If you’re embarking on a new plan for a new year, there’s nothing more liberating than having a glance at your dietary habits and seeing what needs to stay and what needs to go. Going gluten-free is an option embraced by many, however knowing the ins and outs of why you want to take this dietary path is something to be explored. A gluten-free diet isn’t for everyone and checking in with your doctor or registered dietitian is preferable before eliminating and substituting food choices.
What Is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in most grains. The gluten found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye) can trigger serious health problems or other insensitivities, and while other grains such as corn, rice and quinoa also contain gluten, they don't seem to cause the same problems as wheat, barley, rye and triticale.
Because wheat, rye, barley and foods made from them are so common, removing them from your diet likely changes your overall intake of fiber, vitamins and other nutrients. Therefore, it's important to know how to choose your foods in order to meet your overall nutritional needs. Making the appropriate dietary choices to maintain a well-balanced diet can be discussed with your doctor or dietitian who will guide you in the right direction.
The Purpose Of A Gluten-Free Diet
Once you’ve made the gluten-free diet decision, it’s vital to know what exactly this popular nutrition plan entails. A gluten-free diet is essential for managing signs and symptoms of celiac disease and other medical conditions associated with gluten. A gluten-free diet is also trendy among people who haven't been diagnosed with a gluten-related medical condition, with claimed benefits as improved health, weight loss and increased energy.
Following is the true purpose of why you need to go gluten-free:
is an autoimmune disorder in which gluten triggers immune system activity that damages the lining of the small intestine. Over time this damage prevents the absorption of nutrients from food.
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity
causes some signs and symptoms associated with celiac disease — including abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, "foggy brain," rash or headache — even though there is no damage to the tissues of the small intestine. Studies show that the immune system plays a role, but the process isn't well understood.
an autoimmune disorder that affects certain nerve tissues and causes problems with muscle control and voluntary muscle movement.
like other food allergies, is the result of the immune system mistaking gluten or some other protein found in wheat as a disease-causing agent, such as a virus or bacterium. The immune system creates an antibody to the protein, prompting an immune system response that may result in congestion, breathing difficulties and other symptoms.
Foods to avoid
Following a gluten-free diet requires paying careful attention to food selections, the ingredients found in foods, and their nutritional content. Avoid all foods and drinks containing the following:
- Triticale — a cross between wheat and rye
- Oats, in some cases
While oats are naturally gluten-free, they may be contaminated during production with wheat, barley or rye. Oats and oat products labeled gluten-free have not been cross-contaminated, however if you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, you cannot tolerate the gluten-free-labeled oats. Other wheat terms to know include: durum, einkorn, emmer, kamut, and spelt.
Also, wheat flours have different names based on how the wheat is milled or the flour is processed. All of the following flours have gluten:
- Enriched flour with added vitamins and minerals
- Farina, milled wheat usually used in hot cereals
- Graham flour, a course whole-wheat flour
- Self-rising flour, also called phosphate flour
- Semolina, the part of milled wheat used in pasta and couscous
Labels Of Gluten-Free Foods
When you are buying processed foods, you need to read labels to determine if they contain gluten. Foods that contain wheat, barley, rye or triticale — or an ingredient derived from them — must be labeled with the name of the grain in the label's content list.
Foods that are labeled gluten-free must have fewer than 20 parts per million of gluten, and these labels may include:
- Naturally gluten-free food
- A prepared food that doesn't have a gluten-containing ingredient
- Food that has not been cross-contaminated with gluten-containing ingredients during production
- Food with a gluten-containing ingredient that has been processed to remove gluten
Alcoholic beverages made from naturally gluten-free ingredients, such as grapes or juniper berries, can be labeled gluten-free.
An alcoholic beverage made from a gluten-containing grain (wheat, barley, rye and hybrid grains such as triticale) can carry a label stating the beverage was "processed," "treated" or "crafted" to remove gluten. However, the label must state that gluten content cannot be determined and the beverage may contain some gluten. These beverages may not be labeled gluten-free.
Dietary supplements that contain wheat gluten must have "wheat" stated on the label. If you’re new to the gluten-free diet scene and need proper supplementation support, try HealthImpaq™ Ultra Probiotic 40 Billion Cultures with MAKTREK Technology. By taking this product on a regular basis Probiotic-40 can help assist in maintaining healthy intestinal flora, and can support a gluten-free diet that demands your gut remains healthy and balanced as you go through the process of food choices.
Maintaining a strict gluten-free diet is a lifelong necessity for people with celiac disease as they follow the diet and avoid cross-contamination, which results in fewer symptoms and complications of the disease. For those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, the condition may not be lifelong and you may adhere to the diet for a certain period, such as one or two years, and then retest your sensitivity to gluten. For other people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, the diet may be a lifelong treatment.Remember that reasons to go gluten-free can also include weight loss, overall improved health, improved gastrointestinal health, and improved athletic performance. Because so many foods contain gluten, this can be a hard diet to follow in the beginning. However, as the diet has become more popular, gluten-free foods have become available in more stores. Also, many restaurants are now offering gluten-free meals.