As someone suffering from a gluten intolerance myself, I thought I would save you from further mystery and offer some insight about living gluten-free.

Maybe your friend was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Maybe you keep seeing “GF” stamped on food packaging. Or maybe you simply think people who say they’re “going gluten-free” sound pretentious. Whatever your situation, chances are you’ve wondered something about gluten before. Here are the answers to three of the most-asked questions about gluten and gluten free-living.

  1. What is gluten?” Gluten is a composite protein typically found in the seeds of grass-related grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. Useful for binding flour products and enhancing the fluffy, chewy texture of many foods, the substance has become a popular ingredient in the American diet.
  2. “What happens when you eat gluten and you're 'gluten intolerant'?” In this case gluten causes intestinal inflammation and triggers a strong antibody response that can eventually destroy the intestinal lining which otherwise absorbs nutrients from food. Immediate reactions can include abdominal pain, diarrhea, headaches, vomiting, hives, and bloating. However, when a body cannot handle this protein, the long term effects of repeated consumption can involve more serious health concerns such as malnutrition, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
  3. “What foods have gluten in them?” Common sources include pastas, breads, pizza, crackers, beer, and flour tortillas. Among the more hidden sources are licorice, most soy sauce and oats, and malt items, such as vinegar.

Fortunately, many gluten-free alternatives exist, and as awareness of this topic continues to arise, dietary adaptation is becoming easier.

What have you always wondered about gluten? If you’re gluten free, what are the most popular questions people ask you about this allergy?