Sunday, March 27, 2011

Go Gluten Free!

Just last year, I knew nothing about gluten, other than it helps make pizza crust and other baked goods the elasticity to stay together and product the chewiness needed to make some foods awesome. However, after doing a blood test for my son Zachary and just recently, my daughter Emily, looks like the entire household will be going gluten free.

What does gluten do to the body? Gluten attacks the small hair-like projections on the intestinal wall (called villi) by slowly wearing down the villi. Normally these villi absorb the nutrients and vitamins as food passes through the intestines.

Now the food nutrients pass in the gut less absorbed and unbroken down. Part of the bowel is anticipating the food to be in a certain state so it continues to process the foods further down the line. By this time it only can absorb what water is left. By this time you feel a pain in the lower belly and experiencing constipation.

This traffic jam then affects the emptying of the stomach then some get acid reflux and heartburn. So you grab an antacid like Pepcid AC or other products to help you feel better. It’s important to realize that everything is connected and the type of diet does make a difference.

In addition, from the villi being worn down and constipation increases, tiny holes are created in the lining, which lets food particles leak into your bloodstream rather than being broken down and absorbed normally. Then your body’s own natural defense system then starts to fight these “foreign invaders” and attacking the body. From this, you may see other symptoms such as skin rashes, eczema, bloating, mouth sores, and headaches to a name a few.

While some people will have this life long complication known as Celiac Disease (Leaky Gut), others can rebuild the intestinal lining with a gluten free diet to start the healing process. It may take 6 months of strict adherence to a gluten free diet. Just like anything else, it takes practice, practice and practice to get use to removing gluten.

Here is a list of ingredients that do not contain gluten; meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, and rice. If your want some flour, try some flours made from rice, corn, potato, soy, and almond. If you’re tired of white rice, try quinoa, buckwheat or lentils. If your recipe requires some the glueyness that gluten provides, then add some xanthum gum or guar gum. Instead of wheat flour to thicken up some sauces, try starches made from corn, tapioca or potato. Remember to follow your recipes for the appropriate portions.

At first it was kind of tough, especially they both need to also go egg and dairy free, but that is another newsletter. There are plenty of products that are gluten free and the shelf space for gluten free items continues to grow every day. It’s a hit and miss on many products, so you might need to cook and taste different brands to pinpoint something you will like.

For me, I like Trader Joe’s and De Boles Pasta’s. For Waffles and Pancakes, Glutino. For Pizza Dough, Gluten Free Pantry. Just note that Xanthan Gum helps create the elasticity that gluten makes.

Even if you are not gluten sensitive, a gluten free diet has many benefits. Your gut will thank you for it!


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