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by Guest Author March 23, 2021 8 min read

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein made up of 2 peptides, gliadin and glutenin. Grains are the only food group that contains gluten and thankfully it is not in all grains, just a select few, which will be listed below. Normally, gluten proteins simply pass through us undigested. But for those of us who have developed a sensitivity, the body senses a threat and reacts.

Approximately 1 in 70 Australians are affected by Celiac disease, a severe reaction to gluten ingestion, yet only about 20% of these people actually know it.

 

A survey of the Newcastle and Gosford regions of New South Wales found gluten avoidance was reported in 2018 by 24.2% of people. (20.5% partial, 3.8% complete avoidance).

  • 53% for general health
  • All 13 participants with coeliac disease
  • 41% with irritable bowel syndrome
  • 29% with functional dyspepsia (indigestion) avoided dietary gluten.

Note: 14.9% of respondents of another survey conducted on a slightly larger subset of the Australian population (3,542 people) said they avoided gluten. This suggests awareness and / or prevalence of gluten sensitivity varies across the country.

Many don’t know just how gluten affects the body and even less would know what gluten actually is. Of those who know a little bit about gluten, they’ll know it affects the gut. But that’s far from the extent of it.

What does gluten do in the body?

For most of us (people without Celiac disease) there is damage to the lining of the intestines, though to a small degree. This is measured by the presence of the protein zonulin after consuming gluten which shows that the gut/intestinal lining is more permeable (aka a more ‘leaky’ gut).

leaky gut illustration


In someone with Celiac disease
, gluten leads to an autoimmune attack on both the gliadin part of gluten and tissue transglutaminase (tTG). tTG is an enzyme produced in the intestinal wall and is responsible for keeping the microvilli in our intestinal wall intact. The microvilli are responsible for digesting and absorbing foods. Considering how important digestion is for overall health, damaging the microvilli can lead to a cast amount of issues.

 

effects of gluten consumption

Daily consumption of gluten may lead not only to gut issues but also be damaging to other organs.
Image source: biOptimizers

This then leads to food particles that aren’t fully digested and microbes such as bacteria making their way into the bloodstream. Our immune cells detect these as foreign invaders, initiating an immune response which leads to inflammation.  When this happens once, it isn’t much of an issue. But with daily consumption of gluten the reactivity compounds and can lead to larger issues with the gut, immune system and even brain, as that is quite sensitive to inflammation.

Read more: How to Improve Gut Health Naturally

What foods contain gluten?

As mentioned above, it is only some grains that contain gluten.

grains that contain gluten

There is also speculation that certain foods contain proteins similar enough to gluten that cause the body to react as if they were gluten, especially in the case of Celiac disease.

These include:

  • corn
  • oats
  • rice
  • yeast
  • millet
  • dairy

Keep in mind these are just the wholefoods that contain gluten. Any processed food containing one or multiple of these foods will obviously also contain gluten. It’s always important to read the ingredients label, because for example, a seemingly innocuous food like soy sauce also contains wheat.

soy sauce ingredients contain gluten

Soy sauce ingredients list
Image source: world.openfoodfacts.org

Some restaurants now offer Tamari sauce as an alternative. Bragg Aminos is another popular alternative.

Gluten Guardian helps prevent gluten toxicity by making sure your food gets properly broken down during digestion. This means no more tummy troubles anymore.

 

Are potatoes gluten free?

Yes, in their natural form potatoes contain no gluten, but french fries may not be.

Not all potato products are so innocuous. Restaurants may add a bit of flour to potatoes to increase their crispiness. Some may not do that, but may cook in a pan or deep fryer that has had gluten-containing foods, thus contaminating the potatoes with gluten.

Packaged and processed foods with potatoes may also be another culprit with sneaky gluten containing ingredients being added.

When cooking potatoes at home and you know what you’re doing, you won’t run into any gluten issues.

Are sweet potatoes gluten free?

Yes, in their natural form they are.

Similar to potatoes above, sweet potatoes from restaurants and in processed foods may contain gluten but cooking them at home and controlling the process will circumvent this.

Does coffee have gluten?

Thankfully, your morning cup of joe, is gluten free. As mentioned above, grains are the foods that contain gluten and coffee is not a grain.

Coffee flavoured sweets and treats at your supermarket may contain gluten though.

Does chocolate contain gluten?

Yes, plain chocolate bars normally are gluten free, but something like a Kit Kat or the beloved Ferrero Rocher are not.

The cacao plant, where we get our chocolate flavour from, is naturally gluten free. Although many chocolate bars boast a gluten free statement, this doesn’t mean they are healthy by any means.

kit kat ingredients list gluten

Kit Kat bar containing wheat flour - a source of gluten.
Image source: world.openfoodfacts.org

And just to clarify, it is not the cacao that is the issue with chocolate bars but some of the other ingredients that it contains. In fact, cacao boasts a whole heap of benefits from boosting circulation, enhancing antioxidant status, lowering inflammation, protecting the brain, lowering blood pressure and much more.

Beyond chocolate bars, many other chocolate containing processed foods can contain gluten, including everything from cakes to muffins and more.

Start enjoying your favourite food again with the help of Gluten Guardian. Offers relief from occasional gas, bloating and indigestion.

Does cheese contain gluten?

Cheese prepared with natural methods usually only contains milk, bacteria (to ferment the milk) and rennet.

