Good Grains for Good Health: Gluten-Free

Fri, 08/16/2013 - 11:05am -- Saladmaster

By Maite Sancho, S.S. and Joseph Gonzales, R.D., L.D.
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine 

Celiac disease, also referred to as gluten intolerance, is an inherited condition that affects the small intestine. It's an auto-immune disorder, meaning the body attacks its own healthy cells in the intestine when a certain protein is eaten. The protein to blame is gluten, which is predominantly found in wheat, barley and rye. For most people gluten is a healthy protein, but it can be a serious problem for those with celiac disease. The small intestine is responsible for absorbing the majority of nutrients from the diet, which is why undiagnosed celiac disease can be a serious problem. It can lead to severe malnutrition, increasing the risk of osteoporosis and anemia.

Sometimes individuals may not have celiac disease, but can develop sensitivity to gluten. Gluten sensitivities can be managed by a gluten-free diet. However, it is really important to point out that if you suspect you are sensitive to gluten, see your doctor before going on a gluten-free diet. Sensitivities are caused by eating too much gluten which is a staple grain in many cultures' diets. This does not necessarily mean you have to avoid it forever, but choosing grains like rice, quinoa, and others are viable options and can help lessen the effects of being sensitive to gluten.

Having a mother or father with the sensitivity increases the chances of children having celiac disease. The most important action is to get a proper diagnosis from your doctor because some of the most common symptoms are not exclusive to celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Here are a few examples of symptoms to keep in mind: diarrhea, unexpected weight loss, vomiting, anemia, abdominal pain and distention, fatigue, joint pain, foggy mind, tingling of the extremities, and irritably. Having celiac disease is a condition that some people have to deal with, but it's an easy job! Supermarkets are flooded with gluten-free options these days and many foods in nature are void of gluten.

Most food companies label their products 'gluten-free', so look for these labels when shopping for packaged goods. Reading ingredients is also needed because some are hidden and may not mention the word 'wheat' or 'gluten.' Avoid these gluten-containing ingredients: bulgur, couscous, dinkle, durum, einkorn, emmer, farina, fu, graham, seitan, and semolina. Also, make sure to avoid whole grains that contain gluten such as: wheat berries, barley, kamut, spelt berries, and rye.

This may seem daunting at first, but once you identify the safe foods you don't need to investigate labels as much. Luckily there is life beyond gluten and so many options to choose from. These grains are all gluten-free and safe to consume:

  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Amaranth
  • Oats (gluten-free) 
  • Rice
  • Corn
  • Sorghum
Being gluten intolerant or sensitive doesn't mean you cannot enjoy a variety of colorful, nutritious, and delicious recipes. And gluten-free meals can be good for the entire family! Focus on whole foods like fruits, vegetables and beans. These foods are always free of gluten. And using Saladmaster 316Ti equipment is very handy for creating these dishes.

What is your favorite gluten-free recipe? Leave a comment below; we'd love to hear from you!

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Submitted by Cathy Vogt on

I enjoy quinoa, it is a "fast food", in that is cooks in only 16 minutes, so easy for those busy times when you are hungry and you want something healthy fast!  One of my favorite combinations lately is includes mixing cooked quinoa with lots of  chopped spinach, garden tomato, basil, a dash of fresh lemon juice, grated zuchinni and sprinkle of good quality salt.  If I'm feeling particularly indulgent I will top it with a few chopped kalamata olives.