National Gluten-Free Day: The Basics of Gluten
Ever year, January 13 marks National Gluten-Free Day. What is gluten? How does it affect our bodies? What are some reliable gluten-free foods to try? Richmond health coach Sarah Brawley is here to answer those questions. Watch the video below or read on for a recap.
What is gluten?
So what is gluten? Gluten is a protein that's found in many grains. So that includes our wheat, our barley, and our rye. Some examples of foods that contain gluten are things like pizza, pasta, bread, and cereal. There are other things that are a little bit tricky sometimes that do include gluten things like soy sauce, which you can substitute for things like amino acid liquids that also contain gluten.
How does gluten affect our bodies?
Gluten affects people's bodies in different ways. There are gluten-related medical conditions that people have. So most commonly you probably hear about Celiac disease. People who have celiac disease, they typically have an immune reaction that is triggered when eating gluten. If they eat gluten, they experience inflammation in the intestinal tract and other parts of their body.
And then there are also people who have a gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance. These people typically test negative for celiac disease yet they're showing symptoms of bloating, diarrhea, itchy rash, or abdominal pain when eating foods that contain gluten. Causes of this could be a wheat allergy, but other reasons are uncertain.
What to do if you think you should be gluten-free?
If you aren't sure if you should be gluten-free or not, or if you do you have a gluten intolerance, you obviously want to talk to your doctor about that. And then also you can keep a food journal. If you just write down the foods that you're eating throughout the day, and then also writing down when you're having those symptoms, that way you can kind of correlate, okay, when I'm eating this food, I'm experiencing these symptoms, that sort of thing. And then talking to your health coaches and doctors about that.
Reliable, Healthy Gluten-Free Items
So what are some reliable and healthy gluten-free items? Obviously we want to stick to our more natural whole foods. Some natural gluten-free items are fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, fish and seafood, dairy, beans, legumes and nuts.
And then we also have whole grains that are gluten-free. Those are things like quinoa, brown, black, and red rice.
There's also a bunch of options out there. I'm sure you guys see gluten-free products out there. If you are on a gluten-free diet, please avoid having gluten-free products be the staples in your diet.
You obviously should eat them when you feel like you want something that's like pasta or something like that. But gluten-free products aren't always healthier. They actually typically have more carbohydrates, sugars, fats, and less fiber. In general, we want to stick to our more natural whole foods.
When you are looking at products at the grocery store, things to pay attention to to make sure they don't have gluten in them... You really want to pay attention to that ingredient list. So avoiding all products with wheat rye, barley, and triticale. And then also there are a bunch of gluten-free recipes out there. Just when you're looking at them, make sure you're pay attention to that ingredients list and looking at the nutrition content to see if it's a healthy option for you or not.