Choosing to Eat Gluten-Free
When it comes to a gluten free diet, there is a great deal of argument. Some say it is a fad, while other experts believe a gluten free diet is rather healthy. While limited in some aspects, a gluten free diet doesn’t have to be deficient. In truth, getting the Gluten-Free Diet right is easy when you know the basics.
Although Scientific American states that eating gluten-free could compromise your daily intake of fiber, vitamins and minerals; there are solutions. Moreover, gluten-free products are oftentimes low in nutrients and frequently made with refined grains.
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A gluten-free diet is often recommended by doctors and specialists for people who are gluten sensitive or have Celiac disease. Gluten is a protein found in numerous grains such as wheat, barley and rye. Gluten is also in spelt, triticale.
Frequently, people go on a gluten-free diet for health reasons or for the claimed health benefits such as increased energy, weight loss, to reduce inflammation or to avoid carbohydrates.
FYI: According to Dr. Oz “the number of newly introduced gluten-free products has skyrocketed from about 103 in 2003 to 832 in 2008”
Gluten is Not Bad
Gluten by itself doesn’t have a lot of health benefits. Yet, foods that are comprised of gluten generally have substantially more fiber, vitamin B, iron and zinc. In fact, some researchers state that a gluten-free diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Many experts agree that a gluten-free diet is not recommended unless you are gluten sensitive or have Celiac disease.
A Gluten-Free Diet
Choosing to eat gluten-free is a matter of preference.
Nonetheless, if you exclude gluten type grains from the diet, make sure to consume healthy gluten-free substitutes.
Gluten Grains to Avoid: Grains are usually the culprit when it comes to gluten.
Here are the most common gluten grains:
Hidden Gluten Foods: There are numerous products that can contain gluten that you normally wouldn’t think about.
Always check the label for hidden sources of gluten.
Here is a small list of foods that may contain gluten:
- Soy sauce
- Barley malt
- Malt vinegar
- Several candies
- Salad dressings
- Some soup broths
- Certain bouillon cubes
- Seasoned rice or pasta mixes
Special Note: If a product is labeled wheat-free, it does not mean that it is gluten-free! It can contain other “gluten” grains like barley or rye.
A Note on Oats
Although oats are gluten-free, sometimes they can get contaminated when harvested or processed.
Usually this is not anything to worry about unless you have a severe reaction to gluten.
If you choose to include oats in your diet, make sure to alert your doctor and only eat oats that are labeled gluten-free.
Likewise, if you are unsure about your level of gluten sensitivity , consult a qualified specialist.
Natural Gluten-Free Foods
Foods that are naturally gluten-free foods include vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, eggs, dairy products, certain grains, meat and fish.
Here are a few gluten- free grains and foods in order of nutritional value based on dietary fiber and protein (highest listed first)
- Oats (certified gluten-free)
- Brown Rice
Getting Your Nutrients
Although a gluten-free diet may be nourishing, it can lack certain nutrients. As well, the majority of gluten-free flours are low in fiber, iron and B vitamins. Here are a few suggestions.
Iron: Good sources of iron are soy, Lentils, chick peas, dark leafy greens (spinach, collards) and dried fruit (prunes, raisins).
Dietary fiber: Gluten-free foods high in dietary fiber are Split Peas, lentils, black beans, Lima beans, oats, buckwheat, artichokes and raspberries (8.0 g). It is recommended that women eat at least 21 to 25 grams of fiber a day, while men should eat 30 to 38 grams a day.
B vitamins: When it comes to meeting daily recommended nutrient requirements, vitamin B is the most challenging. This is especially true for vegetarians or vegans. So if you’re on a gluten-free diet; make sure to get your B’s by eating certain healthy foods on a daily basis. Aside from meat (I’m a vegetarian), good sources of B vitamins include Brewers Yeast and nutritional yeasts, soy, cheese, eggs and nuts.
Gluten-free cheesecake: floridecires via photopin cc
Wheat bread: mystuart via photopin cc
Matzo: paurian via photopin cc
Oats and strawberries: elyse patten via photopin cc
Amaranth plant: Nomadic Lass via photopin cc
Buckwheat pancakes: Nomadic Lass via photopin cc