I get a lot of questions with regards to grain-free lifestyles and more specifically, gluten. To bakers, gluten is the magical agent that can be manipulated to bind their creations together and create a bold texture like in bagels and pretzels or subtly developed to create form and structure while allowing the product to flake apart like Grandma’s buttermilk biscuits. But to those afflicted with autoimmune conditions like Celiac disease or Crohne’s, the presence of gluten can be a very serious and even life threatening issue.
Gluten sensitivity includes a wide range of disorders from non-celiac gluten intolerance to celiac disease as a result of the body’s inability to properly process gluten from wheat as well as similar proteins in rye and barley (Stepniak et al. 2006). This sensitivity is a systemic autoimmune disease, or more simply, a disease in which exposure to gluten causes the immune system to attack and harm the body’s own tissues. It is important to note that all celiac disease is by definition, a form of gluten sensitivity or intolerance. However, gluten sensitivity itself is not a diagnosis of celiac disease. Many issues present themselves for sufferers of all levels of the disorder from ability and doctors’ willingness to diagnose, lack of education and established support systems, ease of lifestyle transition, cross-contamination during the production of products which would not naturally contain gluten and failure of regulatory bodies to establish specific guidelines for labeling of gluten-free products.