Many of us have heard the term ‘gluten-free’ either through social media or through an article we came across in a newspaper or magazine. But most of us don’t pay much attention to what gluten actually is…
What Is A Gluten Free Diet?
Why should someone consider a gluten free diet? We think it’s just another craze or yet another new thing that some health crazy people are into. In reality, these new gluten free diets can be very important for some people.
The biggest reason why a person might be interested in a gluten free diet is if they have celiac disease. This decease makes it difficult to digest food and the reason for it is because the person’s smaller intestine is hypersensitive to gluten.
Essentially, what happens is that whenever a person who is suffering from celiac disease consumes gluten, their body launches an autoimmune response which ends up attacking the small intestine and can do major damage to it. To be specific, the damage is done to villi, which are tiny finger shaped projections which line the walls of the small intestine.
Villi are responsible for helping absorb nutrients from food. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for celiac disease except a strict gluten free diet.
It is estimated that about 1 out of every 133 people are suffering from celiac disease. The disease is hereditary, which means that it runs in the family.
Speculations are that if you have a relative within your immediate family (parent, child, or sibling) then you have a 1 out of 10 chance of developing celiac disease as well. The disease can develop anytime after the person at risk starts to eat gluten filled foods.
If left untreated, celiac disease can cause many other health related issues, some of which are infertility or frequent miscarriages, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, pancreatic insufficiency, melanoma, and papillary thyroid cancer.
It is very important to determine as soon as possible if you have celiac disease because of how much damage it can do to your body in both the short and long term. However, determining if someone is suffering from celiac disease can be a difficult task as well.
There are over 200 different symptoms associated with celiac disease, which can make it nearly impossible to diagnose through symptoms. Furthermore, a very large percentage of adults and children who have celiac decease might not show any symptoms at all or only show very minimal symptoms.
If you suspect that you might have celiac disease, then the best thing to do is ask your doctor to perform a simple blood test which will screen for it. This will help you to know for a fact if the symptoms you are experiencing are associated with the disease or not.
In some cases, people who do not suffer from celiac disease might develop sensitivity to gluten; this is called non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Those who have developed this sensitivity should also follow a gluten-free diet.
This will most likely reduce the symptoms. Whatever your reasons are, following a gluten-free diet can be a good idea for almost anyone. The best thing you can do is try it out and see the changes that will happen to your body.
If you see positive results, then you should continue with your diet, and if not then perhaps a gluten-free diet is not right for you.
About The Gluten-Free Diet
Don’t be mistaken, switching to a gluten-free diet can be difficult at first. But as long as you are determined and diligent, you are bound to make the transition without any issues.
Once you start cutting out the foods which contain gluten, you might feel like you are being deprived in a way. This can be a bit difficult to get used to, but we found the best way to cope with it is looking at the foods which are gluten free that are now available.
Luckily, because of the massive popularity and ground that the gluten-free diet has gained in the past few years, more and more companies are creating traditional products while avoiding gluten to help those who are sensitive to it.
You might think that bread and pasta are no longer an option for you if you are starting a gluten-free diet, but this isn’t true. There are plenty of products out there that are gluten free for you to choose from.
For those who are just starting out with a gluten-free diet and are struggling to find a good starting point, it might be a good idea to consult your doctor or even a dietician to see what you should start from to get you on the right track.
So where do you start? The best way to do this is get a list of common gluten-free foods which you should focus on and then a list of foods that you should avoid. Here are some of the foods that we think you should keep an eye out for.
What Can I Eat on a Gluten Free Diet?
There are plenty of naturally gluten-free foods out here that you should keep in mind and incorporate in your daily diet.
The only thing you need to be careful of is to ensure that these foods aren’t mixed with preservatives or additive which might contain gluten, so be vigilant.
- Nuts, seeds, and beans are all acceptable and gluten free, as long as they are unprocessed and natural.
The only thing you have to watch out for is if they are mixed with other ingredients which might contain gluten, so pay close attentions to the labels.
- Fresh eggs are also amongst gluten free foods, so there is no need to give up that delicious egg breakfast.
- Arrowroot flour can be a fantastic gluten free substitute for traditional flours which contain loads of gluten.
- Fresh fish, meat, and poultry are gluten free. But you have to make sure they aren’t breaded or battered. If they are then they most likely will have gluten present in them.Buckwheat is another grain-like plant which is considered one of the healthiest foods out there, and it is gluten free as well.
- Fruits and vegetables are also on the gluten free list. This doesn’t mean that fruit cakes or most other fruit baked goods are off limits, as these will have gluten in them most likely.
The majority of dairy products will be gluten free, but you should still be aware of the ingredients in them just to be safe.
