Gluten-Free Food

by Earlene
(Avon Park, FL)

Visitor Question:

Gluten is said to be a gluey substance found in flour. There is so much talk about refraining from eating gluten products. My questions are:

What are the gluten-free foods?

What type of flour should we use to be healthy?

Lifetime Fat Loss Answers:

Great questions. There are so many people sensitive or even allergic to gluten these days no wonder people are wondering whether to eat it at all! I even saw a book that it's main premise implied that gluten started the obesity epidemic. I don't believe that it's that simple but my son IS sensitive to gluten (and to dairy) and is on a gluten free diet. I am more familiar with gluten free foods than I would like to be!

It's easier to tell you what gluten is in. Gluten is a component of wheat (including spelt, durum and semolina), rye, oats, barley and related grain hybrids like triticale and kamut. In short, it is in most grains used to make bread and pasta products. In fact, it is the gluten in wheat that gives it the lightness and helps it to rise. It's not easy to make a gluten free product (cookies, pancakes, breads, pasta etc.) that tastes good. However, there are a lot of good ones on the market now. If you want to try some gluten free foods that taste great, look for the "Pamela's" label.

That said I definitely would NOT recommend trying to be gluten free unless you have celiac disease (which means you're allergic) or other gastrointestinal issues (as my son does.) It's too tough to do and not necessary. Flours with gluten can be hard to digest for some people but certainly not for everyone. You will know if you're one of them if eating wholewheat bread, for example, gives you some digestive discomfort. People with autism, like my son, can have other symptoms.

If you suspect someone in your family is having a problem with gluten you can eliminate the foods above and observe their response over time.

If you just want to be healthy and thin reduce or eliminate the high glycemic carbohydrates. You are better off to eat sprouted grains to manage your weight. They are the least refined and have the most nutrients and do not raise your blood sugar. Sprouted grains are low glycemic and are ideal for good health and weight management.

When you are allergic to gluten as in celiac disease, your body responds to gluten as if it were an antigen and it arouses an immune system attack on it when it is in your intestine. This causes the lining of the small intestine to swell and as a result the hairlike projections in the intestine called villi are damaged and your body will not be able to absorb vital nutrients. Malabsorption becomes a serious problem and can result in malnutrition.

Unless you have celiac disease or a true intolerance to gluten do not worry about it. Instead get rid of all foods made with white refined flours! These have been processed to the extent there are no nutrients left (except what are added back in synthetically) and they raise your blood sugar and cause you to store fat.

The best flours for your health and weight are whole grain flours. See my page on low glycemic whole grains. Look for whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour. To be more adventurous than this you will need some good recipes but stick to whole grains and you will be fine.

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