More people are gradually switching to a gluten-free diet around the world and reporting an overall healthy feeling upon cutting off gluten foods from their diet. There have also been numerous hypotheses linking gluten to various health issues in humans (even without celiac disease or gluten sensitivity), and this is, arguably, the major force behind this sudden interest in a gluten-free lifestyle. But going totally gluten-free is a bold step with a steep learning curve that most people simply can’t handle. The following tips should help you understand what avoiding gluten is all about.
What Is Gluten?
Gluten is a glue-like composite substance that is responsible for the stickiness in dough. It is the reason why dough is able to rise when you bake. Most people think only wheat has gluten, but the experts from MedAlertHelp lists a few other foods and grains, including rye, barley, oat, and triticale.
Why Avoid Gluten?
Unfortunately, gluten is also responsible for causing various health issues in the gut and skin of about 1% of the world’s population. One of the two proteins that make up gluten – gliadin triggers antibodies in the blood to fight against it. However, gliadin also resembles the cells lining of the gut hence the antibodies attack your intestines as well. This autoimmune reaction is referred to as celiac disease and is treatable by a gluten-free diet.
There are individuals who don’t have celiac disease but still exhibit an adverse reaction to gluten and are said to have non-celiac gluten sensitivity or simply gluten sensitivity. They too have to avoid foods containing gluten.
Then there are some who simply prefer not to have gluten in their foods even though there is no imminent health risk. And it is easy to see why considering the fact that gluten has been linked to the unhealthy gut, mental illnesses such as dementia and Alzheimer’s, and brain fog. Many people also give up gluten for weight loss.
Which Foods Are Gluten-Free?
Obviously, anything with the grains mentioned above will have a considerable amount of gluten as well. If you are preparing your own meal, that should not be a problem. When purchasing processed foods, however, you just have to learn to read the label and check the ingredients. Some packaged foods will let you know on the packaging that they are gluten-free while for others you’ll have to read the ingredients.
Remember, not all grains have gluten – like rice, corn, beans, sorghum, millet, and buckwheat, for example. Other naturally gluten-free foods include fruits, meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and plain dairy products.
Is It Possible to Eat out Gluten-Free?
Of course, it is possible to go to a restaurant and order for gluten-free foods. The hotel industry is evolving rapidly to accommodate allergies and different food lifestyles such as gluten-free and paleo. Even if they don’t have a dedicated section for gluten-free on the menu, there are obvious options such as rotisserie chicken that you know won’t contain gluten.
Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions – like the ingredients used in a meal or a dressing, whether the fries are dipped in the same oil as chicken fingers, and so on. Just be sure to ask nicely. Whenever you are eating out with friends, and you’re in doubt, you could just bring your own food.
Gluten Free Life Infographic