Understanding the Need for Gluten-Free

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a family of proteins found in grains like wheat(wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, KAMUT® khorasan wheat and einkorn), rye, spelt and barley. Of the gluten-containing grains, wheat is by far the most commonly consumed. Gluten helps foods (especially baked goods) hold their shape by acting as a glue to hold them together.

Who should follow a Gluten-Free diet?

  • Person with Celiac Disease which is an auto-immune disorder that causes severe damage to the lining of the small intestine in response to eating gluten.  People can be genetically predisposed, meaning it runs in families.  If you have a parent, sibling, or child with Celiac’s, there is a 1 in 10 chance that you will develop it also.  It is estimated that 1 in 100 people suffer from this disease.    Symptoms include:  vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal bloating & pain, weight loss, fatigue, failure-to-thrive, along with others.
  • Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS), also referred to as gluten sensitivity (GS) or non-celiac wheat sensitivity (NCWS), is not easy to define or diagnose.  It is not an autoimmune reaction like Celiac nor is it an immunoglobulin E (IgE) reaction like a wheat allergy.  A positive diagnosis is made after ruling out both of these and also showing positive results (decrease in symptoms) while following a gluten-free diet.
  • A Wheat Allergy is a severe immune response to any of the hundreds of proteins in wheat.  Symptoms include nausea, abdominal pain, itching, swelling of the lips and tongue, to trouble breathing, or anaphylaxis (a life-threatening reaction).

If you experience any of these systems, please consult your physician for proper diagnosis and treatment plan!  Diet plays a huge role in managing all these forms, but further medications or treatments may be necessary.

What foods should I avoid on a Gluten-Free Diet?

  • Wheat
  • Varieties and derivatives of wheat such as:
    • wheatberries
    • durum
    • emmer
    • semolina
    • spelt
    • farina
    • farro
    • graham
    • KAMUT® khorasan wheat
    • einkorn wheat
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Triticale
  • Malt in various forms including: malted barley flour, malted milk or milkshakes, malt extract, malt syrup, malt flavoring, malt vinegar
  • Brewer’s Yeast
  • Wheat Starch that has not been processed to remove the presence of gluten to below 20ppm and adhere to the FDA Labeling Law*
*According to the FDA, if a food contains wheat starch, it may only be labeled gluten-free if that product has been processed to remove gluten, and tests to below 20 parts per million of gluten. With the enactment of this law on August 5th, 2014, individuals with celiac disease or gluten intolerance can be assured that a food containing wheat starch and labeled gluten-free contains no more than 20ppm of gluten. If a product labeled gluten-free contains wheat starch in the ingredient list, it must be followed by an asterisk explaining that the wheat has been processed sufficiently to adhere to the FDA requirements for gluten-free labeling.

Common Foods That Contain Gluten

  • Pastas:
    • raviolis, dumplings, couscous, and gnocchi
  • Noodles:
    • ramen, udon, soba (those made with only a percentage of buckwheat flour) chow mein, and egg noodles. (Note: rice noodles and mung bean noodles are gluten free)
  • Breads and Pastries:
    • croissants, pita, naan, bagels, flatbreads, cornbread, potato bread, muffins, donuts, rolls
  • Crackers:
    • pretzels, goldfish, graham crackers
  • Baked Goods:
    • cakes, cookies, pie crusts, brownies
  • Cereal & Granola:
    • corn flakes and rice puffs often contain malt extract/flavoring, granola often made with regular oats, not gluten-free oats
  • Breakfast Foods:
    • pancakes, waffles, french toast, crepes, and biscuits.
  • Breading & Coating Mixes:
    • panko breadcrumbs
  • Croutons:
    • stuffings, dressings
  • Sauces & Gravies (many use wheat flour as a thickener)
    • traditional soy sauce, cream sauces made with a roux
  • Flour tortillas
  • Beer (unless explicitly gluten-free) and any malt beverages (see “Distilled Beverages and Vinegars” below for more information on alcoholic beverages)
  • Brewer’s Yeast
  • Anything else that uses “wheat flour” as an ingredient

READ LABELS CAREFULLY!  Gluten can hide in many foods and products, so learning to recognize sources if incredibly important.  For example, play-dough often contains wheat.  When children who are sensitive play with it then eat without washing their hands, foods can be cross contaminated.


Sources for More Information