What is Gluten?
Gluten is a sticky protein composite found in many grains such as wheat, rye and barley. Gluten is derived from the Latin word gluten literally meaning glue. It gives an elastic fluffy texture found in the many breads we have come to love, helping it rise and giving it a chewy texture. Gluten can also be found in many seasonings, sauces, candies, you name it! It’s also hidden in various cosmetics and hair products, so you really have to do your research to ensure you are not subliminally coming into contact with gluten.
You may not even be aware that you have a gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease. For those with Celiac and even those with a sensitivity to gluten, the body tells itself that gluten is a foreign invader and begins an attack against itself. Once the immune system attacks the gluten proteins, it also starts to attack your digestive track. Over time, the more exposure there is to gluten, an inflammation in your small intestine will occur and start to create damage to your intestinal lining. Therefore, alarm triggers are sent to your body causing different symptoms in each person.
What are the common symptoms of gluten intolerance?
You do not particularly have to be a Celiac to experience these symptoms. A much more common diagnosis is gluten intolerance – here are a few symptoms to look out for: Gas or Bloating, Chronic Constipation or Diarrhea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Abdominal Pains, Unexplained Joint and Muscle Pain or Inflammation, Fatigue, Depression or Anxiety, Anemia, and Infertility.
It’s important to first get tested by an allergist and/or seeking advice from a naturopathic doctor. There are specific tests performed to see if you do have an intolerance to gluten or certain foods. I have personally found that a naturopathic doctor can help with more in-depth food recommendations/alternatives if celiac isn’t the diagnosis. Most doctors cannot recommend suggestions to food intolerances that aren’t actual allergies. One option is to have a Bio-Meridian test performed by a naturopathic doctor, which uses small currents on your acupressure points to measures resistance of the tissue. The reaction gives signals and this can help guide the doctor as to which foods may be causing your health problems.
Testing negative doesn’t mean you are NOT intolerant!
You may have a negative allergy test to gluten and told that you do not have Celiac, but that does NOT mean you don’t have a sensitivity or intolerance to gluten. This would be my case, I was told with numerous tests that I don’t have an allergy but I still experience similar symptoms a Celiac would. If this is the case, I would HIGHLY recommend you do your own experiment and eliminate gluten for at least a month and see how you feel. It does take time for your gut to heal from the damage the gluten has caused over time, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. However, within as little as one week to a month you should start feeling better. After six months of complete elimination, you should start feeling great! This goes with any type of food! I was told that I am not allergic to any foods at all through blood tests, but I found that I have a severe reaction to dairy since I was a child. I’m intolerant to dairy and experience extreme reactions to it; however, any blood test I took came back stating there was no positive allergy. On a side note: I also discovered on my own that onions really cause me to have a severe inflammation in the joints of my hands (yes, I know onions, random right?).
If gluten doesn’t seem to be the main or only problem, I would recommend trying an Elimination Diet. This is how I found out I had a reaction to onions. I also found out that I had something called Leaky Gut Syndrome (I’ve found that most doctors in general aren’t able to diagnose this except naturopathic/holistic ones). This required healing my gut internally with extra added enzymes, probiotics, and elimination of certain foods from my diet (such as sugars and processed foods). A naturopathic doctor can also help diagnose Candida, which is an overgrowth of internal yeast that may be affecting your immune. Again, a change in diet and adding certain enzymes and probiotics may help in this area as well. Moral of the story is, it’s important to figure out what is causing your body to not feel well all the time, and don’t just stop at a doctor’s general blood diagnosis if you’re not feeling well with no answers.
There is HOPE:
Don’t fret, the fact you can’t have gluten is NOT the end of the world. There are so many delicious alternatives and I’m here to help you find your inner chef! I provide clean eating choices, Gluten and Dairy free options, paleo-friendly and even some vegan options. There is a wide variety of food out there for you. Also, I know that when initially starting off on a gluten-free diet, you can get overwhelmed in not knowing which ingredients to avoid. Here’s a general overview of ingredients to look out for.
**Please do your research as this is just a general guideline and may not include a full list of gluten ingredients.**
Which gluten ingredients to avoid?
- Artificial flavoring (if your package of ingredients doesn’t state it’s certified gluten-free, then most likely it can possibly contain gluten)
- Bleached Flour
- Bread Crumbs
- Brewers Yeast
- Caramel color
- Cracker Meal
- Farro aka spelt
- Graham Flour
- Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein (this is found in a lot of shampoos, conditioners, cosmetics)
- Mat, malt extract, malt syrup, malt flavoring
- Malt Vinegar
- Malted Milk
- Modified Wheat Starch
- Oatmeal, oat bran, oat flour, whole oats (unless it’s stated that it’s gluten free)
- Rye Bread and Flour
- Wheat Bran, Wheat Germ, Wheat Starch
Even Makeup has gluten! Click here for a list of safe makeup by www.munchyy.com.
**Also check out my product reviews here on organic and gluten-free makeup and skin care **
Which gluten foods to avoid?
- Avoid these food items in general UNLESS labeled gluten-free:
- Broth, soup, bases
- Candy (for a safe in depth list of candies/chocolate click here)
- Cookies and Crackers
- Flavored coffees and teas
- Fish Sauce
- Ice Cream
- Imitation Bacon Bits, Imitation Seafood (crab)
- Some Medications
- Some Sushi
- Oyster Sauce
- Processed Foods
- Salad Dressings
- Sausages, hot dogs, deli meats
- Sauces, marinades, gravies
- Seasonings/Seasoning Packets
- Soy Sauce
- Worchestire sauce
Although the list above sounds discouraging, there are MANY options/alternatives out there today that are gluten-free certified/don’t contain gluten ingredients. For example, when you think of flour, most assume you can’t eat all flour. But really it’s wheat flour, barley flour, and rye flour that you should be concerned about. Today there’s such a wide array of alternative flours you can use as a substitute such as: corn flour, almond flour, coconut flour, rice flours, millet, oat flour (certified GF only) buckwheat, amaranth, sorghum and guar gum….learn more about each here. Also, a list of gluten free grains can be found here.
**Disclaimer: The opinions on this blog are my own, and I am not medically trained in any way nor do I provide professional medical advice. I can only provide information that has worked for me on a gluten-free diet, and would suggest anyone diagnosed with an allergy/sensitivity to ensure they do proper research prior to any purchase of products. Please verify the products suggested/recommended are indeed suitable to your allergies. The recipes provided on this site are gluten-free to me and have worked well for my diet. I am not responsible nor have control over ingredients, which are made in a non gluten-free facility. I recommend products that contain no gluten-ingredients, however, I am not liable should a company decide to change their ingredients or facility they operate in. I merely am providing you recipes and suggestions based off my lifestyle and personal experience.**