It's ok, there was a time when we didn't know the answer to this question either. Whether you're here for yourself, a loved one, or just curious... We applaud you for taking the time to learn more about what it means to be Gluten Free.
What is Gluten?
To understand what being Gluten Free means, you have to first understand what Gluten is. According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, Gluten is defined as:
"Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, KAMUT® khorasan wheat and einkorn), rye, barley and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together. Gluten can be found in many types of foods, even ones that would not be expected."
So, the simplest explanation is that 'Gluten Free' means food or products that do NOT contain the protein Gluten. This is extremely important to know for those who need to avoid it for health reasons.
Why can't some people have Gluten?
Gluten doesn't sound that bad when you read that it's just a protein... Protein is supposed to be good for you right? Right. But, people with Celiac Disease, Gluten Allergies or other Autoimmune Disorders can react when Gluten protein is present in the body. The reaction to Gluten can range from something as small as a stomach ache, to severe cramping, vomiting, diarrhea, chronic illness, and in some cases permanent damage to the intestines.
What is Celiac Disease?
The simple answer is that Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease. If left untreated, it can lead to severe damage in the small intestines as well as other possible serious health issues. In some cases, even the smallest amount Gluten, can cause extreme discomfort and illness in someone with Celiac Disease. We go into even more detail over on our What is Celiac Disease post.
How many people does this affect?
According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, "Celiac Disease is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide." This doesn't take into account the millions more who are undiagnosed, or have other types of Gluten allergies or intolerances.
Are there benefits to a Gluten Free Diet if you're not a Celiac?
We're not doctors, so it's best to get advice from your own before making any changes in your diet. However, we can tell you from our own experience that you don't have to be a Celiac to benefit from a Gluten Free diet. Many people with Gluten Sensitivity, Various Allergies, & Chronic Inflammatory Issues have seen amazing results by eliminating Gluten and other inflammatory/trigger foods from their diets.
Still have questions? Leave us a comment or send us a note!