Gluten Free Nutrition

One thing I was really concerned about when I first learned that I would have to give up gluten was to understand gluten free nutrition.  How could I get all of the vitamins and minerals my body needs when I was eliminating such a significant and I thought, healthy, part of my diet.  I’d eaten whole grain bread most of my adult life because it’s healthy.  I’d recently switched to whole grain pasta for the same reason.  Snacks were whole grain Triscuit crackers with cheese, or home made granola bars.   Breakfast was low sugar cereals like Shreddies or Shredded Wheat.  I thought I was doing all the right things, yet my body was telling me something was very wrong.

Health is our natural state of being

If we get sick there is always a reason. 

We’ve either put something into our body that it can’t handle, or we’ve deprived it of something that it needs.

So I did what I do when something doesn’t make sense.  I threw myself headlong into researching gluten free nutrition, and what I found out kind of surprised me.  The answers were in front of me the whole time!   The essentials of gluten free nutrition are really no different than for “regular” nutrition.  Give your body what it needs, and don’t give it what is going to be harmful. 

Simplify!

Most importantly you don't need wheat, rye, barely or really any grain to be healthy!  Keep reading to find out more.

Eat Real Food

What can happen if we deprive our body or let toxin in?

Well, pretty much anything that we associate with illness: 

  • Allergies like nut allergies, seafood allergies
  • Autoimmune diseases like celiac disease, crohn’s disease, or lupis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Many other conditions that seem to have mysterious causes and equally mysterious diagnoses. 

And these conditions are becoming more and more common. 

Have you wondered why so many people are eager to try a gluten free diet even if they haven’t been diagnosed with celiac disease or a wheat allergy?  Everyone I've talked to about it says the same thing: they simply don’t feel well.  Doctors can’t tell them why and they are taking matters in to their own hands.

Is a gluten free diet healthy?

Absolutely!

I’ve read posts on the web where people are saying that a gluten free diet is unhealthy or even dangerous.  I say...ridiculous.  They say gluten free flour is highly processed and stripped of nutrients.  Well so is white wheat flour.  Some say gluten free is unhealthy because you’re removing an entire food group from your diet.  That’s not true either. 

Gluten free nutrition is about eating whole fresh life and health giving food. 

It’s not about replacing processed wheat based foods with processed corn and rice based foods.

Here are some nutritional basics:

Macro-nutrients

* focus on whole foods, avoid processed cereals and manufactured products

**not as harmful as we’ve been led to believe - read more

***good source of omega 3 – very healthy

Micro-nutrients

Vitamins

*Daily Required Intake is enough to prevent deficiency.  If you’re trying to correct a problem you can have much more.  See a certified nutritionist for advice

Minerals

*Daily Required Intake is enough to prevent deficiency.  If you’re trying to correct a problem you can have much more.  See a certified nutritionist for advice

Go here and you can enter any food and find out it’s nutritional content:

http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list

Gluten Free Supplements

Being a person who believes that we were created, or evolved to survive in our natural environment I used to think that supplements were unnecessary.  That was until I learned about soil depletion and how it has affected the nutritional quality of our food. We've all heard the quip that it just creates very expensive urine.  Well there is lots of documented evidence to the contrary.

This graph from the Nutrition Security Institute shows the severity of depletion of some basic minerals in our food from 1914 to 1997.  What really shocked me about this is how early on in the century this was becoming a problem yet it's not well known.

Once again, the essentials of gluten free nutrition are the same as regular nutrition:

A good multivitamin is a good start.  If you still have concerns see a registered nutritionist.  There may be one on staff at your local health food store. Get your supplements there, they will be more expensive but the quality will be better.  Also, don’t forget to check if they are gluten-free.

Here are the ones that I am currently taking:

  • Omega 3 for heart and brain health.  Help to stabilize mood.  Can help with depression.
  • Calcium for bones.  Most women especially can benefit from this.
  • Magnesium for sleep and bowel function
  • A good multivitamin with iron
  • Vitamin C for immunity.  I almost never get colds and if I do they are not severe and pass quickly
  • Iodine for thyroid and breast health
  • Chromium for healthy insulin function
  • Vitamin D to help with calcium metabolism and immunity.  Most Canadians are deficient in vitamin D, especially in the winter and especially if you have darker skin.

Enzymes

Enzymes are proteins which are present in food and help us to digest the food.  How handy is that!  Humans tend to be deficient in enzymes because we cook much of our food and this destroys the enzymes.  Pasteurizing and other processing also destroys enzymes.  This is part of the fuel behind the raw milk movement.  It's proponents say that so many people are lactose intolerant because the enzymes that would help us digest the milk are killed in pasteurization.

These problems are magnified for those of us with food related illnesses because our ability to digest our food is already compromised.  For this reason many of us take an enzyme supplement to help with this.  If you find that after going gluten free you are still experiencing a fair bit of stomach upset or loose bowel movements, an enzyme may be worth a try.

If you decide to try this, you may have to tweak dosage a bit until you find what works for you.

I find that if I'm eating a mostly raw meal like salad I may not need any additional enzymes.  If I'm eating a full cooked dinner I take 2. 

You'll know if it's working by your experience in the bathroom. 

Is there anything in gluten containing grain that I can't get elsewhere?

No!

Take a look at the nutrients that are in wheat, rye, and barley, then go back up to the tables of vitamins and minerals and the foods that provide them.  There is absolutely nothing below that you can't get elsewhere.

So you see, you don’t have to worry about gluten free nutrition if you're eating a good variety of whole food and filling the gaps with supplements.  Just like before!  No worries about any deficiency from eliminating a few grains.  In fact you don’t have to worry about grains at all.  As you can see, you can get all the nutrition you need from whole healthy foods.

Eat well, Simplify and Be Happy!

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sources:

USDA Nutrition Database: http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/

Nutrition Security Institute: http://www.nutritionsecurity.org/