Celiac disease, wheat allergies, and the prevalence of gluten sensitivities are just a few reasons why people are implementing gluten free diets into their lives. In today’s society, there is a great deal of buzz surrounding the word gluten, but a lot of people don’t truly understand or know what gluten is. Gluten is the name for the main proteins found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. For individuals with a wheat allergy or celiac disease, the body’s immune system reacts to these proteins in the intestinal mucosa which can cause damage to the intestinal lining making it difficult to absorb nutrients. By adapting a diet free of gluten, the body can work more efficientlyresulting in less discomfort for the individual. Whether you’re switching to a gluten free diet by choice or because of a health concern, here are some tips to consider to ease the transition.
|What To Look Out For On The Ingredient Label
Other Hidden Sources Of Gluten
||Binders and Fillers
||Salad Dressings& Sauces
||Soup & Chili Bases
||Processed Deli Meats
||Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
|Oats (Although these are naturally gluten free, they are often processed in facilities with gluten containing grains and may become cross-contaminated)
Meet Some Gluten Alternatives
- Amaranth –This grain is similar to oats and has a rich, nutty flavor profile thatis high in protein, fiber, minerals and B vitamins. This grain can be a great thickener for sauces, soups, stews and even jellies.
- Quinoa – Quinoa contains some of the highest quality protein compared to any other grain or cereal because it has all 9 essential amino acids. But that’s not all!It’s also is packed with fiber, iron, magnesium folate and heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids. Quinoa can be used as a thickener for soups, chili and stews. It can also be a great side dish to any main course.
- Chia – Chia seeds come in black or white, both of which are a great source of protein, fiber, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. They also have a high concentration of plant-based omega 3 fatty acids. You can sprinkle the seeds on gluten free cereals, yogurt or salads, and can also be added to smoothies and used for puddings.
- Sorghum – Sorghum is a tall growing cereal grain high in protein, phosphorus, potassium fiber, niacin, iron and B6. It is commonly used for the production of sorghum molasses, syrup and in the production of alcoholic beverages, but can also be used in cereals, granola bars, snack foods and baked products.
- Millet – Millet is an ancient grain thatis a good source of protein, fiber as well as vitamins and minerals. Millet has a mild, sweet flavor and quick cooking time. It can be served alone or turned into a flour to be used for baking.
- Buckwheat – Although commonly included in the lists of grain, Buckwheat is not a grain. It is actually a seed rich in trace minerals like manganese, magnesium and copper. It is also a good source of vitamins, fiber as well as quercetin and other bioflavonoids. Buckwheat is great when seasoned and served as a side dish but also is great when added as a thickener to stews or soups.
Gluten free foods must be labeled in a variety of ways: gluten free, free of gluten, no gluten, and without gluten. The FDA now enforces the labeling of these 4 variations, which means there must be an unavoidable presence of gluten that is below 20ppm.
Other Information To Consider:
- Going gluten free does not necessarily mean that you are eating healthier. It’s important to not fill up your diet with gluten free processed foods but instead focus on foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish and meats which are naturally gluten free.
- Gluten may also be found in a number of cosmetics, personal care products, vitamins and some pharmaceutical medications. It’s important to look out for this on product labels.
- When it comes to choosing your gluten alternative, it is important to read the full ingredients label. You will want to look for products that are Non-GMO & USDA Organic.