What is gluten?
Gluten is a type of protein present in wheat, rye and barley. It is a protein compound that makes foods hard to chew and gives them elastic grain. Specifically, secalin is the protein that appears in rye; gliadin in wheat; and hordein in barley. As a group these proteins are identified as prolamins. Promalins cause problems for individuals who are intolerant to gluten. Having a gluten free diet will eliminate damage that could be caused to the small intestine as a result of an intolerance. It will also avoid help you to avoid the problems associated with gluten intolerance and celiac disease.
Who needs a gluten free diet?
People affected by celiac disease otherwise known as a severe gluten intolerance need to stay away from foods that contain gluten in order to remain healthy. Some people, like myself are moderately intolerant to gluten and while the severity of the symptoms is not as intense, I avoid gluten in my diet because of unpleasant side effects such as digestive discomfort, bloating and headaches.
Gluten free food can include a lot of healthy substitutes to wheat based goods. A strict gluten free diet will treat an associated condition referred to as Dermatitis Herpetiformis, which is an irritated skin condition. Aside from that, this type of diet is also suggested for people with ADHD (attention deficit disorder), fibromyalgia and autism.
Here is a general listing of foods that do not contain gluten. Of course, if you avoid animal products, as I do, you will want to avoid these foods as well.
Eat no less than two servings of protein from this group every day. These gluten-free foods are fresh as well as natural chicken, beef, turkey, fish, pork, and seafood. In addition gluten-free options are seeds, peas, beans, nuts, and free-range eggs.
All fresh fruits are naturally gluten free. Consume a minimum of two servings of fruit on a daily basis.
Every fresh vegetable is naturally gluten free. Consume no less than three servings of vegetables on a daily basis.
Consume a minimum of six servings of food from this group every day. Wild rice, brown rice along with plain white rice are all gluten free. Corn meal is as well a naturally gluten-free food that can be used to make hot cereal.
According to the Celiac Sprue Association, gluten-free snacks that fall under this group are potato-based chips and tortillas, pure cornmeal chips, rice wafers as well as popcorn.
Fats, Oils and Sweets
In moderation make use of naturally gluten-free items from this food group. These are butter, olive oil, pure mayonnaise, margarine, canola oil plus peanut butter. In addition, ice cream and natural gelatin are gluten free.
Milk, Yogurt and Cheese Group
Drink or eat no less than two servings from this food group on a daily basis. Organic, natural, and unprocessed yogurt, milk, as well as cheese do not have gluten.