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Living Gluten Free

Gluten is very controversial these days. These days, a gluten-free lifestyle has become one of the most popular diet trends in the U.S. First off let’s discuss what it exactly means to choose to eat gluten free products. Choosing a gluten free diet, seemed to be a recent trend for the past couple of years. Some see it as a way to lose weight, which isn’t fully effective, but others seen it as their only choice to have a better digestive system.  All foods that contain gluten are not bad for you.  Just like fat, there is good fat and bad fat.

Gluten is defined as a substance present in cereal grains such as wheat, rye and barley that is responsible for the elastic texture of dough.  When flour is mixed with water, the gluten protein forms a sticky network that has a glue like consistency.  The most common sources of gluten in the diet are:

  • Wheat
  • Spelt
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Cereals
  • Beer
  • Cakes, cookies and pastries

Remember that wheat is also added to all sorts of processed foods. If you want to avoid gluten, then you better start reading food labels first.

Even though most people can tolerate gluten just fine, gluten can cause problems for people who are diagnosed with certain health conditions.  Those with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy to name a few, should lean towards the gluten free products.

Most people go unaware that they have a gluten allergy because there is no set way to diagnose yourself without a blood test and a biopsy in most cases.  Those who have digestive discomfort when eating certain foods usually relate it to having a gluten intolerance.

Starting a gluten-free diet may be rather challenging to begin. The first thing you need to do is start reading the labels on everything you eat. This will give you a better understanding of the type of foods to stay away from. You should also eat mainly whole, healthy foods, as most whole foods are naturally gluten-free. Avoid processed food, cereals and grains that contain gluten. There are a few grains and seeds that are naturally gluten-free. These include:

  • Corn
  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Flax
  • Millet
  • Sorghum
  • Tapioca
  • Buckwheat
  • Arrowroot
  • Amaranth
  • Oats

However, while oats are naturally gluten free, they may be contaminated by it. Therefore, it is safest to only consume oats with a gluten-free label. There are plenty of healthy whole foods that are naturally gluten-free, including:

  • Meat
  • Fishand seafood
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Tubers
  • Fats, such as oils andbutter
  • Herbs and spices

As a rule of thumb, it’s better to choose foods that are naturally gluten-free, rather than processed gluten-free products. These tend to be low in nutrients and high in added sugar or refined grains. Most beverages are also gluten-free, except beer (unless it says it’s gluten-free). Healthy Home Market and Farm 2 Family foods has a wide variety of gluten free products and some are made locally here in the Carolinas as well.  Look for the gluten free pet food as well for the furry friends.

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