What is GLUTEN?

By: Esther Vasa

GLUTEN is a substance that contains many different proteins. It is found in cereal grains like wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut, bulgur wheat, triticale, oats etc., Oats by default are gluten-free but conventional oats may have traces of gluten as they are mostly processed in a wheat facility. If you want to use oats, please get gluten-free oats.

Wheat Kernel
The proteins found in glutinous grains are storage proteins with a functional element attached to them. They are stored in  the grain's endosperm and feed during the germination process. Although there are several proteins in gluten, the two main proteins that trigger gluten intolerance are GLIAIDIN and GLUTENIN. Remember all grains have proteins that make up gluten. For instance, corn and rice have albumin and globulin which DO NOT cause gluten intolerance. Oats have avenin. Some people with gluten intolerance, cannot tolerate avenin. Gluten Free experts suggest that those who want to go gluten free may be better off avoiding oats also. There are other proteins that do not cause gluten intolerance. 

The complex spiral structure of gluten is believed to resemble some form of virus and the details of which I am not particularly sure about. Gluten causes damage in the small intestines for folks that are allergic to gluten. And it creates gut discomfort to those that are sensitive to it. As for me, a few hours after I consume anything with gluten, I experience terrible inflammation. Generally, it is good for those of us fighting an auto-immune disorder like Multiple Sclerosis to go gluten-free! 

Gluten's functionality is to provide elasticity to your bread or perhaps better termed as "chewiness". It also helps the bread to rise easily. In my earlier days of going gluten-free, I had a hard time getting my bread to bind together and rise. Over a period of time, I learned to bake my gluten-free bread better. If I could do it, anybody can do it!

What foods should those desiring to go gluten-free avoid? 
  • Do not use any glutinous grains like wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, kamut etc., 
  • Please read food labels and buy products that are clearly labeled as "GLUTEN-FREE". 
  • Stay away from all processed foods as gluten is a common additive in processed foods. Many sauces, store bought gravies, soups and packaged foods have gluten and it is used to thicken them most of the times. 
  • When in doubt, avoid that food!
What could you use instead of gluten?
You could use rice, tapioca, non-GMO corn, gluten-free oats, groats, potato starch, almond meal, coconut flour, quinoa, garbanzo bean flour and the other grains that fall under the gluten-free family. My favorites are brown rice, wild rice and quinoa.

Possible symptoms after consuming gluten based on my experience:
  • Severe migraine
  • Nausea
  • Sharp pain in the stomach
  • Terribly inflamed back four hours after consuming
  • Pins and needles
  • Extreme difficulty walking
  • Difficulty with bowel movement for a few successive days
Some have questioned me as to why Biblical scriptures refer to wheat and other grains with gluten when there are so many of us with gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity today. If you are interested in reading further from a Biblical standpoint, check WellnessMama's blogpost on that. Craig Stellpflug has a wonderful article on Natural News and the link to that article is Gluten - The hidden killer.