Gluten Free Diet: Its Benefits and Side Effects

Gluten Free Diet

Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat and similar grains. The grains  include barley and rye. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it keep its shape.  Often gives the final product a chewy texture. A Gluten Free Diet is a diet that excludes Gluten.

Gluten is more popularly a source of protein in the food, with a direct inclusion of the foods containing it.  It is also an additive to foods otherwise low in protein.

It is believed that Gluten causes celiac disease and sometimes wheat allergy too. A Celiac disease is a disorder of the small intestine whose symptoms include pain and discomfort in the digestive tract. It also leads to chronic constipation and diarrhoea, failure to thrive, anaemia and fatigue.

This disease affects almost  1% of humanity around the world and seems to be increasing with the passing days. However, since the symptoms occur rarely, it is believed only 5 to 10 percent of the cases of this disease are diagnosed.

There has been an improvement in the people with coeliac disease and gluten sensitivity when they are on a gluten free diet.

The major sources of Gluten are Wheat; varieties and derivatives of wheat. They may be wheat- berries, durum, emmer, farina, graham; rye; barley; malt; brewer’s yeast and wheat starch.

A Basic Gluten Free Diet Plan Contents

Like every diet plan, a Gluten free diet plan contains a list of food products that can be included in the plan . These should be strictly avoided while on this diet. One needs to identify the personal need of consumption of food and likewise take the food allowed while on this diet in appropriate portions.

The grain products that can be included in this diet are:

  • Corn- Corn flour, corn meal, grits
  • Rice- White rice, brown rice, basmati, enriched rice
  • Flax, Millet, Soy, SorghumQuinoaTeff, Tapioca
  • Flours made from Gluten free grains (mentioned above), nuts, beans and coconut

A list of Gluten free food that can be consumed readily to eat:

  • Milk, butter, margarine, real cheese, plain yogurt, eggs, ice cream without gluten containing products are the common dairy products available for this diet
  • Plain fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, beans and legumes, nuts, nut butter
  • Distilled vinegar & distilled alcoholic beverages since distillation effectively removes
  • the gluten

A few of the gluten free ingredients used in everyday diet are:

BreadGlucose syrup, lecithin, maltodextrin, oat, gum, plain spices, silicon dioxide, starch, citric acid, malic acid, lactic acid, sucrose, vanilla.

There is a huge list of food items and products that have to be strictly avoided while on a gluten free diet.

  • Wheat in all forms- spelt, Kamut, durum, einkorn, cake flour, couscous
  • Wheat found in bread, cakes, cereals, cookies, crackers, pasta, pretzels, pizza crusts
  • Barley and Malt, malt syrup, malt extract, malt flavourings and malt vinegar
  • Rye which is usually found in bread products
  • Licorice, which is made from wheat flour and other products containing wheat flour

A few suggestions that you would like to keep in mind for Gluten free cooking:

It is advisable to contact a nearby dietician and ask them to provide you with a latest edition gluten free diet cooking guide. This will help you gain a lot of focus not only on what should be included but also how to  cook a diet that is gluten free.

In most of the homemade food items like cakes and cookies, consciously make a shift from using gluten-containing products to using gluten free alternatives. Since gluten is the product that helps you bind the cooked food and keep it together, you will need alternate binding agents to include in your cooking ingredients.

Xanthan gum or guar gum powders are the good alternatives as a binding agent. Using gelatine and psyllium husk is also helpful.

There are ready made gluten free flour mixes, pastry and baking powders available in the market. You can also choose to make your own flour with some of the below mentioned quick recipes:

Plain flour: 6 cups of Rice flour, 2 cups of potato starch (binding agent), and 1 cup gluten free corn flour

Self-rising flour: Gluten free baking powder, gums (as mentioned earlier). The baking powder can be prepared with ¼ cup bicarbonate soda and ½ cup cream of tartar

Sweet pastry: 60g maize corn flour, ¾ cup milk powder, 1 and ½ cups coconut, 120 g melted Glucose syrup, lecithin, maltodextrin, oat, gum and plain spices. We could also include silicon dioxide, starch, citric acid, malic acid, lactic acid, sucrose, vanilla.

There is a huge list of food items and products that have to be strictly avoided while on a gluten free diet.

