Gluten is a protein naturally present in wheat, rye and barley. A person intolerant to gluten will not be able to digest the same, as it will cause gastrointestinal disturbances.
Allergy to wheat is prevalent in the United States and is included in one of the top 8 allergies. People generally get confused between gluten intolerance, gluten allergy and celiac disease. The fact is that all of them differ from each other.
If a person is allergic to gluten consumes it, the outcome will affect our immune system and it could prove fatal. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to our small intestine. On the other hand, gluten intolerance involves our digestive system. If a gluten intolerant person consumes gluten then he/she will exhibit symptoms like abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, gas formation, bloating and headache.
The key to avoiding any one of the symptoms is to simply consume a gluten-free diet, i.e., avoid foods containing gluten.
Some of the foods which may contain gluten are -
- Barley Malt
- Bread and Buns
- Pasta and Noodles
- Soy sauce
- Salad Dressings
- Oats (processed in facilities that may contain gluten containing other products)
In order to enjoy a gluten-free diet, one can include the following foods in the diet.
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Poultry and Meat
- Sweet Potatoes
- Milk and Milk Products
- Pulses and Legumes
Let’s focus on certain gluten-free cereals that can be easily consumed by gluten intolerants.
- Rice - Both white and brown rice are gluten-free. They can easily be consumed by gluten intolerants. It can be combined with vegetables and a protein source to get a balanced dish packed with several nutrients.
- Arrowroot - Arrowroot flour is popularly used as a thickening agent in soups, gravies and sauces. Being gluten-free, it can be used in any sweet or savoury recipes.
- Amaranth - Amaranth is a nutritious grain. Some studies indicate that amaranth has the ability to lower triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels. In addition, they also possess anti-inflammatory properties. Being rich in dietary fibre, amaranth is good for our heart and digestive health. It is filled with iron, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus.
- Buckwheat - Despite having “wheat” in its name, this grain is gluten-free. It is rich in antioxidants - rutin and quercetin. Studies indicate that consumption of buckwheat helps maintain a good cholesterol profile. Buckwheat is a good source of dietary fibre, proteins and minerals like magnesium, copper and manganese.
- Sorghum - This high fibre grain is rich in nutrients and helps maintain our blood sugar levels by ensuring a steady absorption of sugar into our bloodstream. It is rich in protein and can easily be used for baking. Researchers claim that sorghum bran has significant anti-inflammatory properties.
- Tapioca - This is starch which is extracted from cassava root. It is commonly available in flour or flakes and is an excellent substitute for wheat.
- Soy - Soybean is gluten-free but soy sauce is not. Soy has an amazing amino acid profile containing all essential amino acids. In addition, soy is also rich in iron and calcium. People with gluten intolerance can freely consume soy flour, soy milk or soy protein in their diet.
- Quinoa - Quinoa has recently gained popularity under the list of gluten-free grains. It is rich in antioxidants and is one of the few sources of plant proteins containing all the essential amino acids.
- Gluten-free oats - Although oats are gluten-free, if they are processed in a facility in which other gluten-containing grains are present, there may be chances of contamination. Oats are rich in beta-glucan which is excellent soluble dietary fibre. Regular consumption of oats is beneficial for maintaining our blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It also promotes weight loss and alleviates indigestion issues.
- Corn - Corn or maize is a healthy gluten-free grain. It is rich in carotenoids - lutein and zeaxanthin, which aids in maintaining healthy vision and prevents macular degeneration. Corn also contains dietary fibre, vitamin B2, B5, B6 and manganese.
To sum up, gluten intolerance is not difficult to manage. There are several options which can be included in the diet. People just need to be a little careful. Before choosing any packaged food, read the ingredients, warnings and disclaimers. Eating out in restaurants can be challenging at times, although there are certain outlets which specifically offer gluten-free foods.