What is Gluten?

Gluten is made from two main groups of proteins, which act as self-storage units within plants that contain glutenins and gliadin. So to answer my question in my poll yesterday, gluten is a protein not a carb, unlike bread which is classified as a carb.

Think of a loaf of bread. Gluten is the elasticity that binds the bread together, allowing the dough to rise and expand in the oven.

It’s found in wheat, barley, rye and oats.

So, in Australia, we can’t call oats gluten free.

Avenin, the protein in oats, is a slightly different protein to the glutens found in wheat, barley and rye.

However, it does appear some that are gluten intolerant can digest and enjoy oats.

Spelt, kamut, bulgur, semolina, cous cous, farro and freekeh also contain gluten.

The most obvious products containing gluten are bread, pasta, cakes, biscuits and crackers, anything made with flour. You can also find gluten in gravy, bottled sauces, salad dressings, soy sauce, some soups, deli meats like sausages, vegetarian meat substitutes, some cheese spreads and margarines. Even some chocolate contain gluten.

Because gluten is used as a binding agent, it can be found in toothpaste, makeup and body lotions, which those with a gluten intolerance need to be aware of.

Any form of a sensitive reaction to something we have eaten, absorbed through our skin or via the air we breathe, can cause inflammation in the body.

Extreme reactions can include severe abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, diarrhea or constipation.

Food labels can state gluten free up to 20 parts per million, or about 0.57 milligrams of gluten per slice of bread. Australia and New Zealand have the strictest measures in the world with a standard 3 parts per million.

Gluten intolerance is on the rise in the USA, Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Interestingly, many people who have gluten intolerance have been able to eat the bread in France without any reactions to the gluten. This is connected to the many different grades of wheat that are grown, which some have been modified to grow at a greater speed than a natural heritage seed would. It also matters how the wheat is processed in production. The wheat grown in Hungary, France and Italy were grown from a superior grade of wheat and processed well.

Some people who are gluten intolerant can tolerate sourdough.

The sourdough starter, which kick starts the process of sourdough, is a combination of good bacteria lactobacillus and yeast, which ferment together inside a paste made from flour and water. Over time, this creates the sourdough starter.

The bacteria lactobacillus neutralises the phytic acid in grains as the bread rises.  The process pre-digests the flour for you and releases the nutrients within the grains.

Once baked, the sourdough is easier to digest than fast-rising yeast bread because fast-acting yeast doesn’t pre-digest the grains.

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