So here we are again it’s January and all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season seems like a distant memory. Except of course for the harsh reminder that it has left behind…. Feelings of bloatetness, fatigue, a fat bundi and an absolute fear of the weighing scales. Like many of you I too comoletely overindulged over the season and have decided to start my year with a harsh detox. No dairy , no sugar, no wheat, no alcohol, no gluten and no life. I have encouraged many of my clients to join me but of course the reaction to this statement is usually looks of utter disgust.
I understand it’s a lot to ask of many people but taking even one of these things out of your system for a few weeks can really have an effect on your mood, digestive system and number on the scales. Many of us are aware of the pitfalls of drinking too much or eating too many sweet things but gluten is still something that many people in this country know little about.
So what exactly is Gluten?
Gluten which come from the latin word for “glue” is a mixture of protein that can be found in wheat and other related grains like barley and rye. It gives elasticity to bread and gives it a chewy texture. However gluten is not just found in baked goods like breads and cakes. It is also milled and used a s the base of a lot of imitation meats like chicken, beef and mock duck and found in beer, soy sauce and a stabilizer for other products like ketchup and ice cream.
Why is gluten bad for you?
Gluten causes gut inflammation in 80% of the population and if the body reacts badly to gluten it can cause immune reaction somewhere else in the body. Gliadin is the main protein found in gluten and it has many properties that are similar to that of organ tissue. If the body creates anti bodies against gluten which 99% of the population has the ability to do, then the body can start to attack it’s own organs. This can result in hypothyroidism and type 1 diabetes.
Gluten can also cause what is known as a “leaky gut” because it makes intestinal cells die prematurely. Again this can cause other autoimmune attacks on the body and means that food is not digested properly. The anti bodies that the body creates to fight gluten have also been known to attack heart tissue and can be cancer promoting in some cases.
Common foods that contain gluten:
- Pastas: raviolis, dumplings, couscous, and gnocchi.
- Noodles: ramen, udon, soba (those made with only a percentage of buckwheat flour) chow mein, and egg noodles. …
- Breads and Pastries: …
- Crackers: …
- Baked Goods: …
- Cereal & Granola: …
- Breakfast Foods: …
Breading & Coating Mixes:
Some people are afraid to try a gluten free diet because they believe that it means you have to eliminate carbohydrates altogether. In Sri lanka where carbohydrates are such a huge part of our diet, asking a Sri Lankan to be carb free sounds ludicrous. There are still many healthy whole grains and starchy carbohydrate foods to choose from that do not contain gluten
- Beans (kidney, black, soy, navy, pinto, etc.)
- Corn and pure corn tortillas)
- Gluten-free baked products (made from corn, rice, soy, nut, teff and/or potato flour)
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Rice (brown or wild rice is best)
So why not start this year by giving gluten free a go. It may not be as tough as you think and you may get rid of some of that Christmas bloat.