Tag Archives: Celiac Disease

Mediterranean Diet and Eating Gluten-Free

Eating Gluten-Free

Eating Gluten-Free
Image by Zerbor

Over the past few years the word gluten has become a common household world. Gluten-free foods have become a big business for the food manufacturers, and celiac disease is well-known, although not well-understood.

When it comes to the use of gluten-free foods, there are two camps regarding who should or should not eat them. One group says it is unhealthy to maintain a gluten-free diet if you are not suffering from celiac disease. The other group says that a gluten-free diet is good for everyone.

My goal is not to convince you one way or the other. If you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, then avoiding gluten in your diet is absolutely necessary. If your body handles gluten with no problem, you can make the choice whether you want to go gluten-free, or not.

It is a fact that some people cannot tolerate gluten and when they indulge, they suffer with upset stomachs, sinusitis, headaches, leaky gut syndrome, and other health issues.

If you are struggling with undefined health issues, you could eliminate gluten from your diet for two to three months to see if you feel better. If you do, you will have narrowed down your problem and can continue with a gluten-free diet for better health.

Mediterranean Diet and Eating Gluten Free

One thing I love about the Mediterranean Diet is its flexibility. It can be gluten-free if you choose. It is very different from other diets like the Atkins Diet or Paleo Diet, which are very rigid in what you can and cannot eat.

As I have said in previous posts, the Mediterranean Diet is more of an eating plan with a variety of choices than a “diet.”  Also, the majority of foods recommended are natural and do not contain gluten.

According to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center,

Fresh, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, dairy products meat/meat alternatives are gluten-free. Other gluten-free components of the Mediterranean diet include nuts, wine without preservatives or added dye and fresh, frozen, dried or canned vegetables and fruits without thickening agents. Aged hard cheeses like cheddar, Swiss, Edam and Parmesan are gluten-free. Yogurt, olive and canola oil are also gluten-free.

There are other foods such as pasta, bread, couscous, barley, etc. that contain gluten and should be avoided if you are on a gluten-free diet.

The Celiac Sprue Association recommends a number of grains and starches to replace those derived from wheat, rye or barley.

People on the Mediterranean Diet who are gluten-sensitive can safely eat white or brown rice flour, potato, tapioca, arrowroot, corn meal, corn flour, soy flour, flax, wild rice, quinoa, millet, hominy and flours that are labeled 100 percent gluten-free. When purchasing a new product, it’s important to read the label carefully to make sure gluten was not added during the manufacturing process.

No Hard, Fast Rules

There are no hard and fast rules with the Mediterranean diet even for gluten-free diets. The process is fairly simple. Avoid all processed foods and purchase gluten-free Mediterranean foods by educating yourself and carefully reading labels.

If you are prone to food allergies of any kind, consult your doctor to ensure that the foods you are consuming are suitable for you. For example, some people may be allergic to shell fish or seafood which is a part of the Mediterranean diet.

If that is the case, it is a simple fix – use poultry instead. If you buy certified organic chickens without hormones and antibiotics, you are still consuming a natural, healthy food.

Chicken nuggets are NOT good for you! They are artificial and detrimental to your health. REMEMBER – always stay as close to nature as possible.

Gluten-Free vs Grain-Free

Important note: Gluten-free and grain-free are not the same thing. You can consume grains and still be on a gluten-free diet.

Cynthia Harriman, Oldways’ Director of Food and Nutrition Strategies and Manager of the Whole Grains Council, understands that the whole grain aspect of this healthy diet can be difficult for those with Celiac and gluten sensitivity. She explains, “Grains such as brown rice, millet and corn are gluten free and are whole grain. They’re at their healthiest if not overly processed.”

To Summarize

The Mediterranean diet can be gluten-free if you choose. Do your research so you fully understand what you can and cannot eat in order to be gluten-free. After that, it is easy. Purchase the right foods and begin cooking all the wonderfully tasty Mediterranean dishes that you can make using natural, delicious ingredients. Enjoy!

Choose Gluten-free Quinoa

Gluten intolerance can be a serious problem and requires a change in diet for stricken individuals in order to live healthy lives.

To make this health issue easier to understand – gluten is a protein ‘glue’ composite found in most grains. Gluten gives dough elasticity and creates problems in the digestive tract of some people.

Image by TLFurrer
Image by TLFurrer

The official name for gluten intolerance is Celiac Disease. If you have this condition and eat foods that contain gluten, the lining of the small intestine becomes inflamed and eventually damaged. The inflamation makes it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients, which leads to malnutrition and weight loss.

Because of the seriousness of this condition, it is important to transition to a gluten-free diet, which can be challenging since grains of all kinds are used in many, many products found at the supermarket. Fortunately, today, there are many gluten-free products available and among those is one very shiny star – gluten-free quinoa.

When you understand the composition of quinoa, it is easy to understand why it is a good alternative for wheat and other grains.

Quinoa is a seed, which makes its structure completely different than grain and it contains no gluten.

There is also no reason to be concerned about cross-contamination from air-borne wheat or other grains. The world’s quinoa supply is primarily grown in Bolivia at an elevation of over 12,000 feet, where gluten-bearing grains cannot be grown. There is absolutely no danger of cross-contamination.

Why Quinoa Is a Good Gluten-free Choice

  • Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein
  • It seems to be easier for the body to digest than most other plant-based proteins. It has a similar protein structure to milk, which the bodies utilizes well. Milk intolerance is typically from the lactose content – not from the protein structure.
  • Quinoa protein is excellent fuel for the body to keep it going strong.
  • It is a good source of Omega 3 and Omega 6, the essential fatty acids our bodies and brains needs to function correctly.
  • It is also a rich source of Vitamin E, antioxidants, folate, and B vitamins.
  • It is high in manganese and magnesium – two minerals that are important for a healthy immune system and used to synthesize fatty acids and cholesterol.
  • It has increased levels of iron and copper, which are critical for a healthy blood supply.
  • Finally, quinoa contains phosphorus, zinc, and a little calcium.

Challenges of a Gluten-free Diet

A big challenge is limiting the intake of carbohydrates because of the heavy use of rice as a replacement for wheat products. This is where quinoa can be of value.

A cup of cooked white rice has 44 net grams of carbs (carbs minus dietary fiber.) A cup of cooked brown rice has 41 net grams of carbs. When you compare this to a cup of cooked quinoa at about 34 net grams of carbs, eating quinoa makes good sense; plus, you are getting the benefit of the additional nutrients (especially the protein) found in quinoa that rice does not contain.

In Summary

There are many reasons to make quinoa your “go-to” food on your gluten-free diet beginning with boosting your nutrition by increasing the protein, healthy fats, and maintaining a healthy blood supply – plus reducing your carbohydrate intake

Making the transition to a gluten-free diet can be easy when you choose quinoa as a staple in your diet.