Look inside anyone’s pantry and chances are, you’ll find a bunch of food items containing gluten. Common culprits include breads, soups, cereals and oats, but there are also those that you wouldn’t expect to contain gluten but somehow do. These include hot dogs, syrups, ketchup, mayonnaise, even cold cuts and French fries!
Your GI tract is home to over 400 bacterial species that help metabolize vitamins, aid absorption of nutrients, protect against ‘bad’ bacteria, and boost immunity.
Gluten disrupts the digestion process and causes inflammation in the intestinal walls. Gas, cramps, and nausea are all symptoms of an intolerance to gluten and may be alleviated simply by consuming fewer of gluten-containing food products or eliminating all sources of gluten altogether.
Before anything else, it’s important to know just what gluten is.
WHAT IS GLUTEN?
Gluten is a protein found in food products such as cereal grains, wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten acts as a binding agent, affecting the elasticity of dough and determining the final texture and consistency of baked goods. (1)
There are two different classes of proteins found in gluten.
Glutenin, responsible for the elasticity of the dough and gliadin, is the protein that helps bread rise during baking. Wheat is a particularly problematic grain as it contains three proteins that create stress in the GI tract;
• Wheat Germ Agglutinin
• Amylase Trypsin Inhibitors
Wheat was never a part of the human diet. Wild wheat yielded very little. Before the implementation of large-scale crop cultivation methods, our ancestors relied on other unprocessed forms of carbohydrate, while fat and protein were the primary macronutrients that made up their diets.
The agricultural revolution enabled farmers to grow large crops of wheat. Farmers launched breeding programs to increase the yield of their crops. By doing so, they changed the genetics of wheat to meet the enormous demand for food from a growing populace.
Today we find wheat in a variety of carb-based food products.. Wheat has been one of the key foods forming the foundation of the food pyramid for over 50 years.
However, recent developments in nutrition have discovered a connection between wheat, or more specifically the gluten found in wheat products, and GI tract health disorders.
WHY IS GLUTEN A HOT TOPIC?
Gluten has received a lot of attention in the fitness and health community over the last few years. Research into the health of gut biomes and their effects on health and theGI tract has been among the most popular field of study in nutritional science. (2)
Research has shown that our gut biomes are responsible for more than just digesting our food.
Biomes play an essential role in a variety of biological and metabolic functions such as hormone regulation and enzyme production. By improving GI tract health, , you can enhance overall health by reducing inflammation.
Studies show that consuming refined carbohydrates such as gluten-based products, sugar, and processed foods increase inflammation significantly in the intestinal walls of the GI tract. The inflammation disrupts biome function, limiting their ability to assimilate nutrition from food.
This inflammation spreads to every other biological system in the body, which can negatively impact health. (3)
Are refined carbs to blame?
Eating refined carbs increases levels of inflammation in the body. This type of chronic inflammation has a dramatic effect on the health of the immune system, creating inefficiencies and exposing the body to infection and disease.
Its effects are widespread, even going so far as to affect cognitive function. On the other hand, skeletal inflammation may worsen the symptoms of arthritis and osteoporosis.
Enter the “gluten-free” phenomenon
The benefits of a gluten-free lifestyle are becoming widely known.
Celebrities began adopting a gluten-free lifestyle, and the trend has gained traction all over the world as an effective way to boost health and wellness, as well as weight loss. . There is, however, a lot of misleading information about gluten throughout the food industry.
Companies that manufacture carb-based products are jumping on the bandwagon, advertising their foods as “gluten-free,” when in fact, they contain no wheat at all. This is misleading to the public and has increased public awareness around consuming gluten foods and potential effects on the body.
WHAT’S THE GLUTEN FREE DIET?
Inflammation from consuming wheat foods is problematic even for those people that aren’t sensitive to gluten.
Amylase Trypsin Inhibitors (ATIs)
Amylase trypsin inhibitors (ATIs) are another protein found in wheat that irritates the gut and cause an inflammatory immune response. These enzymes can affect even those that don’t suffer from gluten sensitivity issues.
GI inflammation impacts the ability of biomes to control what passes through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream. Inflammation loosens the cell wall, creating a condition known as “leaky gut syndrome” or simply “leaky gut”. Leaky gut syndrome stimulates the production of a protein called zonulin, which contributes to the loosening of the junctions in the cell walls in the GI tract. (4)
The compounded effect of gluten, ATI’s, and zonulin has a dramatic impact on the permeability of the gut, leaving you vulnerable to GI tract disorders and autoimmune disease.
Sprouts – An excellent nutrient dense source of nutrition.
Brown and white rice – Rice does not contain gluten and is an excellent source of fiber.
Popcorn – Another great source of fiber that tastes great too!
Potato – No gluten in potatoes
Beans – High in fiber and rich in vitamins and minerals.
Quinoa – Easy to digest and rich in vitamins and minerals.
5 BENEFITS OF GOING GLUTEN FREE
The primary goal of a gluten-free diet is to reduce inflammation in the GI tract, reducing the digestive stress on the body. A healthy GI tract will ensure that you have a robust immune system, increasing your resistance to infection and disease.
Eating a gluten-free diet will ensure that you are doing all you can to limit inflammation and improve biome (bacteria living in your intestines) health.
Not all carbohydrates are bad for you. Sprouts and whole grain carbohydrate foods that have a low GI response in the body still offer value in your diet.
Instead of eradicating carbs, make better food choices. Remove the refined carbs and replace them with these gluten-free options instead.
1. Reduce stress on the digestive system. Gluten puts a lot of stress on the GI tract. 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.
COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE GLUTEN-FREE DIET
Everyone can benefit from a gluten-free diet. – Everyone is different and restricting food groups should only be done after consulting a medical professional about confirming a gluten intolerance or gluten allergy.
Gluten intolerance is an allergic reaction. – Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, not an allergy.
Celiac disease is not a serious disease. – Celiac has adverse severe, long-term health effects if left untreated. The symptoms of celiac disease can also have a negative impact on the individual’s quality of life.
There are medications that help treat celiac disease. – There is currently no medication or cure for celiac disease.
Celiac disease is uncommon. – Contrary to what many believe, celiac disease affects 1 in every 133 Americans. An even larger percentage of people have some degree of gluten intolerance.
IS GLUTEN ACTUALLY BAD FOR YOU?
Some nutritionists say gluten isn’t bad for everyone. Some people are more sensitive than others and experience severe symptoms when they eat gluten.
Others may be totally fine no matter how much gluten they eat. Listen to your body, chances are you’ll know if gluten may be affecting your health.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Gluten can also affect other gastrointestinal disorders such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. According to a study published in the journal Gastroenterology & Hepatology, this GI tract disorder affects up to 20% of adults in the United States.
Cramping, bloating and diarrhea
Gluten products are rich in sugars and starches that are readily fermented by gut biomes. This fermentation process in the gut can lead to cramping, bloating, and diarrhea. (5)
However, it’s important to note that food products with significant amounts of gluten usually offer poor nutritional value. Try experimenting with a gluten-free diet. Log your body’s response with abstaining from gluten for two to three weeks.
You should notice a significant decrease in inflammation within the first week. Your gut will feel lighter, your mind will be bright and sharp, and your energy levels will improve.
In some cases, removing gluten from your diet can help the body heal from digestive disorders such as Celiac disease.
WHAT IS CELIAC DISEASE?
Celiac disease is also known as non-tropical sprue, celiac sprue, and gluten-sensitive enteropathy. This condition is an autoimmune, genetic disorder affecting the GI tract that’s caused by eating gluten. (6)
If a person suffering from celiac disease consumes gluten, the proteins will disrupt the normal assimilation of nutrients from the food.
The disease disturbs a specific part of the small intestine named the villi. When the villi are damaged, it’s nearly impossible for nutrients to be absorbed into the bloodstream resulting in malnutrition and a weakened immune system.
Tests and diagnosis
Celiac disease is also often misdiagnosed as another unrelated health issue.
Of the 3 million Americans living with the disease, over 80% of them remain undiagnosed and unaware of their condition. Celiac is a genetic disorder that is passed down through DNA. Stressful events such as surgery, infection, or pregnancy can trigger the onset of the disease from its dormant state.
