Gluten Free Diet

Tips To Live Gluten Free

Have you been advised or decided that you should eat a gluten free diet? It's not an impossible task! With a little knowledge and an open mind to the gluten free foods available, living gluten free can be enjoyable and rewarding.

How Does Gluten Cause Health Issues?

In individuals with celiac disease, the immune system reacts to gluten by attacking the lining of the small intestine, which can lead to damage and inflammation. This can cause a variety of symptoms, such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, and malnutrition, as well as an increased risk of other health problems such as osteoporosis and certain types of cancer.

Some people may also have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, which is a condition where they experience similar symptoms as celiac disease but without the same level of intestinal damage. The exact mechanism for this is not well understood, but it is thought to be caused by an immune response to gluten or other components of wheat.

It has become increasingly common to meet people that minimise or totally eliminated gluten from their diets. Many of them experience a sensitivity to gluten or suffer from coeliac disease. If they do eat food that contains gluten, they can suffer from a variety of symptoms that include bloating, weight gain or loss, stomach problems, stomach pain and nausea. The only way to get rid of these symptoms or cure the problem, is to totally remove gluten from their diets. A "gluten detox" so to speak.

Remember that a sensitivity to gluten or any other foods may have an effect on the body, but it doesn't necessarily need medical treatment or become life-threatening. An food intolerance however, may lead to severe reactions or effects that require medical attention.

Gluten is one of the proteins found in varying levels in wheat, rye, barley and some other grains. It gives a doughy or elastic consistency to flours that are made from grains containing gluten. This traps air in the product and allows it to rise. As a result, we use these grains extensively in breads and other baked goods. It is also used in many processed or manufactured foods, where flour is often added as a thickening agent or filler. So your first step to living gluten-free is to start reading product labels! You can click here for a list of foods to avoid in a gluten free diet.

Going "gluten free" or "life without gluten" can be quite a lifestyle change so here are a few tips to help you.

  • Instead of focusing on what you can't eat, focus on what you can eat such as naturally gluten-free foods like meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts and pulses.
  • Many health stores, supermarkets and large pharmacies now stock gluten-free products including ready mixed bread, cakes, pancakes and muffins. Gluten-free flours and pastas also easier to find nowadays.
  • Good health stores should also stock gluten-free self raising flour, gluten substitutes and xanthan gum. The last two products are used to imitate and substitute gluten in baking, making the end result less crumbly.
  • Some processed and specially manufactured premixed gluten-free products like bread mixes can become quite expensive, so rather find a store where you can buy the products and make up your own bread mixes.
  • For gluten-free recipes search the Internet, there are many gluten-free websites and excellent food websites that provide gluten-free recipes these can also give you ideas to help you develop your own style of gluten-free cooking.
  • You will learn tricks like when baking, flour is often substituted with polenta, ground almonds, mashed potato or even mashed sweet potatoes.
  • The key is not to become obsessed with what you're missing out on, but rather to focus on all the new food and interesting flavours you can explore and add to diet.

Some people who struggle to lose weight may benefit from a gluten free diet and limiting gluten in your diet is something that could benefit many of us.

The total removal of gluten from your diet could lead to deficiencies in certain micronutrients, so consult a doctor if you are experiencing any symptoms that you think may be caused by gluten intolerance. It is also recommended that you see a dietitian before embarking on a total gluten free diet and lifestyle

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