Holistic Approach to Wellness
What exactly is Gluten?
With gluten being the “buzz” word these days, it’s important to understand what it is and isn’t. It’s also important to be aware of other food intolerances. It’s not uncommon to be intolerant to other foods when you have gluten enteropathy (intolerance).
Gluten is a family of proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye. The gluten proteins are found in the mature seed of these cereal grasses, which is what we refer to as the grain. The gluten in wheat flour gives kneaded dough its elasticity, allows leavening and contributes chewiness to baked products like bagels. Trust me, you will get over craving those hot crunchy rolls in due time.
Close relatives of wheat, such as spelt, triticale, kamut, farro, and einkorn, also contain gluten and must be avoided on a gluten-free diet. While you may hear the term “gluten” used to refer to rice (e.g., glutinous rice), rice protein is not actually a gluten and need not be avoided on a gluten-free diet. Conversely, while oats don’t technically contain gluten, they’re almost always cross-contaminated with wheat gluten due to processing methods in this country. As a result, unless an oat-containing product is specifically labeled “gluten-free,” one should assume it contains gluten. Gluten Free Oats are easy to find. Steal cut oats have gluten so all oats must be labeled gluten free regardless of their type.
Since gluten is a storage protein found in cereal grass seeds, it’s not found in the young, green grasses that sprout from these seeds. For this reason, wheatgrass and barley grass are technically gluten-free. However, to ensure that wheatgrass or barley grass juices are safe to consume on a gluten-free diet, you need to make sure that no seeds accidentally make their way into the juicer. For someone with Celiac I would avoid using the grasses in juicing.
Why the Problem with Gluten Now?
A study using frozen blood samples taken from Air Force recruits 50 years ago has found that intolerance of wheat gluten, a debilitating digestive condition, is four times more common today than it was in the 1950’s.
The findings contradict the conventional wisdom that the sharp increase in diagnoses of wheat gluten intolerance has come about because of greater awareness and detection. It now seems likely that dramatic changes in the American diet have played a role.
The researchers who conducted the study also found that the recruits who had the undiagnosed digestive disorder, called celiac disease, had a four-fold increase in their risk of death.
A lot has changed in the way we harvest food compared to 50 years ago. Some of the seed companies began engineering wheat kernels that could be more easily ground and produce fluffier flour to make the soft, delicious white bread for example have greater yields; it made more money for the farmer and increased sales.
Think of an eraser on a pencil tip. That is the amount of gluten that was in wheat before Hybridization. Now think of the actual pencil. That is the amount of the gluten protein in wheat now. Great visual right? Again, 500 fold increase. Our body does not know how to digest that much protein. Subsequently it stores in our fat cells as toxin and you know what happens next. Here’s the scoop.
In 1943, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (IMWIC) wanted to help Mexico achieve agricultural self-sufficiency which grew into a world-wide effort to increase the yield of corn, soy and wheat. Hybridization took over and soon, many different strains of wheat were being planted and harvested. By 1980, thousands of new strains of wheat had been produced. These new varieties were geared toward:
Making the plant resistant to environmental conditions
Greater resistance to pathogens such as fungus
Increased yield per acre, tenfold greater than farms of a century ago
The results created top-heavy plants; grain losses occurred as plants could not withstand the weight. Continued manipulation produced smaller plants considered “dwarf” wheat. More than 99% of wheat crops are now “dwarfed,” growing to only 18” tall compared to Non-hybridized (organic in this case) wheat which grows naturally to 4.5 feet tall. Despite increases in crop yield, no animal or human safety testing had been conducted on these new strains of wheat.
Scary right? Tens of thousands of products were released into the food supply unquestioned. Assumption was that altered protein structures, enzymes and gluten content would have no human consequence. It was later discovered that wheat gluten proteins had the most significant changes. In one study, fourteen new gluten proteins were identified in the offspring and not present in either parent. These never-before-seen gluten proteins now being discovered are foreign to the body. Some estimates suggest that the hybridization and genetic engineering of wheat has resulted in an up to 500 fold increase in wheat gluten produced today. This may be one of the primary reasons behind the massive rise in incidence of wheat gluten intolerance, celiac disease and other autoimmune conditions in recent decades.
The New England Journal of Medicine listed 55 “diseases” that can be caused by eating gluten. Many of the diseases are neurological and psychiatric. Among them are depression, schizophrenia, epilepsy, migraines, neuropathy, anxiety, dementia, and autism.
Because manufacturers can change ingredients at any time, it’s always recommended to read labels……….read labels……….read labels and if your still not sure, call the manufacturer and ASK. I have found over the past few years small companies were bought out by large corporations and soon after the ingredients change (not for the better). Keep an eye on your favorite items.
