What is Gluten?
Although gluten has been linked to the health issues in certain people, including people without celiac disease, many people still don’t fully understand what it is. Additionally, many more people don’t understand what foods have and don’t have gluten in them.
Gluten is a combination of proteins found in most grains and functions as a way to store and release starch to help plants grow over time. When used in baking, gluten helps the dough to rise, be more easily molded, and maintain some chewiness once fully baked.
While some may feel that gluten adds taste and texture to their bread, this protein mix is not particularly nutritious for humans; gluten-free grain replacements like quinoa tend to have a better nutritional value. Bakers will also sometimes add other ingredients, such as cornstarch or eggs, in order to recreate the lost fluffiness in gluten-free breads.
Gluten is usually found in foods containing wheat, wheat derivatives, and related grains like barley, rye, and oat. While many foods do contain at least some of these ingredients, there are some options for replacing foods containing gluten. Gluten-free substitutes have historically been somewhat hard to find, but luckily, this has changed in recent years. For example, foods like rice, quinoa, buckwheat, and maize are all great gluten-free alternatives.
Fruits and vegetables, along with meats and seafood, are also all potential staples in the diet. Unless processed with foods that have gluten, these foods are reliably gluten-free. Additionally, some foods that normally have gluten in them can be processedto remove it entirely.
Gluten is a common, naturally occurring part of the food that many eat on a daily basis. Not only is it important in the growth of grains, but it can also be useful in much of the cooking done with those grains. However, this does not mean that gluten is integral to the human diet, and indeed at times, it can even prove harmful. There are many ways to reduce or completely avoid gluten in your diet, and a gluten-free life is not nearly as challenging as one might think.