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Gluten: Not Always Labeled When There

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Rice, Noodles, and Other Grain Foods

Summer Volume: 2019 Issue: 26(2) pages: 31 to 34


This common protein, most often in wheat, has two main components, gliadin and glutenin. When mixed with a liquid, they make gluten, a protein used in many bakery products that after being baked, as are gluten balls shown here, are chewy and elastic. Gluten can also be found when most wheat flours are used including often in pastas. breads, crackers, seasonings, and other items. There are some people who have a sensitivity to gluten; they should avoid it. This sensitivity grows the more they are exposed to gluten so if you are such a person, avoid all ingesting. Gluten causes an auto-immune disorder with serious stomach pain. Those with it need to know that every ingestion increases it. It can be found in imitation meat products popular with Chinese and other Buddhists and many vegetarians; it is in commercial bakery products, even in many that say they are gluten free; that is because of archaic labeling laws. Gluten provides texture, particularly after products are kneaded as it improves their texture. First common during the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 CE) and thereafter, in the Song, Liao, and the Yuan Dynasties (960 - 1279; 1279 - 1227; and 1227 - 1368, respectively), some dishes then and now called ’drunken’ have no alcohol in them, but are made with wheat, soy, another bean, or a mixture of them, and with chili and/or sesame oil, lemon juice, a coagulant, or another grain with gluten so they do expand, get chewy, and/or elastic after adding a liquid, and are kneaded or mixed well. Gluten keeps their components together. If a product is green, it can have added sake, a Japanese wine often used in China, or crushed green leaves, a green ‘mucor’ mold, a chemical enhancement, or another ferment sitting in them for hours to improve their texture and/or taste. The Chinese are masters and do blend gluten with root vegetables, various beans or bean flours, spices, wheat and often with other replacements. Users with this sensitivity need to read food labels and know local laws. They should not consume foods that they might be allergic to; and they need to know that increased ingestion increases these sensitivities. Others need to know that consuming them can go against their religious beliefs. They should not eat any Imitation meats as they can have gluten in them and not be so listed. In the US and in some other countries, ‘gluten-free’ only means that the food has less than twenty parts per million or that gluten is not a stand-alone ingredient. Li Shih-chen, at the end of the 1500s, said its nature is sweet, cooling, and not toxic; and he knew Buddhists did not eat meat, fish, and eggs or drink alcoholic beverages to have a pure body and mind, so according to the Shurangama Sutra, they should not consume a drop of it because it destroys their hope of remaining compassionate forever. We know that if someone thinks they might be allergic or sensitive to gluten or have celiac disease or another similar sensitivity, they should not ingest any food made with it because their problems will increase with additional intake. We recommend contacting the manufacturer of a suspected product to ask if it does as laws in other countries can be different. Do not rely on just reading a food label. Gluten can have up to threequarters of the total weight in hard wheat and in many breads that are kneaded to improve their elasticity. Many wheat flours are high in gluten while pastry or soft flours usually have less but are not gluten free. Kneading increases gluten strands, makes a chewy dough, and these sensitivities do increase with every exposure, no matter how little gluten is in a product. Not every one can or should consume gluten because doing so can damage the small intestine, bloat the stomach, cause pain, swell the stool, increase headaches and painful skin irritations, increase depression and anxiety, increase joint and muscle pain, and other health issues. This was not known years ago when Li Khou Tsung-shih advised that white flour when chewed becomes sticky. He did not know it increased gluten because that was not known then nor was gluten known as the cause of these symptoms. In the Qin Min Yao Shui (QMYS), some did say there were problems when flour products were cooked in boiling water or felt slippery in the mouth, gluten was not named or known as the cause in earlier times. Do consult Joseph Needham’s Science & Civilization in China in its Volume VI No 5 where HT Huang talks about gluten sensitivities. If you suspect a negative reaction, consult your doctor or allergist.

                                                                                                                                                       
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