So your naturopath said…”no gluten”!

Why do we ask you not to eat gluten even if you don’t have Celiac’s Disease?

The main reason is that your gut is so very important to your overall health. The lining of your gut is the largest surface that provides a barrier between the environment and your body, thus it is crucial that the gut lining has the ability to critically select out what may enter and what shall not pass!

Leaky gut refers to an alteration in what your digestive tract allows to enter your body, compared to what it eliminates as waste. A large number of chronic inflammatory diseases including irritable bowel syndrome, Chron’s disease, asthma, arthritis, autoimmune diseases and autistic spectrum disorders have been associated with leaky gut.  Current research tells us that leaky gut increases after exposure to gluten in all individuals whether you have a predisposition to coeliac disease or not. If you have any kind of inflammation occurring in your body, removing gluten is a simple, dietary way to address one of the key underlying drivers or causes of that inflammation and work towards having the best gut health and therefore overall health outcomes.

 

Why is gluten so rough on our digestive system?

Gluten Triggers Inflammation

Gliadins and glutanins are two main components of the gluten protein occurring in wheat, barley, rye and oat seeds or grain. It is thought that gliadins are most implicated in the immune reaction that occurs in celiac disease, but glutanins and gliadins are so similar in structure that they are both considered to be inflammatory and can trigger an immune system reaction.

Zonulin

It sound’s like an alien planet, but it’s in your gut and opens up “doorways” in your intestinal lining to allow nutrients and other molecules to get in and out of your gut. Too much zonulin, opens these “doorways” too far, allowing toxins, large immune- reactive protein molecules, intestinal contents and bacterial waste to enter your bloodstream. This not only triggers inflammation and immune response but also increases the workload on the liver to filter out “garbage” for disposal. In other words, too much Zonulin equals leaky gut.  

The triggers for too much Zonulin include overgrowth of harmful bacteria or yeasts in the gut, parasitic infections and the consumption of gluten.  

Regardless of whether you have the genes for celiacs or not, the gliadin in gluten has been shown to significantly increase Zonulin in the gut.

 

But what about all the B vitamins and fibre I’ll miss out on?

B Vitamins are abundant in many foods, not just those containing gluten. Unprocessed gluten-free grains such as brown rice, quinoa, teff, legumes, vegetables and meats and offal are all great sources of B vitamins.   Eating a variety of foods from the various food groups is the key to balanced nutrition, and is completely doable without touching gluten.

Just because it’s gluten-free doesn’t mean it’s good for you:

The mistake many make when going gluten-free is to look for replacements in the supermarket which are labelled gluten-free. The problem with this is that the usual substitutes most sort after are bread, pasta, biscuits and crackers.  The market has portrayed gluten-free to be a healthier option, but in many cases, this is not true. Often, gluten-free products contain more refined grains, additives and sugars to maintain a similar appearance, taste and texture of the original product attempting to be cloned.  For example, a gluten-free brownie doesn’t automatically become a healthy option and some gluten-free bread are higher in sugar, white flours and food additives than regular bread.

A gluten-free sweet still remains a treat or sometimes food.  In order to improve your overall health, the fundamental key is to eat less processed, packaged food overall. Your practitioner will help you with this.

 

What foods contain gluten?

If your practitioner has asked you to avoid gluten, this means any product that is derived from :

  • Wheat
  • Spelt
  • Kamut/Khorasan
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Triticale
  • Khorasan
  • Oats

This may include cous cous, semolina, bourghal, bulgar.

Also remember to check the labels on foods which you may not have thought contain gluten grain products such as wraps, condiments, muesli bars, ice-creams, vinegar, some supplements.

Common foods misinterpreted as gluten-free are: mountain bread, sauces, cous cous, bourghul or tabbouli, noodles, ice-creams, yoghurts, milk containing malt. Always check the ingredients list!

 

How strict do I need to be?

You may not have to avoid gluten 100% forever. Unless you are a celiac, you are not allergic to gluten and the occasional indiscretion may not be critical to your health. Your naturopath will advise you on whether any forms of gluten can be introduced along the way or at a later date, and what to look for to avoid inflammation and optimise nutrition.

 

References:

Leaky Gut & Autoimmune Disease https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22109896

Zonulin, a regulator of epithelial and endothelial barrier functions, and its involvement in chronic inflammatory diseases. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25734566

 


7 Swaps to go Gluten Free

7 Swaps to go Gluten-Free….

Have you been asked to trial a gluten-free diet, or recently been diagnosed as gluten intolerant? Sometimes making changes to your daily food choices can become overwhelming.

