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The quick response is that all of the above interpretations are viable, but the actual meaning varies on the individual.

In other words, what exactly is gluten?

Certain grains, including wheat, barley, and rye, naturally contain gluten, a kind of protein. This chemical acts as a binder and prevents food from breaking apart while also imparting a “stretchy” quality, much to how a pizza maker would throw and stretch out a ball of dough. A dough that lacked gluten would be very unwieldy.

Oats do not naturally contain gluten, but they are often contaminated with gluten when they are grown or processed in the same places as the aforementioned grains. Wheat gluten and seitan, both of which are popular among vegans because of their high protein content, are two more common sources of gluten. Sources of gluten that are less obvious include soy sauce and modified food starch; however, gluten-free equivalents to both of these commodities are available and labelled as such to meet with the gluten-free labelling regulation of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). So you really need to know about the gluten test kit.

Advantages to Your Health From Gluten

There is a large quantity of both wheat and items containing wheat in our food supply, and gluten intolerance is often associated with both. After hearing so much about how harmful wheat and gluten are, some people have began to wonder whether they should include wheat in their diets at all. Seldom does published research back up such claims; often, the opposite is suggested.

Some studies have shown a positive correlation between whole grain consumption and health benefits. For instance, studies have shown that those who consume the most whole grains, which includes wheat (two to three servings daily), had reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and mortality overall compared to those who eat the least whole grains (less than two servings daily). [2-5]

Some research suggests that gluten may also operate as a prebiotic, feeding the “good” bacteria already present in our digestive tracts. Specifically, the wheat bran-derived prebiotic carbohydrate arabinoxylan oligosaccharide has been demonstrated to boost the number of healthy bifidobacteria in the colon. The healthy human stomach is a common place to find these bacteria. Irritable bowel syndrome, colorectal cancer, and inflammatory bowel disease have all been associated to changes in their abundance or activity (IBD).

In Case of Gluten Allergy

One of the biggest problems with gluten is that certain individuals might have really bad responses to it. Many people will respond differently to gluten, but one possible reaction is that the body may mistake it for a toxin and launch an all-out assault on it. Those who are gluten-sensitive but aren’t aware of it may continue to eat gluten without realising the damage they’re doing to their bodies.


Because of the complexity of the gluten-free diet, it may be helpful to consult with a registered dietitian for guidance in identifying gluten-containing items and selecting healthy gluten-free alternatives that still provide enough nutrition.