Complete Gluten free diet plan for beginners – With Sample Gluten Free Meal Plan
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The Gluten-Free Diet – A Detailed Beginner’s Guide
Gluten-free is all the rage these days.
A 2013 study showed that a whopping 30% of Americans are actively trying to avoid gluten.
Although the harmful effects of gluten are controversial among health experts, it is known that several health conditions respond positively to a gluten-free diet.
Fortunately, there are many healthy and delicious foods that are naturally gluten-free. Avoiding gluten does NOT have to be tasteless or boring.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is the name of a family of proteins present in grains like wheat, spelt, rye and barley.
There are two main gluten proteins, called gliadin and glutenin. It is the gliadin part that causes the harmful effects.
When wheat flour is mixed with water, the gluten proteins form a sticky cross-linking network that has a glue-like consistency.
The name glu-ten is derived from this glue-like property. If you’ve ever held wet dough in your hands, then you will know what I’m talking about.
Gluten makes the dough elastic, and gives it the ability to rise during breadmaking. It also tastes good, and provides a chewy, satisfying texture.
Many People Are Sensitive to Gluten
The most severe form of gluten intolerance is called celiac disease, which affects about 0.7-1% of the population.
This serious disease is caused by an autoimmune reaction when the gliadin proteins enter the digestive tract.
This can lead to a degenerated gut lining, nutrient deficiencies, severe digestive issues and other serious conditions, many of which are hard to link to digestion.
Unfortunately, most people with celiac disease do not know that they have it, as the symptoms can often be vague and difficult to diagnose.
Then there is another condition called non-celiac gluten sensitivity. This involves an adverse reaction to gluten in people who do not have celiac disease.
There are no good numbers on how common it is, but some estimates place it around 0.5-13%. In people with gluten sensitivity, gluten may cause diarrhea, stomach pain, bloating, fatigue, depression and various other symptoms.
A gluten-free diet has also been shown to be effective for some cases of schizophrenia, autism and a type of cerebellar ataxia called gluten ataxia.
All of this being said, there is currently very little evidence that gluten is harmful for everyone. Many people seem to tolerate it just fine.
There is even evidence that many people with gluten sensitivity are actually sensitive to FODMAPs (a type of carbohydrate in wheat and other foods), not gluten.
For these people, a low-FODMAP diet is more appropriate than a gluten-free diet.
A Gluten-Free Diet Can be Challenging
The purpose of the gluten-free diet is to completely eliminate gluten from the diet.
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