Probably the single most common question we have at Gluten Free Blog is: ‘What is Gluten?’ We answer the question several times throughout this blog but for now we will go through the basics and will answer the question: “What is Gluten?”
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a type of protein that is found in barley, wheat and rye. Gluten is commonly found in most grain products such as cereal or bread. It is worth noting that not all foods in the grain family contain gluten. For a complete list of ingredients that do not contain gluten please refer to a previous blog post titled: “Gluten Free Ingredients List“.
Gluten can be removed from wheat flour to produce wheat starch. Years ago it was thought that all protein could be removed, however recent studies have discovered that it is technically impossible to do so. A small amount will always remain. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), if a certain amount of gluten is removed, the food product can be labeled as “gluten-free”.
Gluten helps make bread elastic and creates a chewy texture when eaten. This is why flour that has gluten removed produces a sticky dough that resembles chewing gum.
It provides additional important qualities to bread. Gluten becomes more firm when it is baked or cooked and along with starch helps to produce and maintain the shape of the bread. Gluten also keeps the gases that are released during fermentation in the dough so that it is able to rise when it is baked.
Gluten has one downside when it comes to bread. It is believed that gluten is the reason that bread becomes stale.
Have you ever wondered why bread is so great at absorbing liquids such as broth or soup? Gluten is very absorbent and assists with that job. This is why many people who are on a vegetarian diet use gluten as a meat imitation.
So What’s Wrong With Gluten?
About 1 in 133 people in the United States from a disease known as celiac disease. Celiac or coeliac disease impedes the digestion of gluten. People who suffer from this disease or people who suffer from gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity must eliminate gluten from their diet to prevent illness or even death. The only known cure for Celiac Disease is to completely remove gluten from ones diet.
***We referenced the site www.wisegeek.com when writing this article***