Recently, Jimmy Kimmel sent his camera team into a park in Los Angeles, to ask runners and other people at the park who are on a Gluten-free diet, what they thought gluten was. Almost none of the people in Kimmel’s convenient sample could actually speak to what gluten is.

 

 

 

 

Why are people following this new gluten-free trendy diet without any real knowledge of what gluten is?  Is it, as Kimmel suggests, that “a lot of people don’t eat gluten because someone in their yoga class told them not to?” If you are thinking about getting on a gluten-free diet, or if you are gluten-free but do not know what gluten is, then you might want to keep reading, so that you can get all the necessary facts about gluten.

 

Gluten Diagram (daimanuel.com)

The truth is that, gluten is a protein found in wheat (durum, emmer, spelt, farina, faro, einkorn), rye, barley, and triticale. It acts as a glue that helps foods maintain their shape. Gluten can be found in many types of foods–some of which you might not expect.

 

 

Since gluten acts as a glue, it is found in products such as salad dressings, seasoning mixes, vitamins, lip balm, and even beer. For this reason, if you are truly thinking about going gluten-free, it is a real commitment.

 

However, this does not mean that all grains contain gluten. According to ABC News,

 

“There are several grains that are naturally gluten-free, including rice, corn and popcorn, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, sorghum, teff, and oats (as long as they haven’t been contaminated with wheat during processing).”

 

In short, gluten-free does not mean grain-free: they are not synonymous.

 

Gluten-free also does not always mean that the food products are less processed. A lot of the grain alternatives like rice flour are actually more processed. Rice flour is made from white rice and is highly processed to get the texture similar to flour.

 

People who have a gluten intolerance or Celiac disease, must completely eliminate gluten from their diet because “consuming even small amounts triggers symptoms, including belly pain and bloating” (symptoms are similar to those exhibited by persons who are lactose intolerant).

 

A decision to go gluten-free should be made only when you have all the facts straight.  If you are thinking of avoiding gluten all together, here are your two main takeaways from this article:

1. Food products claiming to be gluten-free are not always less processed or even healthier.

2.  If you do not have Celiac disease, then avoiding grains altogether may not be the best route for you, as you may be eliminating important nutrients that your body needs.

 

What was your first reaction to people guessing what gluten was on Jimmy Kimmel Live? What did you think gluten was? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me @kateeb790!