Gluten Basics

Gluten Basics!

Since the release of Wheat Belly (2014) and The Grain Brain (2013) being gluten free has become all the rage. It is one of the most popular “fad diets” to hit the American Culture and it doesn't appear that it will be going away any time soon. According to the Mayo Clinic approximately 1.6 million American are on a “gluten free” diet even though about half have not been diagnosed with Celiac disease or a gluten intolerance.

So what exactly is gluten? Gluten (Latin for glue) is a mixture of proteins found in wheat, barley and rye. When these proteins ( glutenin and gliadin) come together they form a bond and that bond is what gives breads their chewy elastic taste and texture. People all over the world have been consuming wheat / gluten for thousands of years- so what has changed over those thousands of years that is causing such a rise in people being diagnosed with Celiac? Researchers believe that the gluten intolerance is connected with grains becoming a primary element in the American diet. Currently wheat products are being mass produced and the wheat actually contains more gluten than the prior generations. Not to mention, wheat has become the most heavily consumed protein on earth. Nearly 1/3 of the foods purchased in store these days contain some form of wheat, including; soup, sauces, some processed meats, frozen vegetables, multi-vitamins and even some probiotics (Read Your Labels!!!!)

So what is the diagnosis? Currently Gluten Sensitivity is an accepted diagnosis in the health care world. Some of the symptoms may be gastrointestinal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and fatigue. You cannot test for gluten sensitivities, however an elimination diet would indicate if you should cut gluten out. Celiac disease on the other hand can be determined with a blood test. Celiac is a hereditary autoimmune disease. If you are celiac and consume wheat, barley, rye products your body attacks the lower intestine and will not allow the proper absorption of nutrients. In either case, if you think you are experiencing issues after consuming gluten, then you should consult with you physician.

Wheat has also been known to cause un-necessary inflammation within the body. However so do trans fats, sugars, alcohol, MSG, milk and most animal meats. So like everything in this world- these things should be consumed in moderation.

Have you cut out all gluten products for weight loss purposes? If so, you may want to reconsider. Just because you are “gluten free” does not necessarily mean that you are going to lose weight. Nine times our of ten you will drop some initial weight because a majority of the gluten containing products you are consuming are highly refined and processed and again- usually not consumed in moderation. Also a number of products on the market that are gluten free have very high amount of sugar (again- read your labels!). This does not mean you can go out and buy Wonder Bread, but research your options and purchase products that are made with high quality ingredients (I go for non-GMO and organic) or make your own  and consume them in moderation. Chances are the extra weight isn’t the bagels fault.

In order to best serve the clients I coach and feed I went gluten free for one month. It was not an easy task, but I did come across this recipe by Sara Forte, from the Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook and I love it and make it regularly. They are made with almond meal are gluten free and they are absolutely delish!!!

Almond Meal Cookies with Coconut and Cocoa Nibs

1 ¼ Cups Almond Meal

¼ Cup Cocoa Nibs

½ Cup Unsweetened Coconut – Shredded

½ tsp Baking Powder

¼ tsp Salt

1/3 Cup Raw Sugar

1 Egg

3 Tbs Coconut Oil – Melted

½ tsp Vanilla Extract

Method: In a large mixing bowl, stir together the almond meal, cocoa nibs, coconut, baking powder, salt and sugar.

In another bowl, beat the egg very well until it is uniform in color and doubles in volume. Whisk in the coconut oil and vanilla extract. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingrediants and mix until just combined. Put the bowl in the fridge and chill for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Using your hands, roll the chilled dough into balls no larger than 1 inch in diameter and place on a baking sheet with 1 ½ inch space between, giving a gentle press on the tops to flatten just a bit. Bake until the edges just begin to brown, 7 – 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Serve :)