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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gluten or not to gluten.... is that your question?

Being gluten sensitive myself and my Dad being celiac I've become intimately acquainted with the symptoms and affects that being intolerant can have on the body. 

When I give my nutritional chats to mum groups or corporate lunch and learns about including more gluten free grains into their diet, the biggest question I get asked is:
“How do I know if I’m gluten intolerant or celiac?” 

An excellent question!

There are subtle physical signs of intolerance you can observe with yourself or your family members:
• nose runs when eating wheat
• mucous builds up in the throat causing coughing and hard swallowing during and after eating
• heartburn after eating gluten (try not to have it with tomatoes)
• feeling of distention, bloating and gas pains or pants can feel tighter, at the end of a meal
• excessive gas, can be painful, hard to pass, lots of rumbling in the gut
• constipation or diarrhea
• eczema or hives
• vertical lines on your nails (deficiency of nutrients)
• early gray hair
(deficiency of nutrients)
• osteoporosis
• arthritis

There are symptoms that are associated with a more severe reaction to gluten that can affect mood:
• depression
• moodiness
• anger, rage issues
• fatigue

The symptoms are so vast that many doctors fail to recognize the possibility of a gluten intolerance or allergy. With celiac disease there are up to 17 to 20 different symptoms that are signs and symptoms that many get prescribed ineffective drugs instead of elimination of gluten  (some of the most prescribed for depression symptoms are: prozac, celebrex, paxil).

Elimination diet or blood tests are the best way to see which foods are offending to your system.

1) Celiac test - TtG blood test that costs anywhere from $110-150 CAD and must be requested from your GP or gastroenterologist. If your TtG test is positive, a biopsy of the small intestine is done to determine the extent of your allergy and the damage to the small intestine - eroded villi (small finger like folds in the intestine that allow for the absorption of nutrients) leads to malabsorption of nutrients = deficiencies.

2) An IgG food sensitivity test (must specify food sensitivity) that rates foods your body reacts to when ingested range from; mild, moderate to severe. The goal is to replace the foods that you are high-moderate and severely reactive to with foods that contain the same nutrients that your body tolerates and you enjoy eating.

3) A restrictive food cleanse can be done where you abstain from allergenic foods for at least a month and document your body reactions once these foods are reintroduced. Foods generally taken out are: gluten, corn, soy, dairy, red meat, eggs, nuts & seeds and includes caffeine, artificial colours and sweeteners. At the end of the abstinence these foods are re-introduced into the diet - one at a time. 
Introduction of foods: eat the allergenic food for three meals over three to four days and document your reaction to the foods for the four to seven days after consumption. This reintroduction of one food at a time is done over weeks, it can take at least one to two months to complete your investigation. In the end you have a clear picture as to which foods your body likes and doesn’t like. With wheat it can take up to a year for it to get out of your system completely and unless you are severely reactive to gluten, it’s not the most accurate test for sensitivity.

4) You can also take your pulse before eating a suspected offending food and retake it after the meal. If your pulse is increased, it can be an indication that your body is not reacting well to the foods you've just eaten but it's not specific to foods.

5) AK testing - Applied Kinesiology or AK is where you hold the offending foods in your hand or under your tongue and using muscle testing, from a raised arm will determine if the food is offending to the body. Food is in opposite hand or under tongue, an arm is extended shoulder length and the tester tries to push the arm down. Normally the muscle will resist pushing but if the food is offending to the body, the muscle becomes weak and will fall if pushed. A good start on finding out allergenic foods to you, by only if given by a qualified practitioner.

6) Electrodermal testing - the offending food is placed on or in the body and a painless electrode tests your body's electromagnetic response. A hand held electrode is placed on the skin at the meridian points, usually on the opposite hand to the foods and machine attached to the electrode depicts your body's response. This is okay as a starting point and good for little ones if you don't want to draw blood and have a suspicion of intolerance and not allergy. If the company conducting the test wants to show you pictures of foods and not actually place the object/food in your hand, don't waste your money. This is not an accurate test for food allergies, no matter how the company or individual may try to convince you otherwise.

7) Scratch tests - best are for seasonal allergies or anaphylaxis allergies like: peanut, dander, dust, grass, mold or tree allergies. They are not suitable for deep tissue response to offending foods. If you do this test and molds come back offending you need to eliminate some foods that contain these allergens: peanuts, strawberries, mushrooms and wheat since these generally have a high amount of mold.

Gluten grains to limit/eliminate or rotate are:
• wheat: bran, cracked wheat, wheat berries
• barley
• kamut
• spelt
• rye

Include more of these gluten free grains in your diet:
• rice: brown, red, black, basmati, pearl, Japanese sticky rice, jasmine or arborio (avoid white rice it’s very high on the glycemic index)
• wild rice (actually a grain not a rice)
• amaranth
• millet
• teff
• sorghum
• quinoa
• buckwheat: kasha
• corn (if organic, other wise the most GMO food on the planet)
• oats: oat bran, steel cut (high in protein), instant oats (organic and if processed in a wheat free facility)

Gluten free grains are very nutrient dense and can contain more calories than the gluten grains, so watch your portions. Unfortunately wheat is used as fillers and thickeners in almost anything: from hot dogs to soy sauce. It’s very important that you read product ingredient labels when shopping. Not an easy task but there are a lot more foods available for those wishing to live without wheat.

Remember fruits and veggies are gluten free and should be consumed with every meal, with at least 10 servings a day.

I've taken a lot of time to convert some much beloved recipes into gluten free so that I can enjoy them again. Not an easy task but the results are always tasty. As an introduction into gluten free grains here's one of my favourite recipes I've converted from my Gran's recipe box, enjoy!

Inez's Banana Loaf (or muffins) gluten free

  • 1C  Brown Rice Flour
  • 1/4C  Amaranth Flour
  • 1/4C  Oatmeal
  • 1tsp  GF Baking Soda
  • 1tsp  GF Baking Powder
  • 1/2C  Ground Flax Seeds
  • 1  egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2C  Organic Maple Syrup
  • 1/4C  Organic grapeseed oil
  • 1/4C  Unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/4C  Rice or Almond milk, warmed
  • 1C  Mashed Bananas
  • 1/2tbsp Vanilla
  • 1/2C Slivered almonds, walnut pieces and/or dates chopped (optional)
Place the oatmeal in a bowl and add the warmed rice/almond milk and stir, set aside to soak up and soften the oatmeal. Mix the wet ingredients in one bowl and sift the dry ingredients (minus the ground flax seeds) into another bowl. Pour the wet into the dry add the oatmeal, ground flax seeds, nuts, dates and mix well.  

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full, makes 9 large muffins. Bake at 350ยบ for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Fill a greased and lined 9” loaf pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes for loaf pan. Loaf makes 9 x 1” slices.

Now...did I answer your gluten question?

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