What is gluten?
Gluten is a complex mixture of proteins present in various cereals and one of the most common ingredients in foods. Gluten forms wheat gluten, barley, rye and some varieties of oats, contains fragments that are resistant to gastrointestinal digestion and cause the symptoms of celiac disease.
The gluten protein accounts for over 80% of wheat proteins and is composed of gliadin and glutenin. Gluten has a structural function, giving foods a visco-elastic consistency, being a gelling agent and emulsifier. It may be present, besides in many foods, in different additives and preservatives as it is used as a thickener to confer elasticity. Thanks to these characteristics it is a prized ingredient in the food industry, especially in confectionery and bakery products.
Because of its immunogenicity, gluten can cause the symptoms of celiac disease in patients with genetic predisposition. The only existing treatment for this disease is a strict lifelong adherence to a gluten free diet.