To eat or not to eat gluten, that is today’s question. We all want to live healthy lives but in that pursuit, you shouldn’t become neither a nutrition fundamentalist nor a follower of crazy restrictive or hyped up diets. With that being said, behind certain “diets” there’s sometimes a little bit of truth and today we are talking gluten and the gluten-free trend. We’re answering a few simple questions to help you learn more about this subject and make an educated decision about what’s best for you and your health.
Gluten is a big vegetable protein composed of two smaller proteins, gliadin and glutenin. This protein can be found in wheat, rye, barley, malt, bulgur, spelt and kamut. Most of these cereals are commonly used to make bread, cakes, cookies, toasts, breakfast cereals, pasta, pizza and other processed foods.
If you have celiac disease (gluten allergy) or if you’re intolerant or sensitive to gluten then the answer is yes. Gluten sensitivity usually manifests itself with non-specific symptoms that may include abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation. The symptoms can also be non-GI related like headaches, joint pain, eczema, fatigue and depression.
Since the symptoms are very general, the diagnosis becomes quite difficult. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms described here, try a gluten-free diet for 2 to 3 weeks, keep a food journal and evaluate how you’re feeling.
Today’s cereals have nothing to do with those who were part of our grandparents’ diet. Doctors, researchers, and nutritionists all agree that the creation of new strains of wheat, more resistant to diseases and environmental conditions, are responsible for substantial changes in the genetic code of this cereal. This cheaper wheat allows for mass production and many of the foods available today are made with very refined wheat flour, which is basically sugar and nutritionally poor.
Rice, corn, oats, quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat, sorghum, teff, nut flours (almond, chestnut, coconut), legume flours (chickpeas, beans, soy), tuber and root flours (potato, tapioca, manioc) are all great alternatives to cereals containing gluten.
If you’re not allergic or sensitive to gluten but still want to make healthier food choices, you can eat spelt or kamut instead. These 2 non-GMO wheat varieties are nutritionally superior to common wheat in both protein and trace minerals and even people with gluten intolerance are usually able to enjoy spelt without any side effects.