For people who are watching their waistlines, the latest fad in weight loss is “is barley gluten free?” Most stores now carry products that are “gluten free.” These products can contain things like barley, wheat, rye and oats. There is a misconception about the absence of gluten in these products. If you read the ingredients label on the back of the packaging, you may not find any gluten products in them at all.
Some products do not contain gluten at all but use other ingredients to make up for the lack of gluten. For example, some cereal bars claim to be “gluten free” even though they do not contain barley or any other grain that may have gluten in it. This is because the cereal bar is mixed with other ingredients to make it “ready to eat.” In other words, it is very easy to replace a meal replacement snack cake with this type of bar, but it is not the same as eating fresh, wholesome grain such as barley or wheat. The cereal bar will not replace a breakfast of bread, muffins and cream.
For those who are diagnosed with celiac disease, the lack of gluten in these products is very concerning. For years, celiac disease was only identified in cases of people who were highly susceptible to it, but with the increase of “gluten-free” foods and products, this is not the case anymore. People with this type of autoimmune disease cannot digest gluten well. Therefore, it causes an autoimmune reaction within the small intestines. It is believed that the gluten in these products may cause undigested waste to leak back into the body, causing damage to the linings of the small intestine as well as changing the chemistry of the blood and lymphatic systems.
Many cereals are now being manufactured that are free of gluten, although many still contain barley and wheat. A few manufacturers are making a distinction between whole-grain and malt products to help meet the needs of the gluten-free market. Many of the new brands on the market do not even contain barley, instead opting for pearled barley or quinoa. Some specialty brands such as Harwic Shop and Specialty Flour use ingredients such as rice flour, buckwheat, tapioca flour or corn flour.
Since people with celiac disease have an adverse reaction to grain products, there are some cereals that are also becoming available without gluten. These include: apricots and peaches, cereals such as cornmeal, blue corn, wheat, quinoa, buckwheat, triticale and watermelon. However, since not all grains are gluten-free, you may not be able to eat these products entirely. Also keep in mind that just because a food is labeled “gluten-free”, it does not mean that it is truly gluten-free.
If you are trying to control your diet and eliminate gluten as part of your lifestyle, you will need to check the ingredients label on cereals, breads and pastas to make sure that they do not contain barley as one of their main ingredients. There are many brands on the market today that claim to be “gluten-free” but are not true gluten-free products. However, there are many brands that claim to be celiac disease-free, yet still contain barley flour in some form.