The problem of gluten intolerance is quite common and affects almost 15% of the population. People with celiac disease cannot tolerate any amount of gluten. As a result, there is a big demand for gluten free products. Even those who do not suffer from gluten allergy may opt for a gluten free diet. In all these cases, it is necessary to know which products is gluten free and how you can tell whether it is truly gluten free or not.
What is gluten and where is it found?
In order to identify the truly gluten free products, you should know what gluten is and where it can be found.
- Gluten is a type of protein found in certain carbohydrates. It is that component which helps bread to rise and gives it a stretchy and chewy texture.
- Wheat and wheat products like flour, breads, biscuits, bagels, donuts, cookies etc are high in gluten content.
- Gluten is added to a wide variety of products. It acts as a thickening agent. So, it is present in gravy, pudding, desserts, ice creams etc.
- You can also find gluten in beer because it is processed from wheat. Malt is high in gluten content.
- Finally, small quantities of gluten can also be found in a vast number of drugs and cosmetics.
Going gluten free will not only help you to fight the symptoms of gluten intolerance like digestive disorders, fatigue, headache, depression etc, but will also help you to lose weight and lead a healthier life.
How to tell if it is gluten free?
If you have opted for a gluten free diet, your method of shopping needs to be completely revised so that you can follow some basic steps to determine whether something is truly gluten free or not. Whether you are a celiac or have chosen a gluten free diet because it is the healthier option, it is imperative that you be able to tell whether a product is truly gluten free or not.
Here are a few steps which you can follow to determine if it is truly gluten free:
Your first task is to get a guidebook of gluten free products. A comprehensive guidebook will give you a detailed list of products and brands which are gluten free. This can be especially helpful when you are new to the diet. We recommend trying our gluten free soy sauce.
Subscribe to any one of the huge lists available over the internet where gluten free products are listed. If you are following such a list, the following points are to be kept in mind:
- Before the list, the means and criteria used to determine the gluten levels should be clearly mentioned.
- A reputable list keeps updating every few years. It should have a “last checked” criteria so that you can be sure.
- Some online lists are available free of cost. Make sure it is reputable with regular rechecking done.
- You may have to pay a subscription fee to obtain some lists. Here, you will need to evaluate the cost and the quality of the list.
- In case of paid lists, try to obtain a sample first. See whether it is comprehensive enough and whether it includes brands from all around the country.
- Become a dedicated label reader. In many cases, if the product is gluten free, it will be mentioned on the package. But there is no standard lettering. So, it may be written anywhere, either displayed boldly or buried in the ingredient list or in the information about the product. However, if you pick a gluten free label, make sure that the company is reputable and practices truth in labeling.
- If nothing is mentioned about gluten, go through the list of ingredients. If it contains wheat, barley, rye or malt, you have to eliminate it from your shopping list.
If you cannot find any conclusive information regarding gluten on the package, you will need to contact the manufacturer and find out whether it is gluten free. This can be done in the following ways:
- Access the website of the manufacturer. Read the description of the product or go through the FAQ section. If the product is gluten free, it will be mentioned here.
- Trust an intelligent and articulate website.
- You can email the manufacturer to ask about the gluten content of the product.
- If you are actually shopping in the store, use your Smartphone to visit the website and find out about gluten before you buy the product.
- Most products have a phone number of the manufacturer on the package. Ring them up and ask about gluten. You will be connected to the consumer relation department and they are generally used to handling gluten related queries.
- If no phone number is given, then get the city and the state off the packet and contact information to get the number. Then make your phone call.
- Finally, if an address is given, you can write a letter to the manufacturer stating your concerns about gluten.
- One important concern regarding obtaining gluten free products is the question of cross contamination. The product itself may be gluten free, but it may have been manufactured in a shared facility in which a gluten containing product is also manufactured. In such cases, this product may end up containing small amount of gluten. Clarify this point when you contact the manufacturer. It is only an extremely efficient and responsible manufacture who can use a shared facility without any gluten cross contamination.
One important fact that you should know is that according to the FDA, if the product contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten, it can be considered gluten free. But if you are a celiac, you will feel the physical symptoms even from this small proportion of gluten. So, make sure that the product contains absolutely no gluten. For safety’s sake, you must also avoid all products where a possibility of cross contamination may exist.