The Gluten–Free diet
What is a Gluten–Free diet?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, related grains, and many processed foods. This protein can interact with cells in the digestive system and cause a range of reactions from mild discomfort to serious disease. Along with the rising awareness of the potential negative impacts of gluten, there has also been an increase in contradictory and confusing information. For those looking to address concerns or possible allergies, always consult with a medical doctor to discuss proper nutrition and rule out other serious conditions with similar symptoms.
True celiac disease is rare, with a prevalence of between 0.71–1.0% of US and European populations. Celiac disease is caused by the immune system overreacting to specific antigens found on gluten, leading to inflammation and visible gut damage, which leads to a serious reduction in the small intestine ’s ability to absorb crucial nutrients. Undiagnosed celiac patients may suffer from hair loss, stunted growth, and other symptoms of malnutrition. Because the immune reaction is very specific, even a tiny amount of cross–contamination will make a celiac patient sick.
While celiac disease and wheat allergy tests do exist, there is currently no way to diagnose gluten sensitivity. The only way is to eliminate gluten–containing foods from your diet for a minimum of two weeks. If your symptoms are more severe, try at least a month. During this time, keep a diary of how you’re feeling. After the elimination period, slowly add gluten back into your diet and continue to make a daily record of your health and any symptoms. If symptoms do return, you may have a sensitivity.
What foods contain gluten?
- Common grains: barley, bulgur, couscous, farina, rye, semolina, spelt, triticale, wheat and wheat germ
- Added ingredients: store–bought sauces, condiments, and salad dressings; imitation meats and veggie burgers; products with malt; french fries; processed meats; roasted nuts; beer; oats. Also remember that a product labelled “ wheat-free” could still contain gluten from another source.
- Other products: Gluten isn’t absorbed through the skin, but lipstick/lip balm and hand lotions might lead to cross–contamination. Gluten can also be found as a binding agent in pill capsules or medications themselves.
If you’re ready to cut gluten out of your diet, it’s time to clean out the pantry. With a little hunting, you can now find replacements for almost any ingredient. There are commercially–prepared gluten–free versions of many favorites like pizza dough, bread, and even pastries. Especially if you have celiac disease, you’ll need to carefully look over these products for a “certified gluten–free” stamp from an independent third party.
Eliminating gluten is also a great opportunity to reconsider other aspects of your health and diet. Check out our paleo diet information to learn about the benefits of eliminating grains all together.
Sun Basket’s delivery service offers a wide selection of easy, organic, and delicious gluten–free options. Check out our cookbook for even more ideas!