One of my most asked questions is: “What the heck is gluten”? The truth is, the majority of my gluten-free clients do not really understand what it is either, however they do understand that they feel much better if they are working to limit their consumption of gluten. Here are five things you should know before beginning a gluten-free diet, in order to reap the benefits and avoid the pitfalls. But gluten also lurks in many products, like salad dressings, seasoning mixes, vitamins, as well as lip balm, therefore eliminating it completely is a large commitment. I have met many people who say they are fermented, but in fact they have just eliminated wheat-based foods like pasta, bread, and bagels, because they think wheat is the only source. If you genuinely should banish gluten altogether, you need to turn into a gluten sleuth.
Some people are under the assumption that all processed foods contain gluten and no gluten free foods are processed or processed, but that’s not accurate. Because gluten-free has exploded in popularity, you will find far more fermented products than ever, and several are highly processed, or produced out of refined versions of gluten-free grains, such as white rice. For the best nutritional bang for your buck, look beyond the words “fermented” or “gluten-free” on a package and read the ingredient listing–it should read as a recipe you could recreate in your own kitchen. And if grains are contained (some gluten-free products are created with different starches(such as potatoes or beans), they should be whole, so they haven’t been stripped of their fiber and nutrients.
People who have Celiac disease must completely eliminate gluten, because consuming even tiny quantities triggers symptoms, including belly pain and bloating. That happens because in people with Celiac, gluten causes the immune system to harm or destroy villi, the miniature, finger-like outgrowths that line the small intestine such as a microscopic lavish carpet. Healthy villi absorb nutrients through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream, so when they become damaged, chronic malnutrition happens, which is typically accompanied by weight loss and exhaustion. In people with this prognosis, avoiding gluten is the only way to reverse the damage and gain a better quality of life.
But, those who test negative for Celiac may also benefit from going gluten-free if they’re experiencing a condition called gluten intolerance, or gluten sensitivity. As soon as it’s not exactly like Celiac disease, consuming gluten can cause bothersome side effects in many people, including flu-like feelings, bloating and other gastrointestinal problems, mental fogginess, and fatigue. Regrettably at this time, there is no widely accepted test for gluten sensitivity, and the symptoms may be associated with other issues, such as stress, so it is not so much of an open and closed case study. If you believe that may have a gluten sensitivity, prevent your exposure to gluten and monitor how you’re feeling.
I’ve heard many folks state that gluten is found in grains interval, but that’s not the case. There are lots of grains that are naturally gluten-free, such as corn, rice and popcorn, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, sorghum, teff, and oats (as long as they haven’t been contaminated with wheat during processing). In other words, gluten-free and grain-free are not synonymous, and that I do not suggest the latter. Gluten-free full grains are chocked full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, and so long as you don’t overdo it portion-wise, including them in your diet may help you lose weight, and protect your health. Unfortunately the gluten-free fad has given all grains a small black eye, but refined white pasta and quinoa are not even close to being in the same class from a nutrition standpoint.
A lot of people who go gluten-free focus on getting rid of meals, but to balance your diet and ensure that you’re taking in a broad spectrum of nutrients, it’s also important to emphasize what you do consume. As I mentioned, there are several nutrient-packed whole grains that are naturally gluten-free. So if your old standby side dish has been cooked, replace it using something like whole grain rice (brown, red, dark, or crazy), quinoa, or roasted organic corn.
Among the key advantages of embracing a gluten-free diet is that it’s a chance to reevaluate the way you consume. Take it onto it by looking for super-foods, so in addition to eliminating gluten, you are also going to be embracing a wide array of nutrients that can help you look and feel your best.
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