Gluten Free Diet : What's Allowed And What's Not
Healthy Living

Gluten Free Diet : What's Allowed And What's Not

Mehvish Hamdare profile Authored by Mehvish Hamdare on 21 Aug 2014 - 18:06.

Gluten is a storage protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats that gives elasticity to dough, helping it to rise and keep its shape. Gluten is a combination of gliadin and glutenin with starch found in various grains. Gluten containing foods can be part of a healthful, balanced diet; however, some people may suffer from conditions, which may require elimination of gluten from the diet.

In some people, eating or drinking anything containing gluten can cause different types of undesirable reactions. Common symptoms of gluten intolerance include: diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, fatigue, forgetfulness and irritability. 'Gluten intolerance' is a term used to refer to the entire category of gluten issues: celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity and wheat allergy. These conditions are all commonly used to describe individuals with adverse physiological conditions related to gluten. The gluten free diet is used in the treatment of celiac disease. Although a gluten free diet does not cure the disease, it can relieve symptoms associated with gluten sensitivity.

When is a gluten-free diet a must?

People who need to go on gluten free diet usually have one of these conditions:

Celiac disease: Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, where the immune system starts attacking normal tissue, particularly the inner lining tissue of the small intestine, in response to eating gluten. The only effective treatment for celiac disease is a lifelong, gluten-free diet.

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity: Some people suffer from gluten intolerance, which is different from Celiac in that it is not an immune mediated response. The symptoms of gluten intolerance appear after eating wheat or other foods containing gluten, which can cause abdominal cramping, bloating, diarrhea, and flatulence.

Gluten food allowed allowed:

Grains & starches:

  • Soybean, potato, arrow root flours
  • Buck wheat, quinoa, amaranth, millet, flax
  • Rice, puffed rice
  • Gluten-free oats may be allowed: talk to a health professional
  • Ready-to-eat cereal made from allowed
  • Grains, gluten-free pasta and bread products

Beverages:

Tea, coffee, mineral water, wine and spirits.

Fruits & vegetables:

Fresh, frozen, dried or canned (check labels), fruit juices.

Dairy products:

Eggs, full-cream milk, low-fat milk, evaporated milk, condensed milk, fresh cream, processed or block cheese, and some custards and soy milks.

Fats:

Butter, margarine, vegetable oils, lard and shortening.

Condiments:

Tomato paste, tahini, jam, honey, maple syrup, cocoa, all kinds of vinegars (except malt), some sauces and some salad dressings.

Gluten food not allowed:

Grains & starches:

  • Wheat, flour, whole wheat flour, white flour, self-rising flour, semolina, wheat germ, bran, spelt
  • Rye, rye flour, rye bread
  • Barley, pearl barley, barley groats
  • Oats, oat groat, oat fiber, oat bran, oat flour
  • Many cereals, pasta, macaroni, noodles, spaghetti
  • Bread, bakery bread, rolls,cake, crackers, muffins
  • Pastries, biscuits, rusk, waffles, pancakes, donuts.

Beverages:

Coffee substitutes made from cereal, and some milk-drink powders.

Fruits & vegetables:

Fruits and pie filling containing thickeners; canned products with preservatives.

Dairy products:

Malted milk, Flavored milk and cheese spread made with prohibited ingredients.

Fats:

Wheat germ oil, margarines and spreads made with prohibited stabilizers.

Condiments:

Malt vinegar, some mustards, relishes, pickles, salad dressings, sauces, gravy and yeast extract from barley.

Miscellaneous:

  • Some chewing gums
  • Some toothpaste, mouthwash, medicines (especially imported medicines), laxatives, vitamin supplements.
  • Also cosmetics like lipstick and balm.

Benefits of eating gluten-free diet are:

  • Digestion: If you suffer from digestive issues, completely eliminating gluten may help. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness states that eliminating gluten reduces stomach upset, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, gas, bloating and constipation in those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
  • Inflammation: According to Mayo Clinic, people with gluten intolerance may experience joint pain, muscle cramping and numb legs as a result of eating gluten. If you have a skin condition such as eczema, you may see an improvement by eliminating gluten.
  • Weight loss: Most of the foods you consume on a gluten-free diet may help promote healthy weight loss, especially if you eat a well-balanced diet that contains essential protein, carbohydrates, and fat. When beginning gluten-free diet, the total intake of processed foods may be decreased while increasing their intake of fruits and vegetables. More studies are needed to claim this benefit.

Risks of gluten free diet:

  • There are risks involved with following a gluten-free diet, therefore it is not recommended for everyone.
  • People who follow a gluten-free diet may have low levels of certain vitamins and nutrients in their diets.
  • Avoiding grains means that you are eating fewer products enriched with nutrients, which may lead to deficiencies in iron, calcium, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, fiber and folate.
  • Many people on gluten-free diets tend to eat inadequate amounts of fiber, which may lead to constipation.
  • Following a gluten-free diet may potentially cause a decrease in the amount of beneficial bacteria in the gut (Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus), which can negatively impact the immune system.

Tips to Remember:

  • Don't forget that ingredients in food products change frequently, so always check the label before buying packaged foods.
  • Remember that "wheat-free" does not automatically mean "gluten-free." While a product may not contain wheat, it can still contain rye or barley in some form.

Reference:

*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.