The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives. If you suspect you have gluten sensitivity, contact your health practitioner for further information.
Learn more about what gluten free means, the benefits and difficulties, handy swaps and solutions, and how easy and delicious gluten free recipes can be.
People choose to eat gluten free for different reasons. For some, it’s essential, for others, they simply feel better. This easy-to-read blog covers the basics about what, why and how to embrace a gluten free diet.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a general term used for a type of protein that naturally occurs in grains, including wheat, barley, rye, spelt, and oats. There are different types of gluten, and while some grains have higher amounts (such as wheat), some have lower amounts (like rye).
When cooking or baking, the gluten component acts as a binder, holding the ingredients together. In the case of bread, it gives the dough a stretchy quality, which helps bread rise, giving it that perfect light and fluffy texture.
Gluten containing grains are a common staple in many diets and can be found in pizza, pasta, bread, wraps, rolls, and many processed foods. A gluten free diet excludes any food that contains gluten.
Levels of sensitivity
Gluten proteins are harder to digest and can aggravate the gut or cause issues with digestion. For those with a high sensitivity, they must eliminate gluten for medical reasons, while others prefer to reduce gluten because they simply feel better for doing so.
There appears to be a growing number of people are becoming sensitive to gluten. Research suggests that glyphosate, a commonly used but dangerous herbicide, is a possible factor in increasing celiac disease and gluten intolerance worldwide.
There are different levels of gluten sensitivity, which will vary individually. The highest level of gluten sensitivity is the medical condition Coeliac disease. This is when the immune system reacts to gluten, creating inflammation that damages the lining of the small intestine. This leads to medical complications, as well as prevents absorption of nutrients from the food that is consumed.
The main treatment for this condition is to completely remove gluten from the diet, which has shown to reduce or even eliminate symptoms and heal the gut lining.
Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is a term for those who don’t feel well when eating gluten, but do not have coeliac disease. More research as to the cause is still required. However, symptoms can include gas, bloating, stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, mental fatigue or headaches.
5 Reasons to Consider Living Gluten Free
For those with a low sensitivity, whether you avoid gluten is a personal preference. 1 in 5 people choose to reduce or eliminate gluten from their diet because they believe it to be healthier. Some of the reasons people choose to reduce gluten are:
- Improve energy levels, lose weight, and manage health issues. Current popular diet trends include keto, paleo, and low carb diets which restrict or cut out grains and gluten with these goals in mind.
- Increase digestion efficiency. The gluten protein is difficult to digest, and this can cause a range of symptoms. A happy and efficient gut supports overall wellbeing.
- Reduce Inflammation in the body. The gluten found in wheat also contains Amylase‐trypsin inhibitors, which are shown to cause inflammation in the digestive system.
- Ease general reactions and symptoms. Even if you don’t have a severe wheat or gluten allergy or coeliac disease, it’s possible to develop a sensitivity to gluten that causes symptoms like headache, fatigue, “brain fog,” bloating or gas.
- An opportunity to reduce other health issues. Gluten sensitivity can be connected to other health issues such as: headaches and migraines, depression, anxiety and other mood disorders, joint pain and muscle cramps, rheumatoid arthritis, or skin issues.
7 Tips for Starting Your Gluten Free Journey
Whatever your reason for removing or reducing gluten from your diet, here are a few tips to get you started
- Focus on what you can eat. A lot of foods are naturally gluten free, such as nuts & seeds, meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, and gluten free grains, such as rice, quinoa, buckwheat, corn, millet, and amaranth.
- Get used to reading food labels and nutritional panels. Gluten can be hiding in unlikely places like salad dressings, condiments, deli meats, cheese, processed foods, lollies, alcohol, or supplements.
- If you’re highly sensitive, be aware of cross contamination. Pre-packaged ingredients are safer than shopping from bulk bins.
- Get cooking. Experiment in the kitchen with different gluten free grains and flours.
- While it may be inconvenient at first, you are going to feel better. Empower yourself by taking your health into your own hands.
- Research before you drink. Most beer is not gluten free (although there are some on the market), but wine, cider, spirits, port, and liqueurs are gluten free.
- Enjoy your meals. Gluten free foods can be just as delicious!
Easy Gluten Free Swaps
- Did you know soy sauce is commonly made using wheat? Swap in Tamari Soy Sauce which is made using only soy.
- Swap in gluten free pasta for regular wheat pasta. Quinoa or lentil pasta are tasty and filling options that are easily available.
- Swap in rice or corn cakes for bread. Add a bit of spread (nut butter, marmite, avocado, etc.) for an easy sandwich.
- Swap in lettuce for burger buns or wraps.
- Bake with gluten free flour. Swap in a gluten free flour mix for white or all-purpose flour. Buy a premade mix or use this recipe to mix your own.
Gluten Free Recipes
We’ve put together a list of our favourite gluten free recipes to get you started.
A gluten free start to the day.
Yummy Gluten Free Snacking
- Peanut Butter & Cinnamon Caramel Corn
- Chocolate Tahini Bites
- Tasty Grain Free Bread
- Nut & Seed Clusters
Satisfying Gluten Free Dinner
- Red Kidney Bean Curry
- Cauliflower Chickpea Masala
- Pistachio Falafel
- Fragrant Sir fry Lamb with Coconut Rice
Delicious Gluten Free Desserts