Going gluten free isn’t always the best option for everyone, but it does have its benefits for people who are gluten intolerant. If you have celiac disease, are gluten sensitive or intolerant, then gluten free options are definitely necessary in your diet. What is gluten? Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat. It’s higher in protein, which is a plus. It also makes the final product thicker and chewier. It can be difficult to digest and can cause diarrhea, skin conditions, exhaustion, anemia, depression, auto-immune disease, stomach pain, headaches and more. It’s becoming more frequent due to the prevalence of a high gluten wheat that now accounts for 80% of the wheat on the market today.
Choose your gluten free option wisely.
When companies remove fat from products, they replace it with sugar to give it flavor. The same is true of gluten free options. While sugar is a go-to option, so is salt and saturated fat. Unless you have a reaction to gluten, you’re often better off consuming the gluten than the ingredients they added to replace the gluten or to make the product more palatable. With that said, many products are already naturally gluten free, so they don’t need extra processing. Quinoa, corn, oats and brown rice are a few options.
Consider almond flour instead of wheat flour.
What is almond flour? It’s flour that’s made from blanched, ground almonds. A cup of almond flour has approximately 90 almonds crushed and processed. It’s nutritious and a good option that gives the final product a nutty flavor. Always check the label on both the flour and products made with almond flour to ensure it wasn’t made where products containing gluten were manufactured that could contaminate the almond flour.
Buckwheat and amaranth flour are also good substitutes.
Whether you’re making your own products from scratch or buying ones that are premade and gluten free, finding the product is made with either amaranth flour or buckwheat flour is a good sign. Even though it has wheat in its name, buckwheat isn’t a wheat, it’s actually a pseudo cereal, just like amaranth. Buckwheat is rich in B vitamins, iron, magnesium, zinc, folate, manganese and fiber. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Since both contain no gluten, they tend to produce final products that are crumblier. In fact, amaranth can only replace 25% of wheat flour.
- Arrowroot flour was once used in baby formula because it was easy to digest. It also helps maintain the alkaline/acid balance in the body. Be aware that many products with arrowroot flour also contain wheat flour.
- Cutting out gluten can also reduce your intake of grains, increasing the risk of heart disease. While cutting back on products containing gluten may be beneficial, it takes a lot of planning to ensure you get all the nutrients you need.
- A very good option is choosing products made from brown rice flour. Since the whole grain is used, it offers many health benefits, including weight loss, lowering blood sugar levels and providing protection from heart disease.
- One ancient grain that’s the smallest grain in the world is teff. It’s the only grain that contains vitamin C and is high in protein, calcium, and fiber.
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