Gluten-free: two words that frustrate, confuse and often make people wonder what it’s all about. Particularly in recent years, going gluten-free has become more common as a result of choice in diet or because of suffering from gluten-intolerance such as Coeliac’s disease. But are there further reasons as to why this has become so popular? We decided to investigate.
Gluten in its most general terms is a name given to the proteins found in wheat, rye, spelt and barley products. Gluten is what helps foods to maintain their shape, acting as a sort of ‘glue’ that holds foods together and gives it an elastic texture. The trouble is that due to it being a mixture of two main proteins (glutenin and gliadin) it can cause problems for those who suffer from gluten intolerance, such as Coeliac’s disease. According to authoritynutrition.com: “Coeliac’s disease is an autoimmune disorder and involves the body treating gluten as a foreign invader.” Essentially, this means that the immune system attacks gluten and unfortunately the gut as well. Subsequently, this can damage the gut lining and wall, and result in nutrient deficiencies, anemia, severe digestive issues, and an increased risk of many other diseases.
In short, if you have gluten-intolerance there is a good reason to avoid eating it.
It should be noted that gluten is not necessarily bad for you. After all, people have been eating it for thousands of years! However, according to threebakers.com, experts have pointed out a couple of reasons as to why the sudden influx of people avoiding gluten:
Firstly, “wheat grain has been altered to provide crops that are more resistant to drought and bake more easily. Our stomachs, however, have not adapted as quickly to these changes. We are eating more wheat products now than ever before.”
Secondly, “damaged gut flora or dysbiosis is also on the rise due to the high usage of antibiotics or consuming food that they can’t digest. The immune system may see the undigested gluten particles are a microbial invader and attack them.”
Thirdly, “our environment has become much cleaner over the past 50 years. This means, to some scientists, that our clean and sterile environment has made our antibodies not able to fend off so many bugs and infections. As a consequence of this clean environment, our bodies overreact to any items that should be harmless. Wheat and peanuts are the common culprits in these studies.”
Fourthly, “our constant use of diets has led to vitamin deficient people. They interfere with the body’s ability to suppress immune cells. These diets suppress the body’s immune system from attacking gluten particles.”
And last but not least, “genetics may also play a part, somewhat smaller than others. Diseases are a combination of genetics and environmental factors. So, people react differently in their reactions to these changes.”
Basically, it would appear that the rise of gluten intolerance is due to bacteria growth in the intestines, and for some people, this is a pretty big deal.
If you’re someone who does suffer from Coeliac’s Disease or perhaps you’re willing to go without gluten for dietary purposes, there are still a variety of foods that you can eat. The key is to make sure you don’t accidentally eat anything which might sneakily include gluten in it!
The main culprits are pretty easy to spot: these include anything with wheat, so that means bread, muffins, cookies, and most other baked goods are out of the question. Also note that foods made with grains like barley soups, ham on rye, anything with oats also contain gluten. Gluten can even be found in soy sauce, beer, hot dogs, some ice creams, caramel flavouring, sausages, and foods seasoned with MSG.
If all these limitations are starting to worry you, fear not! There are plenty of great foods you can still enjoy on a gluten-free diet. These include: meats, seafood, eggs, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, nuts, fats (such as oil and butter) and herbs and spices. It’s also important to keep an eye out on food labels and at restaurants for items on the menu that may include gluten. Don’t be scared to ask waiters or people at supermarkets if you’re unsure if foods may or may not have gluten – it’s better to know than buy something processed which does!
Lucky for you, we at Massel pride ourselves on having recipes and products that cater to all kinds of people and diet choices. To get started on a Gluten-Free eating programme, check out our Gluten-Free Fare menu, which includes this scrumptious Steamed Salmon Fillets recipe, which is low in carbs and perfect for a quick healthy dinner. And that’s just the start! Don’t forget to check out our full list of gluten-free recipes for a greater range that shows exactly what kinds of delicious dishes you can start making this autumn.
Gluten-free working for you? Let us know on Facebook, and tell us what your favourite recipes are!
If you are a sufferer of Coeliac’s Disease and need help at any point, be sure to visit Australia’s official site for the disease here.