Below is a comprehensive listing of foods that are SAFE and foods to AVOID. Keep in mind some of these ingredients are not recommended on a regular basis as you will see in the eating healthy section.
One of the biggest concerns as a nutritionist is seeing people go gluten free in an “unhealthy” fashion. It’s best to work with a professional to make sure you are getting the right nutrients when going gluten free so you can have optimal healing. With that being said, the list below is only a list and I am not enforcing anything here. I will address eating health – gluten free below.
Start saving packages so you have a visual when you go shopping. Or better yet, take a picture of foods and keep them on your smart phone so you can pull up the picture whenever you need it.
Food Additives that are Gluten Free
AGAR – Red bean jelly
AMARANTH ( G.F. but could have cross contamination)
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
ARROWROOT – Herb
ARABIC GUM – Hardened sap taken from two species of the acacia tree
ASCORBIC ACID – Mineral
BETA CAROTENE – Inactive form of Vitamin A
BUCKWHEAT ( G.F. but could have cross contamination)
CORN OIL – Look for organic (could have cross contamination)
CORN FLOWER – Look for organic (could have cross contamination)
CORNMEAL – Look for organic (could have cross contamination)
CORN – Look for organic (could have cross contamination)
CORNSTARCH – Make sure it’s gluten free
CREAM OT TATAR – potassium hydrogen tartrate, an acid salt
CALCIUM – Mineral
CALCIUM PHOSPHATE – Mineral
CAROB BEAN GUM
CITRIC ACID – (in the U.S. it is gluten free (made from corn, but outside U.S. it can be made from either wheat or corn)
FISH (FRESH) – watch all packaged and flavored fish
GARBONZA BEAN FLOUR
GELATIN – derived from the collagen inside animals’ skin and bones
HERBS – Any kind of herb (use them – they are amazing)
LACTIC ACID – Milk acid (not dairy free or casein free)
LACTOSE – Milk sugar (not dairy free or casein free)
LECITHIN – Made from Soy
LOCUST BEAN GUM
MILK (IF FLAVORED READ LABEL – not dairy or casein free)
MALIC ACID – found mostly in unripe fruits; isolated from apples
MILLET (G.F. but could have cross contamination)
NUTS (If flavored or mixed read label)
NIACIN – B3 or Nicotinic acid
NIACINAMIDE – Nicotinic acid
POLENTA (Read Label) – Yellow or White Cornmeal
POLYGLYCEROL – Emulsifier made from castor beans
SPICES (If they are pure) Good to buy individual spices
TARTARIC ACID – white crystalline organic acid
TEFF ( G.F., but could have cross contamination)
VANILLIN (Read Label)
YOGURT (Read label – not dairy free)
WHITE WINE VINEGAR
Foods & Additives with Gluten
Good news – there are GF options for some of these items
Acesulfame-K – sweetener found in baked goods, gum and gelatin desserts
Blue Cheese (made with bread)
Brewer’s Yeast (GF brands available)
Bulgur Wheat or Nuts
Buttermilk (some contains modified food starch)
Bouillon Cubes & Prepackaged Broth
Calcium Caseinate (Contains MSG)
Cakes & Cake Mixes
Candy (always check with manufacturer, often dusted with flour to prevent sticking)
Canola Oil (Canola is G.F. but can have a laxative effect in some individuals)
Caramel Color (some contains gluten, call manufacturers)
Cereal (most contain gluten)
Cereal Binders, Extracts, and Fillers (usually contain gluten, verify with manufacturer)
Cheese (shredded cheese is often dusted with flour to prevent sticking)
Chocolate Syrup (read label)
Chorizo (most contain cereal fillers, check label)
Chow Main Noodles
Citric Acid -(in the U.S. it is gluten free (made from corn), but outside U.S. it can be made from wheat or corn)
Cocoa (make sure you read label to make sure it is gluten free)
Dextrin’s – Starch
Fish (some processed fish contains gluten. Ex. Gorton’s Grilled Fish & Imitation Crab Meat)
Flavored Prepackaged Rice (check with manufacturer)
Flavored Prepackaged Pasta
Flavored Instant Coffee (check with manufacturer)
Flavored Instant Tea (check with manufacturer)
Fu (dried wheat gluten)
Gelatinized Starch (check with manufacturer)
Germ (Wheat Germ)
Gravy & Gravy Mixes
Groats (barley, wheat)
Ground Spices (check with manufacturer. McCormick’s and Frontier make G.F. Spices)
Guar Gum (this is gluten free, but has a laxative effect on some individuals)
Hamburger Patties (when purchasing or eating out make sure it contains no fillers)
Hydrolyzed Oat Starch (gluten free, but could have cross contamination)
Hydrolyzed Plant Protein (HPP)
Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP)
High Protein Flour
Ice Cream (some contains gluten, check with manufacturer)
Ice Cream Cones
Kamut (Pasta wheat)
Marshmallows (check with manufacturer)
Marshmallow Creme (check with manufacturer)
Medications (Check with manufacturer or pharmacy)
Millet (gluten free but beware of cross contamination)
Modified Food Starch (check with manufacturer)
Modified Starch (check with manufacturer)
MSG (Made outside USA)
Muffins & Bread Mixes
Mustard Powder (check with manufacturer, Coleman’s is not gluten free)
Natural Flavoring (check with manufacturer)
Non Stick Cooking Sprays. (some contain flour or grain alcohol. Pam & Wesson are G.F.)
