What Is Gluten, Anyway?
1 of 7 in Series: The Essentials of Gluten Sensitivity
You have to know what gluten is so you can avoid it if you’re sensitive to it or have celiac disease. The only problem is that the definition is pretty convoluted. Gluten is a group of proteins that technically comes from wheat and only wheat.
Gluten is what scientists call a storage protein, what bakers call the dough-forming elastic ingredient in wheat, and what some newbies to the gluten-free diet pine away for.
At some point someone made the association between wheat (specifically gluten) and celiac disease. People widely accepted that gluten makes celiacs sick, which is true. And because barley and rye make celiacs sick, too, people started thinking that wheat, barley, and rye all have gluten, which isn’t strictly true.
The crux of the issue is that one of the types of proteins in gluten is also in barley and rye. However, the idea that wheat, barley, rye — and maybe oats — all have gluten stuck, and even though it isn’t technically correct, it is widely accepted today.