Gluten is a plant protein found mostly in cereal grains such as wheat, rye, spelt, kamut, emmer, einkorn and triticale, and barley. Its chemical composition consists of two primary amino acids known as Gliadin and Glutenin. These amino acid sequences are composed of four main proteins: globulins, prolamins, albumins, and glutelins. Different types of grain contain different concentrations of the four main proteins. Wheat contains higher concentrations of glutelins and prolamins. Corn and rice have higher concentrations of albumins and globulins. Glutelins are especially dangerous to the body for those who are intolerant or allergic to gluten. This is because of the way that the acids in the body break these proteins down.
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 problems. 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.
- Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM