Wheat and gluten alternatives have dipped in popularity in the last few years. There are various reasons for this:
- People have started avoiding wheat and gluten for general health reasons
- People avoiding processed wheat and gluten for weight loss
- More people being diagnosed with wheat or gluten allergies, sensitivities or related diseases like celiac either due to developments in testing or awarenessprograms.
- Increase in sensitivity to wheat products due to an increase in the use of processed products and preservatives.
Wheat is a cereal grain, used as a staple nutrient for centuries around the world. It is typically ground to form a flour to be used in the production and baking of various products.
Wheat is used in numerous products, including bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, biscuits, pizza, pastries…the list is endless.
Rye is a grain part of the cereal family. Rye too is ground to produce flour to be used in bread, beer, and some whiskeys. Rye contains numerous vitamins and minerals such as magnesium.
Whilst rye does not contain wheat and is, therefore, a good alternative for those avoiding wheat, it does still contain gluten, which may be problematic for some people (see below).
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. It is this protein that creates that glue-like and sticky consistency in dough.
There are also a host of other products that contain gluten, many which may be surprising. Some include:p>
- Soy sauce
- Salad dressings
- Veggie, chicken and beef burger patties
Sensitivities and Diseases
- Wheat and gluten sensitivity: A wheat and gluten sensitivity or intolerance is a general intolerance resulting in bloating, discomfort and other mild gastrointestinal responses.
- Wheat allergy: In addition to gastro-intestinal reactions that people with wheat or gluten sensitivity and celiac disease may experience, some people experience an allergic reaction affecting their respiratory system. This can be fatal for those with severe allergies which can be triggered by consuming wheat products or inhaling such products.
- Celiac disease: in people who suffer from celiac disease, consumption of gluten triggers their immune system to attack the small intestines. The person’s intestines are therefore damaged and affect the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. There is no cure for celiac disease, and accordingly, the only option for sufferers is to avoid gluten products. Because celiac disease relates to gluten, sufferers need to not only avoid wheat products, but also rye and barley products.
Preservatives in wheat products
It is becoming an increasingly popular opinion that part of the rise in general wheat and gluten sensitivities is actually reactions to the preservatives in pre-packaged bread. Studies show that fresh-baked bread does not elicit the same or the extent of a reaction to pre-packaged bread containing numerous preservatives to increase shelf life.