Gluten 101

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What is Gluten?   Gluten is the protein found in wheat and some other grains.

Gluten gives elasticity to dough helping it to rise and to keep its shape. It is found in many staple foods in the Western diet. It is a protein composite found in wheat and other grains, including barley and rye and processed foods thereof. Gluten is composed of a gliadin fraction and a glutenin fraction. Gluten is not naturally occurring in corn, rice, or oats, but may be cross-contaminated by facilities that also process wheat, barley, or rye products.

Think of it as the quality of the grain that gives bread and baked goods their fluffy, chewy texture.  A good way to remember which grains contain gluten is with the acronym BROWS:


  • Barely

  • Rye

  • Oats

  • Wheat

  • Spelt



   What Foods Are Gluten Free?

Here is a list of common gluten free grains:

  • Corn
  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Oats (if labeled “certified gluten free”)
  • Sorghum
  • Teff
  • Amaranth

Other Naturally Gluten Free Foods:  Beans, legumes, potatoes, meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.

Check out my post on Celiac Disease and Testing Here

Celiac Disease (CD): Celiac disease, also known as celiac sprue, is an autoimmune condition in which eating gluten damages  your small intestine. People who have celiac disease cannot absorb nutrients from their foods and eventually can causes severe complications such as malnutrition, osteoporosis, infertility, and has even been linked to cancer.

Celiac disease affects approximately one in every 100 Americans. However about 90% (or more!) go undiagnosed!! CD has such a wide range of potential symptoms, it is frequently mis-diagnosed as other conditions such as IBS for example. Some have to wait years for an official diagnosis, which by that time could mean a severe loss of quality of life.

There are over 200 signs and symptoms of celiac disease, yet a significant percentage of people with celiac disease may have no symptoms at all. 

Symptoms may include:

  • Recurring abdominal bloating and pain, bloating
  • Chronic diarrhea/constipation or vomiting
  • Autoimmune Disorders (most common is Thyroid)
  • Liver and biliary tract disorders (like fatty liver and gallbladder disorders)
  • Weight loss
  • Pale, foul-smelling stool
  • Iron-deficiency anemia that does not respond to iron therapy
  • Fatigue
  • Failure to thrive or short stature
  • Delayed puberty
  • Pain in the joints
  • Tingling numbness in the legs
  • Migraines
  • Neuropathy
  • Pale sores inside the mouth (ulcers)
  • A skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis (DH)
  • Tooth discoloration or loss of enamel
  • Unexplained infertility, recurrent miscarriage
  • Osteopenia (mild) or osteoporosis (more serious bone density problem)
  • Peripheral Neuropathy and numbness/tingling in extremities
  • Psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and general “brain fog” and confusion.
  • Other common findings are the existence of many other autoimmune diseases, migraines, ADHD, and ataxia.

Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity also mimic symptoms of other conditions such as Crohn’s disease, gastric ulcers, irritable bowel (IBS), parasitic infection, and various skin disorders or nervous conditions.  Even more reason to be wary of gluten today.

Hidden Gluten in Your Food!

Gluten can hide in many of your everyday foods… here is an extensive list to check out, as well as some gluten free foods listed by season: Download PDF printable list Here: Foods-where GLUTEN is Hiding!

Gluten Ingredients- Hidden Names to Check for:

Checking the ingredient label for wheat, barley, and rye is just the beginning. Gluten also goes by other names, and some of them aren’t that obvious.

Gluten is usually is mixed in sauces, dressings, marinades, soups, powders, or seasonings

Here are some of gluten’s disguised names on ingredient labels:

  • Barley (flakes, flour, pearl)
  • Breading and bread stuffing
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Bulgur
  • Durum (type of wheat)
  • Farro/Faro (also known as spelt)
  • Graham flour
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein 
  • Kamut (a type of wheat)
  • Malt, malt extract, malt syrup, and malt flavoring
  • Malt vinegar
  • Malted milk
  • Matzoh, matzoh meal
  • Modified wheat starch
  • Natural Flavors
  • Oatmeal, oat bran, oat flour, and whole oats (unless they are from pure, uncontaminated oats)
  • Rye bread and flour
  • Seitan (A meat-like food derived from wheat gluten used in many vegetarian dishes)
  • Semolina
  • Spelt (A type of wheat also known as farro or faro, dinkel)
  • Triticale
  • Wheat bran
  • Wheat flour
  • Wheat germ
  • Wheat starch

These other grains may be less familiar, but they also contain gluten:

  • Atta (chapati flour)
  • Dinkel (also known as spelt, a type of wheat)
  • Einkorn (type of wheat)
  • Emmer (type of wheat)
  • Farina
  • Fu (a dried gluten product made from wheat and used in some Asian dishes)

 Click here for a list of Naturally Gluten Free Foods

and a List of Hidden Gluten Foods Here: Where GLUTEN is Hiding!


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