Why Gluten Free isn't just a Fad!
I used to think that “gluten free” was simply a buzz word used by food manufacturers so sell products, and by consumers who thought they were doing their waist lines a favour by choosing that kind of option. I was wrong.
Sure, the words “gluten-free” might be popping up everywhere from the McDonald’s drive-thru menu to nutrition claim-clad breakfast cereal boxes, but don’t let these blatant marketing attempts deflate the seriousness of the genuine dietary requirement.
Even if you don’t have celiac disease, gluten may be something worth removing from your diet.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a mixture of gliadin and glutenin – the proteins found in wheat, rye and barley that are responsible for the elastic nature of dough.
Why do we care?
For some people, gluten is easily digestible and doesn’t have much of an effect on their overall health. However, for a rapidly growing number of us, gluten is something we cannot tolerate without severe health ramifications.
Most people have heard of the diagnosis of celiac disease. This is the most dramatic response where issues associated with consuming gluten can range from constipation and bloating to diarrhea and malabsorption.
Even if you don’t have celiac disease, gluten still may be an issue for you.
A new study in the journal BMC Medicine may shed some light on why. It shows gluten can set off a distinct reaction in the intestines and the immune system, even in people who don’t have celiac disease.
This has been linked to agricultural changes in wheat that have boosted its protein content, plus the fact that gluten can now be found in almost all processed food items. It’s kind of like the new MSG.
Gluten sensitivity, also known as gluten intolerance, is much more vague and doesn’t have a straight-forward diagnosis. That doesn’t make it less of a problem though. The most common symptoms are IBS-like stomach problems, headaches, fatigue, numbness and depression, but more than 100 symptoms have been loosely linked to gluten intake, which is why it has been so difficult to study.
How can we eliminate gluten?
Gluten sensitivity is so common these days that almost everyone will notice beneficial changes when they eliminate it from their diet for a little while. To do this, you will need to stay away from grains such as wheat, barley, rye, bulgur, couscous, farina, kamut, kasha, semolina, spelt, triticale, and their derivatives such as malt.
Instead, choose gluten-free alternatives like, brown rice pasta instead of regular pasta, Basmati rice, brown rice, buckwheat, millet, and quinoa. Organic corn or potatoes can also help fill the gluten-free gap.
Gluten is also found hiding in:
All-purpose flour, white flour, wheat flour, bran, Durham flour, and wheat germ, bread buns, rolls, biscuits, muffins, crackers, cereals containing wheat, wheat germ, barley, rye, bran, malt, kasha, bulgur, spelt, bread crumbs, pastry, pizza dough, pasta, pretzel, prepared mixes for waffles and pancakes, cakes, cookies, doughnuts, ice cream cones, pies, prepared cake and cookie mixes, bread pudding, bread stuffing or filling – anything that is breaded.
It also winds up in gravy and cream sauces thickened with flour, soy sauce, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, brewer’s yeast (unless prepared with a sugar molasses base), yeast extract, malted drinks, beer, ale, gin, and whiskey.
What about oats?
This is a confusing one. Although they are considered a gluten grain, oats do not contain the “gliadin” protein that people have a hard time digesting and breaking down. The problem is that oats are usually handled with the same farm machinery and stored and milled in the same facilities as the other gluten grains and cross contamination occurs. If you love oats, but want to stay away from gluten, look for “pure” or “gluten free” oats.
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