The Miseducation of Gluten

If you have been eliminating wheat and paying the extra costs for gluten free breads, pasta, cookies and other processed foods, keep reading because it was most likely based on MISINFORMATION! With gluten free diets and “gluten free” products exploding in popularity in the last ten years, it may be shocking to hear that most of these products are not actually gluten free and are based on an incorrect definition of gluten.

Let’s break it down:

Gluten is not an individual protein found in wheat.  It is a family of proteins that are found in all grains.  Gluten is made of 2 types of proteins: prolamines and glutelins.  All grains contain prolamines and glutelins. Gliadin is a prolamine in wheat that has been studied extensively in medical research and gets a lot of attention. Prolamines in other grains can have a similar effect to gliadin in sensitive individuals.  Prolamines are found in wheat, rye, barley in higher percentages compared to some of the other grains, so this is possibly where the confusion comes in. 

Does corn contain gluten?

Yes. Corn contains a prolamine called Zien that can have similar effects to gliadin (which is found in wheat).  All grains including corn, oats, rice, millet etc. contain proteins that are in the gluten family.

Does rice contain gluten?

Yes. Rice contains a prolamine called Orzenin. Wild rice is the only rice that does not contain gluten because it is a grass, not a grain.

So what does all this mean?

It means that in order to be truly gluten free, you have to be completely grain free. This also means that a TRUE gluten free diet is free of meat and seafood that is grain fed as well as dairy products.  Most cows are grain-fed, so milk and other byproducts could still potentially have gluten.  Also there is cross-reactivity between gluten and dairy, so a person’s immune system may react to dairy in the same way it does to gluten.

 

Did you know?

Medical research studies have also shown patients who follow a traditional “gluten free diet” experience little to no improvement in their symptoms whereas patients who follow a grain free diet have much better outcomes and a greater likelihood of reversing of their symptoms.  

LET’S RECAP

Which grains contain gluten? All of them.

Which grains have the most gluten? Wheat, corn, sorghum, barley, rye, millet respectively