring
- Malt vinegar
- Malted milk
- Matzo, matzo meal
- Modified wheat starch
- Oatmeal, oat bran, oat flour, whole oats (unless they are from pure, uncontaminated oats)
- Rye bread and flour
- Seitan (a meat-like food derived from wheat gluten used in many vegetarian dishes)
- Spelt (type of wheat also known as farro, faro, or dinkel)
- Wheat bran
- Wheat flour
- Wheat germ
- Wheat starch
These other ingredients may be less familiar to you, but they also contain gluten:
- Atta (chapati flour)
- Einkorn (type of wheat)
- Emmer (type of wheat)
- Fu (a dried gluten product made from wheat and used in some Asian dishes)
Double-check the ingredients label on these items, as they’re possible sources of gluten:
- Beer, ale, lager
- Broth, soup, soup bases
- Cookies and crackers
- Some chocolates, some chocolate bars, licorice
- Flavored coffees and teas
- Imitation bacon bits, imitation seafoods
- Processed foods
- Salad dressings
- Sausages, hot dogs, deli meats
- Sauces, marinades, gravies
- Soy sauce
I was shocked to find out that even my hair dye had gluten in it. That’s right, hair dye. For years I have been sensitive to hair dye/hair color. It would last a day and I would have to take Benadryl to control the itching. Then a hairdresser suggested I try putting Sweet N Low (sugar substitute) in the dye mix. That did calm it down a little, but I still had the hives for a day after. After I told my latest hairdresser about my allergy to hair color, he suggested I use a GLUTEN FREE hair dye. What? Gluten is in hair dye? I didn’t think it would work but it did. No more itching or rash.
What other products have gluten in them?
- Facial Cleansers
- Shaving gels
- Hair spray
These products can contain grain and gluten based ingredients that you should be aware of so that if necessary, you can switch to a new product line. Some of the most common terms (yet not obvious) you will see on products include:
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- Wheat germ
- Hydrolyzed wheat protein
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
- Avena sativa (oats found commonly in lotions)
- Triticum aestivum (another name for wheat)
Do I miss bread?
No, not at all. I get along just fine not eating bread or gluten. Last night I made “pasta” with butternut squash noodles (I bought them already spiralized) and used marinara sauce on top with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Loved it. Now the family prefers it to regular pasta. (And I was trying to keep it for myself.) Instead of crackers I bake rounds of grated Parmesan cheese on parchment paper. Let them cool a little and use them like crackers. I like to add a dab of guacamole on mine. Delicious and guilt free.
I even eat chocolate cake gluten free. I make it with almond flour. And it takes 2 minutes to cook in the microwave. Then I serve it with mounds of whipped cream.
I’m putting together an eBook of my gluten-free recipes so if you want to receive one send me your email to TCRryan@gmail.com. FREE..just spreading the gluten-free love.
Why are so many people AGAINST gluten-free?
Well, it’s big money for the wheat industry. Huge money. Do you think they want to see their sales go down? Plus all the chemical companies that supply the farmers. Money, money, money. My opinion…they shoot themselves in the foot. If they constantly serve us a product that is going to make us SICK what do they think? We are going to keep buying bread and pasta?
Do I get a lot of flack from not eating gluten?
Yes, I do get a lot of evil looks when I tell someone that I don’t eat gluten. Kind of like the same look vegetarians get when they say they don’t eat look. What I say to them…Hey, eat all the gluten you want. Enjoy! I don’t judge people if they want to eat bread or pasta. Oh heck, no! And if you are at my house for dinner, I’ll serve you bread.
Here are some products I use with my gluten-free recipes.
Thank you for reading.