What Exactly is Gluten?
In Honor of Celiac Disease Awareness Month, Gluten Free Watchdog is writing a series of articles (the goal is one per day during the month of May) related to the gluten-free diet–currently the ONLY treatment for celiac disease.
So what is gluten?
- Strictly speaking, gluten is a protein compound found only in wheat, and then only after wheat flour is mixed with a liquid such as water. When water is added to wheat flour and the resulting “dough” is kneaded, gluten is formed. Gluten is made up of groups of proteins of two types–glutelins and prolamins–specifically the glutelin glutenin and the prolamin gliadin.
- From the standpoint of celiac disease, the term gluten is used to describe certain sequences of amino acids found in the glutelin and prolamin protein fractions of wheat, barley, and rye that are harmful to persons with celiac disease.
- The term gluten is sometimes used in a more general sense to describe proteins (glutelins and prolamins) found in many cereal grains. This is why we sometimes see reference to corn gluten (which does not contain the sequences of amino acids harmful to persons with celiac disease).
- The prolamins (storage proteins and source of nutrients for developing plants) of wheat, barley, and rye are termed gliadin, hordein, and secalin, The prolamins of corn and rice are termed zein and orzenin, respectively. Zein and orzenin do not contain the sequences of amino acids harmful to persons with celiac disease.
Tomorrow’s post: Thank you to the moms of children with celiac disease