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Grains such as rye, oats, barley and wheat contain a protein called gluten. At best, gluten in food is worrisome for those who are intolerant of the protein. At worst, it can have a serious effect on the health of a person with coeliac disease. Although the condition is under-diagnosed, those with coeliac disease have become more aware of gluten free products like gluten free bread.

The simplest description of gluten free products is that something like gluten free bread contains no element of rye, oat, barley or wheat. Items obviously containing gluten include cakes, pasta, pastries and bread. An individual following a gluten-free lifestyle may also have to guard against nutritional deficiencies and temporary lactose intolerance.

Food that is gluten free includes whole vegetables and fruits, legumes, meat and dairy products. Aside from beer, alcohol in general is gluten free. Gluten-free beer is available, and is not interchangeable with “low-gluten” beer. Helpfully, current labelling standards mandate that all food, additives or ingredients sourced from rye, oats, barley and wheat must be labelled as such.

When awareness of gluten intolerance was limited, demand for gluten free bread was low. Now, there are specialist bakeries and food stores that cater to this dietary requirement. Gluten free bread is now one of the most popular gluten free products as it is a staple that is hard to give up.

Wheat flour substitutes are an important component for home cooks. Potato starch flour and corn flour/starch are used to thicken sauces; tapioca flour, soy flour, cornmeal and rice flour are used for baking. Tapioca flour is a popular ingredient for gluten free white bread, which is described as having a “nice, chewy texture”. Other than ingredients, gluten free products include complete food such as biscuits, bread rolls, pizza bases, pasta, tart and pie pastries, brownies, puddings and bread. Gluten free white bread has been praised for its lighter taste and chewy texture.

A gluten free diet is the only “cure” for those who suffer from coeliac disease. However, gluten free white bread also has proponents from the gluten sensitivity or allergy camp, as well as those diagnosed with dermatitis herpetiformis, a chronic skin condition where fluid-filled blisters arise. Their appearance is linked to a high intake of gluten.

There are also those who are firmly convinced that the consumption of gluten free white bread is able to improve the condition of those suffering from autism. As such, many parents of autistic children ensure that their child follows a gluten-free diet.

Gluten free white bread has also been touted as the key to fast and effective weight loss. However, it is more likely that consumption of gluten free bread (usually made from brown rice flour) and other gluten free products limits a person’s intake of refined carbohydrates. Excessive intake of refined carbohydrates are often identified as the culprit in weight gain problems, so simply removing them from a diet allows the individual to record impressive weight loss, reduced “bad” cholesterol levels and more energy.