Monday, 30 November 2015

Nit picking the gluten free issue

For the past few years, there has been a surge in gluten/wheat free eating. A recent commentator wondered whether it is yet another diet fad?

There are articles galore on this issue, but this one helps explain (see here) the differences between having Coeliac Disease (an auto immune condition), and having wheat intolerance. Wheat allergy is different again and the same authors speak about that here.

Going gluten free when you don't really need to (ie believing you have coeliac disease, wheat allergy or wheat intolerance), can cause issues of its own, see this American article here.

What is one to believe or to do, if having dietry issues?

For a start, if you think you might have Coeliac Disease, consider going to see your doctor. A blood test can help diagnose it - unfortunately you need to be eating a gluten rich diet for it to be 100% accurate from what I have read.

It is estimated in the UK, that 1 to 2 out of 100 people have this auto-immune disorder with an estimated 24% still un-diagnosed. A follow up endoscopy is needed to really confirm the diagnosis, as it is in your small intestine that the damage often shows up.

Having read the articles, I think if you had wheat allergy you would probably already be aware of it if you experienced an acute reaction. If not, you may eventually become aware of it, but maybe not until it has affected you for some time.

Wheat intolerance is different again, ranging from mild to adverse effects, similar to Coeliac Disease.

Going without wheat, which is a huge part of our everyday eating, may lead to other problems, according to the American article above, such as deficiencies in iron, calcium, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and folate and may potentially cause a decrease in the amount of beneficial bacteria in the gut (Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus), which can negatively impact the immune system.

Here are just a few, of the many wheat alternatives which may help replace some of these losses:

Sorghum flour which is high in iron, protein, fibre and antioxidants.
Teff flour is high in minerals, calcium, high in fibre, iron and protein.
Garbanzo flour is high in protein and fibre.
Maize flour is high in vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre.

You could also argue that taking a daily dose of probiotics as well as a multi-vitamin and mineral pill would also replace what is lacking. Chosing to do it that way rather than by food, is entirely up to you.

As for me, I don't believe I have Coeliac Disease or a wheat allergy. I might not even have a wheat intolerance. I do have however, a few long term mild symptoms, that have built up through the years. Until I knew that one of our Christmas guests was gluten free, I had never thought much about it. Now I have!

I am actually enjoying GF baking and trying to get to grips with it all. Yes, I am probably going OTT for such a short time of having a GF guest. However, investigating all these alternatives has made a difference to some of my symptoms. Being gluten free has helped with my guest's symptoms. I might even decide to go GF or mix these other flours into our wheat based ones!

A fad, who knows, who cares!  I shall carrying on investigating, playing with ingredients and seeing where it takes me. Life is all about travelling roads and seeing where they take you:)






















14 comments:

  1. I know lots of people believe it's just another fad....some of my acquaintances included. I don't have coeliac or a wheat allergy, but I do have a wheat/gluten intolerance, along with lactose intolerance and a mild allergy to citrus foods, tomatoes and aubergines (I've been tested by a senior dietitian). I know from personal experience that avoiding wheat/gluten makes me feel so much better.....I have lactose free milk as ordinary milk makes my sinusitis worse. The foods I have the mild allergy to I can eat in moderation....they just make my mouth, tongue and lips tingle. If you're going to be catering for someone who is GF, then you need to experiment in advance - as we've found out, GF baking is not always successful! But it's fun and educational experimenting.

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    1. Indeed, long may experiments continue!

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  2. It may be beneficial for your issues to try these recipes and ingredients out, but isn't it also good to stretch yourself and have fun playing with recipes. I have noticed that although I may not have lost weight I certainly feel lighter since reducing gluten, dairy and meat.

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    1. Yes indeed, I like playing! Have just had my first attempt at some GF oat biscuits (I don't have GF oats but normal oats for most people are OK from what I can gather). They are quite nice, very slightly dry on the tongue but with a cup of tea would be very good I think. Recipe to follow another day.

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  3. I wish it was a flipping fad!! Drives me mad when people think I'm being fussy, believe me I would love to eat gluten without being on the loo for hours after. I have been a vegetarian by choice for 25 years but being gluten free is not a choice I would ever have made. Being gluten intolerant makes life very difficult at times. My partner has just run the works Xmas dinner choices past me. The veggie option is vegetables in pastry, and the dessert xmas pudding or mince pies. I guess I will be having a plate of vegetables again this year, no roast potatoes as they may have a flour coating and no gravy as restaurants tend to use cheaper wheat flour instead of corn flour. I have put some gluten free recipes on my blog including bread, may help with your playing :)

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    1. Our walking group meal has a mixture so should be okay.

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  4. I have found that using only organic flour has helped me immensely. A lot of intolerance is toward the sprays used by most farmers on our wheat and not necessarily toward to gluten. I highly recommend spelt, it is a flour that was grown by the Romans and is very low in gluten.

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    1. Thanks for that, will heck out spelt when I think about eating flour.

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  5. Happily I can eat gluten but have a friend who can't. She spent a lot of time and effort working out recipes that she can eat.

    Last year I read an article in the paper that said that there are a lot of people who think that they are reacting to wheat when in fact they are reacting to the high levels of yeast used in shop bought bread. It might be worth trying out yeast free/soda bread types of bread for some people to see if that helps.

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    1. Thanks for that Jo. We rarely eat shop bought bread and bake our own, halving the amount of yeast in all recipes.

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  6. A really good post, and the links will be really helpful to a lot of people.

    It is only a 'fad' in that lots of folk that don't need to, are jumping n the bandwagon of gluten free eating thinking it has some sort of kudos. The gluten free products for sale in the shops have a scary amount of additives and extra sugar to make them palatable and unless you have to eat them should be avoided if possible. So what you are doing in your experimentation is exactly what should be done. Finding out how to make much loved and familiar foods in a gluten free way.

    I am wheat and lactose intolerant which makes life interesting for sure, but now I know the reactions I get and the limits I can go to eating either, (wheat = two slices of bread or the equivalent a day at the most, and butter and yogurt my only dairy items in reasonably small amounts) I can make an informed decision on what I eat.

    And it is the modern wheat that most people are allergic to, if you can get your hands on flour milled from ancient wheat there is usually no problems at all. Modern wheats have been tinkered with so much over the years to make a sturdy, shorter in height, fast growing standard crop that it is nothing like the wheat that used to be seen growing all over this country.

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    1. Most interesting and you are the second person to suggest spelt or ancient varieties of wheat. Once I finish experimenting, I will try those, in small doses and see how it goes. At least if it is a fad that creates kudos, it might mean a larger variety of GF foods available. Having read lots of labels recently, I too am appaled by the amount of chemicals and other ingredients in GF foods.

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  7. Yes, trust me, if only it were a fad - as others have already said!!!! I hate that some people seem to have latched on to this as a fad when it isn't for those with real health problems that really affect them. Do keep in mind things like sauces in jars - soy sauce for example - that also have "hidden" gluten that you might not think about, although you are so on top of this I am sure that you have already considered all of that. Most of all enjoy the experimenting, I am sure that your guests will appreciate all of your efforts! xx

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    1. Just noticed it in HP sauce tonight. Meal planning is being organised around GF so hopefully, nothing can go amiss. Meanwhile, we are both enjoying some nice and interesting eats, with less problems than before for me.

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