For those with gluten sensitivity or Celiac Disease, eliminating gluten from the diet sounds easy enough. However, upon learning the many hidden sources of gluten, it becomes clear that it takes some work and investigating to truly live a gluten-free life. For the highly gluten sensitive, even the smallest amount of gluten (about an 1/8 of a teaspoon) can trigger an autoimmune reaction that can last up to six months!
One of the most important lessons to learn when starting a gluten-free diet is that there are many hidden sources of gluten. There are many ingredients that may be derived from gluten containing sources. If you do not know what to look for you may miss some gluten containing foods and trigger a response by your body. For a gluten sensitive person it is important to eliminate ALL possible sources of gluten in order to improve the health and to restore the gut.
Common Hidden Sources of Gluten
- Battered foods (may be fried in same oil with gluten flours)
- Chewing gum (may be coated with flour to prevent them from sticking to wrappers)
- Caramel (including caramel color and flavoring)
- Curry powder
- French fries (frozen potatoes are often sprinkled with flour to keep them from sticking, also cross contamination from frying in same oil as floured batters)
- Grain alcohols (distillation supposedly removes gluten, but they've been found to still have gluten, perhaps by cross contamination)
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (often wheat based)
- Imitation crab and seafood
- Instant hot drinks
- Malt (and malted vinegars)
- Modified food starch
- MSG (Monosodium Glutamate outside the US)
- Rice syrup
- Salad dressings and sauces
- Mayonnaise/Ketchup/Mustard (if not labeled gluten free)
- Soy sauce (there are wheat-free versions)
- and several more...
I know this list is discouraging, and it's not a complete list at that! The important thing to note is that most refined and processed foods will have some source of gluten in it. The gluten sensitive and the Celiac is served best when they turn to homemade foods from scratch to ensure no possible gluten contamination.
There are foods that are labeled gluten free. But labeling laws in the U.S. at this time are quite sketchy about what this designation means. It may mean that there are no known gluten containing ingredients in the product. Or it may mean there are only traces of gluten in the product. Nonetheless, those who feel the effects of eating gluten unknowingly will understand the importance of this list.
This is not a perfect list and ingredients are constantly changing in manufactured foods. The purpose of this list is to raise awareness that foods often thought to be gluten-free may not be after all. Here are links to respected sources: Safe Gluten-Free Food, Unsafe Gluten-Free Food List. Feel free to respectfully add new information, or corrections in the comment section below.
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The Guide to a Gluten-Free Diet, 2nd Edition, David Brownstein, M.D. & Sheryl Shenefelt, CN, pages 107, 108, 109.
Understanding the Complexity of Gluten Sensitivity, Neuroendocrine Immunology Series Seminar, Part 3, Dr. Datis Kharrazian (D.C., D.H.Sc., M.S., M.Neuro.Sci., F.A.C.F.N., F.A.B.V.R., F.A.A.C.P., D.A.C.N.B., D.A.B.C.N., D.I.B.A.K., C.N.S.), January, 2011, Berkeley, CA.
Gluten Free Life, by Linda Clark, M.A., C.N.C., 2009, pgs. 12-13.
Identifying and Conquering Gluten Sensitivity Inside and Outside the Gut, Dr. Thomas O'Bryan, D.C., C.C.N., D.A.B.C.N., 2010, 3 DVD Series.