Everyone gets an achy gut once and awhile, but if you get an achy or bloated stomach when eating crackers, pasta, breads, bagels, beer, pizza, flour tortillas or anything else similar to these, then you may be gluten intolerant.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat that gives dough its sticky and elastic qualities. It can also exist in barley and rye. Gluten acts as a poison in the small intestine. The body reacts to this poison by generating and auto-immune response to the gluten. During this process, nutrient absorbing hairs called villi are damaged and your body can’t absorb the nutrients properly. It is this malabsorbation that can cause the different reactions in the body like bloating, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, abdominal pain.
There is even a more serious side to being gluten intolerant. One percent of the population suffer from a disease called Celiac disease. It is a genetic, autoimmune disease in which the body reacts to gluten proteins and severely damages the villi. There are many other diseases that have the same symptoms so, ensure you are tested before you decide to take corrective action. You can still be gluten sensitive but not have Celiac disease.
When we think of going gluten free, we should be thinking of wheat, barley, oats and rye and anything that can contain those base items. This includes breads to flour tortillas, frozen dinners to teriyaki sauce. Read the labels and recognize the sources of gluten. Even modified foods like starches can come from wheat. The hardest places to look are in your prescriptions and cosmetics. Ask your pharmacist for gluten free products.
Items that you should include in your gluten free diet are foods such as arrowroot cookies, apples, beans, beef, berries, brown, jasmine and basmati rice, brown sugar, cashews, chickpeas, chicken, citrus fruits, coconut, coffee, some corn products, eggs, flaxseed, gin, vegetables, honey, jellies and jams, lintels, margarine, olives, peanuts, popcorn, potatoes, most seafood, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, tofu, tea, vodka, whiskey and yogurt. This is not a complete list, but just touches upon some ideas of what is gluten free. What makes many of these bad is if they contain flouring, seasoning, stuffing or garnishes. Go online and search for other gluten free foods and print out the list. You can also find a complete list of items you should absolutely stay away from. Always read the labels!
Probably the biggest change for most is a change in beer and alcohol. You don’t have to give up beer, wine, liquor and cocktails, but you have to pay attention to the contents. Traditionally, beer is made from barley, but there are beers made from rice, sorghum and buckwheat. You don’t have to go to a special store to pick these items up either. As an example, Corona is made from rice and is therefore gluten free. Most Budweiser beers are gluten reduced and some are gluten free. The more you search on the internet, the easier you will find it to take gluten out of your diet. Just be careful with cocktails as some mixes may contain gluten, but your vodka won’t!
People can shy away from restaurants because of the fear of not knowing what is in the food, but most restaurants can be very accommodating if they are asked to. Sushi restaurants are a fantastic place as long as you don’t use soy sauce. Mexican restaurants are also a good place to go as long as you ask for corn tortillas. Steak and potato restaurants are also a good place to go, just pass on the bread. Just remember to ask that your salad comes with no croutons!
Most people feel better when on a gluten reduced diet. If you think it that gluten is really causing you a problem, see a doctor before you remove gluten from your diet. There are only some limitations to the variety of food you can eat and drink, so have fun and feel better!