The number of people living gluten free today is higher than ever before. There are many reasons for this– whether you are avoiding gluten because of celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or simply in an effort to improve your health, it can be difficult to make the change. Gluten is a staple in everyday living for many; it is found in most kinds of flour along with a variety of cosmetic/dermatological products, and can even be an ingredient in such seemingly random foods as pickles! People living gluten-free have to be mindful of everything that goes into their bodies. The first step to saying goodbye to gluten is learning more about the substance itself.
Gluten is a protein compound found in most members of the grass family. It is common in a variety of flours including barley, rye, wheat, and more; the reason it is common in all of these flours is that the protein is located in the actual seeds that get ground in the process of making flour. It is the ingredient that gives bread that doughy, chewy texture. It is used it cosmetic products both as emulsifiers and stabilizers, and even though it does not pose a risk when applied topically, in lip balm form it can be dangerous to those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
Gluten-free substitutes for common foods that contain the protein are a growing industry. More and more companies can be found creating alternatives for their regular products. Foods such as flour can be made with rice or beans; cosmetic companies can utilize different emulsifiers, such as glycerin. Be sure to check even processed foods and soups for gluten before you assume they are safe! In most cases, the status of a product as it pertains to gluten will be clearly indicated on the label.
Despite the growing number of products available to those who do not eat gluten, living gluten-free can still present some challenges. Getting the variety of vitamins and minerals necessary for a properly functioning, healthy body becomes more complicated when anything is eliminated from one’s diet! One instance in which gluten-free eaters might struggle is with flour. In America, the FDA has made it mandatory for flour to contain a minimum amount of various nutrients – hence the labels that read, “enriched flour.” There are no such regulations for gluten-free flour options. Because of this, many gluten-free eaters may find it difficult to consume appropriate amounts of certain nutrients.
One great solution to these struggles is the option of gluten-free vitamins. There are many vitamin options suitable for gluten-free eaters; which you choose depends on your needs. If you have celiac disease, it is important that you choose a supplement that contains more easily absorbable forms of the nutrient you are looking for so that you can reap the full benefits of the vitamin. Theses are often labeled as celiac vitamins, or celiac supplements. What nutrient you are looking for is the main determining factor in what vitamin you choose; some may need supplements that concentrate on one specific area (i.e. iron, vitamin B12), while others may find it more helpful to simply select a gluten free vitamin. No matter what, always remember to consult a doctor before beginning a gluten-free supplement system!