· 3 min read
As people become more health conscious, gluten has become a popular buzzword. A growing number of people are adopting a gluten-free lifestyle for a variety of reasons that range from celiac disease to gluten intolerance and trying to lose weight. You can find gluten-free options everywhere — from grocery store aisles to restaurants and bakeries.
But this little protein has caused big confusion. Though 90% of Americans have heard of gluten, few can define it. Many may think they have eliminated gluten from their diet, but may unknowingly be eating it, according to an NSF survey.
You may be asking: What is gluten? Should I be avoiding it? Here, our experts share everything you need to know about gluten.
Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye and barley that creates the glue that makes bread dough and noodles gooey and pizza crust chewy. Many people can easily digest this protein it has no effect on their overall health. But for those with any type of gluten intolerance, gluten can lead to a variety of nasty reactions from constipation and bloating to diarrhea and lack of nutrition absorption, which can result in malnutrition. For individuals with gluten intolerance or celiac disease, the reaction can be severe, so a gluten-free diet is essential.
People with celiac disease, an autoimmune disease or genetic disorders suffer from the most severe type of gluten intolerance. Though they represent only one percent of the population, it is estimated that as many as 18 million Americans have some form of gluten sensitivity.
When you think of gluten, you probably associate it with bread, pasta, baked goods, and beer. But that list is just a glimpse of foods that contain gluten. Many soups, sauces and salad dressings also are packed with gluten.
NSF surveyed nearly 1,000 American consumers and found that 62% did not think that dietary supplements can contain gluten. However, wheat is often used as a filler in dietary supplements. There are many certified supplements, including multivitamins and prenatal and probiotic vitamins.
NSF’s consumer information team can answer any questions you may have about gluten-free certified products at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 800 673 8010. View gluten-free certified products.
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Note - Survey Methodology: A telephone survey was conducted by ORC International on behalf of NSF among a sample of 1,012 adults, 18 years of age and older, living in the continental United States. The survey was fielded between May 14– 17, 2015. Results have a margin of error of +/- 3% at the 95% confidence level. A randomly selected dual sampling methodology was used with landlines and cell phones. Calibration weighting was used to weight the sample and to reduce the potential for sample bias, ensuring that the results reflect the general population. Most questions were asked only to consumers who have heard of gluten, 912 consumers.