Going gluten free?

2014April25_Diet&Nutrition_AWhile gluten in foods may be causing millions of people to bloat, the gluten-free market is expanding in a more positive way. Despite a growing problem with obesity in the western world there are a greater number of people who are more aware of diet and nutrition and how certain foods impact their health. With more food choices that don’t contain gluten there is more opportunity than ever before to cut down on gluten or cut it out of your diet altogether.

For those suffering with celiac disease avoiding gluten is an absolute health necessity. However, there are also those who are gluten intolerant or gluten sensitive. Gluten-free products are hitting the supermarket shelves because the demand is there and this is by no means a fad diet.

Over 1 in 10 bought gluten-free

A recent article in the New York Times reports that 11% of households in the US had stated that they had purchased gluten-free products in the last year; over double the percentage from 2010. With The Gluten-Free Agency suggesting the target market is 44 million, producing a multi billion dollar industry that is rising year on year.

What is gluten?

Gluten is made up of a prolamin protein and a glutenin protein that together work as a binding ingredient in flour. While you may associate gluten as being linked with wheat, it is actually present in other grains. This includes rye and barley too, as well as triticale a hybrid of wheat and rye.

How prevalent are gluten problems?

In the US studies reveal that around 1 in 133 people have celiac disease. Although the numbers for gluten intolerance have yet to be properly assessed, there are without doubt millions who suffer somewhere along the sensitivity spectrum. Gluten intolerance occurs when eating gluten produces an abnormal immune response to breaking down the gluten during digestion.

What are the symptoms of gluten intolerance?

Celiac disease can cause intestinal damage, and general gluten intolerance can create bowel and digestive problems, as well as skin rashes and eczema. A common complaint is headaches along with a fuzzy head and feeling exhausted. Bloating creates a distended abdomen at times too which can be uncomfortable and even painful.

What foods can’t you eat if you’re gluten intolerant?

The most obvious foods are breads, pastries and pastas. Gluten creates that sticky binding together texture. However, ground down into flour, you might be surprised and somewhat dismayed to see that gluten is in so many products. It is often in sauces and condiments such as malt vinegar, not to mention processed meats, some candies and snack foods. It’s always a good idea to check dressings, dips and gravy, and it’s best to avoid soups, soy sauce and beer. Flour is used as thickening agent in so many products that it may at first seem a task to cut out gluten but it soon becomes second-nature. Food labels can help highlight allergy warnings too.

What foods can you eat if you’re gluten intolerant?

Think fresh foods rather than processed, which are healthier too. Meat and fish are fine but avoid breaded and marinated. Fruits and vegetables are great, with natural nuts and fresh eggs too. Other grains that are suitable for a gluten-free diet include: corn flour, potato flour, flax, and rice flour.

Often it can be enough to give the body a rest from an overload of certain toxins and if you’re a person who likes to eat a lot of bread products your body might be reacting to gluten negatively.

Going gluten-free can be a challenge at first but it could give you a zest for life too.


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