In my few short years of working as home baker, one of the most frequently requested item has been gluten free bread. I run a bakery that specialises in additive free bread and so most people automatically assume that I would be able to provide them with healthy gluten free products. I find it most paradoxical when people use the phrases healthy food and gluten free in the same line. Bread without gluten is just not bread: there is no substitute.
Most people tend to associate gluten consumption with weight gain and so think cutting gluten out completely will make them healthier. Unfortunately going completely gluten free can have more harmful effects than good, especially if you aren’t really gluten intolerant. Gluten is a protein found in wheat which when activated gives wheat products it’s unique texture and flavor. The degree of gluten present in flour depends upon the quality and type of flour being used. When bread is produced on a large scale, the manufacturer may not always have accesses to same quality flour. Therefore most manufacturers tend to resort to adding emulsifiers or additives like gluten to the flour to ensure they always have a standardized product. These chemicals not only help in masking inconsistencies in raw ingredients but also increase the shelf life of the product.
A lot of our allergies can be co related to the preservatives and chemicals found in these packaged products. Due to this we often tend to think that the product itself is bad and should be done away with, like in this case gluten. Instead of blindly following food fads and diets, we should become more aware of what goes into our food and how it’s made. If you can’t identify more than 3 ingredients on a label, it’s probably not good for you. The shorter the shelf life of a product, the healthier it is. Proteins like gluten aren’t always the enemy; it’s the substitutes that are making you ill.