What is Gluten?

[Updated July 12, 2017]

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and their derivatives.

Gluten is found in all forms of wheat (einkorn, durum, faro, graham, kamut, semolina, spelt, triticale), rye and barley. This means that gluten is in all bakery goods (i.e., breads, cakes, cupcakes, bagels, cookies, muffins) made with regular white flour, whole wheat flour and most whole grain flours. It is also in pasta and noodle dishes and most breakfast cereals.

Gluten is surprisingly ubiquitous. It is often found in beer and ale, salad dressing, Communion wafers, canned soups, sauces and gravies, and imitation crab. For an extensive list of foods that may contain gluten, see Gluten Free & More’s Gluten Free Quick Start Guide.

People who have celiac disease and those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity must avoid gluten. They do this by adhering to a strict gluten-free diet. This diet—free of all forms of wheat, barley and rye—is necessary to help prevent both the short-term and long-term consequences of celiac disease. Even miniscule amounts of gluten can be enough to cause damage to the small intestine for those with celiac disease.

Thankfully, there are plenty of gluten-free flours and starches that make excellent alternatives to gluten-based flours and thickeners, allowing for delicious gluten-free baking. Check out "Your Food Allergy Substitution Guide: Flours, Milks, Eggs & More! to begin your own gluten-free baking journey.

If you have celiac disease, don’t eat a food if you are unable to verify its ingredients. Labels should be checked every time foods are purchased, even if you’ve used a product before, as manufacturers can change ingredients without warning. For more about gluten-free labeling, see “Reading Gluten-Free Labels”.

Gluten Free & More has published all kinds of articles designed to help you understand what you’re feeling, what you’re hearing, and what you may not have been told. Start your research here.

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