To Eat Gluten or not to Eat Gluten…is that the Question?

The decision to give up gluten continues to be present for so many of us. In my work with people who are trying to improve their health and well being it is perhaps the most frequently asked question. So let’s try to break it down here. We can look at this question in a couple ways. First, there are people who truly can’t eat gluten products, such as those with Celiac Disease. Then there are people who are opting to reduce or eliminate gluten from their diet.

Let’s explore what gluten free means . For people wondering if they should consider eliminating gluten from their diet the messages in the public’s eye are often confusing leaving us unsure.

Image result for gluten free grains
http://www.glutenisthedevil.com/gluten-free-grains/

Fortunately, there is a lot of information now about the pros/cons of a gluten free diet. The availability of real, whole foods that we can eat and not feel deprived is very encouraging. I emphasize real whole foods because there is an abundance of processed gluten free foods out there that are not healthy and in fact in some instances actually contain gluten…so buyer beware. It is much better to avoid those processed products as it is challenging to truly know whether they contain gluten or not and in many cases they offer little to no nutritional value. Below you can find some suggestions. This list is by no means complete but it is a good start.

Gluten Containing Grains             Gluten Free Grains

  • Wheat                                              Amaranth           
  • Barley                                              Arrowroot
  • Rye – All                                           Buckwheat
  • Wheat varieties: bulger,             Corn (maize) Polenta
  • couscous, dinkle, einkorn,         Dasheen flour
  • emmer, farro, farina, fu,            Kasha, Kudzu, Millet
  • glladin, glutenin, graham           Oats, Rice, Sorghum,
  • flour, kamut, matza, seitan,       Soy, Tapioca,  
  • spelt, wheat berry,                       Taro and Teff  
  • wheat grass, wheat germ                                                                                                                                

The question about who should consider removing gluten from their diet is not one that can be easily answered without knowing where people are on the spectrum of gluten sensitivity/intolerance. This requires a visit to your medical provider. There is a difference between wanting to eliminate gluten for improved energy/attention and being gluten intolerant or having Celiac Disease. The spectrum regarding gluten goes something like this: wheat allergy, non-celiac gluten intolerance, dermatitis herpetiformis, gluten ataxia and finally celiac disease. The visual below can help to show gluten related issues.

Image result for gluten related diseases
https://www.nutritionbycarrie.com/2013/05/gluten-related-disorders-celiac-sensitivity.html

For people electing to eliminate gluten they often find that they have better energy, their thinking is clearer as is their attention. They also find the added benefit of weight loss if they are looking to shed pounds. These folks have the option of “choosing” to eliminate gluten. For others who suffer from the health risks related to consuming gluten it is not a choice. For people on the higher end of the scale, who are allergic or intolerant it is not an option. These individuals often can develop the most severe gluten issues such as Celiac Disease. Now recognized as a major health issue, people with Celiac Disease struggle with diet and health related issues exacerbated by gluten.

Celiac Disease is an immune system reaction to gluten which affects about 1 in 140 people in the United States alone. It is a digestive disease that damages the lining of the small intestines (the villi) where much of our nutrients are absorbed into the body causing one to not be able to absorb needed nutrients. Celiac is a complicated disease as it not only a digestive disorder it is also an autoimmune disorder. It is genetic and so the likelihood you will have it increases dramatically if a family member is diagnosed with it or if there is a family history of autoimmune disease. For people in this situation it is important to know whether you have the disease and to take action to eliminate all gluten from your diet immediately. I advise people with symptoms related to gluten sensitivity to ask their doctor about how to get tested make sure, and to eliminate gluten as a precaution while they await test results. A typical course of testing may involve an endoscopy but there are many screening blood tests for celiac disease as well. The most sensitive and commonly used, whether symptoms are present or not, is the tTG-IgA test. Tissue Transglutaminase Antibodies (tTG-IgA) – The tTG-IgA test will be positive in about 98% of patients with celiac disease who are on a gluten- containing diet.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gluten-free-diet

Common symptoms related to Celiac Disease are unexplained iron-deficiency anemia, fatigue, bone or joint pain, arthritis, bone loss or osteoporosis, depression or anxiety, tingling numbness in the hands and feet, seizures, missed menstrual periods, infertility or recurrent miscarriage, canker sores inside the mouth, an itchy skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis to name a few. Symptoms vary with each case making it challenging to identify. If you experience these symptoms and are not sure why speak with you doctor about whether you should be screened.

For those people in the optional low risk category who like to bake there are some good alternatives to regular flours on the market now so fear not. I love to bake and have found several good quality ingredients that are consistently certified GF.

This is a favorite recipe of mine https://www.cookingclassy.com/gluten-free-white-bread/#jump-to-recipe. I have also added some good resources to determine if you want to seek medical support to address your gluten related issues.

http://www.celiac.nih.gov

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/celiac-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20352220

http://www.cureceliacdisease.org

http://www.gluten.net offers information and recipes

Books:

Real Life with Celiac Disease by Melinda Dennis – http://www.deletethewheat.com

Hope you found this helpful. If it is sunny outside where you live get out in it for at least 30 minutes to absorb some that that vitamin D we all need for our immune systems function.

Be Well

Leanne M.Yinger, M.Ed. HHNC
Holistic Health and Nutrition Coachhttps://kirasgoodeatskitchen.wordpress.com
https://www.facebook.com/Kiraskitchen5/
413-464-1462


“Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.”

Beans are the Better Protein Choice!

