Complete Guide to Being Gluten Free

Back to Health Guide

Gluten has become the "in" word of the twenty teens and you see it mentioned everywhere – in the media, on TV, on labels, as a retail tool and more. It is estimated nearly 1% percent of the people in the USA may be sensitive to gluten and, although the condition is hereditary, it often appears later in life particularly after extreme stress or some form of life changing event such as a physical injury, undergoing surgery or some other trauma. Even the stress of pregnancy can be a trigger.

Gluten intolerance is more common in those whose ancestors originated in Northern and Eastern Europe especially from Ireland or Scandinavia. With such an ancestry, the statistics can rise to as high as 1 in 50 to 60 people.

Gluten intolerance and sensitivity has so many varied symptoms that it can often go undiagnosed so that many suffer needlessly. Recent research points to the fact that ignoring gluten sensitivity can lead to an earlier death by 20 years or even more.

If you have gluten intolerance and you then eat foods containing gluten, an immune reaction occurs in your small intestine, causing damage to the surface of your small intestine and an inability to absorb certain nutrients, leading to vitamin deficiencies that deprive your brain, peripheral nervous system, bones, liver and other organs of vital nourishment. In addition, this deprivation can lead to other illnesses as well as stunted growth in children. Celiac disease is the extreme form of gluten intolerance.

If you suspect or have been tested and found positive for gluten intolerance, it becomes vital that you start removing all gluten from your diet. It can seem very daunting but as there is no cure, the only way to effectively manage this condition is through changes to your diet. The good news is that once gluten is removed, inflammation in your small intestine will begin to subside (usually taking some weeks) but you could well feel a definite improvement in just a matter of days. While you are on this journey of recovery, it is wise to take a generous multivitamin and mineral supplement to counteract any nutritional deficiencies. You may have been eating a healthy diet, but intestinal damage prevents you from absorbing the nutrients you consume.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein bound with starch found in the endosperm or core of grains — namely wheat, rye, barley and triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye). While maize, rice and other members of the grass family also contain proteins, these are not the same and fortunately, most gluten-sensitive people can still include them in their diet. Corn can cause problems in some.

Gluten is used in baking to provide both strength and texture while helping bread to rise, adding elasticity to the dough and giving stability and a chewy texture to the loaf of bread. But it is not only bread and other baking goods that contain gluten. It is also used in the making of beer, the manufacture of meat substitutes and as a thickening agent for sauces, ice cream and many other products. This makes it very difficult to find food today that is actually gluten-free.

History

Bread in its various forms has been the staff of life for centuries but it is only in the last fifty years that gluten intolerance has become such a problem.

However, throughout history, there have been recorded instances of digestive complaints:

  • In ancient documents such as the book of Exodus 23:25, 26 (BC 1700).
  • Between 100 and 250 AD, secular medical literature alluded to descriptions that specifically resembled gluten or possibly other food intolerances in writings, giving the Greek name koilakos meaning belly or abdominal. This later became coeliac and celiac.
  • In 300 AD, a Roman physician described a diarrhea type condition, similar to celiac disease, for which he suggested plantain juice and fasting.
  • In 1745, Prince Charles (Young Pretender to the English throne) is reported to have suffered ulcerative colitis and recovered by changing to a milk free diet.
  • Interestingly, in the early 19th century, a Dr. Mathew Bailie published his observations of a "diarrheal disease of adults causing malnutrition and characterized by gas - distended abdomen". He even went on to suggest treatment through diet, writing "Some patients have appeared to derive considerable advantage fromm living almost entirely upon rice". His observations went practically unnoticed.
  • In the 20th century, processed foods appeared for the first time, followed by widespread degeneration of general health. Modern societies switched to mainly processed white flours and sugars, canned milk, meats and vegetables, and new hydrogenated vegetable oils such as the 1911 introduction of "Crisco."
  • Between the 1960s and 2000, it was all about industrialized fast food.
  • From the year 2000, we have become more aware of the danger of toxins, GMOs and gluten.

With the growth of processed foods, the demand for gluten has expanded too along with the change in wheat itself which has been hybridized to such an extent that it is no longer the same as it was years ago.

How to test if you are gluten sensitive

How do you know if you are gluten-intolerant? While there is a specific test for celiac disease, there is not one for sensitivity to gluten. But if you suspect that you are (and there is an extensive list below to give you a good idea of the possibility) then try going gluten-free for a month and see how and whether your symptoms improve. If they do, you have your answer.

For confirmation of nutrient deficiency (common in those who are gluten intolerant), a hair analysis can identify such deficiencies in essential vitamins, macro minerals and trace elements so that these can be addressed.