It can be challenging for medical health professionals to diagnose celiac disease. There are a wide variety of symptoms associated with it. A medical professional would need to perform a genetic test as well as an antibody blood test. If the results are inconclusive, the doctor will use a small intestinal biopsy to confirm the final diagnosis.
- Abdominal pain.
- Numbness in legs.
- Dermatitis Herpetiformis
- Joint pain
The only available treatment to cure Celiac disease is a gluten-free diet. Removing refined carbohydrates containing gluten will reduce stress on your gut and allow it to function normally.
GLUTEN SENSITIVITY VS CELIAC DISEASE
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity
Some people may experience the symptoms of celiac disease after eating a meal containing gluten.
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is not an autoimmune disease like celiac but rather an uncomfortable gastrointestinal disorder that presents many of the same symptoms as celiac including; Bloating, cramps, diarrhea, and skin rashes.
A gluten-free diet is used to eliminate the symptoms of non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Celiac is an autoimmune disease with adverse long-term health consequences. Symptoms of celiac include weight loss, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and fatigue. Headaches, skin rashes, neuropathy, mental fogginess, and joint pain are also frequent in people suffering from celiac disease.
When a person with celiac disease eats gluten products made of wheat, barley, or rye, the gluten damages the villi in the small intestine. The villi absorb nutrients from food and when inflamed, they are unable to complete their task, resulting in malnutrition.
The tTG-IgA blood test is the only accurate tool for the diagnosis of celiac disease. If a doctor considers your reading to be high, you will undergo a biopsy of the small intestine to inspect the health of the villi.
Eating a gluten-free diet is the only way to ensure the health of your villi and suppress the symptoms of celiac disease. The disease affects 1 in 133 people and passed on genetically.
If one of your parents has celiac, there is a chance you could have celiac as well.
Can gluten sensitivity turn into celiac disease?
It is not possible to develop celiac disease; research shows that the cause of the disease is genetic. However, it is possible for the condition to lie dormant in your system for decades.
Changes in diet and your environment can activate the celiac gene and present symptoms. If you have developed celiac symptoms after being celiac-free your entire life, schedule a consultation with your doctor for a celiac test.
Genetics are the main cause of celiac disease. If any of your family members have celiac, then is very likely that you will also have celiac disease. Celiac presents itself at different ages; some can’t eat gluten as children while others make it to adulthood before experiencing any celiac symptoms.
Trauma, pregnancy, or illness are some of the triggers that can spur the onset of celiac disease. People that develop celiac later in life often experience a gradual increase in the severity of symptoms as the condition takes hold of the GI tract.
The sudden development of gluten intolerance is not very common but it does occur and doctors have yet to identify its cause.
IS IT REALLY GLUTEN’S FAULT?
It is possible to confuse the symptoms of celiac disease or NCGS with other digestive diseases and disorders.
Certain foods may irritate conditions such as IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) or ulcerative colitis and present similar symptoms to celiac and NCGS such as bloating, abdominal cramping, gas, and diarrhea.
Here is a list of common gluten-free foods that can create celiac-like symptoms.
Sugar alcohols, artificial sweeteners, polyols, and sugar substitutes, are commonly found in sugarless gum, candy, and diet drinks. These sweeteners contain ingredients such as acesulfame potassium, sucralose, and aspartame, which are difficult for your body to absorb.
Dairy products contain lactose. People living with lactose intolerance will experience most of the celiac symptoms from consuming dairy.
A heavy meal that is rich in fat will probably not sit well in your GI tract. Eating too much fat can present symptoms of abdominal cramping and diarrhea associated with celiac and NCGS.
Excessive Dietary Fiber
The insoluble kind of fiber found in fruits and vegetables can present celiac symptoms such as bloating and gas.
A cup of coffee in the morning may be great at waking you up but it may cause you to run to the bathroom as well.
Before you dive into that delicious broccoli salad, make sure that it’s cooked. Cruciferous vegetables do not digest well and may cause bloating and gas if eaten raw. Cooking your crucifers will help to break down the starches and fiber that your body struggles to digest.
Symptoms of IBS may be irritated by chocolate. Chocolate contains caffeine and sugar, two ingredients which can irritate those living with IBS.
Fasting – a viable treatment option
Some studies have shown that fasting may be a viable treatment option for those with compromised gastrointestinal function and celiac disease.
