Gluten is a type of protein that is found in certain grains such as wheat, barley and rye, cereals, and bread. It is used to keep food elasticity intact during fermentation, making it chewier. So, any normal diet that does not specifically avoid such foods is a diet that allows gluten.
What is a gluten-free diet?
A gluten-free diet, as is evident, is a diet that completely avoids foods that have gluten. Most people who prefer a gluten-free diet usually do so in order to counter certain disorders. The following medical conditions can be managed by cutting down gluten intake:
1. Celiac disease:
It is an autoimmune disorder in which gluten triggers the immune system to damage the lining of the small intestine. This prevents nutrient absorption from taking place.
2. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity:
Although there is no actual damage to the tissues of the small intestine, this condition causes some of the symptoms exhibited by celiac disease, such as diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, or a rash.
3. Gluten ataxia:
This is also an autoimmune disorder that causes trouble with muscle control and voluntary movements as it affects nerve tissues.
4. Wheat allergy:
This is a condition in which the immune system mistakes a protein found in wheat to be a virus or bacteria, and creates an antibody to fight the protein, leading to breathing difficulties and other problems.
What to include?
A gluten-free diet allows the following dishes on the menu: fruits and vegetables, eggs, seeds and nuts, low-fat dairy, lean meat (unprocessed), fish and poultry. Other items that can be included are arrowroot, quinoa, flax, corn, rice, soy, millet, tapioca, buckwheat, gluten-free flours, amaranth, etc.
What to avoid?
Grains and cereals such as wheat, barley, rye, triticale, and oats, are to be avoided. Wheat flours such as enriched flour, self-rising flour, semolina, farina, graham flour, etc. are also not permissible. Any dish made with these ingredients, such as bread, desserts, fries, pasta, processed meats, sauce mixes, soups, malt derivatives, beer, etc. are also not advisable.
How to follow a gluten-free diet?
Buy products that are labeled gluten-free, and natural ingredients that you know for sure do not contain gluten. Make sure to specify your needs whenever you eat outside and try to eat at a restaurant when it is relatively less busy so that they can pay attention to your needs. Wash utensils and other equipment thoroughly to avoid contamination.
Benefits at a glance:
A gluten-free diet helps control the symptoms of celiac disease but has to be strictly followed lifelong. Some people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity need not follow it forever, but just for a year or two. However, with rising health consciousness, more and more people even with no gluten sensitivity are beginning to follow this diet plan. Although there is not much evidence to prove how far this is beneficial, it does seem to have the following results:
- Weight reduction
- Improved health (overall)
- Improved gastrointestinal health
- Better athletic performance
There seem to be no disadvantages of adhering to a gluten-free diet. So, if your dietician or nutritionist gives you the nod, there is no reason why you shouldn’t try it. After all, any step taken in the direction of good health is worth the effort!
Take a few more steps in the right direction and sign up for a health insurance policy. It will keep your finances covered in the midst of a health crisis, leaving you with enough space to focus on the recovery process.