Here is the self test quiz that you can use giving the basic gut symptoms and other conditions to check – those in bold are particularly important:

  • Craving baked goods (cake, cookies, brownies) and/or high sugar foods
  • Frequent intestinal bloating or gas especially after eating
  • IBS – irritable bowel syndrome
  • Acid reflux – GERD (aka heartburn)
  • Indigestion, constipation or diarrhea
  • Frequent nausea and or vomiting
  • Difficulty gaining weight (children under the growth curve)
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Frequent headaches
  • Sinus congestion
  • Migraine headaches
  • Poor memory, difficulty recalling words, brain fog, poor concentration
  • Vertigo (dizziness)
  • Diagnosed with ADD or ADHD
  • Depression
  • Neuropathy
  • Anxiety, irrational irritability, mood swings
  • Diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson's
  • Muscle and joint symptoms, frequent joint pains with or without activity, chronic muscle aches
  • Migrating joint pain (without injury) and/or frequent muscle spasms (especially in the legs)
  • Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia
  • Diagnosed with autoimmune arthritis (RA, lupus, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, Sjogren's)
  • Bone pain, growing pains
  • Osteoporosis or osteopenia
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to lose weight
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep,restless leg syndrome or RLS
  • Infertility, history of miscarriage or spontaneous abortion
  • Menstrual problems – PMS
  • Thyroid disease
  • Diagnosis of hyperprolactinemia
  • Diagnosis of Diabetes (type I or type II)
  • Hypoglycemia
  • PCOS (polycystic ovary disease)
  • Endometriosis
  • Chronic urinary tract infections
  • Chronic respiratory infections
  • Asthma
  • Vaginal, oral or nail bed yeast infections
  • Fever blisters or mouth ulcers
  • Skin rash, eczema, psoriasis
  • Dermatitis Herpetiformis
  • Vitiligo
  • Gall bladder problems
  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Non alcoholic fatty liver
  • Autoimmune hepatitis
  • Lymphoma
  • Platelet disorders

Once you have checked through this extensive list of symptoms and you find that you can tick the boxes for 1 to 3 symptoms, then there is a possibility that you have gluten sensitivity. If you tick 4 or more items, you are most likely gluten sensitive while if you tick any of the symptoms in bold, it is highly likely that you are gluten sensitive. Anyone who has been diagnosed with Dermatitis Herpetiformis is definitely gluten intolerant.

How to become gluten free

The first thing to do is to avoid all processed foods and convenience foods. That means changing to fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses, butter and coconut oil, seafood, grass fed meats and free range eggs and poultry - and you won't go far wrong. It means going back to basics and cooking your own meals. It may seem a daunting proposition to many but it is all about restoring your health.

Cooked to be creamy like mashed potatoes or fluffy like rice, millet is a delicious and versatile grain that can accompany many types of food. And this tiny grain is "gluten free" and packed with many vitamins and minerals – a veritable powerhouse of goodness.

In addition to eliminating the obvious wheat, rye and barley, you will have to learn to read labels as gluten can be in so many products as you will see from the next section of this article. If the label includes any of these ingredients - graham, spelt, kamut, bulgur, couscous, durum, einkorn, emmer, farina, faro, kamut, spelt, triticale, semolina and MSG - be warned that gluten may be present. There are many websites to support the new gluten-free you, some of which I have listed in the reference section below.

Once you make the decision to go gluten-free, it has to be all or nothing as any relapse will start the whole process of inflammation and gluten intolerant symptoms again. Your health now, and in the future, is at stake. Hidden sources of gluten

One of the most common forms of unintentional gluten exposure comes from OTC and prescription medications. Doctors are often not even aware that such medications contain gluten so this needs to be watched carefully. There are many other ways people can be exposed to hidden gluten other than the obvious ones.

Unfortunately, gluten is in everyday products too such as:

  • Lip stick / lip balm (use Burts beeswax lip balm)
  • Sunscreen
  • Children's stickers, price tags, stamps and envelopes
  • Washing machine detergent
  • Soap, shampoo, toothpaste and mouthwash
  • Cosmetics
  • Ground spices (use McCormicks spices – they are 100% pure spice)
  • Household appliances – toasters, ovens, microwaves, waffle irons - either keep a kitchen gluten-free or use separate utensils for gluten free foods

You will find a complete and up-to-date list of items and products you cannot use in order to be gluten-free at www.GFCFDiet.com. But here is a list of the most common items that contain gluten and for which you will need to find replacements. Many of these can be found minus the gluten and casein ingredients, particularly at your local health food store or online.

