Gluten / Wheat Allergies
Gluten-free doesn't mean taste-free
Gluten is a big issue for many people. In some cases it is a true allergy; in some, it is food intolerance. Gluten problems can also be caused by celiac disease, which is neither an allergy nor a food intolerance, but a medical condition affecting the bowel. In any case, gluten problems seem to be diagnosed with increasing frequency as well.
Food companies have really stepped up to the plate with this problem. There are more and more choices in gluten free products on the market. It's more than just 'staples' too – you can find everything from gluten free pretzels to breakfast cereals to baking mixes and breads, and more.
When thinking of gluten-free products, many people think first of rice. But you have more choices than just rice! If you are thinking gluten-free grains, think of corn, rice and millet as common alternatives. Other gluten free substitutes include buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa and sorghum. However, you can expect a combination of gluten free flours or starches from multiple sources could be used to create the right taste and texture in a gluten-free product, including tapioca flour, soy flour, potato flour or starch or the more "exotic" flours and starches.
While gluten is not as likely to be a life-threatening allergy, more and more food companies are making the switch to completely gluten free facilities for the making of their food items. This allows the buyer to purchase these products with confidence, knowing that there are virtually no trace amounts of gluten in the resulting food. If you are serious about avoiding gluten in order to give your body the best chance of avoiding either an allergic reaction or disease flare-up, stick with these kinds of products.
Even trace amounts of gluten can increase the severity of either allergies or other gluten related disease.
In some cases, gluten free products will still not meet the need of an allergic person, especially when multiple allergies or dietary restrictions must be met. As a result, even when a product says "gluten free", be sure to read the label! Many gluten-free food items will use soy, dairy or corn which are all common allergens.
How will you recognize source of hidden gluten in your food? Check for the following ingredients which may be made with a gluten source:
- Rice syrup
- Malt or malt syrup
- Flavor enhancers
- Flavorings and extracts
- Modified food starch
- MSG or monosodium glutamate
- HVP or hydrolyzed vegetable protein
- HPP or hydrolyzed plant protein
- TPP or texturized vegetable protein
- TVP or texturized vegetable protein
- Binders, fillers excipients or extenders