Unfortunately, a common thing that happens when a new diet comes into “fashion” is that the market responds with a myriad of new food-like products in an attempt to make the consumer’s life and food shopping easier. The problem is, many of these food products are highly processed, high in sugar and void of nutrition, making them almost as damaging as the gluten itself.

Let’s get one thing straight…being gluten allergic (Coeliac’s disease) or gluten intolerant is NOT a fashion or a fad! In fact, gluten is one of the most difficult proteins for our bodies to digest and it is also one of the most inflammatory foods irrespectively of whether you are a Coeliac sufferer or not. If you are allergic to gluten, it is critical to your health that you avoid gluten 100%.

 

Just because the packet says Gluten Free, doesn’t mean its good for you!

Take a look at this list for some healthy food swaps to help you go gluten-free and continue to make healthy choices.

SwapFor…
Your morning slice of toastSweet potato toast.

Homemade bread – try out some paleo bread recipes, try some gluten-free alternative flours such as rice, buckwheat, fava or chickpea flour.

Your bowl of weetbix or other wheat-based cereals.Quinoa Porridge

Chia Pudding

Homemade muesli or granola using nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, millet, brown rice flakes etc.

An omelette

A bowl of miso soup

Your BLT or chicken salad sandwichSalad with grilled chicken or fish.

Brown rice sushi

Free-range, organic bacon with tomato on a slice of homemade gluten-free bread with fresh avocado

Nori seaweed sheet with smoked salmon, baby spinach, avocado and saurkraut.

CrackersRice cakes or Quinoa cakes.

Homemade seed crackers

Homemade sweet potato or vegetable crisps.

Your 3 pm muffin or biscuitMake your own at home with almond flour, flax meal, coconut, tapioca flour etc. There are heaps of great gluten-free or grain-free recipes online.
Salad DressingMake your own at home with extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, pepper. Add a dash of tamari and use sesame oil for an Asian twist.
Chips, crisps, snacks, dessertsSweet potato or broccoli chips are easy to make and delicious!

Dark raw chocolate.

Stew some fresh fruits and serve with coconut yoghurt in place of ice confection desserts.

So you see, there are heaps of great options when you are going gluten-free and you certainly won’t go hungry. All it takes is learning to look at foods a bit more closely, along with a little planning and preparation. Start by mastering one meal at a time – you’ll be surprised how this will become your new “normal” and you will wonder what all the fuss was about, to begin with.

 

 

 

Gluten Free Apple Turnovers

There’s nothing like warm apple pie on a cold winters evening! Here is a healthier gluten free take on a classic that is just as good if not better than the original.

PASTRY (have all ingredients at room temperature)
2 ¼ cups gluten free flour eg. Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking flour
¼ cup tapioca flour
¼ teaspoon Himalayan salt
¾ cup xylitol or ½ cup coconut sugar or rapadura sugar
50g organic butter at room temperature
50g coconut butter at room temperature (optional –or can use 100g butter)
1 egg beaten (poor egg, you really should apologise!)
4 tablespoons organic unhomogenised milk or coconut milk

APPLES
5 medium red delicious apples
5 medium granny smith apples
1 teaspoon ground allspice
¼ cup filtered water

Method:

1. In a medium size saucepan place the peeled, cored and diced apples with the water and allspice. Cook on a low heat with the lid on, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
Cook until tender but not mushy – about 15-20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

3. Prepare your baking trays with some non-stick bake on paper or silicon baking sheets

Pastry:
Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add the beaten egg. Mix until combined. Add the milk and mix well. Add the soft butter and work into a dough consistency. You may need to add a little more flour if the mixture is too sticky to roll.

On a lightly floured bench, divide the dough into 12 portions. Roll a portion into a ball and then roll out to about 8mm thickness in a roughly circular shape. Place a smallish dessertspoon of cooked apple onto the centre of the pastry circle and fold into half pinching the edges of the turnover together with your fingers. Gently poke the top of each turnover with a fork to allow for breathing holes. Brush with milk and place onto your baking tray.
Repeat until your tray is full, then bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from tray onto a cooling rack and lock the doors to make sure you still have your batch for its intended!

Recipe created by Brisbane Natural Health Naturopath and Nutritionist Anne-Marie McDonald