Are you ready to go gluten-free? Going gluten-free is very difficult, but is much easier with help.
What is gluten?
The term “gluten” comes from the Latin for “glue” and gluten is protein that makes wheat and other grains so great for cooking. You cannot have great bread that will rise without gluten or this glue that holds the grains together. When other grains such as rice are made into breads, they don’t have the consistency and light airy quality that bread that contain gluten have.
While gluten has its bad side (for people who are sensitive to it), it also has a good side. Farmers and food scientists actually engineered wheat to have more gluten because they thought that having a grain with high protein was better for our health and could possibly help with nutritional problems in lesser developed countries. Chefs also applauded the move to a higher gluten flour because that makes foods such as bread rise better.
What foods have gluten in them?
Gluten is found in wheat, but it is also found in other grains (such as kamut, spelt, barley, rye, malts, triticale, and maybe oats). But if you are going to avoid all gluten containing foods because gluten also shows up at lot of foods such as food additives, flavoring, stabilizing or thickening agents. So while you might think staying away from gluten means that you avoid most grains (and this is true), you also have to start reading labels because there are many foods that use these additives.
Do you want a list of gluten containing foods? Here is a great link: Unsafe Gluten-Free Food List (Unsafe Ingredients)
Why does gluten cause problems?
While it is surprising to a lot of people, your digestive system is the center of your immune system. It is estimated that as much as 80 percent of your digestive system is located around your gut. This makes sense because it is through your digestive system that you come into contact with the outside world. Think about it, every time you eat you are taking a bit of the outside world and placing it in your body. It is your body’s job to determine whether those pieces of the outside world are safe to enter your bloodstream or not.
Unfortunately for us, the most common thing your immune system looks out for are proteins (and remember that gluten is a protein). So when you wake up in the morning and have your cereal your immune system reacts. When you have that muffin for a coffee break, your immune system reacts. When you have that sandwich, those crackers and that dinner role, your immune system reacts.
There are many people who have Celiac disease, but what I see more often are people who don’t have full-blown Celiac disease. These people don’t fit the diagnosis of Celiac but they are still very sensitive to wheat. The symptoms people most often report are allergies, sinus problems, problems concentrating and all sorts of digestive problems including diarrhea, heart burn, gas, bloating and pain.
What can you do about gluten intolerance?
I wish that there was a magic pill that you could take, but there just isn’t. The only treatment for gluten intolerance or gluten insensitivity is avoidance. You have to keep gluten out of your diet.
You can get alternate non gluten flours to bake such as corn, potatoes, rice, and tapioca, amaranth, arrowroot, millet, quinoa, sorghum, sweet potato, taro, teff, chia seed, and yams. They take a while to adjust to, but are great substitutes.
I have a program for people who want to avoid sugar and gluten-containing foods that can help you go gluten-free. It is a no sugar and no grains diet.