However, it’s always worth checking the label just to be sure. This is especially true of the more processed cheese products. When looking at the ingredient label, look for things such as wheat, barley, rye, wheat starch or modified food starch (which can be made from wheat).

What cheeses are not gluten free?

Cottage cheese has the potential to not be gluten free, look out for modified food starch or wheat starch in the ingredient list. Additionally, blue cheese (the moldy one) has the potential to have some gluten as the mold cultures that are used on the cheese can be grown on wheat or rye.

Other processed foods containing cheese also have the potential to contain gluten, you’ll need to check this one out on a case by case basis.

Are eggs gluten free?

Thankfully, eggs are gluten free.

Yes, even if the chickens that produced them ate gluten-containing grains.

As is the trend with all the foods listed above, it is what else is done to eggs that can lead to gluten contamination. When eating at restaurants, eggs can be cooked on cookware that is used to cook breads and other gluten-containing products.

When eating out, a good rule of thumb is to let the staff know about your gluten requirements, as seemingly gluten-free foods can be contaminated. Bonus points for calling up and asking the restaurant ahead of time.

Read more: The Amazing Health Benefits of Eggs

What can I eat for breakfast if I am gluten intolerant?

So much more than you would think.

Gone are the days of breakfast being relegated to toast, crumpets, cereal or a muffin.

In fact, most of us in the health world are aware that a breakfast like that is setting you up for one or many energy crashes throughout the day. Having an abundance of carbohydrate-laden foods without much protein or fat to balance it out is likely to lead to a spike in blood sugar. Then, as our body works to get a handle on this, there is the possibility that blood sugar drops too low, and we experience fatigue and cravings for more sugary substances. Then the cycle repeats.

Opting for a gluten-free breakfast with a decent serving of protein and fats and carbs if you choose, can set you up for feeling satiated right through lunch without these swings in blood sugar.

  • Proteins: eggs, pastured bacon, grass fed meats, wild caught fish & bone broth are some of the options for our protein and fats to keep us satiated.
  • Veggies such as asparagus, spinach, silverbeet, kale, cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli for the fibre to keep us feeling a bit fuller and our gut happy.
  • Fats: avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, ghee for the extra fats to give us that cognitive boost, provide our bodies with energy and health hormones.

 

Is all bread gluten free?

No, most bread is gluten-filled.

Most breads are made from wheat, the chief source of gluten in our food supply. Then there are some non-wheat based breads that still contain gluten such as Rye and Spelt bread.

Some may think sourdough is a better option, which is partly true. The fermentation process causes some of the gluten to be pre-digested by the, yet there will still be some gluten remaining.

Thankfully though with the recent increase in demand for a gluten free diet, there are a number of gluten-free breads available.

These are made with things such as almonds, walnuts and other nuts, dates, eggs, bicarbonate soda, psyllium husk, coconut oil, honey, linseed and other seeds and more. They are usually a little more dense than regular breads but occasionally you’ll come across one that tastes similar enough to the real thing.

What does a gluten attack feel like?

You may notice:

gluten attack symptoms

Someone with Coeliac disease is likely to notice a much stronger sensation than someone with an intolerance. Those with an intolerance may notice similar symptoms though usually to a lesser degree.

Read more: How to Optimise Your Gut Health with Digestive Enzymes

Can eating gluten cause flu like symptoms?

Some have such severe reactions to gluten that they feel like they are coming down with the flu, due to the amount of inflammation that is occurring throughout the body.

BiOptimizer's Gluten Guardian is the only digestive enzyme you need to help overcome occasional exposure. 

Does gluten make you fart?

It can. And the farts can be really foul smelling as well. This is due to the inflammation that can be caused and the issues with digesting, particularly fats, which can give that horrible smell.

As mentioned above, gluten can lead to bloating, which is a build-up of gas, which comes out of your rear end as a fart. Anything that disrupts the health of the gastrointestinal tract can lead to gastric disturbances, inflammation and the socially awkward gas (or a great source of humour depending on the person. Or both).

What foods trigger gluten intolerance?

As you would expect, foods that contain gluten are the biggest potential triggers.

Keep in mind these are just the wholefoods that contain gluten. Any processed food containing one or multiple of these foods will obviously also contain gluten.

Beyond that, many people can eat these foods, with the genetic susceptibility and still not develop full blown Celiac disease.

The health of the gut and immune system are 2 big factors that determine whether somebody will develop an autoimmune response leading to Celiac disease.


Often, if someone wasn’t born with Coeliac disease, it can develop after exposure to a lot of stressors in a short amount of time. ie, their ‘stress bucket’ fills beyond their capacity to handle it, then they develop autoimmunity.

Foods that aren’t grown organically also have the potential to trigger gluten issues. This is due to the weed-killers sprayed on and around non organic crops, which contain gut-disrupting ingredients such as Glyphosate.

Further reading in Part 2:
Gluten Intolerance: How to Heal Your Gut and Immune System

Gluten Guardian is the #1 way to defend your gut and body against gluten. Eat gluten and get away with it.

References:

1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780983079125500050

2. https://www.beyondceliac.org/gluten-free-diet/is-it-gluten-free/cheese/

3. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319926

Guest Author
Guest Author

This article was contributed by a guest author with expert knowledge in their field.



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