Gluten refers to the proteins found in wheat endosperm (a type of tissue produced in seeds that’s ground to make flour); and is actually composed of two different proteins: gliadin (a prolamin protein) and glutenin (a glutelin protein). Gluten is responsible for the elastic texture of dough, helping it rise and keep its shape, and often gives the final product a chewy texture. Gluten is used in cosmetics, hair products, and other dermatological preparations.
Did you know: Gluten, especially wheat gluten, is often the basis for imitation meats resembling beef, chicken, duck, fish, and pork?
Though gluten is mostly defined as being specific to wheat, gluten is often said to be part of other cereal grains, e.g. rye, barley and various crossbreeds, because these grains also contain protein composites made from prolamins and glutelins.
Is gluten bad?
Gluten isn’t bad, but some people are gluten-intolerant, meaning their bodies produce an abnormal immune response when it breaks down gluten from wheat and related grains during digestion.
The most well-known form of gluten intolerance is celiac disease.
When someone with celiac disease consumes gluten, it triggers an immune response that damages their intestines, preventing them from absorbing vital nutrients.
There is another potential form of intolerance called nonceliac gluten sensitivity.
After consuming gluten, patients with gluten sensitivity may experience celiac disease symptoms, such as diarrhea, fatigue and joint pain, but don’t appear to have damaged intestines.
In cases of gluten intolerance, doctors typically recommend a gluten-free diet, where the individual is to avoid eating any foods and ingredients that contain gluten, e.g. bread, beer, french fries, pasta, salad dressing, soy sauce and even some soups – or unless otherwise marked as “gluten-free”.
Did you know: higher gluten levels are associated with higher amounts of overall protein in a food product?