Is This Water Gluten-Free? The Truth Behind Gluten
It's statistically likely that you or someone you know falls into the 30 percent of Americans currently avoiding gluten. This protein found in grains has been demonized lately, leading many people to believe it's dangerous and unnecessary. For the vast majority of diners, even eating a spoonful of pure wheat gluten wouldn't have any noticeable effect at all. Learn the truth about gluten and sensitivities to it before assuming it's something you should avoid.
Gluten isn't an additive or a preservative, it's a natural protein found in wheat and most other grains. This protein reacts when you mix in water and yeast to create long, stringy structures that are necessary for giving bread its soft and slightly chewy texture. Almost everyone can digest gluten normally, despite what some gluten activists say, especially in normal amounts found in bread and pasta. Only a small percentage of the population has a gluten allergy, known as Celiac Disease, or a less serious reaction known as a sensitivity. If you go to a doctor and rule out both of these conditions, there is no concrete reason for avoiding gluten specifically.
Since gluten can cause such serious pain for people with the wrong allergy or sensitivity, many non-professional diet writers are concerned that it's somehow toxic or dangerous. Gluten is perfectly safe if you're not specifically reactive to it, just like a dry roasted peanut is only a threat to someone with a nut allergy. The claims that eating gluten will somehow give you Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disorder or the mysterious and fictional condition known as leaky gut are all unsupported by scientific research, so don't limit your diet based on fads alone.
Aside from reacting to gluten either naturally occurring in grain or added to products like salad dressing as a thickener, some people react to wheat but not to other grains. This is due to a wheat allergy and not a gluten sensitivity. It's important to know which of the two similar conditions you have because eating gluten free is an unnecessary limitation if it's something else in the wheat triggering a reaction. There are many great non-wheat grains, like rye and spelt, that still contain gluten, so knowing exactly what you're reacting to is the best way to create a balanced diet without unnecessary restrictions.
Dining Out Gluten Free
Of course, a serious gluten or wheat allergy makes it tricky to dine out because of cross-contamination in a busy restaurant kitchen. Here at The Alcove Restaurant & Lounge, we've made gluten-free dining a priority and have expanded our menu to include plenty of delicious dishes without even a hint of gluten getting anywhere near the food. If it's wheat or another ingredient you have an allergy to instead, talk to our wait staff to work out a custom order straight from the kitchen that meets your exact needs. We're happy to go the extra mile so our diners can eat out without fearing an allergic reaction.