Oats (oats are gluten free, beware of cross contamination)
Oat Bran (oats are gluten free, beware of cross contamination)
Oatmeal (oats are gluten free, beware of cross contamination)
Oatrim (oats are gluten free, beware of cross contamination)
Olestra – found in potato chips
Pies (this includes the filling that is often thickened with flour)
Potassium Bromate – used in breads (causes cancer)
Powdered Sugar (contact manufacturer)
Potato Chips (the seasoning usually contains wheat. Contact manufacturer)
Prepackaged Mixes & Spice (example taco mix. McCormick taco mix is G.F)
Propyl Gallate – used in conjunction with BHA and BHT
Pudding (check with manufacturer)
Restaurant Grills & Fryers ( be very careful of cross contamination)
Rice Malt (Usually contains barley or Koji, contact manufacturer)
Rice Syrup (contact manufacturer, some contains barley)
Rice Paper (contact manufacturer)
Sausage (most contain fillers, check with manufacturer)
Seitan (vegetarian wheat meat)
Semolina (purified middling’s of hard wheat used in making pasta)
Semolina Triticum (milled endosperm of durum wheat)
Shoyu (soy sauce, check with manufacturer)
Sodium Caseinate (Contains MSG, check with manufacturer)
Sodium Chloride – Use sea salts not table salt
Sodium Nitrate or Sodium Nitrite
Soy Sauce (most contains wheat, try San-J wheat free Tamari)
Sprouted Wheat or Barley
Starch (in the U.S starch is generally made from corn, contact manufacturer if unsure)
Steak Sauce (check with manufacturer)
Taco Mixes (check with manufacturer)
Tabbouleh (primary ingredient is bulgur)
Textured Vegetable Protein – TVP
Triticale (hybrid of wheat and rye)
Udon (wheat noodles)
Vanilla & other Extracts (contact manufacturer, could contain alcohol made from gluten)
Vegetable Starch (check with manufacturer usually contains gluten)
Vegetable Gum (check with manufacturer)
Vinegar (malt vinegar)
Vitamins (check with manufacturer)
Wheat, Abyssinian Hard Triticum durum
Wheat Durum Triticum
Wheat Triticum Mononoccum
Whole Wheat Flour
Wieners (check with manufacturer, usually contains fillers)
Gluten Free Grains & Flours
Rice, corn, buckwheat and millet have glutens, but the glutens in these foods do not contain the gliadin molecule that can provoke the inflammatory reaction. Therefore, they are usually safe however, keep in mind if you are healing the “gut” your body can react to all grains including gluten free grains. I have seen gluten free grains come up with my clients when I run an IgG panel for food intolerance. Quite a few people who are intolerant to gluten cannot tolerate corn either. So if you still don’t feel good after a few months after going gluten free consider seeing a professional who can help.
Gluten Free grains include the following
Cross Contamination in Preparing Foods
It’s important to consider cross contamination especially for a Celiac in the home and in restaurants and facilities that are not exclusively gluten free (and those are far and few between). When preparing gluten-free foods they must not come in contact with food containing gluten. This is critical for those with Celiac as a single gluten protein can cause problems. If the foods are prepared on a common surface such as a cutting board, counter top or with utensils and pans that are not thoroughly cleaned after preparing gluten-containing foods you will have cross contamination. Also consider using a separate toaster or toaster oven for gluten-free cooking. Flour sifters need to be separate. Gluten-free foods cooked in oil with breaded products should not be consumed. For example, if you were to order sweet potato fries in a restaurant and they use the same fryer when they put the fries in the fryer the excess coating (gluten) rises to the top and adheres to the sweet potato fries so you now have cross contamination. Keep condiment jars separate as shared containers can also be a source of contamination (jam, nut butters, mustard, butter, etc.). Wheat flour can stay airborne for many hours in a bakery or at home and contaminate preparation surfaces and utensils. Let common sense be your guide and if unsure – don’t consume. The safest way to prevent contamination is to put the house on a gluten free diet.