Fasting for a period of 24-hours or longer increases cell apoptosis, a process where the body eliminates old damaged cells and creates new cells to replace them. During the fasting phase, cell apoptosis can increase by upwards of 300% in the first 24-hour period. (7)
Celiac disease affects 1 in every 133 people in the United States. People suffering from celiac disease should consider a gluten-free diet combined with regular fasting once or twice a week.
The digestive system requires up to 60% of your daily biological energy for digestion. By fasting, you reduce this stress and allow the GI tract to heal itself through apoptosis. (8)
WHO FIRST CLAIMED GLUTEN WAS BAD?
In A.D. 100, the Greek doctor; Aretaeus of Cappadocia, was the first to describe the symptoms of stomach discomfort associated with digestive disorders. He named his discovery with the Greek word; koiliaki, which translates to the abdomen and later translated to celiac. (9)
However, it was the Dutch famine of 1944 that led to the discovery of wheat as the attributing factor to abdominal pain associated with celiac disease. The pediatrician; Willem Dicke, observed patients in his ward that experienced less stomach cramping and fewer symptoms when flour was rationed in their diet.
When the patients received supplies of bread, their condition relapsed. This observation proved Dicke’s theory that wheat was the culprit responsible for digestive disorders in people that have a sensitivity to the flour.
Celiac disease affects more people than you think
Doctors received little training on the symptoms associated with celiac disease. The condition was supposedly rare, and the chances of encountering it during their career are slim.
Many autoimmune diseases manifest themselves in people as a result of genetic or environmental influences. Celiac disease is the only disorder that has an environmental trigger. Gluten from wheat as well as barley and rye proteins; hordein and secalin, can cause celiac.
While studies proved the existence of celiac disease, there remained no method to diagnose the condition until 1956. Margot Shiner, a gastroenterologist, based in London, first developed the methodology of diagnosis using a biopsy of the small intestine.
The biopsy searched for specific damage to the villi found in the small intestine. (10)
WHAT DO SKEPTICS SAYS ABOUT GLUTEN-FREE DIETS?
Gluten remains a hot topic in media, and there are many different counter-arguments for both sides. There are nutritional studies that suggest ‘‘gluten sensitivity’’ is not a real medical condition.
For those that don’t have celiac, but still have GI tract sensitivity to gluten, there may be wheat components to blame for symptoms of gastrointestinal distress.
A closer look at fructan
New research published in the journal Gastroenterology, states that gluten may not have anything to do with gastrointestinal disorders after all. Instead, the carbohydrate, fructan, may be responsible for celiac symptoms. Fructan is another protein found in rye, wheat, and barley alongside gluten. (11)
However, it’s important to note that fructan is not just limited to carbohydrate food sources. A wide variety of other foods like artichokes, asparagus, agave, garlic contain fructan.
Research students at Monash University in Australia and the University of Oslo in Norway conducted a study on 59 non-celiac patients who ate a gluten-free diet. The study required the subjects to eat different types of cereal bars—one containing fructan, another with gluten, and another cereal bar with neither.
The patients were split into three different groups and monitored for one week. During the week, patients ate the same cereal bar every day for a week and noted their physical response. The patients then repeated the test for each of the other two cereal bars, after taking a week-long break between each test.
After six weeks, results showed that the fructan bar received the most negative feedback with 24 patients experiencing some level of GI discomfort. The placebo bar had 22 negative responses, while the gluten bar only received 13 complaints.
The research concluded that fructan was a far more significant irritant for the GI tract than gluten.
“When I discovered I had celiac disease, my doctor didn’t have much advice for me in the way of changing my diet to counteract the effects of the condition. I found a dietician and worked on my nutrition plan with her.
Just a few months ago I was experiencing abdominal cramping and diarrhea after eating carbohydrate-based meals such as tortillas and bread. My nutritionist gave me a gluten-free food list and put me on a diet plan that avoided all wheat and flour foods.
I have never felt better, my GI problems are non-existent, and my stomach feels light and healthy. I no longer experience cramps or any loose stool. Eating a gluten-free diet has changed my life for the better, I never realized that food played such an essential role in the health of my tummy!”
