Dr. Scott Friedberg
Board Certified Family Physician
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and all foods that are made with these grains.
Celiac disease is a digestive disorder. When someone with celiac disease eats food containing gluten, their body reacts by damaging the small intestine. Uncomfortable symptoms such as abdominal pain often occur. The damage to the small intestine also interferes with the body's ability to make use of the nutrients in food. About 1% of the total population has celiac disease. It is more common in people with type 1 diabetes. An estimated 10% of people with type 1 diabetes also have celiac. The only way to manage celiac disease is to completely avoid all foods that have gluten.
There are also many people who are said to have gluten intolerance. When these people eat foods that contain gluten, they also experience uncomfortable symptoms. However, they test negative for celiac disease and actual damage to their small intestine does not occur. Avoiding foods with gluten should help to relieve these symptoms.
What Foods Have Gluten?Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley, and any foods made with these grains. Avoiding wheat can be especially hard because this means you should avoid all wheat-based flours and ingredients. These include:
- White Flour
- Durum Wheat
- Graham Flour
- Wheat Germ
- Wheat Bran
Foods that are usually made with wheat include:
- Flour Tortillas
- Oats (see the section on oats)
This may seem like a long list, but there are gluten-free versions of these foods available in most grocery stores. You just have to look for them!
You may not expect it, but the following foods can also contain gluten:
- broth in soups and bouillon cubes
- breadcrumbs and croutons
- fried foods
- imitation fish, lunch meats, and hot dogs
- most chips and candy
- salad dressings
- self-basting turkey
- soy sauce
- rice and pasta mixes
Always be sure to check nutrition labels for gluten-containing ingredients and additives.
The Fuss About Oats:
In the past, experts recommended that people on a gluten-free diet also avoid oats and food made with oats. This is because many companies that make oats process them in the same place as wheat products so cross contamination is an issue.
If you do choose to include them, only eat oats that are marked "gluten-free." Also, limit the amount you eat to ½ cup of dry oats or less per day.
Taking gluten out of your diet can be a difficult and frustrating change to make in your life, but there are many people who do it, and so can you!