Gluten free produce is everywhere nowadays and health conscious people are buying it in bulk – but has anyone stopped to think, ‘is gluten actually bad for you?’
Everywhere I go I see gluten free this, gluten free that… Newburn Bakehouse by Warburtons make gluten free bread, the supermarkets stock gluten free soup and you can even crack open a can of gluten free beer! But what actually is gluten? And why are more and more people wanting to steer clear of it?
According to celiac.org: “gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale… it helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together.” It has 4 basic functions when it comes to baking; it acts as a binder, adds structure and elasticity – and helps with water retention.
That doesn’t sound too bad, does it? It helps our loaves become bouncy and moist. So gluten is good, right? In general, yes… unless you have coeliac disease or another form of irritable bowel syndrome that is.
Coeliac disease is a digestive condition where people have an adverse reaction to certain food types and gluten in particular. Symptoms are pretty nasty, too. It causes bloating, abdominal pain, weight loss, tiredness, malnutrition… but luckily, it only affects around 1% of people.
So why are people without bowel conditions avoiding gluten? I think that people have been fed false information and just seen it as ‘gluten is bad for you’, full stop. When in fact, bread and wholegrain bread in particular is full of B vitamins, fibre, iron and in a balanced diet can reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
So unless you have coeliac disease or another form of IBS you can (and should) carry on toasting,and making sandwiches. Keep bread as a British staple and buy Bakestone!