02 Nov Gluten or gluten free?
Have you noticed there are more gluten free products when you go food shopping? Clearly, some food companies found a good reason to create gluten free products. Even for those consumers who don’t really feel much of a difference eating gluten based products, it is tempting to go and buy them. If we see other people buying these products and everyone seems to be so interested in them, they must be good for you, right? So what is gluten anyway? How does it affect our system? Does it affect everyone?
I feel there are many questions around these topic and I don’t have all the answers but what I offer is a perspective so you are an educated consumer and can make an informed decision.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a group of proteins found in grains like barley, wheat and rye and all its various forms. It is used in baking products as a thickening agent and flavor enhancer.
For those who suffer from Celiac disease, it’s clear that gluten is extremely harmful. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that affects 1% of the population. Every time gluten is eaten, the body triggers an attack to the digestive system. In the long term, this attacks damage the villi in the intestines which diminishes the capacity for absorption of nutrients. For those interested in this topic, I recommend to read the book of Dr. Alessio Fasiano, Gluten Freedom.
On the other hand, there are some people who have gluten sensitivity, which has the same symptoms as celiac disease (bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, headaches, skin problems, depression, joint pains and fatigue) but their bodies are not necessarily attacking the digestive system.
In any case, if you feel a reaction after eating gluten products, it is advisable that you remove them from your diet for a couple of weeks and see how your body reacts. Many people find that even when they don’t have an intolerance to gluten, they feel better when eating gluten free foods.
This is a list to guide you when you go shopping and you are not sure which options are gluten free.
Examples of Gluten foods
Barley, barley malt, Bran Bulgur, Couscous, Durum, Einkorn, Emmer, Farino, Farro, Wheat, Kamut Malt/extract/flavoring, Oats/oat bran/oat syrup, Orzo, Rye, Seitan, Semolina, Spelt (dinkel), Triticale, Wheat: bran, germ, grass, starch “Sprouted grains” made from these sources
Examples of Gluten Free
Amaranth, Arrowroot, Bean and legume flours, Buckwheat (kasha), Corn (maize), Coconut flour, Millet, Montina (Indian rice grass), Nut & seed flours, Potato, potato flour & potato starch (white & sweet), Quinoa, Rice (rice bran, & wild rice), Sago, Sorghum (milo), Soy (beans, flour), Tapioca
As you can see, there are many options that are gluten free, so get in the kitchen and experiment with different foods.
I personally consume gluten and gluten-free foods because I have no sensitivities or allergic reactions. It is important to keep in mind that if you do not have sensitivities or allergies to gluten, you dont need to panic and assume a radical position. My recommendation is that you listen to your body and see how it each food makes you feel.
Do not believe everything you see in supermarkets and in the media, remember that behind the scenes, there are food companies that pay a lot of money to market their products to consumers in a massive way so we have to be very mindful of their tactics.
This recipe is a good example of a gluten free meal you can easily do at home.
Lentils with kale and brown basmati rice
Lentils and Kale (15 mins)
1 yellow onion chopped
10 cherry tomatoes cut in halves
1 red chile finely chopped
1 tspn of turmeric powder
1 tspn of fennel seeds
1 Tspn of unrefined virgin coconut oil
1 can of low sodium brown lentils
5 leaves of kale (without the stem) chopped
- Place the oil in a medium hot pan,add the onions, tomatoes and chile.
- Stir and add a bit of water to avoid sticking to the pan for 5 minutes. Add the turmeric and fennel seeds and stir a bit more.
- Place the kale and reduce heat to low, add the lentils (drained) at the end and stir again.
- Add salt and pepper to taste
Brown Basmati Rice (25-30 mins)
1 cup of brown basmati rice
2 cups of water
1 generous tspn of unrefined virgin coconut oil
10 Cardamon seeds
2 cloves of garlic chopped
- Wash the brown basmati rice
- Place a pan in medium heat and add the coconut oil
- Add the chopped garlic and stir to avoid sticking to the pan
- Add the washed brown basmati rice and make sure its uniform in the pan
- Add water, a pinch of salt and cardamom seeds.
- Place the lid and let it simmer on medium low for 25 minutes approx.
Nutritional facts: gluten free, full of protein (lentils and kale), fiber (brown basmati rice), minerals and vitamins.
I hope you get inspired to cook and nourish your body the smart way. Dont forget to share!