If you suffer from gluten intolerance or celiac disease, you must eliminate all sources of gluten from your diet. Gluten is a protein in wheat and other grains. Following a gluten-free diet takes some practice because not every food or food ingredient that contains gluten is obvious. Orzo, often found in foods like rice pilaf, is one such source of gluten.
Orzo is a pasta made out of semolina, also called durum wheat flour. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley, triticale and oats. Orzo is on the list of foods you need to avoid if you cannot consume gluten.
If you have celiac disease, it harms your body to eat gluten-containing foods such as orzo. You may cause damage to your small intestine even if you don't notice immediate symptoms. When damage occurs, needed nutrients are absorbed poorly in your body. Continued damage can lead to a host of disorders including osteoporosis and malnutrition. More immediate symptoms can include anemia, digestive upset like bloating and flatulence, vomiting or nausea, abdominal cramps or pain, constipation, diarrhea, weight loss and general malaise. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects about 1 percent of the general population. The only treatment for celiac disease is avoiding gluten.
Sensitivity or Allergy
Gluten can cause a reaction in your intestines and immune system even if you do not have celiac disease. Gluten sensitivity causes adverse reactions that can vary from person to person. Some of these are similar to the adverse reactions found in celiac disease, though intestinal damage does not occur. Symptoms can range from body aches to migraines to bloating to exhaustion. In some people, gluten also can cause a classic allergic reaction with symptoms like hives, congestion or possibly fatal anaphylaxis. Avoiding gluten is the only way to alleviate a gluten allergy or sensitivity.
Watch out for orzo in foods like soups, rice mixes, salads and pesto. This rice-shaped pasta is smaller than a pine nut. Read food labels at stores for gluten-containing ingredients like orzo. If you are new to gluten-free eating, examine the foods in your pantry and cupboards for orzo and other gluten-containing ingredients and avoid eating these foods.
- Colorado State University Extension; Gluten-free Diet Guide for People With Newly Diagnosed Celiac Disease; J. Li, et al.; March 2009
- Better Health Channel: Gluten Free Diet
- "The Wall Street Journal"; Health Journal: Clues to Gluten Sensitivity; Melinda Beck; March 2011
- “BMC Medicine”; Divergence of Gut Permeability and Mucosal Immune Gene Expression in Two Gluten-associated Conditions: Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity; Anna Sapone, et al.; 2011
- "USA Today"; Gluten-free Diets Gaining in Popularity; Kim Painter; August 2008
- Gourmet Sleuth: Orzo