Gluten Free?

Posted on August 3, 2011


Breads, cakes, cereals, pastas, and many other foods are made with wheat or added wheat gluten to improve their baking quality and texture.

Technically, gluten represents specific proteins that occur naturally in wheat. However, the term “gluten” is commonly used to refer to certain proteins that occur naturally not only in wheat, but some also in rye, barley, and crossbreeds of these grains.

Some foods are naturally free of gluten. Here are some examples:

  • milk not flavored with ingredients that contain gluten, such as malt
  • 100 percent fruit or vegetable juices
  • fresh fruits and vegetables
  • butter
  • eggs
  • lentils
  • peanuts
  • seeds, such as flax
  • tree nuts, such as almonds
  • non-gluten-containing grains, such as corn
  • fresh fish, such as cod
  • fresh shellfish, such as clams
  • honey
  • water, including bottled, distilled, and spring

Now what is to be gluten free?

Consumers with celiac disease must avoid gluten—proteins found in baked goods made with wheat, and some other grains. For people not sensitive to gluten, there is no health benefit to a gluten-free diet. Celiac disease occurs when the body’s natural defense system reacts to gluten by attacking the lining of the small intestine. Without a healthy intestinal lining, the body cannot absorb the nutrients it needs. Delayed growth and nutrient deficiencies can result and may lead to conditions such as anemia and osteoporosis. Other serious health problems may include diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and intestinal cancers. And for those who must avoid gluten the FDA has been working to define “gluten-free” to

  • Eliminate uncertainty about how food producers may label their products.
  • Assure consumers who must avoid gluten that foods labeled “gluten-free” meet a clear standard established and enforced by FDA.

The FDA’s actions on Aug. 2 bring the agency one step closer to a standard definition of “gluten-free.” On this date:

  • FDA reopens the public comment period on its proposed gluten-free labeling rule published on Jan. 23, 2007.
  • FDA makes available, and seeks comments on, a report on the health effects of gluten in people with celiac disease. The report includes a safety assessment on levels of gluten sensitivity in people with the disease.

Other than those that cannot consume gluten there is no nutritional advantages or related benefit to having a “gluten free” diet. In fact those that can eat gluten can better manage a varied and healthier food diet then those that need to sustain a gluten free diet.

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