— Louise T.
“The majority of my adult life was spent doubled over in tremendous pain from GI tract cramps. I never thought that the food I ate played such a huge role in the health of my stomach. I was first diagnosed with celiac disease by my doctor after I could no longer take the pains that came from eating a simple sandwich.
After completing a blood-work panel, my doctor diagnosed me with celiac and suggested that I try to follow a gluten-free diet. I had no idea what gluten even was; however, I was fortunate to meet a talented nutritionist that does.
My nutritionist put me on a diet that was free from gluten food products. Avoiding pasta was a challenge as it was my favorite food. However, after a few weeks of abstaining from gluten, my stomach healed, and I no longer receive debilitating cramps that ruin my day.
Removing gluten from my diet and replacing it with whole-grain carbohydrate sources has changed my outlook on life. I no longer have to rush to the bathroom in agony after eating lunch, and my GI tract feels terrific!”
— Stephanie R.
(Note: These quotes are from personal training clients. They didn’t want their pictures on the website!)
GLUTEN-FREE SHOPPING LIST
Transitioning to a gluten-free diet may be challenging at first. Always stick to the perimeter aisles. That’s where the whole foods are (e.g. no gluten).
The fresh produce section is filled with low-sodium, nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables that can enrich your diet alongside lean proteins such as poultry, seafood and fresh meat.
Avoid processed meats as they may contain preservatives and additives that contain gluten. Once you have your fresh produce and lean proteins, you can then visit the egg and dairy section.
For the most part, egg and dairy are gluten-free. Desserts and snacks like pudding yogurt and ice cream may contain gluten. Check the nutrition label and list of ingredients before purchasing.
The inner aisles of the grocery store aren’t without merit. Food items like nut butter, white rice, corn tortillas, beans and legumes, cooking oils, rice noodles, spices and dried herbs are typically gluten-free.
Many grocery stores now have a gluten-free section with all of their gluten-free products for your convenience.
Food items such as pastas, flours, biscuits, bread mixes, pancake and waffle mixes, bagels, baked products and more, may have gluten-free counterparts at your store.
Request for gluten-free
You also have the option of requesting for certain gluten-free products or brands to be carried by your local grocery store. Simply go through their suggestions box, or speak to a customer service representative for assistance with your request.
It may take time for your grocery store to expand their gluten-free selection, but with enough interest and demand from gluten-free dieters, it may be sooner than later.
3 EASY GLUTEN-FREE RECIPES
Tame your tummy with these delicious gluten-free options suitable for anyone using the celiac disease diet or a gluten-free lifestyle. They are easy to prepare and taste delicious, try them out and comment on your favorite!
#1 Gluten-free pancakes
Light, fluffy pancakes, they’re a breakfast staple that everyone loves. Unfortunately, the flour on pancake batter will leave your GI tract screaming in pain. Try out this gluten-free alternative and enjoy pancakes without the digestive misery. (12)
- 1/2 cup rice flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons tapioca flour
- 1/8 cup potato starch
- 1 eggs
- 1 packet Splenda
- 2 tablespoons dry buttermilk powder
- 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
- 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1 cup water
Sift and mix the flours in a large mixing bowl with the potato starch, Splenda, dry buttermilk powder, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and xanthan gum. Stir in the water, eggs, and oil until all the lumps are smoothed out. Use a blender for best results.
Heat a non-stick pan and wipe a little oil over the surface. Spoon the batter into the pan over medium heat. Flip when bubbles start to come to the surface and wait until the pancake is golden brown before serving.
73 calories per serving.
#2 Black-bean chili with winter squash
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large chopped onion (1 1/2 cups)
- 1 medium diced yellow bell pepper (1 cup)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups fat-free, less-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped mild green chiles
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 medium winter squash (about 2 pounds)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook onion and peppers until they’re soft (5 mins). Then add garlic and stir in beans, broth, tomatoes, green chiles, chili powder, and oregano. Simmer for 10 minutes with lid on. Remove lid and cook for 10 more minutes.
Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds, pierce with a fork, and put in a microwave-safe dish with 1/4 inch water. Cover with plastic wrap; microwave on HIGH until tender (~8 mins). Cut into 1/2-inch chunks. Stir squash into bean mixture; cook 5 minutes. Stir in salt. Serve warm.
