The word ‘gluten’ has become familiar and somewhat foul-sounding for many people over the last few years. The nutrient, which is found in wheat, rye and barley, as well as their hybrid grains, is linked to several autoimmune diseases and allergies. More importantly, it is solely responsible for celiac disease.
With the volume of information about the adverse effects of gluten that the public has access to, avoiding foods that contain it has become a priority for many people, allowing for the popularity of gluten-free foods and diets to rise.
It is not all as it seems though. While all products containing wheat, a possible allergenic, are required to be clearly identified by law, rye and barley are not held to the same standard. Unfortunately, these two ingredients are often used in processed foods, which means one needs to read labels very carefully in order to avoid gluten completely.
That is, however, not the only landmine those who follow gluten-free diets have to face in their daily lives. Several other products, some of which are supposedly clean and unprocessed, also contain the offending nutrient. Baking gluten-free cookies can be one such case, as unsuspecting bakers may not be aware that cooking spray is actually made using flour, which thwarts their gluten-free baking efforts.
Taking “all-natural” supplements doesn’t actually mean they are gluten-free either, as these often include fillers that are listed in the ingredients, which may also be derived from barley or rye. As such, these shouldn’t be taken without medical supervision by those who are known to be intolerant to gluten, in order to avoid any serious health risks.
Dressings and toppings, in addition to pleasure, can also bring trouble to gluten-intolerant individuals as well. Salad dressings often contain preservers and thickeners which are derived from barley, while mustard is often made using flour. This means that not only hot dogs are off-limits, but store-bought salads aren’t safe either.
Finally, those who want to stick to a gluten-free diet will also need to be careful about yoghurt and dried fruits. The former may contain stabilizers, thickeners and “natural flavorings” derived from barley, making them unsafe. As for the latter, they are often cross-contaminated by gluten products during production, which means that dried fruits may contain residual amounts of gluten that aren’t mentioned in labels.
To sum up, gluten is simply very hard to avoid completely. The good news, though, is that not everyone has to. In fact, unless one suffers from celiac disease or is allergic to gluten, cutting gluten off their diet will only decrease their fiber intake, which can contribute to health problems.