Has someone mentioned gluten free to you or told you to eat a gluten free diet but you’re still scratching your head wondering…what is a gluten free diet exactly?
It’s a common question, in fact someone just asked me about this the other day soo I thought I’d write a post about it to clear up any confusion.
What is a gluten free diet?
A gluten free diet excludes all foods that contain gluten. When thinking about gluten most people commonly think of wheat, and it is the most widely found glutenous grain. However gluten can be found in wheat, barley and rye and all of their derivatives.
Derivatives of wheat – durum, semolina, graham, spelt, kamut, and tritricale. Anything like hydrolyzed wheat protein, wheat starch, or wheat germ and so forth. And products like couscous, bulgar, semolina, and spelt. These are all wheat derivatives. The only acception to the rule is wheat grass because obviously it is a sprouted grass and has a different biochemcial makeup.
Barley – and anything containing malt as this is a derivative of barley.
Gluten is also often found in oats at lower amounts due to them being processing on the same equipment a glutenous products. If you don’t have a gluten intolerance or allergy, then oats might be included in your diet. For those with allergies or intolerances, you can buy steel cut oats, which tend too be less contaminated, or buy 100% gluten free oats.
Dr Thomas Obryan, a gluten specialist doctor estimates a possible 85% of the western world could be intolerant to gluten and don’t even know it. Gluten is found in many processed and packaged foods, tinned goods, sauces, condiments, and hidden in many things. For most people the protein found in gluten is difficult to digest.
Caeliac disease and gluten sensitivity are the most common symptoms we see in people reacting to gluten. However a gluten intolerance can also parade itself as any number of symptoms in the body, from headaches, to aches and pains, to memory problems, or depression. Gluten is also linked to intestinal permeability. This is when toxins that should be eliminated from the body can leak through the intestinal wall and back into your bloodstream. This is obviously not a good thing because it can contirbute to illness and disease.
Gluten also increases inflammation and may be an active contributor in many diseases. The protein in gluten contains an amino acid chain that can actively bind to other chains in our cells and attack them. It mimics the chains in our cells but it doesn’t do the job it’s meant to do. That’s when we can see health problems beginning to emerge.
I generally believe that most people do much better with their health when they eliminate gluten from their diet.
So what are the gluten free grains and foods to eat?
You want to focus on eating gluten free whole grains such as:
- Brown rice
- Wild rice
You can use any of the above flours for baking and cooking purposes and some other flours you can use include:
- Coconut flour
- Almond meal
Gluten free foods can commonly be found in many stores and supermarkets these days but beware of most of them because they are junk. Just because a food says it is gluten free doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a healthy option. Sure it may be gluten free but it may still be packed with sugar, preservatives, and additives, so always be sure to read labels and choose your packaged foods wisely.
You want to base your diet around a balance of healthy proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Gluten free grains come under the carbohydrate category and so do vegetables. As a rule of thumb for best health, always eat your veggies before carbohydrates, meaning don’t overload on your gluten free grains and products!
So what is a gluten free diet?
Just to recap, a gluten free diet is a diet that excludes gluten grains wheat, barley and rye and all of their derivatives.
I hope that helps clear up any confusion and answers the question for you 🙂
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