226 calories per serving.
#3 Quick hummus
Hummus is a great party snack that’s gluten-free and easy to prepare. Make it for a chip dip, or as an addition to any Mediterranean meal. (14)
- 400g can chickpeas
- 150ml olive oil
- 100ml lemon juice
- 1 ½ tsp ground coriander
- 125g tahini
- 5 cardamom pods
- toasted pine nuts
Drain the chickpeas and keep the water from the can. Warm gently in the microwave at medium heat. Add the heated peas to a blender with olive oil, lemon juice, tahini, crushed seeds, and coriander. Blend until smooth and add some of the water from the can if it appears dry. Add seasoning and lemon juice to taste, serve with sprinkled pine nuts and sumac on top.
416 calories per serving
HOW DO YOU AVOID GLUTEN AT RESTAURANTS?
Being diagnosed with Celiac disease doesn’t mean never eating out again. There’s no need to stay home and exclude yourself from social functions or enjoying a meal at a restaurant with your loved ones.
Before arriving at the restaurant, do a quick search of the menu. Most restaurants have websites where they post the nutrition information and ingredients of their meal items. Try to see which menu items may be gluten-free or relatively gluten-free.
Some restaurants have a gluten-free menu or are completely gluten-free. Try to suggest eating at these places when possible.
When ordering, always identify your dietary restrictions to your waiter. That way, he or she can also advise you which menu items are recommended.
Even after informing the waiter of your dietary restrictions, clarify once again that there are no gluten-containing ingredients in your meal.
Restaurants have their own recipes, and though a meal item may not seem inherently gluten-containing, the restaurant may add a gluten-containing ingredient for taste or flavor.
For example, IHOP, a popular restaurant chain in the U.S. adds pancake batter to their egg omelettes, and pancake mix tends to contain gluten.
Don’t be shy! Ask questions about how the food is prepared. Some meats may be marinated in soy sauce or dredged in flour before cooking. Hamburger patties and hamburger buns may be grilled on the same pan.
For those who are merely gluten intolerant, the cross-contamination may not matter too much. But for those with Celiac disease, it may make a difference
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
Q: How do you define inherently gluten-free?
A: The term “inherently gluten-free” refers to a food product that is naturally free of gluten. These are usually carb products that don’t contain wheat, such as tortilla chips. Always check the nutritional information and ingredients labels of food. . Manufactures should display if the product is “inherently gluten-free”on the packaging. (15)
Q: Are potatoes gluten free?
A: Yes, potatoes contain starch, not gluten. However, if you’re at a restaurant, it may be best to avoid eating potato dishes. Potatoes are often prepared on work surfaces that are dusted with flour or fried in fryers alongside battered dishes. This cross-contamination may be enough to cause celiac reaction from the trace amounts of gluten. (16)
Q: Does barley have gluten?
A: Yes, barley is one of three grains with gluten. Hordein is the predominant gluten protein found in barley, and anyone following a gluten-free diet should avoid it. Food labeling laws require manufacturers to disclose when a product contains gluten. However, no legislation covers barley, or specifically hordein, to appear on packaging labels. (17)
Q: Is brown rice gluten-free?
A: Yes, brown rice is gluten-free and should be one of your cornerstone carb sources. Make sure that you purchase unprocessed rice. Like potatoes, you should avoid fast-cooking, pre-cooked, or flavored rice brands prepared alongside gluten ingredients.
Q: Is corn gluten free?
A: If you’re using whole corn cobs and shucking them yourself, you won’t have issues with corn and celiac disease. Corn is one of the gluten-free grains, lacking the gluten proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye. However, if you buy canned corn, make sure there’s a ‘gluten-free’ sticker on it. Some factories produce their canned products in areas exposed to wheat or flour products.
Q: What are the requirements for a manufacturer to use the term “naturally gluten-free?”
A: Yes, by law any manufacturer must ensure that no cross-contamination occurs in the manufacturing process. However, there is a tolerance for cross-contamination in food products in guidelines set by the FDA. If there is cross-contamination, the presence of gluten must not exceed 20 ppm (parts per million) in the food.
