Gluten: what is it and food without it

Gluten is a protein made up of glutenin and gliadin, naturally contained in various grains such as wheat, barley and rye. As an ingredient, it is gluten that gives elasticity and strengthens the dough, creating small air bubbles that leave the dough airy and light.

Some people are unable to digest this protein, suffering from diarrhea and abdominal discomfort after consumption. Such individuals suffer from celiac disease , which affects approximately 1% of the population. This is one of the reasons many people believe that gluten is bad, which is a mistake.

According to nutritionist Angélica Grecco, “foods rich in gluten, within a balanced diet, bring health benefits. It helps control blood glucose and triglycerides, increases the absorption of vitamins and minerals, improves intestinal flora and improves the immune system”.

The key is in the balance of the portions. Withdrawing gluten is only indicated under medical prescription, that is, in the case of celiac disease or non-celiac sensitivity.

Why has gluten gained so much visibility in recent years?

The past decade has witnessed an increase in the prevalence of clinically diagnosed celiac disease and documented gluten sensitivity. This was due to increased medical awareness of symptoms, advances in diagnostic techniques, and a healthcare industry-wide understanding of the value of a gluten-free diet in treating these cases.

In addition, there is a group of consumers who do not have celiac disease or are gluten sensitive, but who attest to the health benefits associated with adhering to a gluten-free diet.

Is gluten a villain? What harm does it bring to health?

According to Angelica, “when a person restricts this protein, they end up cutting out foods with a high carbohydrate content, such as bread and pasta, which makes them lose weight, but in fact it is not necessarily the removal of gluten that causes this effect, and yes of the white flour. In this way, he ended up becoming a villain, as people believe that he helps to gain weight and have bloating, but this is not true ”.

The nutritionist adds that people diagnosed with celiac disease, also known as gluten sensitive enteropathy, cannot eat any food with this substance. She explains that when eating these foods, those who have this condition feel symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal bloating, fatigue and anemia, because the disease causes poor absorption of nutrients in the intestine.

Finally, Angelica points out that although there is no cure, those who have celiac disease can have a normal and healthy life if they take the treatment seriously. Foods such as wheat, oats, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard and other flavorings should be avoided. In more serious cases, avoid consuming foods that are prepared in the same environment that contains foods containing gluten.

How do you know if a food contains gluten?

According to DUO+ nutritionist Monica Seiffert, “foods that contain gluten are those derived from wheat, barley, spelled and rye . The ingredient is commonly used in bread, toast, cakes, biscuits, biscuits, breaded meats (nuggets), pasta, oats and granola (by cross contamination).

The nutritionist adds that processed foods can also contain gluten, such as: ice cream, sweets, potato chips, ready-to-salad dressings, canned foods, pates, beers, yoghurt with oatmeal, cakes, chocolate drinks, cereal bars and cold cuts. When in doubt, read the labels of these foods to ensure whether or not they have gluten.

This protein does not have a specific smell, color or appearance, making it even more difficult to identify. It is up to consumers to be aware of the sources of gluten and the types of foods made with it.

Gluten-free diet: how to do it?

Cutting gluten out of your diet can seem like a difficult and limiting task since most products on the market contain the ingredient. However, in addition to the natural alternatives, there are food options free of this substance on the market.

To facilitate this adaptation, one of the first steps is to correctly replace products with gluten for those that do not contain it. ( 3 ) Monique Seiffert indicated some foods that fit into a gluten-free diet.

Check out the list:

  • Gluten-free bread (all breads made with rice flour, cassava, chickpeas )
  • Rice and its derivatives (rice flour)
  • Amaranth
  • Beans (all pulses)
  • Corn (corn flour, cornmeal)
  • Cassava (cassava flour, sour powder, sweet powder, tapioca)
  • chickpea flour
  • Potato (potato starch)
  • Buckwheat
  • Milk and its derivatives (butters and cheeses)
  • Fruits, vegetables and vegetables
  • Oilseeds (nuts, chestnuts)
  • Meat, eggs and seafood.

“So I can never eat bread or pizza again?”

Maybe yes. Many items that generally contain gluten have their protein-free versions. However, fresh, minimally processed foods are a crucial part of a healthy, gluten-free diet.

Does oat contain gluten?

Originally, no. However, oats are often harvested and processed with the same equipment used for wheat and therefore are easily contaminated through so-called cross-contamination , making them unsuitable for individuals with celiac disease. ( 1 )

What about soups and sauces?

Soups and sauces are one of the greatest sources of hidden gluten , as many companies use wheat as a thickener. That’s why it’s important to always read the label.

It is worth remembering that, according to Law 10.674/2003, all industrialized foods must display on their labels the information “contains” or “does not contain” gluten in a clear and easy-to-read manner.

Is there gluten free beer?

Yes, it exists and is increasingly synonymous with quality, pleasing celiacs and non-celiacs alike. There is even a growing range of national brands betting on this segment.

Most beers are made from cereals, as well as barley, from which malt is extracted, that is, they have gluten in their composition. However, the industry’s constant efforts have found alternatives to produce the drink without giving up taste and quality.

One way is to break down gluten proteins in the production process, the other is using raw material without this ingredient in the composition. ( 2 )

Gluten Free Recipes

Gluten Free Potato Bread


  • 2 tablets of biological ferment (30 g)
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 cup (of tea) of milk
  • 100 g of butter
  • eggs
  • 500g of boiled and mashed potatoes
  • salt to taste
  • 4 cups (of tea) of potato starch (about 650 g).

Preparation mode

In a large bowl mix the yeast and sugar until liquid. Add milk, butter, eggs, potatoes and salt and mix well. Add the potato starch, little by little, until the dough is smooth and sticks lightly in your hands. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts, place in 2 English cake tins (25 x 9 x 7 cm) greased with butter and let rise for about 30 minutes. Bake in a medium oven (180º C), preheated, for about 30 minutes or until golden.

This recipe was taken from the Tudo Gostoso website

fake gluten free brownie


  • 250 g of chopped semisweet chocolate
  • 75g of butter
  • 1 cup (of tea) of sugar
  • 6 eggs lightly beaten
  • Chocolate powder for sprinkling
  • 1 can of dulce de leche (or 1 can of pressure-cooked condensed milk).

Preparation mode

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bain-marie or microwave. Add sugar and eggs and mix until smooth. Arrange it in a rectangular pan, greased with butter and sprinkled with chocolate, and distribute spoonfuls or pieces of dulce de leche over the dough. Bake in a preheated medium oven (180°C) for about 20 minutes or until set. Serve hot or cold, accompanied, if desired, with ice cream.

This recipe was taken from the Ana Maria Braga website

Gluten-free creamy corn cake


  • 2 cup and ½ (tea) of milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 cups (of tea) of sugar
  • 2 cups (of tea) of threshed corn (or canned)
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder.

Preparation mode

In a blender, beat the milk with the eggs, butter, sugar and corn until crushed. Add starch and yeast and beat just to mix. Pour into a rectangular baking dish (33 x 21 cm) greased with butter and sprinkled with starch and place in a preheated medium oven (180ºC) for about 40 minutes or until golden. Let it warm and serve cut into squares.

Ellie Lauderdale

My name is Ellie Lauderdale, MD and I am USA based professional Nutritionist .

I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and board certified specialist in sports dietetics who is trained in integrative medicine. I have worked with hundreds of clients, from those suffering with chronic disease to professional and olympian athletes. My goal is to help optimize you from the inside so that you can feel, perform, and look your best on the outside.

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