Going shopping is easy to notice how much the gluten-free market has grown in the last few years. There are different brands of gluten-free bread, pasta, biscuits, flour mix, frozen foods and so on. Therefore what everybody wants to know is: is gluten-free a healthy diet? If you have coeliac disease or Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity you may promptly say yes! You don’t have a choice anyway. It is the only way to take care of your “health”, right? Well, it depends. A gluten-free diet can be healthy or ridiculously bad for you. It depends if we are talking about naturally gluten-free foods or processed gluten-free products that we find in the supermarket. And this counts for everybody!
If you have coeliac disease or NCGS, your body probably has been asking for help for years. The damage that has been caused to the gut lining must be healed, and you should support your body to sustain health. Thus, going gluten-free with processed foods will do little good. I know it is going to be tougher at first. More than giving up on foods you love, should you not be able to have the replacement gluten-free version at your convenience? Eating healthy is more important than ever. But what does eating healthy mean?
Finding a gluten-free bread soft of a texture that doesn’t crumble is already a challenge. And if you find, usually it is not healthy and expensive. Save money to buy fruits, vegetables, and real foods. I know that when we get used to having bread for breakfast or sandwiches throughout the day, it seems impossible to give up on it. Start gradually replacing white and processed bread for homemade ones, but made with whole grain flours. Try alternatives flours, as gram flour, almond or coconut flour. If you don’t know how to use them or you don’t like the texture of the bread, try to mix the brown rice flour with flax seeds, then add other seeds, too. But try to have bread as less as possible to create new habits. Perhaps you can try other options as porridge, overnight, sweet potatoes, pancakes with bananas, flax seeds, almonds, and so on.
Increase your intake of vegetables and fruits to 10 portions a day – aim to eat more vegetables, raw and cooked. Add seeds to your recipes, smoothies, salads. Nuts can also increase the fiber intake while supporting your health with good fat and other nutrients.
Studies have shown that about 50% of coeliacs may react to dairy because casein, the protein found in dairy, is similar to the gliadin protein found in gluten. If your doctor already asked you to stay away from lactose, it is best to avoid any dairy product after all. If you are okay with lactose and dairy, you may continuing eating dairy products are recommended by your doctor, however, reduce your intake. Try some homemade coconut milk or almond milk instead. Get your body time to recover with less protein that are difficult to digest.
Gluten is everywhere. Even when you think you are safe eating salad, you may find gluten on the seeds, nuts, sauce or any crumb that ended up on your plate. Cross-contamination is a big deal. And researches shows that every exposure to gluten can elevate gluten antibodies for up to three months. So eating out and getting contaminated with gluten four times a year, means that our body would be in a state of inflammation year-round.
Processed foods are not healthy for anyone. Can you imagine what those foods can do for someone with coeliac disease? We [coeliacs] need more nutrients because while we are recovering from the damaged caused to the gut lining, we may not absorb all the nutrients from the food we are eating. The way to sustain health is to choose health-promoting foods that are naturally gluten-free. Stay away from high sugary foods or drinks, trans-fat foods like chips and crisps, processed meat that has been smoked, salted, cured, dried or canned – this includes sausages, hot dogs, salami, bacon and ham.
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