One of the major medical breakthroughs of the last twenty five years has been the ability to identify antibodies in the blood signaling a patient's gluten intolerance. People who have suffered from a number of symptoms, ranging from diarrhea to skin disorders, had been suffering for a long time without truly understanding what was causing their symptoms. This began to change when it became a simple matter of a blood test, rather than guess work, to determine if a person was gluten intolerant. Today, it is well known that up to one in six individuals suffers from some form of gluten sensitivity resulting in symptoms. One of the consequences of this breakthrough is that there are a lot more people interested in learning what is gluten. The fact of the matter is that by understanding gluten and the health problems that it causes, a person can make changes in their lifestyle to completely eliminate their symptoms, increase their energy and digestive productivity and become healthier people.
What is gluten?
At its most basic form, gluten is simple a protein that is present in many members of the cereal and grain families. However, because there are so many members of this family, there are quite a great many foods containing gluten. Many of these food items are staples of a healthy, everyday diet and there is no risk or danger in consuming them unless you have a gluten sensitivity. One of the misconceptions that some people have is that gluten is, in some way, bad for your health or unhealthy. This is a definite misconception. Gluten is simply one of the building blocks of cereals and grains. By itself it poses no health risk.
You will find gluten in a number of everyday foods. Most people equate gluten with bread, though is a somewhat imperfect analysis. Gluten is contained in bread, but there are countless other food stuffs that are not bread that also contain gluten. Examples of this run the gamut from pickles to powdered chicken stock bouillon cubes. The only way to be sure whether a particular food item contains gluten is to check an online resource that contains a complete list of gluten containing foods. As, I said, for the majority of the population, gluten does not create an complications.
However, a person who is a gluten sensitivity will process (or rather fail to process) gluten properly. Because of this they can develop gluten intolerance symptoms which can vary in intensity from quite mild to so serious that they require hospitalization. This is because, for a certain minority of the population, gluten can not be properly digested. For these people it is essential that they avoid gluten, consuming a gluten free diet, in order to stay free of symptoms.
What are gluten characteristics?
Gluten, as I have already alluded to, provides bread and cereal with a number of their defining characteristics. Have you ever noticed how tough, doughy and chewy a bagel or pizza crust can be? This is because these foods contain gluten and those are three traits that foods containing gluten will possess. Another characteristic of gluten is that it is insoluble in water, meaning that it will never dissolve even if it is submerged in water. There are other traits of gluten as well that you might be interested in. It is a well known fact that gluten retains gas when being based. Because of this bread will expand and take on volume when baked.
So, as you can see there are a number of interesting qualities that make gluten such a fascinating compound. For people who think that they are gluten intolerant, simply understanding what is gluten can help them make better dietary choices. The important thing though is that a person who suspects a gluten allergy see their doctor or medical professional because gluten intolerance can be detected fairly easily. And once a person has determined whether or not they are gluten intolerant, they will have the ability to take steps to address their condition.