Don’t Make These 7 Common Mistakes If You’re Trying To Avoid Gluten
SPANISH TRANSLATION: EVITE LOS 7 ERRORES COMUNES SI USTED ESTÁ TRATANDO DE EVITAR EL GLUTEN
Most people have at least one friend who has told them, “I’m going gluten-free.” The food industry has jumped into the craze, earning an estimated $23 billion in sales of gluten-free products per year. While many claim that avoiding gluten is the latest diet fad, for the millions of people in the United States who have celiac disease, eating gluten can cause them hours of misery.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes an abnormal response when gluten is eaten. Gluten is a protein that is found in barley, rye and wheat. When those with celiac disease or who have a gluten sensitivity eat gluten, they can experience constipation, diarrhea, anemia, pain in the bones and severe skin rashes. Over time, gluten can harm the lining of the intestine in those who are sensitive to gluten and cause permanent damage.
While the food industry has begun labeling hundreds of foods as gluten-free in hopes of increasing profits, not all products are safe for those with a gluten sensitivity. Many products are processed and have added sugar, additives and preservatives. Those who are avoiding gluten should eat a well-balanced diet that contains protein, healthful fats, fruits, vegetables, nuts and gluten-free grains. In addition to eating a healthful diet, avoid these ingredients that are commonly added to so-called healthy gluten-free foods:
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1. Tapioca Starch
This commonly-used ingredient is very high in carbohydrates but contains little protein, fiber or vitamins. It causes blood sugar levels to rapidly spike, leaving those who eat it feeling tired and hungry after their blood sugar level comes down. Try to find products with healthier replacements for wheat flour.
2. Rice Starch and Rice Flour
Because rice is naturally gluten-free, many products use the starch or flour from it as a base in processed baked goods or as a thickener. Unfortunately, rice is often contaminated with arsenic, a type of carcinogen. Foods with rice should be eaten in moderation.
Corn is another grain that is naturally gluten-free, so it is added to many foods in place of gluten. Corn is a crop that is commonly genetically modified (GMO). Many of the GMO crops are engineered to withstand being sprayed with pesticides and herbicides, making them highly toxic for humans.
4. Refined Sugar
When grains are removed from food, the flavor that is lost is often replaced by refined sugar. Refined sugar causes blood sugar levels to rapidly spike and can worsen digestive symptoms. Though sugar is contained in most gluten-free foods, avoiding it as much as possible is the best way to have a well-balanced diet.
Much like corn, soy is another crop that is genetically modified. The pesticides and herbicides that are commonly sprayed on GMO crops have been shown to reduce the healthy bacteria in the gut, which can cause digestive problems.
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6. Xantham Gum
Xantham gum is an additive that mimics the texture and softness that can be found in bread. While it isn’t inherently dangerous on its own, it is often derived from GMO corn crops, so it should be avoided as much as possible.
7. Processed Oils
Canola, cottonseed and soy oils are heavily processed and can increase the risk of heart disease, inflammation, cancer and autoimmune diseases. These oils are often found in gluten-free foods and should be replaced with items that contain organic coconut or olive oil instead.
The next time you are at the store looking at gluten-free food, check out the labels. If it contains one of these seven ingredients to avoid, think twice before buying it so you can eat as a healthy of a diet as possible.