Gluten-Free…Facts vs. Fiction


Can’t people be really stubborn?  And don’t a lot of them get the wrong idea stuck in their head?  When you combine the wrong idea and stubbornness, the result is often rumor mills full of misinformation.   One of the areas where this frequently happens is in gluten free forums.  You can know some bit of information is false, yet people defend it and pass it on as if they’re experts.

In the gluten free world, misinformation can be dangerous.  For example, you’re told brown rice syrup never contains gluten and choose to believe it without question, because a gluten intolerant person told you so.  Then you start writing in a forum how you eat brown rice syrup all the time without a reaction.  So other people desperate for gluten free foods they can easily buy are easily convinced you know what you’re talking about.  So they buy brown rice syrup, and one day someone informs everyone that some brown rice syrup recipes do have gluten ingredients.  That starts a rash of back-and-forth exchanges that get more confusing by the hour.

It works the other way around too.  People become erroneously convinced some foods contain gluten and won’t be convinced otherwise.  Vinegar is a classic example.  Only malt vinegar contains gluten, but the other vinegars are gluten free.  One person gets confused and tells everyone they know that all vinegars contain gluten.  To be honest, I have to chuckle sometimes when I read forums, because people just won’t check their facts.

See also
What is a Low Sodium Diet?

Now some products are confusing.  For example, oats were once on the forbidden foods list.  Then research indicated that pure oats don’t have gluten.  But you still shouldn’t eat them unless the box is clearly marked “gluten free”.   Oats are very susceptible to cross contamination during manufacturing.  So oats are naturally gluten free, but you should still avoid them unless the company guarantees they’re gluten free.  Hmmmpppfff!  No wonder the rumor mills have so much opportunity to blossom.

Just to clear the air about a few food items, I want to share a partial list of foods that seem to cause a lot of confusion and a lot of rumors. There are some foods that have gotten a bad rap in the forums when they’re actually gluten free.  There are also some ingredient terms that have been confused with scientific names for gluten ingredients.

The following foods and ingredients are safe to eat if you’re gluten intolerant.    It doesn’t matter what the misinformed people claim.  It matters what science tells us is the truth.  These foods are considered safe, by the way, only if manufactured in Canada and the United States.

•    Caramel color
•    Distilled alcohol
•    Distilled vinegar
•    Wheat grass (make sure it says grass)
•    Citric acid
•    Dextrin
•    Hydrolyzed plant protein
•    Monoglycerides
•    Diglycerides
•    Vanilla
•    Vanilla extract
•    Hydrolyzed vegetable protein

See also
Gluten Sensitivity & Osteoporosis

So when someone tries to tell you (any) distilled vinegar has gluten, you know for a fact it doesn’t.

When it comes to alcohol, any distilled alcoholic beverage, including rum, gin, whiskey and vodka are considered gluten free. Although its source (for example, whiskey comes from barley) may initially contain gluten, the distilling process involved in its production removes all of the gluten in the end product, making it suitable for celiacs to consume.

Don’t believe everything you’re told, but you should still be willing to listen.  Just reject the advice you know for a fact is wrong and double check everything else you hear.  Rumor mills have been in existence since human beings could talk – but that doesn’t make them right!  You should always maintain a healthy skepticism.

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