Have a great day - eat something healthy.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Goods on Gluten

Gluten - it seems like the most innocuous, unnoticeable part of most of our diets. In fact, most of us don’t even know what it is. But it's everywhere. So what is it?

Gluten is “the mixture of proteins found in wheat grains which are not soluble in water and which give wheat dough its elastic texture.”1 Huh? Simply put, gluten is made of wheat flour and water. It's used as a meat substitute (seitan, mock duck) and as a thickener in just about everything else. Most of us know that gluten is found in breads and pastas but it’s everywhere – in sauces, soups, dressings, beer, vegetarian meat substitutes, some cheeses, and even in certain vitamins.

So what’s the big deal? Well, studies have shown that gluten consumption can cause headaches, skin irritations, bloating and digestive problems. And gluten is the well-documented culprit in the serious condition called celiac disease, “which causes damage to the small intestine which can cause vitamin deficiencies that deprive your brain, peripheral nervous system, bones, liver and other organs of vital nourishment.”2

For the purposes of simplicity, however, just think of gluten as a processed food. And during this cleanse the bulk of the foods we’ll eat have not been processed. We’re honoring the natural state of our bodies by eating foods in their purer forms – that should make it easy to understand why we’re turning away from gluten.

And steering clear of gluten means you have to be on the watch at all times – because it’s everywhere. I’m attaching some websites along with lists of gluten-free foods and the foods that might surprise you by containing gluten. And gluten goes by many names, like “modified food starch (though this sometimes refers to corn), hydrolyzed vegetable protein, hydrolyzed wheat protein, textured vegetable protein and wheat.”3

According to dummies.com, “Beware of aliases like flour, bulgur, semolina, spelt, frumento, durum (also spelled duram), kamut, graham, einkorn, farina, couscous, seitan, matzoh, matzah, matzo, and cake flour. Often marketed as a “wheat alternative,” none of these is even remotely gluten-free.”4

So stay on your guard, ask questions, and when in doubt, find another food.

1 dictionary.com
2 mayoclinic.com
3 "The Quantum Wellness Cleanse" by Kathy Freston
4 dummies.com

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