It's no secret that gluten-free diets are on the rise. Many people choose to forgo gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, because they believe it is harmful. But what many people don't know is that gluten can also be found in some unexpected places.
What is gluten, and Why is it Harmful to Some People?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. For people with celiac disease, gluten can be harmful because it causes inflammation in the small intestine. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects about 1 in 100 people. People with celiac disease must avoid gluten entirely, as even a tiny amount can cause serious health problems.
But gluten isn't just harmful to people with celiac disease. Gluten can lead to inflammation and other digestive problems like gas, bloating, and diarrhea. If you have any of these symptoms and you're not sure if they're related to gluten, you may want to try avoiding gluten for a while and see if your symptoms improve.
What Are Some Unexpected Sources of Gluten?
Many people are surprised to learn that many cosmetics and personal care items contain gluten as an ingredient, including lipstick, lip balm, foundation, mascara, and sunscreen.
Play-Doh is another surprising source of gluten. This popular kids' toy is made with wheat flour containing gluten. If you have a child with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, avoid this product.
Some medications also contain gluten as an ingredient. This includes some over-the-counter and prescription drugs. If you're concerned about whether your medicine contains gluten, speak to your doctor or pharmacist.
Gluten can also be found in some unexpected food items, including soy sauce, salad dressings, and processed meats like sausage and deli meat. Some pet foods also contain gluten as an ingredient.
Why is Gluten Used in Non-Food-Related Items?
Gluten is used in non-food items because it acts as a glue that holds things together. It's a protein that helps foods maintain their shape. While gluten may be harmful to some people, it's important to remember that not everyone is affected in the same way. If you're concerned about your exposure to gluten, speak to your doctor or a registered dietitian. They can help you determine if a gluten-free diet is for you.
How do you know if a Product Contains Gluten?
If you're wondering whether a product contains gluten, the best way to find out is to check the label. Many products that contain gluten will have it listed as an ingredient. However, some products may not list gluten as an ingredient but may include it as a hidden source.
For example, a product may be processed in a facility that processes wheat, barley, or rye. In this case, the outcome would be considered contaminated with gluten and should be avoided if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
If you're unsure whether a product contains gluten, you can contact the manufacturer directly. They should be able to provide you with more information about their ingredients and manufacturing process. When in doubt, it's always best to err on the side of caution and avoid products that may contain gluten.
What are Some Tips for Living Gluten-Free?
Avoid processed foods. Many processed foods contain gluten as an ingredient or hidden source. If you're unsure whether a product contains gluten, check the label or contact the manufacturer directly.
Read labels carefully. When shopping for food and other products, read the labels carefully. Look for products that are labeled "gluten-free" or "celiac-safe."
Avoid eating out. It can be difficult to avoid gluten when eating out, as many restaurants use wheat flour in their recipes. If you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, it's best to avoid eating out or eat at restaurants that offer gluten-free options.
Know what ingredients to avoid. Be sure to avoid gluten ingredients, such as wheat, barley, and rye. Other components to watch out for include soy sauce, salad dressings, and processed meats.
Check for hidden sources of gluten. Gluten can also be found in unexpected places, such as public playgrounds and parks. If you have celiac disease or are sensitive to gluten, you may want to avoid these areas.
Living a gluten-free lifestyle requires careful planning and label reading. By following these tips, you can make sure that you're avoiding gluten in your diet.
GI Associates & Endoscopy Can Help With Gut & Gluten Issues
GI Associates can help with diagnosis treatments and help you take control of your GI health. Contact us if you'd like to see a physician or have more questions. We treat all gastrointestinal issues and disorders with quality, comprehensive care.