How many of you remember the children’s rhyme about beans? You know the one that claims the more you eat the better you feel. I remember when I was a child living in a neighborhood in Northern California, we skipped down the street singing this tune. I’ve since come to really appreciate the health benefits of beans, even lima beans when cooked from scratch.

In this blog post, http://yumuniverse.com/how-tosday-soaking-and-cooking-legumes/, Heather Crosby of Yum Universe describes how to prepare legumes and why it is important to use the real deal whenever possible rather than from a can. I love the way she outlines yields and cooking time in this blog entry. She also adds the hint of using kombu, a sea vegetable to assist in digestibility and add in trace minerals.

When considering the health of our planet here are 6 facts related to beef and climate change provided by the World Resource Institute in April of this year. This blog post is written by Richard Waite, Tim Searchinger and Janet Ranganathan. They are all experts on the topic and committed to education related to building a sustainable food future. https://www.wri.org/blog/2019/04/6-pressing-questions-about-beef-and-climate-change-answered .

So let’s consider what happens for our own health and that of the planet if we substitute beans for animal proteins, beef in particular. Raising and feeding beef negatively impacts natural resources and increases greenhouse gas as outlined in this Climate Central article: https://www.climatecentral.org/news/studies-link-red-meat-and-climate-change-20264 reducing beef consumption seems a reasonable way we can contribute to reducing our risk for irreversible climate disasters. In several places in the world individuals and institutions are eliminating beef altogether https://people.com/human-interest/uk-university-goldsmiths-banned-beef-climate-change/ . Here we find legumes coming in to fill the protein gap.

Beyond this beans are just plain good for you and offer a very good source of protein and nutrients that is easily digested for most people. They contain important phytonutrients which only come from plant based foods. You don’t have to be a vegetarian or vegan to eat them either. My rule of thumb for carnivoures goes something likes this…replace red meat with red beans at least once weekly for optimal digestion of proteins. The American Heart Association agrees that beans are preferable to animal proteins for heart health. For some people who suffer from digestive issues such as IBS or Crohn’s Disease eating beans can be challenging. I have worked with people to safely add in beans to their diet even with these conditions. For most of us beans are a welcome and healthy addition to our protein intake.

IMG_0452

There is a wonderful assortment of legumes available on the market today. You can find them in bulk at many small markets and even some of the larger scale grocery stores have added bulk bins so you can grab good quality, organic non-GMO dried beans. Beans and Legumes provide soluble fiber and are packed with nutrients such as iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. They are a pretty versatile food that can be prepared in a wide range of dishes from around the world. I must say since I’ve replaced red meat with beans and bean products such as tofu and tempeh my energy and weight have both markedly improved, and my grocery bill is lower!

I’m going to share a favorite snack I make with adzuki beans which I learned when working at The Kushi Institute. It is a sweet bean from japan that is described by many foodies as a super food along with chickpeas, lentils and black beans all of which I eat regularly. This high energy snack is both delicious and nutritious!

Chocolate Adzuki Bites (Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Soy Free)

Ingredients:
For the adzuki balls:
• 1/2 cup dried adzuki beans
• 3/4 cup pecans
• 6 or so pitted medjool dates (about 1/2 cup)
• 1/4 cup cocoa
• 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
• 1-2 teaspoons rice milk (optional)

For the topping:
You can choose either shredded coconut, chopped pecans or chopped cashews. You’ll need about a cup of whichever one you choose. For the nuts, I recommend blending them in the food processor before you make the balls because then you don’t have to clean it out.
• 1 cup of selected topping
• 1/4 tsp sea salt (the larger flakey kind if possible)

Directions:
Put the adzuki beans in a small pot and cover with a couple inches of water. Boil for about an hour, making sure you don’t let them dry out, until they are soft. Drain and set aside.

In a food processor or blender, blend the nuts for your topping (if using) and set aside. Add 3/4 cup cooked adzuki beans (they will have swollen up so your 1/2 cup should have turned into at least 3/4 cup), 3/4 cup pecans, dates, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. If it is too dry to blend well, you can add rice or almond milk a teaspoon at a time to add moisture. You can also add a teaspoon of maple syrup to make it a little sweeter (if you use the maple syrup you probably won’t need the rice milk)

Scoop out the dough a tablespoon or so at a time and roll into balls. Sprinkle them with just a bit of the sea salt and then roll the balls in the topping until they are coated then put them in the fridge for about an hour to firm up.

And for a little homage to beans:

Beans, beans, the musical fruit
The more you eat, the more you toot
The more you toot, the better you feel
So we have beans at every meal!

Suddenly it’s bean time!
Yes, we’ve got beans:
Fresh beans, green beans,
Long, wiggly lean beans,
Handfuls, pocketfuls, bags, bowls, tureenfuls!

Beans for lunch and beans for tea,
And beans for nibbles in between!

Beans for brunch – and midnight munch! –
More beans than you have ever seen!

Beans for neighbours, colleagues, friends –
and more beans ready to pick at weekends!

Beans for the freezer: squeeze a few more
Into the drawer ’til you can’t shut the door!

Beans for November, December, next year,
For springtime, next summer… when more will appear.

Yes, more beans, galore beans, bore beans, oh dear!
How about sprouts for a change of scene?

kate williams

https://www.artble.com/artists/annibale_carracci/paintings/bean_eater

Be Well

Leanne M.Yinger, M.Ed. HHNC
Holistic Health and Nutrition Coachhttps://kirasgoodeatskitchen.wordpress.com
https://www.facebook.com/Kiraskitchen5/

“Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates