What is the Gluten in Gluten Free?

Over the last few years between the grocery store, restaurants and even beauty products - we’re seeing more and more Gluten Free labels. So although I have a brief understanding of what it means - I thought due to its increased popularity maybe I should break it down by starting with - what is GLUTEN... and what are the benefits of a Gluten Free diet and skin care.

Gluten is the generic name for certain types of proteins contained in common grains. Sounds complicated. So I’ll try to make it easier to understand.

The Big Three grains that contain these proteins are wheat, rye and barley. But contamination and cross cultures can affect oats too. Gluten is what gives grain products such as bread and rolls their shape, strength and texture, it is the elasticity of the dough. It can kinda be thought of as the glue that holds food together. A great example of this can be seen when shaping a pizza crust.

Let’s talk about going Gluten Free because you HAVE to for health reasons or you just WANT to for a diet to shed some pounds.

Some folks have an illness called celiac disease, in fact it’s estimated that one in every hundred people have this disease. It can cause uncomfortable even severe painful effects and digestive problems from eating gluten. So they must avoid gluten in their diets.

Many other folks have found a gluten free diet to be beneficial even if they do not have celiac disease. Results have ranged from weight loss and more energy. My Dad is a perfect example of going Gluten Free for a diet. Over the last year he has lost over 30 pounds and claims he feels more energized. Hey… if it works it works right~!

Now, here’s a curveball… People with NON-celiac WHEAT sensitivity can experience symptoms similar to those of celiac disease, which gets resolved when gluten is removed from their diet. However, they do not test positive for celiac disease. Oh Boy~!

For beauty products such as make-up, lotion and shampoo…  gluten can be found in the ingredients list but they use scientific names so it can be tough to decipher. The good thing about gluten is, the molecule is too large to be absorbed through the skin. BUT issues can arise for people who are ULTRA sensitive to gluten because it can be ingested through foundation, lipstick… basically anything around your eyes and mouth.

For labeling purposes, the FDA has issued a formal definition of gluten free stating that the product can NOT contain more than 20 parts per million of gluten.

Now many foods are naturally gluten free such as fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, dairy, beans, legumes, nuts and even rice and potatoes.  The use of the gluten free label is voluntary, BUT it does help consumers identify foods they may or may not want to buy. This is why you can find Gluten Free labels on things like water because it helps people make quick buying decisions while shopping. Plus it kinda sounds healthier doesn’t it?

If you feel like you may have celiac disease, please consult your doctor. Here's a link to the Celiac Disease Foundation for more detailed information: https://celiac.org

Hopefully you have a better understanding of what the Gluten in Gluten Free is… I know I certainly do.

Until next time, Be organic and be healthy.