Gluten-free craze!

Gluten is the binding protein that makes your cakes fluffy and gives structure to your baked goods! Yeast -raised doughs rely heavily on gluten, for structure. It makes pizza dough stretchy and gives a soft spongy texture to the bread. Gluten is a protein that shows up in many whole grains including wheat, rye, kamut, barley etc. Then why people go for gluten-free?

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Gluten-free food  benefits people with celiac disease.

Celiac disease, a chronic digestive disorder, is a condition caused by abnormal immune response to gluten, like even a tiny crumb of it is considered as a malicious invader that mounts an immune response and ends up damaging the small intestine with the symptoms as stomach cramps, diarrhea, and bloating! So, for people with celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is essential!

For those who are sensitive to gluten, also called as non-celiac gluten sensitivity, a less gluten diet will be beneficial. Unlike celiac, sensitivity doesn’t damage the intestine. Iron, folate and vitamin B12 deficiency is common in people with untreated celiac disease, for the lining of the gut is damaged by gluten.

Loading, gluten-free or less gluten food, with fruits and vegetables make sure that your meal delivers the essential vitamins, minerals and of course the fibers. Refined gluten-free products are not always fortified with essential vitamins and minerals! So, it is obvious that you need to balance your meal with lean protein, fruits and vegetables.

Natural gluten-free foods include fresh meat, cheese, eggs, milk, fruits & vegetables and starches such as maize, potato and buckwheat. Quinoa, amaranth, sago, tapioca, millet also have no gluten.  Products made exclusively of rice flour like rice noodle and dumpling wrappers are gluten-free! So a noodle dish with red meat, colourful vegetables and fruits sounds healthy! Wheat grass are technically gluten-free! Gluten is found in the matured seeds of the cereals which we refer as grains but not in the young sprouts of these seeds.

People easily confuse gluten free with healthy foods! Many people do not know what gluten is and have been completely eliminating this protein!

Gluten-free diet is popular with women those who try to lose weight, but I tell you, it is not the best choice. Only those who have true intolerance to gluten will benefit from cutting out gluten. For others, cutting out gluten for no medical reason may cause weight gain, fatigue, headaches and lack of nutrients! Eating steak and potatoes takes longer time to digest and increase the acidity, as well!! A healthy weight loss, can very well achieved, without adhering to gluten-free labeling!!! Why go behind gluten-free?

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But the market is flashing on the gluten-free as a healthier choice? More groceries and health food stores stock gluten-free products!

Gluten-free doesn’t mean fat-free or caloric free! Gluten-free has exploded in popularity, and there are more gluten-free porducts that are highly processed or made with refined version of gluten-free grains. Look beyond the words gluten-free on the package and read the ingredient list before adding it to your cart.

Ancient grains like quinoa, millet, buckwheat, chia seeds, bulgur, sorghum are high in fiber that help prevent some cancers, heart disease and blood pressure. Grains are highly beneficial. The key is to vary your carbohydrates. So, buy them in their natural, unprocessed form. If they are part of the recipe with sugar and other unhealthy fats, it means they naturally lack their health benefits!

To maintain a healthy weight, balance your meal with whole grains, lean protein, fruits & vegetables and focus on physical activity, minimum 30 min, everyday.