  • Wheat in all forms- spelt, Kamut, durum, einkorn, cake flour, couscous
  • Wheat found in bread, cakes, cereals, cookies, crackers, pasta, pretzels, pizza crusts
  • Barley and Malt, malt syrup, malt extract, malt flavourings and malt vinegar
  • Rye which is usually found in bread products
  • Licorice, which is made from wheat flour and other products containing wheat flour

What are the benefits of a Gluten Free Diet?

Gluten free diet

A gluten free diet is majorly advised for people suffering from Celiac Diseases and Gluten sensitivity. It is also advised fo people suffering from Autism and Gluten Free diet.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease, as already mentioned above, is an autoimmune disease. In this, the small intestine of a person falls prey to this disease failing to absorb nutrients in food. Except for the symptoms mentioned earlier in the article, there are other health issues related to this disease. They may be  like anaemia, depression, fatigue and  migraines. Skin rashes, bone and joint pain, infertility and osteoporosis  are also its symptoms.

Following a gluten-free diet can help relieve these symptoms. This is because the autoimmune response of the small intestine is eliminated with the absence of gluten in the diet.

Gluten free dietThis is a specific condition where the body of an individual is sensitive or intolerant towards gluten. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is not exactly similar to celiac disease.  Hence, it will not affect the small intestine-damaging the ingesting gluten, but there will still be unpleasant symptoms in the digestive system functions.

Also, the symptoms of gluten sensitivity of intolerance will occur not until days after the consumption of gluten in the diet. These symptoms include headaches, skin rashes, acne, joint pain, fatigue, forgetfulness, and diarrhoea or constipation.

If you suspect gluten intolerance symptoms, it is better to get it checked with your physician and/or dietician. The most appropriate way to resolving this would be to indulge in a gluten-free diet, eliminating the cause of this condition.

Autism and the help of Gluten Free Diet

It is seen that people with Autism Spectrum Disorder may experience relieved symptoms by following a gluten free diet. The peptide is a substance that occurs in casein and gluten, which is mainly found in dairy products. The protein in your body fails to break down this substance properly resulting in peptides. These causes a problem to the brain, often leading to autistic behaviour.

There is yet not a medically proven link between gluten and casein with autism. However, some parents tend to follow an adjusted diet avoiding gluten for a period as long  a year.

It is advisable to consult a physician and a dietician before proceeding with any diet changes or adjustments. This would help to understand the effect of it on the individual metabolism.

What are the side effects of Gluten Free Diet?

With the health benefits laid out for a Gluten Free Diet, there are some side effects that I would like to point out in this article. These are some undesirable effects that can be caused due to a long term or short term gluten free diet plan.

Losing out on that Fiber in that diet:

Most of the gluten-free products available in the food market today are also fiber- less. As much as you will want to follow a gluten-free diet, you have to make sure you do not compromise on the fiber content of your dietary requirements. Fiber content foods ensure proper digestion and stomach cleaning. Corn bran, rice bran varieties of cereals and kinds of beans are common items which can be taken along with gluten free diet for a balanced diet.

A low fiber content can lead to side effects like bloating and constipations. Also, since whole grains contain protein and fiber, which you will lose out on eating gluten free snacks- it will result in overeating. There are the extra fat and sugar

Most of the gluten free products available are high in fat and sugar content. This will result in an increase in the intake of calorie content on an everyday basis.

Next time, while you are buying that gluten free product from the market makes sure to read its labels. This is done  for the calorie and fat content. Choose  the products wisely.

A careless attitude towards ignoring the fat and calorie content of these gluten free products can also result in an increase in weight.

Losing out on the Vitamin B:

Whole grains and refined enriched grains are a great source of necessary B vitamins, especially iron. They  also contain riboflavin, niacin, thiamine, and folate.

B vitamin is a  major factor for  energy metabolism, promote neurologic integrity and DNA synthesis.

Whole grains are also an important source of phytonutrients. These  are important for antioxidant functions to keep our body’s cells healthy.

Losing out on these important nutrients by avoiding a whole grain diet can result in severe depletion of Vitamin B from the body.

A gluten free diet can help you in many ways and can also harm you. Hence it is advisable to consult a dietician for any symptoms requiring you to follow a gluten free diet. It is important to maintain a balance of the nutrients that you might lose out by following a gluten free diet . Always remember to supplement to these loses to maintain a healthy diet and keep up your nutrition.

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