One week ago, I received a gluten free package from Albert Heijn (Dutch supermarket) with all their new gluten free products in it! It contained gluten free pasta, cookies, cake, flour, oats, and crackers amongst others. Of course, I was super enthusiastic about the cookies as a true sweets lover! But of course also about the flours and pastas as with the flour I can make more healthy sweet treats! The challenge is to create 5 gluten free recipes with the gluten free ingredients of course I am super enthusiastic to get started!
As I know very little about gluten free diets and gluten intolerance, I first wanted to do some research about this subject and share this knowledge with you foodies! As we hear more and more nowadays that people are gluten intolerant or follow a gluten free diet. This got me wondering, is gluten free a healthy lifestyle of just a hype?
Gluten is a group of proteins that occur naturally in certain cereals like wheat, spelt, rye, barley, and kamut. Gluten make products like bread light and firm, it assures that dough products can rise and is often used in different kinds of food (sauces, soups, meats, cakes etc.) as a thickener. Cereals like buckwheat, quinoa and amaranth are naturally gluten free. However, if you really want to know if a product is gluten free, it is recommended to check the label. The most important proteins in gluten are gliadin and glutenin. The gliadin component of gluten is in general the trouble maker of them both. It can cause diarrhea, headaches, fatigue and flatulence as a result of infections in the intestines.
The most well-known form of gluten intolerance is called Celiac. When someone with Celiac disease consumes gluten, it triggers an immune response that damages their intestines, preventing them from absorbing vital nutrients this can create a shortage in essential vitamins and minerals that are necessary for the body to function properly this can cause other diseases or body failures. A blood test can proof if someone is gluten intolerant or not. Celiac is a rare autoimmune disease of which most people don't even know that they have it. However not many people have this disease, so don't worry!
GLUTEN - SENSITIVE
There are also people who are not diagnosed with Celiac but still get some reactions when they consume foods that contain gluten. These people are as well tired, have more headaches and stomach aces but when tested, they don't have Celiac disease. When these people switch to a gluten free diet, their complaints will disappear. Due to the gluten free hype a lot more people have ''become'' gluten sensitive and are following a gluten free diet. This study showed that when people that 'probably' have gluten sensitivity consumed gluten products, had the side effects of the gluten sensitivity but when they did not know that they were consuming gluten, they had no side effects.
IS A GLUTEN FREE DIET HEALTHY?
Many people believe that a gluten free diet is better for your health plus as a nice bonus you will lose weight very easy. The food industry uses this hype very well by creating all kinds of gluten free products for the people. A gluten free diet however, is not some kind of miracle to lose weight overnight. To skip modified foods in the supermarket and only buy natural whole foods is a very good thing for your health and this for sure will aid in weight loss when consumed in the right amounts. However, not eating any wheat or grain products anymore is not the option as your body needs those products as well to function. If you do not want to consume them anymore or you cannot because of gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease you have to get those properties from other foods like quinoa, buckwheat and other gluten free cereals. Personally, I notice that when I consume bread or pastas that I am less satisfied then when I ate quinoa or gluten free oats for example. Of course every once in a while I eat some bread or pasta but this is not a main food in my diet.
IS IT A TREND OR HEALTHY LIFESTYLE?
Personally I think it is quite intense to have Celiac disease or to be gluten sensitive. I follow a couple of blogs and Instagram accounts of people that do actually have Celiac disease and when they consume something that contains gluten or has been in contact with gluten they get a heavy reaction, stomach aces, feeling bloated amongst others. Therefore I think it is very difficult to eat completely gluten free especially when dining out. However nowadays with all the gluten free products that are available in the supermarkets and gluten free restaurants that are popping up everywhere it will be a bit easier thank god!
A gluten free diet could be a healthy diet as you are not skipping any necessary nutrients from your diet. You can get these nutrients easily from other foods like quinoa, almond flour, buckwheat etc. However, when buying gluten free products be sure to always read the food label of those products as there can be certain additives in these gluten free products that does not make them healthy anymore.
Nowadays gluten can be found in almost all foods like soups, candy, cookies, cake, certain herbs, meat and so on. So your intestines get a big bang of gluten everyday to process in general. By eating less processed foods and more natural foods, you will naturally eat less gluten and therefore probably lower the risk of future complaints. We all react differently on different kinds of food therefore it is important to find out what works best for YOU and adjust your diet to this. Personally, I think that it is wise to try to consume less gluten on a daily basis, this meaning that it is ok to have some pasta once a week or to eat some bread but don't let this be the major part of your diet. However if you have a gluten intolerance or disease, avoid them! You don't have any complaints when eating gluten? Just keep on eating your Peanut butter Jelly sandwich and enjoy it!
Do you know someone with gluten intolerance or Celiac? Or do you have Celiac disease? Let me know how you handle it in your life and what your experiences are!
Love, Nienke (Healthyfoodiefood)