Hollywood goes gluten-free. Banning gluten is hot. Should you eliminate gluten too? If so, where to start?Gluten is a form of protein that is naturally present in most grains. Gluten (from Latin gluten, “glue”) is present in many kinds of food products, for example in dough to make it rise and give it its elastic texture, to give bread its spongy texture and in sauces, soups and dressings to thicken their consistency.
Health benefits of gluten
Besides improving the texture of products, gluten is also used to increase the protein content of products; gluten is high in protein, consisting of 80 grams of potein per 100 gram wheat gluten. This makes gluten a perfect ingredient to make seitan, which is used to make meat substitutes. Gluten are also used to increase the protein content of other foods and some pet foods. Gluten furthermore contains iron and some calcium.
Going Hollywood-ish gluten-free for skinny thighs
So far, so good. Nevertheless, cardiologist William Davis, author of the book ‘Wheat belly’, focussus on banning gluten; an advise that is followed by the popular paleo diet movement.
Hollywood stars like Gwyneth Paltrow and Victoria Beckham – whom you would expect to have very capable nutritionists – also completely ban gluten from their diets. It’s not only because a gluten-free diet gives them skinny thighs: Gwynie and Vicky have already experienced that, when there is sensitivity to gluten, going gluten-free contributes to many health benefits.
Why ban gluten form your diet?
Gluten contain gliadine – due to genetic manipulation even more then they used to -, which is an amino acid that can cause reactions. Gliadines cause allergic reactions to many people, without them linking them to the gliadine in gluten. These reactions cause a disturbance of the gut system, causing a wide range of complaints like:
- loss of energy
- abdominal discomfort or pain
- stomach cramps
- weight loss
- belly bloat
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- lethargy and tiredness
- attention-deficit disorder
- muscular disturbances
- bone and joint pain
- imbalanced hormonal levels
- skin problems
- mood swings
Completely banning gluten from your diet can enlight these symptoms.
How do you know if you have a sensitivity to gluten?
If you have the idea you have a sensitivity to gluten, I suggest to consult a doctor. The doctor will do a blood test first. Note that it is hard to have positive test results if you are already on a gluten free diet.
If positive results are found in your blood, the doctor will take a sample from tissue from your gut. In most cases, after is determined that you are sensitive to gluten, a doctor will advice you to limit or eliminate gluten.
Which products contain gluten?
Here’s a list of grains that contain gluten:
To eliminate gluten, the most obvious step is to eliminate bread and pasta’s that are made of these grains. Keep in mind though that these grains are also processed into many other products beside bread, like pastries, cakes, biscuits and pasta. Most products give you insight whether th contain gluten or not, so if you’re not sure a product contains gluten or not, read the ingredient list.
Will a gluten-free diet be a diet of hunger?
Let me get back to Gwyneth and Victoria’s skinny thighs and the “Wheat Belly” book, that claims that when healthy people ban gluten, they will lose weight. When you eliminate so many grains and the products they are processed into from your diet and don’t substiture them with gluten-free grains, there is not much left that you can eat. It is logic that – due to a caloric defict – you will lose weight. Not substituting these grains will cause a a defict of important nutrients though, which is not desirable and can even be health threatening.
Not substituting these grains will also cause a decreased carb intake. Drastically lowering intake of carbs causes change in water balance, thereby losing water weight and inches (that will come back when carb intake is increased again).
So, if you substitute gluten containing products by gluten-free products, going gluten-free will not be a ‘diet’ of hunger and, in line with Chivo‘s (Chivo, an onafhankelijk kennisinstituut in the field of vitality and leefstijl) statement, will not make healthy people lose weight.
How do I substitute gluten containing grains?
Banning all processed foods that contain gluten will make me end up making a long, endless list of products, while I actually afraden all processed foods. So, I’m gonna skip that and only give you a list of unprocessed grains and flours that do not contain gliadine or just in small, neglegtable amounts and are safe to take. These grains and flours can be used to make pasta, porridge, to bake bread and flapjacks, so you can have a normal breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Varied (contain small amounts of gliadine):
- soy bean flour (not too much because of its effect on estrogene levels and eclusively fermented, beneficial to women in their menopause)
- chick pea flour
- sunflowerseeds (not too often because of its estrogen elevating properties, beneficial to women in their menopause)
- coconut flour
- almond flour
- any kind of nut – four
If you know about any grains or flours that are gluten-free ad can be used to bake bread and flapjacks, please let me know!
Make your own gluten-free meals
Here are some recipes that are gluten-free:
Eliminating gluten for weight loss purposes makes no sense; weight loss on a gluten-free diet is mostly caused by a caloric defict and loss of water weight by a decreased carb intake.
Eliminating gluten can be beneficial to those sensitive to gluten. Eliminated products should be substituted to prevent lacking important nutrients.