For many people grains (especially gluten-containing grains) can cause problems affecting everything from digestion, mood, skin disorders (including rashes and eczema), joint pain, weight gain, migraines and thyroid disorders.
The necessity of grains within the diet has recently become a topic of much controversy. Many people - myself included - now recognise Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity as a problem independent of Celiac Disease or a wheat allergy. Because of this, more people are going gluten free – and many are experiencing benefits beyond what they ever thought possible.
Common signs that you have a gluten sensitivity
Digestive issues such as, pain/cramping or bloating
Chronic diarrhoea or constipation
Joint pain or inflammation
- Skin conditions such as eczema
What is it about gluten that's causing problems?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye and it is what gives bread its stretch. When you consume gluten it stimulates the production of a protein called zonulin, this is not specific to you either, it occurs in everyone who eats it. Zonulin is currently the only known regulator of the tight junctions between the cell walls of the digestive tract. The wall of the digestive tract is meant to serve as a barrier between us and the outside world. However, zonulin can loosen these tight junctions, allowing undigested food particles and other inflammatory particles to pass into the bloodstream. This is known as leaky gut syndrome.
If you are susceptible to zonulin, this can lead to an immune response that can contribute to a whole host of autoimmune conditions including Celiac Disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Graves Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and Fibromyalgia, as well as all sorts of neurological disorders and skin conditions including eczema.
So, what to eat instead?
We all know just how daunting it can seem when starting out on a gluten-free diet. So, the point of this blog is to provide you with the carbohydrate ladder and gluten-free alternatives to help you make carbohydrate choices that will nourish your body.
By reducing or completely eliminating gluten from our diet there are still plenty of carbohydrates to choose from – many of which are far more nutrient-dense than gluten-based products. Things like starchy vegetables, legumes, fruit and soaked whole grains are all carbohydrates that do not contain gluten.
Gluten-Free Grains we recommend
Brown basmati rice
Compared to white rice, brown rice retains the hull and bran providing natural wholeness making it rich in protein, thiamine, calcium, selenium, magnesium, potassium and fibre.
Uses: brown rice is great with stir-fry, curry, rice salad or rice pudding.
A high protein seed that contains all 9 amino acids making it a complete protein. It also contains the flavonoids, quercetin and kaempferol which are important molecules that have shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancer and anti-depressant effects.
Uses: Quinoa can be used to fill out and add texture to any salads. It also goes well as a porridge or risotto and you can use it in baking or when making your own toasted cereal.
While the name suggests ‘wheat’, buckwheat is actually a seed related to rhubarb. Like quinoa, it is also a complete protein, however it is starchier than its counterpart. Composed of several polyphenolic acid-oxidant (rutin, tannis and catechin) these are found to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties that help prevent platelet clot formation inside blood vessels.
Uses: buckwheat can be used as a replacement for oats in porridge or as an addition to salads. When dehydrated it also goes well in homemade cereals or bliss balls.
This is a coarsely ground yellow cornmeal. It actually used to be considered peasant food in Italy because it was plentiful and cheap. Polenta is lower down on the quality carbohydrate ladder, however, it is rich in both vitamin A and C.
Uses: works well as a creamy mash, can be made into polenta chips and used in place of toast. You can also use polenta in fitters or when making a polenta cake.
Amaranth, like quinoa, is actually a seed. Amaranth was a key part of the pre-Columbian Aztec diet until it was replaced with corn and then wheat. Amaranth is low GI and supplies a good supply of lysine which is an amino acid the body cannot make. Lysine is important for proper growth and energy production and is especially useful to prevent cold sores.
Uses: can be used in porridge, salads, fritters, vegetables stews or soups.
Millet is an easily digestible grain that aids in alkalizing the body. It acts as a prebiotic, feeding micro-flora in your inner ecosystem. and the serotonin in millet has a calming effect on mood.
Uses: can be used as a replacement for oats as porridge, it works well as a mash. Millet is a good binder for things like burger patties, stuffed peppers or a pie topping.
Sorghum is a powerhouse of nutrients. Even though it is not a complete protein, it is still considered a low glycaemic grain as it contains the whole outer hull which slows its digestion and releasing energy over time.
Uses: generally used as a flour in baking.
This is an Ethiopian grain. While it is as small as a poppy seed it packs a big nutritious punch. Teff provides 8 out of the 9 essential amino acids and provides 20-40% resistant starch. Resistant starch is an indigestible starch that does not spike blood sugar or insulin and actually improves insulin sensitivity, decreases inflammation in the gut and is a source of food for the beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Uses: generally used as a flour in baking.
Recipes to help you start your gluten free journey
I'd also like to give you some gluten free recipes for commonly problematic meals, such as breakfast options and sweet treats. We’ve found with clients, it’s these two areas that are the biggest stumbling blocks to getting started. Lunches and Dinner are easier to make a salad, casserole or stir fry using seasonal produce and grains like brown rice or quinoa or root vegetables such as kumara, carrot, beetroot, turnip or potatoes.
Starting your day
It's vital to start your day off with a nutrient-packed breakfast to help stabilise your blood sugar levels. This helps to prevent energy crashes later in the day, sugar cravings and that dreaded 3 pm slump. Whether you like to start your day with something light, like a smoothie, something indulgent like pancakes or a hearty breakfast of eggs and free range bacon, we’ve got you covered.
BePure Berry Pilaf - A cross between porridge and a parfait, this pilaf uses soaked buckwheat (a gluten free wholegrain) to set you up with stable energy all day. Customise this basic recipe with your favourite fruit or nuts. You can also serve it warm in cooler months.
Poached Eggs with Kumara Rosti and Kale - A hearty delicious hot breakfast with slow releasing low GI carbs, healthy fats, protein and leafy greens. Everything you need to start your day.
BePure Berry Smoothie - A refreshing, sweet smoothie packed with antioxidants and nutrients. This recipe is especially good in the summer months when berries are abundant.
BePure Pancakes - These light fluffy pancakes are grain free, dairy free and gluten free. A weekend staple for us, they are naturally sweet from the bananas but packed with protein and healthy fats to set you up for the day.
Reducing your sugar intake is one of the BePure nutritional principles, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy a sweet treat every now and then. We're all about living a healthy, balanced lifestyle, that works long term.
So, with that in mind, we’ve put together a selection of some of our most popular recipes to satisfy those of us with a sweet tooth. Bear in mind that while these recipes contain healthy natural sweeteners you do still need to be mindful of portions and keep them as a special treat.
Lemon Meringue Pie - This is a showstopper! It takes a bit of effort making the pastry and the filling but it’s worth it. Tart and creamy with the right amount of sweetness, but without the blood sugar crash from refined flour and sugar. Enjoy!
BePure Bliss Balls - These little balls of energy are great as a snack as a post workout treat or as fuel for kids on the go. These balls are incredibly versatile, you could flavour them with orange zest or peppermint oil.
Chocolate Black Bean Brownie - Everybody loves brownie! What’s not to love? It’s rich, fudgey, slightly chewy and full of chocolate. This brownie has had the BePure makeover! It’s naturally gluten free and made with a surprising ingredient:protein-packed black beans!
Other handy tips and tricks
Gluten Free snacks Snack food is one area where it’s really common to fall down. That old saying “failing to prepare is preparing to fail” comes into play here. Convenience foods are often gluten-filled. Having some of these gluten free snacks on hand to help you adjust is key!
Gluten Free lunchbox ideas If you have a family and all of you are giving a gluten free diet a go we have some tried, tested and approved lunchbox friendly item ideas.
If you have any questions that were not covered in this blog post or would like more information please get in touch. You can give us a call 0800 52 54 52 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.