Improving Gut Health By Excluding The Right Foods
Many people are avoiding gluten as they discover that they may have a gluten intolerance. Gluten is a group of proteins found in grains like barley, wheat and rye. Some people have a gluten-related medical condition, such as celiac disease, IBS or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) which may lead to intestinal damage. Some of the symptoms can be diarrhea, gas and bloating. Celiac is an auto-immune condition that can be linked to other health conditions such as stunted growth, anemia and neurological effects.
Those of us that have a gluten intolerance or are lacking in gut health may need to steer clear of some of the top culprits for gluten; these include pasta, bread and grains. There are many gluten-free options to choose from nowadays, so if you absolutely cannot cut certain things out of your diet such as pasta, there are gluten-free options – as well as for many other foods - available in most stores.
Understanding the difference between a wheat allergy and being gluten intolerant is important. A wheat allergy is a reaction to wheat proteins and the symptoms may be life-threatening, but this is treated with a wheat-free diet and not necessarily a gluten-free diet. People who need to avoid wheat can eat other grains like barley and rye, which do contain gluten. On the other hand, people who suffer from IBS, celiac disease or NCGS should completely avoid gluten-containing foods.
Gluten is also often used in foods as a thickening agent and can provide texture and flavor. It has a stretchy quality, so it is so commonly found in bread and baked goods, giving them that chewy texture. If you’ve always been a lover of white bread and find that you have trouble with digestion, then it’s likely that you are gluten intolerant and should avoid bread and find gluten-free bread.
You experience problems with indigestion because the peptides found in gluten are resistant to stomach acids, making it difficult for some people to digest. This can cause various symptoms from mild digestion to even more serious health conditions. (Source)
Food List of Things to Avoid
If you need to start following a gluten-free diet to improve your gut health, then here are foods to avoid:
Grains that Contain Gluten
All grains contain gluten, but there are people with celiac disease and other gluten allergies that only react to the gluten within certain grains.
Here are grains that you should avoid: Rye, wheat, barley, triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye), seitan (which is often used as a meat substitute), other wheat derivatives such as spelt, farro, farina, semolina, durum, couscous, kamut, wheat berries, bulgur, emmer, wheat starch and graham flour.
Here is a list of grains that are good to eat with a gluten-free diet: Arrowroot, buckwheat, corn, flax, potato starch or flour, quinoa and rice (rice bran and flour).
Foods that Usually Contain Gluten
There are foods out there that either always or usually contain gluten that you'll want to completely avoid.
Avoid eating these foods in your gluten-free diet: Bread (including flatbreads, bagels and pita bread), pasta, cakes, biscuits and crackers, pies and pastries, breakfast cereals, coatings and breadcrumbs, croutons, meat substitutes, brewers’ yeast and malts, flavoring and syrup.
Foods that May Contain Gluten
It may not be all the time, but some foods can sometimes contain gluten.
You'll want to double-check these foods: French fries, gravies and sauces, processed meats, soups, salad dressings, marinades and vinegar, potato and tortilla chips, stuffings, cereals and granolas, snack bars and egg dishes in restaurants.
Though some may find it strange, most beers contain wheat, rye and barley.
Here are some alcoholic beverages you'll want to avoid on your gluten-free diet: Lagers, ales, beers, malt beverages, dessert wines and wine coolers. Most distilled alcoholic beverages are gluten-free and there are often gluten-free varieties available for alcoholic beverages.
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Food List of Gluten-Free Foods
If you want to get started on a gluten-free diet, here are some things you can add:
Fruits and Vegetables
The following fruits and vegetables are safe for a gluten-free diet, but it’s important to remember that battered vegetables and candy-coated fruit may contain gluten. It’s always better to opt for fresh fruit and vegetables.
Examples of things you can eat: Apples, avocados, bananas, berries, plums, citrus, peaches, spinach, kale, onions, cauliflower, peppers, broccoli, carrots, butternut squash, zucchini, mushrooms, brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes.
Legumes are often used as an alternative, gluten-free option for pasta.
Here are some examples of legumes you can have: Black beans, red lentils, peas, chickpeas, kidney beans, cannellini beans, pinto beans and adzuki beans.
Gluten-Free Grains and Grain Products
Even though grains are usually completely off-limits for a gluten-free diet, some grains are gluten-free. You can also opt for baked goods and bread made from these grains.
Check out some gluten-free grain options: Buckwheat, millet, oats, quinoa, amaranth, wild rice, sorghum, teff, corn and brown rice.
When it comes to animal proteins, they are a safe option for those looking to avoid gluten.
Some easy go-to options for animal proteins: Meat, poultry, eggs, fish, shellfish and dairy products like cheese and yogurt.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds provide a healthy source of fat in your diet and the good news is that they are gluten-free and can also be used to make gluten-free flours.
Options for nuts and seeds: Almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and pistachios.
Condiments and Seasoning
Adding a little something extra to your meals is a must, and there are great gluten-free options that work.
Condiments and seasoning options: Pesto, many salsas, apple cider vinegar, fresh herbs, guacamole, hummus, most dried herbs and spices, tahini and mustard.
Healthy Oils and Fats
Most foods that contain healthy fats are gluten-free.
Check out some options for your gluten-free diet: Cheese, olive oil, full-fat yogurt, avocados, avocado oil, unsweetened coconut and nuts, seeds and nut butter.
If you would like to eliminate gluten from your diet for better gut health in general, or especially if you suffer from conditions such as IBS, celiac disease or NCGS then you should cut out foods such as pasta, bread, baked goods, certain alcoholic beverages and some processed meats. It is advisable to check the packaging of foods to see what the ingredients are to ensure that they do not contain gluten. Foods that are always safe to consume are fresh fruits and vegetables, proteins such as dairy products, poultry, meat and fish, nuts and seeds and legumes.