What’s the Deal with Gluten?


So you’re binge-watching the Great British
Bake-Off and you see this. And
then you open twitter and you see this. So what gives? Is gluten good, or is gluten bad? Do you want it in your food, or don’t you? If you KNEAD an explanation, we’ve got your
PROOF right here. Gluten isn’t a monster that hides in your
bread. It’s a form of protein you can find in wheat
and its closest relatives. These “wheat-adjacent” grains have stuff
similar to gluten that we sometimes call gluten as an umbrella term, and these OTHER grains
are gluten-free. Gluteny proteins store energy to help baby
wheat plants grow up big and strong, if we didn’t grind it into flour and eat it first. In wheat, gluten is made up of glutenin and
gliadin. Gliadin is stretchy, while glutenin is strong
and snaps easily back into place. Like all proteins, glutenin and gliadin are
made of amino acids, some of which contain sulfur. Sulfur atoms passing by each other can form
covalent bonds which link individual protein chains together. A stretchy and tough mesh starts to form when
water is added to the flour. And because I have daydreams about being the
next Mary Berry, I made some bread to show you on a less molecular scale. Here you can see the glutenin and gliadin
mesh that’s formed. Those criss-crosses in the dough are thanks
to gluten. So why is gluten so special to bakers? Well, because that protein mesh is important
in the weird, alchemical transformation of this, to this, to this. The yeast in bread dough produces carbon dioxide
gas, which gets trapped in gluten’s net, making the dough rise. Without enough gluten, the bread could turn
out tough and dense. When bakers and us Mary Berry wannabes hold
a bit of dough up to a light, they’re looking to see if they can stretch it thin enough
to see through it without it tearing. If they can, they know the dough has developed
enough gluten. Here is ours not ready, still not ready, and
finally…yeah I’m done kneading. So if gluten makes bread well, bready, why
do people insist on going gluten free? Is gluten bad for people? No. For most people, it’s totally fine. And if you put raisins in, it’s healthy! They’re fruit… But there are a small number of specific medical
cases where gluten free may be helpful. The first case is celiac disease. It’s a serious medical condition that might
affect as many as 1 in 100 people in the US, depending where your genes are from. People with celiac can’t handle gluten from
wheat  and when they eat it, their immune system freaks out and can send the person
running to the bathroom. Celiac can cause long-term digestive harm
and can prevent people from getting the nutrients they need. People with celiac can try to eliminate as
much gluten as possible, but trace amounts of the stuff show up everywhere, even in lip
balm. The second case is wheat allergies, which
are more common in children. People usually outgrow wheat allergies by
age 6 or so, but those allergies can cause nasty reactions. Then there’s non-Celiac gluten sensitivity. This condition affects people differently
and doctors are still agreeing on how to define it. It’s all pretty up in the air right now,
but some people feel better after they cut gluten from their diet. If you haven’t been told by a doctor that
you have a gluten problem, you probably don’t need to worry about gluten just because it’s
trendy to do so. In the end gluten is a protein that we digest
for energy. Protein that happens to work a bit of magic
in the oven to make lovely chewy bread… The bread turned out great, by the way. We’ll toss the recipe in the video description. Thanks for watching, and don’t forget to
subscribe. We’ll be leaven-ing now [BOO] so we’ll
see ya next time.

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