According to Live Science, “gluten refers to the proteins found in wheat endosperm (a type of tissue produced in seeds that’s ground to make flour). Gluten both nourishes plant embryos during germination and later affects the elasticity of dough, which in turn affects the chewiness of baked wheat products.”
Because gluten causes inflammation in the small intestines of people with celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is primarily used to treat the disease. Some people who don’t have celiac disease also may have symptoms when they eat gluten, however. Other autoimmune disorders typically associated with celiac disease include Multiple Sclerosis, Hashimoto’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Type 1 Diabetes and Addison’s to name a few. Those with these disorders who experience symptoms are said to have non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Whether a gluten-free diet is good or bad for you varies from one expert to the next. The only absolute they all agree on is a gluten free diet is absolutely necessary with celiac disease. Now that that’s settled, what do you eat?
The thing I found in a lot of gluten-free packaged food is that it usually contains a lot of other bad stuff. So reading the labels is really important. The trick is to figure out how to avoid gluten while still eating a healthy, balanced diet.
Many healthy and delicious foods are naturally gluten-free:
- Beans, seeds and nuts in their natural, unprocessed form
- Fresh eggs
- Fresh meats, fish and poultry (not breaded, batter-coated or marinated)
- Fruits and vegetables
- Most dairy products
Some foods to void unless labeled “gluten-free”
- Cakes and pies
- Cookies and crackers
- French fries
- Processed luncheon meats
- Salad dressings
- Sauces, including soy sauce
- Seasoned rice mixes
- Seasoned snack foods, such as potato and tortilla chips
- Soups and soup bases
- Vegetables in sauce
Be careful about eating out at restaurants. Ask restaurant staff members if they have choices that are truly gluten-free, including being prepared so as to avoid cross-contamination.
This is an excellent source for those on or looking to start a gluten-free diet: