First: What is gluten?
In the last 10 years, “gluten” has become a buzzword—and a bit of a dietary demon. For most people, gluten, a protein found in many types of grains, is totally harmless. But for others foods with gluten can cause a number of problems ranging from abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, and bloating, to anxiety, and fatigue. “Gluten is a challenge to our guts because it can be hard to digest,” says Beth Trimark-Connor, Level 1 Precision Nutrition Coach at GO Training in Portland, Oregon. “In people with celiac disease, gluten damages cells in the intestine and provokes an attack response from the immune system. When the immune response doesn’t stop attacking the gluten, it may also turn on the body itself.” Some people without celiac or a gluten intolerance or sensitivity claim to experience benefits from going gluten free, including decreased brain fog, more energy, and less joint inflammation, Trimark-Connor adds. If you’re considering side-stepping gluten in your diet, you probably know to avoid wheat. But there are many other foods with gluten out there that you might not even realize. Read on for the surprising list. These are the most common celiac disease symptoms.
While most people equate gluten with wheat, wheat is just one grain that contains gluten. So, if you see packaging that says “wheat-free,” it doesn’t necessarily means it’s also gluten-free. You’ll want to avoid rye bread and rye crackers to avoid falling into this gluten trap, and reach for a gluten-free loaf or rice-based cracker instead. What about whiskey, which is made from rye? The verdict is mixed, but many celiac disease associations say whiskey is OK to drink, due to the distilling process. However, some people do report having a reaction to rye whiskey, so proceed with caution.