- Amaranth is also gluten free. Although not as popular as some other gluten free foods, it is still a very viable and tasty choice for your diet.
- Corn is actually a type of grain, but it isn’t part of the same grain family as the ones that are filled with gluten. It actually contains its own type of compound known as corn gluten.
Corn gluten is not like regular gluten and will not cause problems for those who are sensitive to regular gluten or who are affected by celiac disease.
- Flaxseed is an absolutely wonderful gluten-free food which also has a plethora of healthy benefits besides being gluten free.
- Almond flour is another amazing substitute to the traditional wheat flour.
- Quinoa is a grain crop with edible seeds and happens to be gluten free and delicious, very similar to buckwheat.
- Rice will most likely be your first major gluten free go-to food. It’s unbelievably versatile and can be used in many different dishes and cooked in many different ways.
- Soybeans can be a source of many different products that you can incorporate in your gluten-free diet. They can be made into soy milk, soy flour, soy protein, tofu and many other food products.
- Tapioca is a starch which is derived from cassava root. It is native to the Northern regions of Brazil but has been spreading through South America at a steady rate.
There are other foods out there which don’t have any gluten in them. The above list is just an example of a few things you should keep in mind as primary foods you will be using in your gluten free diet.
Keep in mind that food and its taste is subjective to each person individually, so while you might enjoy some of the foods listed above, others might not be on par with your taste buds, and vice versa.
Food You Should Avoid
These are the foods which you should avoid at all costs. They usually contain a high amount of gluten and will do a number on your small intestine if consumed without any limitations.
Even in small quantities, depending on the severity of your sensitivity, these foods can be problematic.
- Barley, sorry beer lovers but this grain has more gluten than you should stomach if you are suffering from celiac disease. Any beverage that contains barley is off-limits.
- Rye is another grain which is widely used for bread, beer, and even whiskey. It is very closely related to wheat and barley, and is full of gluten.
- Wheat is probably the hardest food to omit from your diet when going gluten-free. It is found everywhere and used for everything.
You would be surprised just how many products contain wheat in them. Be careful with this one.
It can be very hard to stop using wheat foods at first, but for those sensitive to gluten it is the most important food type to avoid.
- Durum wheat is a type of hard wheat which is usually used for pasta. It was artificially made through hybrid pollinations of different wheat strains. Unfortunately, it is full of gluten.
- Farina is just milled wheat which is used for hot breakfast cereal. It should also be avoided.
- Semolina is a byproduct of flour milling which is commonly used in puddings and pasta.
- Kamut, also known as Khorasan wheat or Oriental wheat, is a wheat which is common to the region of Iran, and should also be avoided.
The above foods are commonly used in recipes and other food products as a primary ingredient.
For example, because wheat contains a lot of gluten anything that uses wheat as an ingredient should be avoided.
This means all of the following should be avoided at all costs unless specified that they are “gluten free”: beers, cakes, cereals, cookies, crackers, croutons, most pastas, gravies, salad dressings, sauces (including soy sauce), seasoned rice mixes, and more.
These are just a few of the many foods that should be voided if you are trying to be gluten free.
Here is where things can get a bit tricky. Avoiding gluten free foods shouldn’t be an issue if you are shopping on your own and choosing the right ingredients at a grocery store, but how do you make sure that you are avoiding gluten when going to a restaurant or your favorite eatery?
Sadly, there is no easy answer. You could always choose dishes at the restaurant which are gluten free judging from ingredients, but most of the time the menu doesn’t have all the ingredients listed.
For example, you can order salmon in a bed of rice and while both of those should be gluten free, you have no idea what sauce was used to cook the salmon or the rice, and even any spices used for each could contain gluten.
Then there are the cross contamination factors. Most food at restaurants is cooked together on the same surface and the food is close to each other at all times.
This increases the risk of your non-gluten food becoming contaminated with previously cooked food particles which do have gluten in them.
Your best solution for this problem is to ask the staff if there are any gluten free choices as well as being prepared in a way to avoid contamination.
Depending on the establishment and its reputation, you should be able to find a few excellent spots which will be glad to cook for you with utmost gluten free priority.
Speaking of cooking, just like in restaurants where the same surface is being used for multiple different dishes, you should also be careful at home when cooking with gluten free ingredients.
Try to be very attentive to your cooking surfaces and make sure you clean all utensils diligently between uses.
Gluten Free Diet guide Review Summary
Choosing a gluten-free lifestyle can seem difficult, but we assure you it is not an impossible task. The awareness of necessity for gluten free products has made it considerably easier to make the switch in today’s world.
All you have to do is make that decision to switch a priority and do it now without looking back. Instead, with look forward to all the new and delicious foods you will experience that you never thought to try before!