  • Biscuits, bread and bread crumbs
  • Cake flour, cake & cake mixes, chow mein noodles, coffee creamer, cookies, cookie mixes, croutons
  • Crackers and doughnuts
  • Flavored pre-packaged rice or pasta, flour tortillas, flavored instant coffee and tea
  • Ice cream cones
  • Pasta, pizza and pretzels

5 useful gluten free recipes

One Bowl Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

1 ½ cups gluten-free flour

  • ½ cup cocoa
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ tsp natural salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp guar gum or ¾ tsp xanthan gum
  • 5 Tbs cooking oil
  • 1 Tb vinegar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 free range egg
  • 1 cup water

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl, add all liquid ingredients and mix well. Bake in greased and floured 9" square pan (or lined with waxed paper), at 350 F. for 30 to 35 minutes.

Peach Scones

Preheat oven to 350 F. and mix together:

  • 2 ½ cups almond flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

Before adding chilled 1/3 cup coconut oil and mix with fork until a fine crumble. Then add 2 free range eggs and ¼ cup raw honey and lightly mix. Finally add 2 medium peaches diced and stir until moist.

Drop by large spoonfuls onto parchment paper (makes approximately 12 scones) and bake 14 to 16 minutes until golden brown.

Grain-Free Apple Pancake Rings

  • 2 medium apples, sliced thin and cored
  • 3 free range eggs
  • 3 Tbs coconut oil or melted butter from grass-fed cows, plus extra for cooking the pancake
  • 3 Tbs milk or coconut milk
  • 1 tsp raw honey
  • ½ tsp natural sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 Tbs coconut flour

In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, coconut oil, milk, honey, cinnamon, and salt. Once evenly mixed, whisk in coconut flour. Stir until evenly mixed, then let sit for 5 minutes.

Heat a griddle or cast iron skillet to medium heat. Melt a dab of coconut oil on your cooking surface. While that's heating and your batter is resting (an essential step when working with coconut flour) start to peel, slice and core your apples.

Using a toothpick, pick up an apple ring and dunk it in the pancake batter. Then, put it on the griddle. Repeat for as many apple pancake rings as you've got room to cook. Once the batter has cooked firm around the edges and turned golden brown, flip once to cook the other side to golden brown. Serve apple pancake rings warm with a topping of choice if required.

Gluten Free Bread (suitable for slicing for sandwiches)

  • 1/3 cup egg whites
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey or agave nectar
  • 1 1/2 cups warm skim milk
  • 1 tsp natural salt
  • 1 Tbs xanthan gum
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 cup whole grain sorghum flour
  • 1 ½ cup brown rice flour
  • 1 Tbs active dry yeast

Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Then combine egg, egg whites, vinegar, olive oil, honey and milk in another bowl. Add the yeast to the wet ingredients before combining wet and dry ingredients and kneading by hand for 3 to 4 minutes. The dough has the consistency of thick ice cream and is very sticky. Form into a rough ball and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes so that it can absorb moisture. Sprinkle counter top with ¼ cup extra sorghum flour. Put dough on counter and gently form into a loaf by rolling into a log shape. Use a light hand and cover with more flour if needed.

Lightly grease an 9 inch by 4 inch bread pan, place the bread mixture in the tin and leave uncovered on the counter for 45 minutes. Make a slash in the top of the loaf with a knife and place in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 60 to 65 minutes. When bread is finished, let cool 10 to 15 minutes before removing from pan. Slice with a very sharp bread knife after bread has cooled to use for sandwiches but wrap bread tightly to keep in the moisture.

Gluten and Dairy-Free Raw Blueberry Cheesecake (for special occasions)

(try to limit yourself to just one serving per day because it is so rich in nuts!)

To make the crust:

  • 2 cups raw macadamia nuts
  • ½ cup pitted dates
  • ¼ cup dried coconut

Blend nuts and dates in food processor. Spread dried coconut over base of pie plate. Press crust onto the coconut. Put plate in freezer until frozen, transfer to serving plate and keep in fridge.

To make the cheese

  • 3 cups raw cashews which have been soaked for 1 to 2 hours
  • ¾ cup lemon juice
  • ¾ cup honey
  • ¾ cup coconut oil (liquid)
  • ½ teaspoon natural sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Blend all ingredients plus ½ cup water until you have a cheese like consistency and pour cheese mixture onto the crust. Tap plate a few times to settle any air bubbles.

Sauce

  • 1 x lb blueberries (frozen or fresh)
  • ½ cup pitted dates

Process the sauce ingredients with a little liquid if necessary until well blended and pour over the cheese cake before serving.

Citations

http://theglutensyndrome.net/history.htm#z - List of Professionals who now recognize non celiac gluten syndrome as often serious and often autoimmune

References

http://www.hawkeshealth.net/community/forumdisplay.php?f=77
http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/gluten-intolerant-myth-meme-or-epidemic?utm_source=www.GreenMedInfo.com&utm_campaign=3593ce0e49-Greenmedinfo&utm_medium=email
http://www.GFCFDiet.com
http://glutenfreehelp.info/

Back to Health Guide