Gluten has become a very popular topic these days with an increase in gluten-free products and the endorsement of gluten-free diets. Most commonly people with celiac disease have to have a strict gluten-free diet in order to help alleviate the symptoms of celiac disease completely.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in rye, barley and wheat. It’s what makes bread chewy and cakes moist and helps dough rise and is what helps bind everything together.
There is a lot of debate as to whether gluten is responsible for such things as migraines, depression, irritability, diarrhea, and upset stomach. This is why it has recently become popular and many people are wondering if gluten could be the culprit to their problems.
Gluten sensitivity is a real issue and includes wheat allergy and celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the small intestine when even trace amounts of gluten are consumed. Celiac disease has an increased risk of osteoporosis, infertility and intestinal cancers.
About one in 100 people have celiac disease today which is a definite increase over the years.
Within gluten, there are actually four main proteins: albumins, glutelins, globulins, and prolamins. Glutelins and prolamins are found in higher concentrations in wheat, while albumins and globulins are more plentiful in corn and rice. Many people associate wheat with the term “gluten,” however, as it is those proteins that are most directly related to health issues such as celiac disease. Glutelins, in particular, are dangerous for those susceptible to intolerance because of the way that acids in the body break them down.
Most of the protein in wheat — 80% — is made up of the prolamin called gliadin and the glutelin called glutenin. When these molecules are joined together due to a chemical reaction, they stretch and harden, allowing dough to form a light, airy loaf with a chewy texture. As a result, these proteins are commonly found in flour and other baking products.
Gluten Free Products
Several grains and starch sources are considered acceptable for a gluten-free diet. The most frequently used are rice, corn, potatoes and tapioca. Other grains and starch sources generally considered suitable for gluten-free diets include arrowroot, amaranth, millet, montina, quinoa, lupin, taro, sorghum, chia seed, yam and teff. Various types of nut flours, bean and soybean are sometimes used in gluten-free products to add in more protein and fiber.
Almond flour is a low-carbohydrate alternative to flour, with a low glycemic index. Buckwheat is not related to wheat; pure buckwheat is considered acceptable for a gluten-free diet, although many commercial buckwheat products are actually mixtures of wheat and buckwheat flours.
Gluten is also used in foods in some unexpected ways, for example as a binding agent or thickener in products like ice cream and ketchup. People wishing to follow a completely gluten free diet must also take into consideration the ingredients of any over-the-counter or prescription medications and vitamins. Also, cosmetics such as lipstick, lip balms, and lip gloss may contain gluten and need to be investigated before use. Glues used on envelopes may also contain gluten.
A gluten-free diet would be one that consists of these foods that are healthy, delicious and are naturally gluten-free:
- Beans, seeds, nuts in their natural, unprocessed form
- Fresh eggs
- Fresh meats, fish and poultry (not breaded, batter-coated or marinated)
- Fruits and vegetables
- Most dairy products
Avoid Unless Labeled Gluten-Free
In general, avoid the following foods unless they’re labeled as gluten-free or made with corn, rice, soy or other gluten-free grain:
- Cakes and pies
- Cookies and crackers
- French fries
- Imitation meat or seafood
- Processed luncheon meats
- Salad dressings
- Sauces, including soy sauce
- Seasoned rice mixes
- Seasoned snack foods, such as potato and tortilla chips
- Self-basting poultry
- Soups and soup bases
- Vegetables in sauce
Certain grains, such as oats, can be contaminated with wheat during growing and processing stages of production. For this reason, doctors and dietitians generally recommend avoiding oats unless they are specifically labeled gluten-free.
Gluten-Free Diet Supplements
People who follow a gluten-free diet may have low levels of certain vitamins and nutrients in their diets. Many grains are enriched with vitamins. Avoiding grains with a gluten-free diet may mean eating fewer of these enriched products. Ask your dietitian to review your diet to see that you’re getting enough of these key nutrients:
Quinoa/Veggie Salad – Naturally Gluten-free
- 2 cups (500 mL) quinoa
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 white turnip, diced
- 3 tomatoes, diced
- 1 cup (250 mL) diced cucumber
- 3 green onions (white parts only), chopped
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tbsp. (30 mL) chopped fresh mint
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. (15 mL) red wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
- 3/4 tsp. (4 mL) salt
- 1/4 tsp. (1 mL) black pepper
- Dash hot pepper sauce
- 1/3 cup (75 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
In fine sieve under cold running water, rinse quinoa. Drain and place in saucepan along with carrot, celery, turnip and 3-1/2 cups (875 mL) water; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until quinoa is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Transfer to bowl; fluff with fork and let cool. Add tomatoes, cucumber, onions, parsley and mint.
In small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper and hot pepper sauce; whisk in oil. Toss with salad.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
When making any diet or exercise change it is important to see a doctor or professional to seek advice.
It is also important to recognize that every person is different and so is everyone’s react to certain foods. Some people are more sensitive than others to gluten and this many not to the solutions to any of symptoms. It is always best to seek out the best solution for your best self!