Have you wondered what all the hype is about gluten-free foods? Is it just for people with Celiac disease, a way to sell books or just trendy? Turns out, there is science behind this food craze and people are getting amazing results from quitting their daily habit of bread, pasta, and muffins.
The newly surfaced medical evidence is showing that glutenous grains can be destroying your brain! Even whole grain bread is not the healthy alternative we once thought it was. Eating gluten can be tied to dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches, depression, and much more. If you are not sure if gluten is causing you problems, try a 1-week experiment and stop eating it. The real proof is when you add gluten back in and find that you feel tired, foggy, lack of energy or digestive distress. More symptoms of gluten intolerance are rashes (especially in kids) headaches, weight loss, weight gain, intolerance to dairy, heavy PMS symptoms, malabsorption and more.
Be aware that it may take years to see the effects of gluten on your body. Some people feel fine eating bread and have no desire to give it up until fasting from it.
What has gluten in it?
Gluten is everywhere! Besides the more well-known foods like pizza, pasta, bagels, bread, baked goods, cakes, etc there are many items that have hidden gluten in them. Items like licorice and soy sauce contain gluten. Even shampoo, toothpaste, fruit juices or a simple communion wafer can contain gluten.
Here are some of the grains and additives that contain gluten:
- Atta (chapatti flour)
- Barley (flakes, flour, pearl)
- Beer, ale, lager
- Breading and bread stuffing
- Brewers yeast
- Communion wafers
- Farro or Faro (also known as spelt)*
- Graham flour
- Hydrolyzed wheat protein
- Malt, malt extract, malt syrup and malt
- Malt vinegar
- Malted milk
- Matzoh, matzoh meal
- Modified wheat starch
- Oatmeal, oat bran, oat flour and whole oats
- Rye bread and flour
- Soy Sauce
- Wheat Bran
- Wheat flour
- Wheat germ
- Wheat starch
Have no fear! There are tons of gluten-free alternatives that are satisfying and taste delicious. But be aware, many ‘gluten-free’ products on the market are loaded with sugar GMO corn, potato starch, and other additives. Stay away from the boxed cookies and crackers. I encourage you to start making your own gluten-free bread and treats so you know exactly what is in them.
Here are some ingredients that are gluten-free:
- Arrowroot flour
- Baking soda
- Bean flour (can be hard on digestion and high in carbs)
- Chickpea flour (can be hard on digestion)
- Chia, black and white
- Coconut and Coconut flour (my favorite for cookies, etc.)
- Corn flour (not recommended)
- Cornmeal (not recommended)
- Cornstarch (Masa farina)
- Dal or Dahl (Legume from India)
- Flax (ground), gold and brown
- Irish Moss Paste (creates a gummy texture in gluten-free recipes)
- Lecithin (use NonGMO)
- Legumes (whole, cooked beans)
- Oats* (pure uncontaminated)
- Psyllium Husk Powder (I use for a glutenous texture in my bread)
- Xanthum gum (not recommended)
All of these ingredients can be used to start making your own gluten alternatives. Here are some more ways to give up gluten without feeling deprived:
- Try Paleo Wraps which are made from coconut or try this tortilla recipe. You can also try Nori Sheets. They can be used anywhere you need a wrap or tortilla.
- Make your own gluten-free scones made with almonds, carrots, and apples or my gluten-free almond bread or cookies. You can also check out gluten-free bagels, bread, and wraps in the freezer section of your health food store.
- Buy organic, buckwheat granolas or learn to make your own at Pure Joy Culinary Academy.
- Keep experimenting with recipes but remember that most of the gluten-free flours contain GMO corn, potato starch, tapioca, garbanzo bean flour and other questionable ingredients which may leave you feeling more lethargic than ever. Garbanzo bean flour makes me feel like I swallowed a brick.
- Make your own food as much as possible and get creative with gluten-free pasta, zoodles (zucchini noodles) and brown rice noodles. Remember that restaurants are famous for adding flour to soups and sauces as a thickener and even veggie burgers can contain gluten. A friend of mine was bed-ridden after having french fries. After checking back with the restaurant, she found that they were coated in white flour before frying to make them crispier. Keep asking questions, be sure to request gluten-free alternatives and after a while, you won’t even miss the wheat and gluten.
Benefits of Going Gluten-Free
The primary goal of a gluten-free diet is to free up the body’s need to digest gluten which can clear up inflammation, GI issues, brain fog, fatigue, and weight gain. Replacing glutenous grains with prebiotics foods like quinoa and millet can help build the digestive system. Other benefits include (adapted from Fitnessgoat)
1. Reduce stress on the digestive system. Gluten puts a lot of stress on the GI tract as it takes lot’s of energy to break down the gluten into usable forms for the body. Plus, most grains (especially in the US) have been contaminated with glyphosates, a harmful chemical used on crops, which lead to an even greater toxin and energy load on the body. By reducing your consumption of gluten, you give your gut time to heal and restore optimal function.
2. Decrease levels of inflammation in the body. Consuming gluten creates inflammation in the GI tract. This inflammation spreads to other parts of the body, impairing optimal function, which could lead to more significant symptoms and illnesses.
3. Strengthen the immune system. The resilience of your immune system is linked to the healthiness of your gut. When it is constantly bombarded by toxins and harmful substances, the immune system is compromised and can leave you vulnerable to diseases.
4. Regulate your blood sugar. By eliminating refined carbs from your diet, your insulin sensitivity will improve and your blood sugar levels will stabilize.
5. Enhance cognitive function. Not many people realize that gluten intolerance symptoms can manifest outside of the gastrointestinal system. A constant lack of focus, grogginess, and inability to be productive could also be symptoms of consuming gluten-containing foods.
What can you do today if you want to try going gluten-free?
The best thing to do to find out what is going on in your body is to start a food journal. Write down everything you ate and how you feel after eating it. This is a good practice for everyone, even if you’ve already given up gluten. Maybe there is another trigger food that you don’t know about. Remember that manufacturers are not looking out for your health, that’s your job. You may discover that what you thought was not causing you problems might be standing in the way of more vibrant health.
Books to read:
- Elaina’s Pure Joy Kitchen Volume 1 and 2 Recipe Books
- Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter, MD
- Brain Maker by Dr. David Perlmutter, MD
- Rainbow Green Live Food Cuisine by Dr. Gabriel Cousens, MD
- Fitness Goat: Gluten & Celiac Disease: Everything you need to know
- What is the Heck Gluten?
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