A gluten-free diet involves excluding foods that contain the protein gluten. Gluten is a family of proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and spelt. Gluten gives flour a sticky consistency when mixed with water. This property helps gluten create a sticky network that gives bread the ability to rise when baked. It also gives bread a chewy and satisfying texture.
Unfortunately, some people feel uncomfortable after eating foods that contain gluten. The most severe reaction is called celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which the body mistakenly harms itself. Celiac disease affects up to 1% of the population and can damage the intestines.