Gluten Free Sample Menu
I’ll mention it again – buy as much organic as possible especially when it comes to fruit, meat, veggies. For a list of the “dirty dozen” see below that covers fruits and veggies. As far as meats I say go organic on all and choose Wild Caught Fish.
Start the morning off with a smoothie consisting of the following to boost the energy levels and incorporate some needed supplements:
Frozen fruit mix – can purchase at any store for antioxidant benefits such as Acai or blueberry. Stick with berries for low glycemic index and antioxidants.
Bee Pollen – ¼ teaspoon to start – Science shows that bee pollen, has natural rejuvenating powers, aids beauty, boosts energy, extends life span, fights allergies (and possibly even cancer) and relieves digestive disorders. Bee pollen bursts with easily-assimilated protein and lecithin, which nourish the brain and nervous system.
Coconut Water (unsweetened) – The high potassium and low sodium content of coconut water has a nutrient profile shown to help lower blood pressure. Has natural electrolytes.
Or Unsweetened Almond Milk for a more filling smoothie
Flax – Flax is high in Omega 3 essential fatty acids. Great anti-inflammatory. That’s good news for people who suffer from inflammatory disorders. Try 1-2 tablespoons of ground organic flax or 1 tablespoon of flax oil.
Protein Powder – There are many out there so choose wisely. Pick one with high protein and low sugar. Choices are endless – hemp, rice, whey (unless sensitive to dairy), pea proteins and plant base blends are available. This is one area to consider nutraceutical options such as Opti Cleanse available on the marketplace. Another way to add protein is with nut butters, hemp and/or chia seeds.
Greens – Greens are important in every meal and this is a great way to incorporate a green powder such as Vibrant Health Green Vibrance available in most health stores. One of my favorites because it has probiotics and many supporting herbs for the liver such as milk thistle and many supporting food based nutrients.
A side note – I take a 2 ounce shot of Aloe Vera Juice (Whole Leaf) before I drink my morning smoothie. Aloe is amazingly healing for the entire GI track. You can take 2 ounces a few times a day on empty stomach to help the GI track heal.
Mixed green salad loaded with organic or locally grown vegetables (carrots, celery, squash, broccoli, avocado, beets) with turkey, salmon or skinless chicken and a light dressing with healthy oil such as olive oil, lemon and apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar or balsamic. Try to stay away from “creamy” dressings.
If you don’t have salad for lunch have a small salad with dinner. Eating a blend of greens with your favorite veggie fixings daily helps keep the colon happy.
Mid morning snack – mix of nuts such as almonds (calcium, magnesium, Vit E), cashews (lower in fat and highest magnesium count) both good for fatigue. Another wonderful nut is the brazil nut (just 2 gives you all the selenium you need for the day). Mix with low acidic organic dried fruit such as pear. Add unsweetened coconut flakes, cocoa nibs (raw) or dark chocolate chips. Enjoy Life has chocolate chips free of gluten, dairy and soy.
Or try a grapefruit with a sprinkle of cinnamon to help balance blood sugar. I love to broil my grapefruit. Cut in half, sprinkle some coconut sugar and cinnamon and broil for just a few minutes until the tops caramelize.
Celery (kidney support) with nut butter or goat cheese (easier to digest than cow’s milk and loaded with potassium, Vit A, thiamin, niacin and protein and is lower in calories). Go for the softer goat cheese.
Organic Popcorn – Cook in coconut oil or air pop. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast for a boost of nutrition. Nutritional Yeast is packed with the B-complex vitamins and protein, and it has a naturally nutty, yeasty flavor that resembles that of cheese. It is a “deactivated” yeast which means that it is no longer living and will not produce effects of “active” yeast, used most commonly in bread and pastry baking.
Raw Energy Treats or Breakfast Bars are a great go to snack. They are loaded with protein and heart healthy ingredients. We have great recipes coming up shortly.
This is the time I love having popcorn with nutritional yeast but you could also do a cup of tea along with a healthier version of a cookie or raw treat. We have great recipes below.
People ask me all the time if I count calories. I say no way – I count food. As you can see I add lots of good fats, lean protein and veggies. These are all on the optimal food list with functional ingredients.
Wild Caught Cold Water Fish such as Salmon. Rich in omegas, vitamin D. Great for kidney support. Whole grain (gluten free of course) rice such as brown rice or even better try quinoa and vegetables such as broccoli (Vit C, Vit A, folic acid, calcium and fiber) and again, sprinkle with brewers yeast for B complex, minerals and helps maintain normal blood sugar levels.
Your plate should be a lean protein (size of the palm of your hand) and 2 servings of veggies. I usually opt for veggies in place of grains to help maintain weight. See optimal food list for healthy protein choices. If I do a grain it’s a small amount such as a 1/3 cup.