Q: Do I need to be concerned about “may contain” statements on food labels?
A: Some food manufacturers use “may contain” labels to benefit consumers that may have allergies to gluten proteins. While most products carrying this label meet the criteria for gluten-free certification, it is best to avoid them if you have a severe case of celiac disease or other digestive disorders such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).
Q: Is cheese gluten-free?
A: Cheese and dairy products do not contain gluten. However, they are also at risk of cross-contamination.. Avoid shredded cheese, as there may be flour or modified starch containing gluten that is used as a non-sticking agent.. Avoid dairy-free cheese as it may contain flour. Check the food packaging on non-dairy cheese products for the “gluten-free” label.
Q: Is peanut butter gluten free?
A: Yes, peanut butter is gluten-free. Peanuts, peanut oil and peanut butter are safe to consume for people with a gluten allergy. However, make sure you stick to an organic, natural peanut butter brand. Some brands use stabilizers that contain modified corn starch. If you prefer a sweetened band of peanut butter, check the label for a “gluten-free” statement.
Q: Is mayonnaise gluten free?
A: Unfortunately, some commercially available brands of mayonnaise do contain gluten. If you’re at a restaurant, it’s probably best to hold the mayo. If you’re buying your mayo yourself, check for the “gluten-free” label on the product. Some emulsifiers, thickeners, and stabilizing agents may be wheat-based.
Q: Is gluten-free the way to go, even if you don’t have celiac disease?
A: Abstaining from gluten when you don’t have an issue digesting gluten won’t improve your health or result in weight loss. However, abstaining from carbohydrates altogether might be a viable diet option.
Q: Is gluten-free food healthier than foods with gluten?
A: Gluten-free foods are not any healthier than foods that contain gluten. However, making a lifestyle choice to avoid gluten will not harm your health, as long as you are eating a varied, balanced diet.
Q: Does oatmeal contain gluten?
A: No, oats do not contain gluten. Instead, oats have a protein called avenins. Oats are safe to eat for those people suffering from celiac disease and easy to digest. Reports show that less than 1 percent of celiac patients show an adverse reaction to including oats in their diets.
Q: Is gluten intolerance curable?
A: No, there is no known medical treatment for celiac disease other than implementing a gluten-free diet. There is no medication available either and people experiencing symptoms of celiac disease have to live through the discomfort and pain whenever they consume gluten food products.
Q: Which is better, organic or non-gluten?
A: Organic foods are the best source of nutrition available. Organic foods contain no pesticides or GMO’s, and they are farmed using sustainable methods such as free-range. However, organic foods can contain gluten as well, be careful and look for the “gluten-free” sticker.
Q: Is there a link between gluten and mental illness?
A: Some studies have shown a link between celiac disease and schizophrenia. However, these two diseases do occur in the population at more or less the same rate, and the coincidence could be nothing more than chance.
Q: Is it a good idea to remove gluten from your kid’s diet?
A: If you or other family members suffer from celiac disease, then it would be best to m0oitor your child’s reactions to any foods that contain gluten. If they complain of stomach cramps and pains, then the chances are that you have passed your autoimmune disease onto them.
Q: Why do vegans avoid consuming gluten?
A: The vegan diet does not contain animal products, and many vegans do eat wheat food products. However, some vegans do enjoy following a gluten-free lifestyle to prevent NCGS or celiac disease symptoms or triggers from occurring.
Q: What is the best pasta for people suffering from celiac disease?
A: Organic Edamame Spaghetti by Explore Asian is made from soybeans, not grains and will not inflame celiac symptoms. Miracle noodles are another tasty option or zucchini noodles if you can find them.
Q: Does gluten cause acne?
A: Your diet will impact the health of your skin. Eating gluten food products creates inflammation in the GI tract which can lead to acne breakouts.
Gluten may or may not be a problem for your digestive health. However, if you do experience symptoms of discomfort after consuming gluten-containing meals, get yourself checked out by a medical professional for signs of celiac disease.
For those living with celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or GI tract disorders, it is best to eat a gluten-free diet.
Have you struggled with gluten intolerances or even gluten allergies? Did a gluten-free diet alleviate your symptoms?
Feel free to let us know your experiences in the comments below!