Over the past several years, there have been more and more discussions about gluten and its different effects on people. If you have not participated in these discussions or done much research for yourself on the topic, you might have at least noticed an increase in gluten free options on menus and in the grocery store. You might be wondering, what is the difference between gluten and gluten free products, and why should I be worried about it?
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a natural protein that occurs in many grain products like wheat, barley, rye, and some oats. It is found in the tissue of the seeds that are ground up to make your typical bread products that are produced for consumption. When the gluten filled flour is mixed with water in the baking process, the gluten protein swells up and helps create the texture that we are familiar with in bread products, and it also helps the bread maintain its shape.
What is the Need for Gluten Free Products?
As our culture moves more and more toward being conscious of our bodies and how it responds to the food we put in it, people have been moving away from gluten due to their own bodies intolerance of it. Studies have shown that as much as ten percent of the population have some degree of allergy or intolerance to gluten, and this manifests in many different ways. The most extreme of these cases go well beyond intolerance, as one percent of the population suffers from a disease called Celiacs. People who suffer from Celiacs Disease often have trouble digesting many food products and must avoid any form of gluten as their inability to digest these products can lead to extreme malnourishment and a whole slew of other damaging symptoms. There are a wide range of symptoms that folks with a gluten intolerance experience such as bloating, increased heart rate, constipation, headaches, fatigue, and more. People experience these symptoms at different levels of severity and must adjust their eating habits based on their individual body’s needs.
Are There Gluten Substitutions?
There are many options that can be taken in order to minimize your gluten intake. However, every substitution works differently with different forms of breads and grains. Unfortunately, finding the perfect combination of ingredients does take time and some effort, but once you know what works and what you prefer, your body will thank you for your attentiveness. If you are purchasing gluten free products at the store, pay attention to the other ingredients in order to ensure that you are not replacing one bad ingredient for a slew of other even worse, unnatural ones. Simply replacing gluten shouldn’t be the goal, but instead it should be consuming foods that your body can easily digest and be nourished by. Here are a few substitutions that can be used in various recipes.
|Almond flour||Coconut flour|
|Rice flour||Chickpea flour|
The important thing to remember is to listen to your body and that making an effort to nourish yourself properly is the best thing you can do for you and your health now and down the road. And if you feel like you have a gluten allergy, do not fret! There are so many wonderful ways to create the delicious foods that you love. You are not limited, and you do not have to sacrifice your love for treats and baked goods! While it might take a little effort to know what you like, you will never regret taking care of your body!