Gluten is defined as a composite of protein found in food types obtained from certain processed grains. It is commonly found in all forms of wheat (durum, bulgur, spelt, semolina and ferro), rye, barley and triticale, which is a cross between wheat and rye.
While the above-mentioned are the commonest sources gluten, it can also be found in some unexpected foods and substances commonly used by people. These may include chocolate, beli meats imitation crab, vitamins, soy sauce as well as some brands of toothpaste.
There has been a lot of debate concerning the relationship between gluten and allergies. The answer to this question is yes. About 1% of the world population is sensitive to gluten found in wheat and the related grains. These people (called celiacs) suffer from a condition known as celiac disease. Additional 15% also suffer from gluten sensitivity but are not celiacs.
For celiacs, even trace amounts of gluten can cause nasty reactions in the gastrointestinal system. The reactions results from the immune system of those sensitive to gluten mount an attack on the brush border of their gastrointestinal system. This leads to some severe, life-threatening symptoms including diarrhea and/or constipation, bloating, abdominal pain, fatigue, anemia, brain fog, rashes, anxiety and depression.
Other people may present with these symptoms although they are not true celiacs. They suffer from a condition known as non-celiac gluten sensitivity. In addition to the above symptoms, they may suffer in addition skin rashes (eczema) and migraine like headaches. It requires a doctor to make the diagnosis.
Gluten Free Stuff
The good news is that there are gluten-free foods, which celiacs and those allergic to gluten can use. These include corn, tapioca (derived from cassava) and rice. The other starch sources for gluten-free diet include sorghum, arrowroot, amaranth, millet, lupin, yam, chia seed, taro and teff. Instead of wheat flour, those sensitive to gluten can use rice flour, Almond flour and Graham flour. These also have low glycemic index and so cannot cause weight gain.