If you've been paying any attention to the recent diet trends around the world you've probably noticed that more and more people have started to build their meal plans around veganism, vegetarianism and gluten-free diets. The first two types of dietary preferences we mentioned, veganism and vegetarianism, are pretty well known. Vegans don't eat anything at all that comes from an animal, which means in addition to not eating meat or fish they also won't eat or drink other foods such as eggs or milk. Vegetarians are just one step below, as they will eat foods derived from animals but just not animals themselves.

So, that leaves us with the gluten-free diet. It's hard not to walk around your local grocery store and not come across at least a few foods labeled gluten-free. Since there has been a rise in the number of people that consider themselves gluten-free it's probably in your best interest to learn more about what it means to be gluten-free.

So, first up, what is gluten anyway and what does it mean to be gluten-free? By looking up gluten in the dictionary we come away with the following definition: "the tough, viscid, nitrogenous substance remaining when the flour of wheat or other grain is washed to remove the starch." If you're thinking to yourself that doesn't really help you understand what gluten is we agree. Gluten basically is a protein composite that's found in foods that are processed from wheat and a variety of related grain species such as rye and barley.

The main function of gluten is that it gives dough its elasticity, which helps the dough to rise, maintain its shape and adds a chewy texture to the final product. Now that you know what gluten is you probably have a whole bunch of products lying around the kitchen of your home or work office full of gluten. Gluten doesn't sound all that harmful once it's explained but why exactly are more people turning to a gluten-free diet?

For some, it's a personal preference and they believe that eating wheat is not a good thing for their health. For most gluten-free individuals eating gluten actually is hazardous to their health. Intolerance to gluten can be developed and the only way to alleviate symptoms such as exhaustion, infertility, headaches, aching joints and gastro-intestinal problems that are caused by gluten is to not ingest gluten.

There are so many foods that contain gluten that the only way to prevent any damage caused by intolerance to gluten is to follow a gluten-free diet. Hopefully you know now what gluten is and what it means to be gluten-free that you can about the rest of your day and find answers to other questions such as how does one become a vegan or find cruelty-free products?

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