Why Gluten Free?

There are many myths about gluten, and we wanted to cut through the hype and bring a straightforward description regarding gluten and its pro and cons.

Gluten is a protein naturally found in wheat, rye and barley. Oats on the other hand do not contain gluten, though they are often produced on the same production lines as wheat, thus some of the gluten is physically transferred to them. Oats labelled as gluten free have simply been produced on non-gluten containing machinery.

One other factor with oats is a protein they contain called avenin and some people can have adverse reactions to this. Though similar a gluten intolerance is completely separate from an avenin intolerance.

Gluten is the portion in wheat, rye and barley that gives these products their elasticity, glue and strength. It can be stretched, and still hold together. Many common foodstuffs contain gluten, as well as some less obvious ones. Cereals, bread and pasta are some of the obvious ones, including pizza bases, cakes, biscuits and of course flour.

Less obvious ones can be found in processed foods, often where flour is used as a binding agent, and a filler. These can include soups, sausages, and many ready meals. Other less obvious products include soy sauce, pasta sauces, drinks and even sweets and chocolates.

It seems to many that gluten intolerance as well as Coeliac disease is on the rise. While this may partially be true, it is also our ability and knowledge of it that has led to more people being diagnosed, rather than its prevalence rising. As modern life speeds up, so our need for quicker meals speeds up and production of these needs to adjust. Products using wheat are often becoming ever more refined including the wheat itself, and this has not only increased the amount of gluten being consumed but doesn’t allow the natural development of the gluten, rushing its production, and even adding additional gluten to help breads rise ever faster, shortening productions times so more can be made. For anyone with gluten sensitivity this is bad news, and can cause a myriad of digestive issues, including stomach cramps, bloating and pain.

Coeliac disease and gluten intolerance are two very distinct problems. Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease caused by exposure to gluten and those with Coeliac disease have to avoid gluten for life. Gluten intolerance is a reaction to gluten and differs in intensity depending on the sensitivity of the individual.

Coeliac disease is estimated to affect 1% of the population. Consumption of gluten can cause many problems, including hair loss, bloating, diarrhoea, wind, lethargy, headaches, sudden weight loss or gain. This makes it hard to diagnose. If you suspect you may have Coeliac disease you must see your GP before adapting your diet. With gluten in your diet it cannot be tested for as a problem. If you do have Coeliac disease you must follow a gluten free diet. Gluten in your diet cause many problems and eventually leads to premature death.

As gluten is contained in so many products it is essential to keep a keen eye out for products without gluten. One of the problems with leading a gluten free lifestyle is the negative health issues that this can bring about. Many alternatives to gluten containing products have had other ingredients removed and are often replaced by unhealthy ones. It has been noted that many people on gluten free diets gain weight and have nutritional issues. Sugar is a big culprit in this, where tasty gluten products have had the tasty portion removed and to counteract this, manufacturers put in sugar to replace taste.

Balanced diets are always the best diets. Natural foods, are always preferable to processed foods.

Gluten free diets are good for those who are intolerant or suffer from Coeliac disease but a gluten free diet is not necessarily any healthier than a normal balanced diet.

For more information on the ingredients used by Rana’s Artisan Bread please go to the Health and Nutrition Page here.

This information is from sources online and is not professional medical advice. If you have any doubts about gluten free diets, or feel that you should be on one, please always discuss with your GP first