What is gluten?
Gluten is found in most types of cereals, bread and pasta. As well as helping bread to maintain its shape, gluten contributes to the elasticity of foods. Gluten is also found in some sauces, ketchup and ice cream where it may be used as a stabilising agent.
What is gluten comprised of?
Gluten is a protein found in the cereals wheat, rye and barley. Gluten is made up of the storage proteins, gliadin and glutenin and accounts for about 80% of the protein contained in wheat.
Who does gluten affect?
For people who are diagnosed with coeliac disease, eating gluten triggers an immune reaction which leads to damage of the lining of the small intestine, preventing the normal absorption of nutrients from food.
There has been ongoing debate regarding the suitability of oats in a gluten-free diet. Oats contain avenin, a protein similar to gluten. However, research has shown that most people with coeliac disease can safely include gluten-free uncontaminated oats as part of their gluten-free diet.
As well as coeliac disease, gluten is associated with other conditions, such as non-coeliac gluten sensitivity and IBS.