What is Gluten Free?
Gluten is a type of protein found in grains, such as barley, wheat, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). Gluten gives food elasticity and a chewy texture.
Plenty of people have gluten intolerance or sensitivity that ranges from mild (causing digestive issues and mood changes) to severe.
Those suffering from Celiac disease (an autoimmune condition that is triggered by consuming gluten) suffer severe symptoms, such as skin rashes and disorders, diarrhoea, malnutrition and fatigue.
The best way to manage these intolerances is to follow a Gluten Free Diet.
Advantages of a Gluten Free Diet
Ease Digestive Symptoms
Fatigue, mood changes and digestive issues such as wind, gas, diarrhoea, bloating, nausea and vomitting are common symptoms of gluten sensitivity or intolerance. If you feel these symptoms after eating food containing gluten, then cutting them out should help to significanlty reduce or eliminate these issues.
Inflammation is a natural immune response, however, chronic inflammation is an indicator or diseases and cancers.
Animal studies have shown that gluten consumption can change the balance of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory immune cells (1), whereas other animal studies have shown that a gluten free diet reduces inflammation. (2).
Reduce IBS Symtoms
IBS which stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome is an intestinal disorder that affects the large intestine causing digestive symtpoms such as, cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhoea and or constipation.
The main remedy is to manage diet by reducing/managing your intake of short-chain carbohydrates (lactose, fructose, Fructans, GOS, Polyols). This also known as having a low-FODMAP diet.
Gluten is found in many short-chain carbohydrates, so cutting these out makes a huge difference in reducing these symptoms.
Promote Fat Loss
In addition to reducing fatigue and digestive symtpoms such as inflammation, animal studies have shown that a gluten free diet may promote fat loss.
An animal study carried out in 2013, found that a gluten-free diet showed reductions in body weight and fat without changes in calorie intake. In addition, receptors and enzymes that enhance the breakdown of fat were shown to increase (3).
A separate animal study found that consuming wheat gluten caused an increase in weight gain by decreasing the energy expenditure of fat tissue (4).
Who is this diet best for?
The gluten-free diet is one of the best treatments for celiac disease. People who don’t have celiac disease also may have symptoms when they eat gluten, however. This is called non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
People with non-celiac gluten sensitivity can benefit from a gluten-free diet.
How to plan your Gluten-Free Diet
Switching your diet to gluten free can seem intimidating at first, but it becomes a lot easier when you understand what foods to include and exclude.
To do this you will have to check the label on most foods. Look out for terms such as “Gluten-Free”.
Gluten Foods to Avoid
If you can’t see a gluten free label, then it is best to avoid any foods containing:
- Wheat –
this can be challenging due to the multiple types so avoid: Durum, Farina, Graham Flour, Kamut, Semolina and Spelt.
- Malt (malt flavouring, malt vinegar)
- Oats (unless specified gluten-free)
- Triticale (a cross between wheat and rye)
In addition, you should avoid the following foods unless labeled as ‘Gluten-Free’
- Cakes and pies
- Communion wafers
- Cookies and crackers
- Deli/Processed Meats
- French fries
- Ground Spices
- Imitation meat or seafood
- Instant Coffee
- Processed luncheon meats
- Salad dressings
- Sauces, including soy sauce
- Seasoned rice mixes
- Seasoned snack foods, such as potato and tortilla chips
- Self-basting poultry
- Soups (canned) and soup bases/mixes
- Table Sauces
- Vegetables in sauce
- Medications and vitamins that use gluten as a binding agent
Those who follow a gluten-free diet may have low levels of certain vitamins and nutrients in their diets. Review your diet to ensure that you’re getting enough of these nutrients:
Best Gluten Free Foods
Here is a list of the best gluten free foods that are also nutrient rich.
- Brown Rice
- Corn Grits
- Gluten-Free Oats
- Nut Flours
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Fresh Meat, Poultry and Seafood
- Nuts and Seeds
- Beans and Legumes
- Dairy Products (Avoid if suffering IBS)