Gluten gives an elastic and stretchy quality to foods. Think about the chewy texture that only a bagel can deliver. Gluten comes from various grains like wheat, barley, rye, spelt, and kamut. Gluten cross contamination occurs when a non-gluten grain comes in contact with a gluten containing grain in the harvesting or manufacturing process. Gluten grains tend to be good fiber and protein sources. Some processed gluten free grains tend to be lower in both protein and fiber. Most Americans get sufficient protein in the diet and unless an individual is a vegan, low protein is likely not a huge concern. Fiber however, may be more of a problem.
The average American gets between 12-18 grams of fiber a day. This is significantly lower than the 25-35 grams of fiber necessary for the human body. Fiber comes from plant sources like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Fiber consists of insoluble and soluble fiber. Simply put, insoluble fiber is the “roughage” that cleans you. Insoluble fiber moves the bowels eliminating constipation, removing toxic waste out of the body, and keeps the gut pH balanced. This delicate balance is important as it is responsible for preventing colon cancer by hindering the gut microbes ability to produce cancerous substances. Additionally, the gut flora provides adequate vitamin K production, keeps the immune system strong, and supports proper utilization of micronutrients consumed.
Soluble fiber compounds lower total cholesterol by lowering LDL cholesterol and regulating blood sugar by prolonging stomach emptying time so that sugar is released and absorbed more slowly. Another function of the soluble fiber is to support healthy fatty acid metabolism which contributes to the above mentioned benefits and assists in weight management and possible prevention of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
One of the biggest complaints I hear from my client is how they miss a bagel or that wonderful doughy bread to make a sandwich. I certainly understand, because nothing is better than sitting down to a hot bowl of homemade stew with some toasted garlic buttered bread.
There are many gluten free foods on the market and more arriving daily due to increasing demand. Gluten free breads in the past were not very good but have significantly improved. Two that I enjoy are: O’Dough’s Flax or White Bread which has 4 grams fiber per slice. Udi’s Millet-Chia bread has 6 grams fiber for 2 slices. Recently I found Schär baguette bread has 2.5 grams fiber in ¼ loaf and their multigrain Ciabatta roll has 6 grams of fiber. So if you find yourself still eating bread that you don’t enjoy it is worth searching out and trying others on the market. Cereals can be high in sugar and low in fiber so read the nutritional label. One I like is Perky’s Flax cereal…6 grams of fiber with a nutty flavor and crunchy texture.
Other natural, nutritionally dense, high fiber, and gluten free foods are nuts, seeds, beans, vegetables and fruits. Not all gluten free foods are “healthy” it just means you will not be exposed to gluten. As in any healthy lifestyle, keep it balanced by eating enough protein to fuel your brain and muscles, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and whole grains that deliver substantial micronutrients while adding fiber to ensure proper elimination, detoxification and disease prevention.
Article written by: Donna Sigmond, MS, RD, LAc, LCh, Dipl OM, CLT, FAARFM, ABAAHP
Owner and practitioner of East-West Wellness, LLC, in Louisville, Colorado. Donna specializes in treating gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, auto-immune, food sensitivities, women and men’s health concerns. Living on both sides of the planet and exploring several avenues of health professions before settling into the unique groove of acupuncture, herbal medicine and functional nutrition, her experiences and education have expanded her both professionally and culturally. She feels extremely lucky to be following her heart-felt passion. Donna can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
www.ewwellness.com or www.wellitude.com.