What Is Gluten and Should You Avoid It?

dish containing gluten

At Dr. Praeger’s, we strive to provide nutritious, delicious, and convenient high-quality frozen foods for your unique nutritional needs. We cater to those with dietary restrictions such as soy allergies, those on plant-based diets, and gluten-free diets as well. People who follow a gluten-free diet can struggle to find convenient products as many prepackaged foods are not gluten-free certified, but Dr. Praeger’s offers a wide variety of gluten-free options. Our frozen veggie burgers and other frozen foods are convenient and easy to make.

What Is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein present in grains such as wheat, spelt, farina, semolina, farro, graham, rye, and a few others. Many of these grains are used in a wide variety of products that line the shelves of grocery stores. Those who follow a gluten-free diet must read the ingredients carefully and be cautious of a long list of products in order to avoid it. Consider the range of products that contain gluten:

  • Bread and baked goods
  • Soups
  • Pasta
  • Cereal
  • Crackers
  • Yeast
  • Beer
  • Salad dressings
  • Soy sauce
  • Processed foods

 

So, should you be avoiding gluten? Not necessarily. Only those who have been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance need to eliminate gluten from their diets. Many foods may not be a direct source of gluten, but due to cross-contamination, can contain trace amounts of gluten. Even a minimal amount of gluten can trigger symptoms in those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

What Is Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is a genetic auto-immune disease where the ingestion of gluten causes damage to the small intestine. Damage occurs because the immune system responds by attacking the small intestine and damaging the villi—small strands in the intestine that aid in absorbing nutrients.

It is common for celiac disease to go undiagnosed for a long time because the symptoms are not always clear. Some symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, vomiting, constipation, fatigue, and more. Undiagnosed or untreated celiac disease patients can end up experiencing a wide range of side effects and health conditions. It’s always best to check with your primary care provider and get tested if you suspect you may have celiac disease.

Celiac can be a very stressful condition in other ways. It can prevent people from enjoying their favorite foods such as sandwiches, breads, pizza, etc. Foods that claim to be gluten free in restaurants or in packaged products are not always guaranteed to be free from cross-contamination. However, more companies are now aware of the demand for gluten-free products, so you can now find more certified gluten-free foods at grocery stores, restaurants, and in the case of Dr. Praeger’s products, in the frozen food aisle.

What About Gluten Intolerance?

Gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance sits apart from celiac disease, meaning you may not have celiac disease but you can be sensitive to gluten as a whole. Some people find that avoiding certain grains promotes better GI function and benefits for them. The gluten-free label has not just been relevant for those suffering from celiac disease, but also those that are sensitive to gluten or because it makes them feel better overall.

Gluten sensitivity and intolerance are different in that sensitivity may elicit minor symptoms, while intolerance denotes more overt symptoms. The difference between celiac and gluten sensitivity/intolerance is that celiac damages the small intestine lining and sensitivities do not.

In conclusion, nutrition is very individualized so what works for one person might not exactly work for another. A gluten-free diet should not be seen as a fad but more so as medical nutrition therapy for those with these conditions and diseases.

Dr. Praeger’s Gluten-Free Products

Dr. Praeger’s offers products that are certified gluten-free. Gluten-free certification is a process designed to protect consumers with celiac disease by confirming that a food, drink or supplement meets strict standards for gluten-free safety. One of our favorite gluten-free products is the Four Potato Hashbrowns. These hash browns can be part of a filling breakfast or a hearty snack. Have you adopted a plant-based diet and don’t want to give up your weekend cookouts? Our Perfect Burger is not only a paragon pure plant protein, but it’s also gluten-free, non-GMO, and soy-free so everyone can join in on the fun!

Celiac disease is typically present from a young age so if your child happens to be following a gluten-free diet we have many options that are healthy, tasty, and fun to eat. Thankfully, our ever-popular Oaties are a certified gluten-free product that hits all the right notes for children and adults alike!

Celiac disease is not extremely common as only 1 in 133 people in America have it. However, many people report sensitivity or intolerance to gluten products. If you suspect you may have celiac disease or a sensitivity/intolerance issue consult your primary care provider or your registered dietitian to help you start an elimination diet. As with any dietary changes, it is always best to consult a healthcare professional to avoid nutritional deficiencies or health risks.

For any questions about Dr. Praeger’s frozen food products, you can reach us here!