A Gluten Free Diet.

How do you manage a gluten free diet?

When we asked in the members Facebook group for blog topics that they needed support with the subject of gluten free, whether from a diagnosed allergy such as Coeliac disease or an intolerance came up a lot. It seems that a lot of you have been diagnosed as Coeliac or have problems with gluten or wheat products. So how do you manage this condition and what on earth can you eat? The gluten free aisle in the supermarket is huge, and is growing larger every month. In 2016 the global gluten free market was worth $14.95 billion and is expected to grow at an annual rate of just over 9% every year.
 

THE PROBLEM WITH WHEAT

Wheat is often a staple of the typical Western diet – cereal or toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and pasta for supper. However, wheat contains a protein called gluten that actually can’t be digested by humans and causes inflammation and increases gut permeability. In small amounts this is fine as a healthy body will mop up the inflammation and repair the gut permeability. However, we are typically not eating small amounts and so are not giving our bodies time to heal the gut. This has led to an increase in sensitivity to gluten, which is often referred to as non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). This has many symptoms such as diarrhoea or constipation, bloating, fatigue, skin eruptions, depression and anxiety. We are eating a lot more
wheat than our bodies can cope with. Also, wheat now contains more of the protein gluten that it used to, and the modern wheat has become more difficult to digest.


SHOULD I HIT THE GLUTEN FREE AISLE?

A 2016 study found that many of the gluten free products available in the supermarket aisles were higher in salt, sugar and fat, and lower in fibre and protein, than the equivalent gluten products. They are also 159% more expensive than the equivalent gluten products. Swapping a heavily ultra- processed, gluten diet for the equivalent heavily ultra-processed gluten free diet is certainly not better for you. The study also found that the gluten free products had a higher glycaemic-load, which could lead to unstable blood sugar levels. There are no health benefits to hitting the gluten free aisle and you might be eating less fibre and less protein leading to an intake of more calories and therefore more weight.


CAN YOU MAKE GLUTEN FREE HEALTHY?

Yes certainly! By following a nutrient dense, wholefood and naturally gluten free nutrition plan. This would include plenty of vegetables and fruit, eggs, lean meat and fish, nuts and seeds. Choose food that is naturally gluten free such as sweet potato, buckwheat, quinoa, brown rice and gluten free oats. By making sure you are eating plenty of vegetables then you will ensure you are getting plenty of fibre so you don’t need processed bread, cereal or wheat to add fibre. There is no need to reach for the gluten free aisle foods when following a gluten free diet. You can make the GreggWallace.Health flatbreads with a gluten free flour if you want an occasional wrap or naan bread for a curry. Or you could serve a pasta sauce with green vegetables such as spiralised courgette. You could swop pasta in some of the dishes for quinoa which is naturally gluten free and also contains protein. Bread could be swopped for sweet potato – or choose the many recipes that don’t contain any bread. You can still have gluten if you haven’t been diagnosed with Coeliac, but eat it occasionally rather than every day, so your body has time to repair itself and
reduce the inflammation. Rather than a highly processed loaf of bread, try a naturally fermented sourdough, which has only a few ingredients and is naturally lower in gluten. Remember gluten is hidden in many everyday foods such as sausages, soy sauce, processed lunch meat, shop bought salad dressings and marinades. If you have been diagnosed with coeliac disease and are still having problems with your digestive system also take a look at your cosmetics – gluten can be found in some shampoo or lipsticks and can cause problems for some. Some Coeliacs will also have problems with oats and corn which even though don’t contain gluten can still affect the villi of the digestive lining in a similar way that gluten can.


If you suffer any digestive complaints then I really recommend trying a naturally gluten free diet to see if it eases any discomfort. If you don’t feel that gluten causes any issues for you then try and limit the consumption to give your body time to heal. I often find that even clients that didn’t think they had a problem with gluten reported feeling much better without so much gluten in their diet. They feel more energised, sleep better and their skin looks better.

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Author: Katherine Bright MBANT, CNHC