Looking into gluten and the potential of gluten free living – what’s good, bad and where you can be adjusting your lifestyle and diet.
The more you know the better you do, right? In the past decade, food allergies, intolerances and dietary restrictions have been discovered to be the cause of a great number of ailments. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which is irritated by dairy, gluten, and even some fruits and vegetables, is one of the most common disorders affecting consumers today.
My gluten intolerance went undetected for years because the lethargy, bloating and psoriasis I was experiencing were always treated as separate symptoms. When I was 21, doctors finally identified that I had IBS.
There are number of intolerances people suffer from, last week I covered lactose intolerance. There will be information about identifying symptoms of the intolerance, as well as what products you should reach for when going grocery shopping and recipes you can try in your kitchen.
What is gluten intolerance?
Simply explained, gluten intolerance is a digestive problem caused by a person’s inability to digest the protein found in wheat, rye and barley. The condition can range from a mild gluten sensitivity to full-blown Celiac disease, and the danger is that 99% of people who have this digestive problem haven’t been diagnosed.
Symptoms of gluten intolerance
There are a number of symptoms that might suggest you have a gluten intolerance. They are, but not limited to, bloating, diarrhea or constipation, headaches, fatigue, skin problems, depression, anemia, anxiety, joint or muscle pain, brain fog and leg or arm numbness. If you notice this with yourself or any of your loved ones, seek medical attention ASAP.
Treating gluten intolerance
Similar to a lactose intolerance, there is no definite cure for gluten intolerance. Though there are ways to ensure that you don’t aggravate your condition. Implementing an elimination diet is your first option. Go gluten-free for 30 days then reintroduce the grain one item at a time. If the symptoms reappear after eating certain foods, you’ll know which to avoid. Another idea is to cut gluten out of your diet entirely. Luckily, gluten isn’t found in many grains like oats, quinoa, rice or corn so you won’t be left wanting.
Because Celiac disease and gluten intolerance is on the rise (caused by heavily processed foods and inherited bad diets) there are more substitutes in the market to cater to consumers with the dietary restriction. It’s worth considering introducing them into your diet.
This pasta is safe to consume for anyone with a gluten sensitivity and it’s packed with as much protein as a 100g steak. Chickpeas are also rich in fiber and are great for people with diabetes as the legume helps regulate blood sugar and insulin levels. Chickpea pasta comes in all different shapes and forms so you can get as creative as you would with wheat pastas.
A contentious grain for years, millet is believed to contain a generous amount of very important nutrients, including copper, manganese and magnesium. HOWEVER, eating too much of it can cause harm to your health: millet may not contain gluten, but it does contain a substantial amount of goitrogens (incidentally, a combination of substances high in soy too). This is the substance that suppresses thyroid activity and can lead to the swelling of a very important gland in your throat.
Also known as maize, this grain is often blended with quinoa or rice to make a fiber rich pasta. Corn contains carotenoids, zeaxanthin and lutein, which fight certain eye diseases and cancer.
Though not very high in calories, this gluten-free option is high in carbohydrate. But don’t let that deter you. A bowl of toasted rice cereal will serve you half your recommended daily intake of iron, and a healthy amount of potassium and protein.
Oats is one of the healthiest grains that Mother Nature has to provide. Starting your day with a warm bowl of rolled oats has been proven to improve cardiovascular health, aid in diabetes treatment and ease hypertension. The grain, which is high in antioxidants, relieves constipation and improves immunity too. Because oasts thickens the contents in your stomach, you’ll end up feeling fuller for longer – this will help you regulate your intake and could even contribute to weight loss. One bowl will give you at least 10% of your recommended daily intake of iron, calcium, potassium, Vitamin B1 + B3 + B5 + B6.
If you want to stave off metabolic syndrome (involving high blood pressure, high blood sugar, obesity and high cholesterol levels), green banana flour is your best bet. The flour is just ground up powder of the fruit, so you’ll get a generous helping of potassium when baking with this flour. Banana flour is affordable, and as an alternative, has a similar texture to lighter wheat flour. Best used for sweet recipes.
This fruit is dominating the health and wellness market as being a real superfood. Everything from the oil, milk and cream, to flakes and now flour is packed with the restorative qualities the human body needs. Coconut Flour is high in fiber, protein and healthy fats while being remarkably low in carbohydrates, calories and sugar. Coconut flour is extremely versatile. Best used for sweet and savoury recipes, but not it does carry a coconutty flavour which will come through in most of your recipes.
Hemp seeds are nutritionally rich. Packed with dietary fibre, iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and calcium, they have a high concentration of essential fats, vitamins and enzymes too. Switching wheat flour for hemp flour will help you avoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, alzheimer’s, anxiety and depression. Best used for both sweet and savoury recipes.
Almond flour (also known as almond meal) is made from ground almonds. It is naturally gluten free, as well as being low in carbs, high and fiber and a great source of protein (much like the delicious almond). All in all almond flour is pretty amazing – it’s also rich in iron, magnesium, calcium and vitamin E. Best used for both sweet and savoury recipes.