Lately, it seems our society has taken quite the interest in gluten.
With more attention being focused on these proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale products, many people are hopping on the gluten-free bandwagon. While that’s all well and good, many are also unaware of just what gluten is and why so many people have decided to write it off their daily menus.
That being said, here are the gluten basics to help you better understand what these proteins are all about!
WHAT IS GLUTEN?
Did you know gluten is not a singular entity, but is rather a general name for the proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale? These proteins are what gives dough its elasticity, in addition to its ability to rise and hold its shape. In fact, the name itself comes from the Latin word gluten, meaning “glue!”
WHAT FOODS CONTAIN GLUTEN?
When living with sensitivity to gluten, it is always strongly recommended that you take the time to read the nutrition facts and/or ingredients of any food item before consumption. The most common sources of gluten are:
• Wheat, Barley, Rye & Triticale
• Varieties of wheat, such as farina and semolina
• Malt and Brewer’s Yeast
The most common foods to avoid in the grocery store when trying to cut out gluten:
• Pastas & noodles
• Bakery goods, such as pastries, cookies & cakes
• Breads & crackers
• Breakfast foods, such as cereal, granola, pancakes & waffles
• Sauces & gravies that use wheat flour as a thickening agent
• Beer & malt drinks
• Any foods that contain wheat flour as an ingredient
Of course, it’s important to verify any product that may have gluten in it, such as salad dressings, pre-seasoned meats and processed cold cuts.
WHY GO GLUTEN-FREE?
The majority of those who cut out gluten are the ones who are living with a gluten sensitivity or allergy. While everyone’s reactions are different, those who are sensitive and accidentally ingest gluten may experience gastric distress, reflux, cramps, fatigue, aches, skin rashes and more. If you think you may have a gluten sensitivity, speaking with your trusted medical professional is always a smart first step.
WHAT CAN I DO IF I ACCIDENTALLY INGEST GLUTEN?
Accidents happen, and if you find yourself facing the inevitable (and quite uncomfortable) gluten reaction, there are a few things you can do to help your body recover. Remember, each person’s body is different, so some things may work better than others.
Rest, rest and more rest
Take it easy for a couple days and, if possible, get plenty of sleep. Try to keep activity—both physical and mental—to a minimum while your body repairs itself.
Stay away from dairy
Gluten can damage the intestinal villi in the lining of your intestines, which are the key players in digestion of dairy proteins. It’s best to avoid dairy products until you’re feeling better.
Fluids are your friend
In particular, water, ginger tea and coconut water are your best friends! It’s important to make sure you’re keeping your body well hydrated when recovering from ingesting gluten, and the added nutrients in ginger tea and coconut water can help your body in this process.
Try a Probiotic
These friendly floras and your digestive tract go hand-in-hand. They promote regularity, digestive comfort and nutrient absorption as they work to balance your internal environment.**
Keep it simple
Just like with most tummy troubles, eating simple foods you are positive won’t upset your stomach is the key to easing your gastro distress. Try keeping to a whole foods diet or a modified BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce & toast—gluten-free toast, of course) diet until you’re feeling better.
For those who are interested in learning more, there are endless resources online on gluten: what it is, in which foods these proteins hide and, if you so desire, how to live a gluten-free lifestyle. As always, your medical professional can be a trusted source for any information!
Have you cut gluten from your daily menu? What are your favorite gluten-free recipes?
Health & happiness,