What does it mean to have a gluten-free diet?
November is all about Gluten-Free Diet Awareness. There’s a lot of information out there about gluten-free diets. Sometimes it’s hard to know what is fact and what is just part of a fad. We’ve drawn up a quick list of facts about eating gluten-free. This month we’ll also be featuring gluten free recipes using our Monte Bene pasta sauces, all of which are gluten free.
What is gluten? Gluten is the name given to specific types of proteins found in wheat. It’s the stuff that helps nourish the wheat during germination and the stuff that helps make the dough elastic. In turn, it makes the bread more chewy. Gluten is like the “glue” that helps hold food together. Gluten can also be found in rye, barley and other cross-bred grains. Here are some of the more common foods that contain gluten:
- Some sauces
Why have a gluten-free diet? There are different reasons why someone might choose to have a gluten free diet. The most serious one is celiac disease.
- Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the consumption of gluten results in damage to the small intestine. According to celiac.org, when people with celiac disease eat gluten, their body launches an immune response that attacks their small intestine. The damage done to the small intestine hinders proper nutrient absorption in the body. Long term effects of celiac disease can include other autoimmune disorders like Type I Diabetes and cancer. About 1 in 100 people suffer from celiac disease.
- Gluten sensitivity is a condition that has many of the same symptoms as celiac disease but cannot be fully diagnosed as celiac disease. The symptoms go away when gluten is removed from the diet.
The only known way to treat celiac disease or gluten sensitivity is to remove gluten from your diet.
How do you know if you have a gluten sensitivity? Be aware that you should never diagnose yourself with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. Always check with a doctor before making drastic changes to your diet. Symptoms of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity include fatigue, bone or joint pain, anemia, weight loss or weight gain, headaches and much more.
Removing gluten from your diet seems like a lot of work. Doesn’t everything have gluten in it? You’d be surprised to learn how many things are naturally gluten-free. In fact, a lot of the major food groups don’t contain any gluten. Here are many of the foods that are safe to consume on a gluten free diet (according to celiac.org):
- Red Meat
- Fish and seafood
- Beans and legumes
- Nuts and soy
- Flax and chia
You can also find lots of items that are specially made to be gluten free. Our pasta sauces are naturally gluten free, meaning we don’t add anything or take anything from our natural ingredients to make them gluten free.
Even if you don’t need to eat gluten-free, it's important never to eat too much of one food group. Eating a balanced diet of fresh, clean ingredients is the best way to stay healthy and feel great.
Sources and Resources:
"What is Gluten?" livescience.com
"Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month." nationaldaycalendar.com
"What is Gluten?" celiac.org
"Food Options." celiac.org
"What is Celiac Disease?" celia.org