Go on a gluten free diet to stay healthy for life

Go on a gluten free diet to stay healthy for life
There’s a new fad in town, and this time it’s here to stay. It’s the gluten free diet! What’s that, you say? It’s a diet in which the only foods you can eat are those which do not contain any gluten.

Gluten is a protein which is found in wheat, barley and rye mainly. Consuming foods which contain gluten seems to trigger off a reaction in the intestinal tracts of some people, leading to celiac disease. Gluten causes inflammation in the small intestines of people with celiac disease. This is a digestive and autoimmune disorder that results in damage to the lining of the small intestine when foods with gluten are eaten. Glutens are a form of protein found in some grains. The damage to the intestine makes it hard for the body to absorb nutrients, especially fat, calcium, iron, and folate. Eating a gluten-free diet helps people with celiac disease control their signs and symptoms and prevent complications.

There are more and more gluten free products being offered in the market today.

According to Cliff Carter, the general manager of Mrs Crimbles, this is because people who do not need to avoid gluten are still choosing to cut it out, because they just feel better without it. He says that the gluten-free market is now worth £175 million. Peter HR Green, director of the Celiac Disease Centre at Columbia University stated that the gluten-free market is expanding greatly. This expansion is extremely valuable for those with celiac disease or other medical reasons, such as gluten intolerance or sensitivity.

I have baked quite a few gluten free cakes and breads here in Pune too, one of them for a girl as young as nine years of age!

There are many people who say they have never felt as good as after going gluten free. Millie Mitra, of Millie’s Vegan Cheeses, Bangalore, went vegan a few years ago for health reasons. Though her health did improve over all, she found that she was still suffering from nasal allergies. A few months back she went gluten free, and she says her nasal allergies disappeared altogether and she regrets not having turned gluten free earlier.

Then there are people like Sumit Partap Gupta, owner of the Madhuban chain of restaurants in India, who is opening gluten free vegan restaurants in Gurgaon, Dubai and in other parts of the world. According to Gupta, he is on a mission to help people regain their health without compromising on taste.

So why turn gluten free, suddenly? India’s staple food is wheat in most parts of the country and yet the older generations do not seem to have suffered by eating it. What then has gone wrong now? Why is it that the present generation feels the need to stop eating gluten? I feel the answer lies in the fact that today, almost all the food that people consume is made from maida or refined flour. Be it burgers, pizzas, sandwiches, biscuits, cookies, cakes, breads and even chappatis. The quantity of refined flour being consumed by people is very high, much higher than by any other generation ever. So it’s no wonder that the gluten sticks to the intestines and stops the absorption of nutrients!

People on a gluten free diet can eat grains like amaranth or rajgira, quinoa, teff, jowar, almond meal, coconut flour, pea flour, corn meal and rice flours. And of course all fruits, vegetables, lentils, beans and nuts, among other things.

But going gluten free is not the only step needed for good health. You still need to ensure that you are getting enough nutrients in your diet. According to MayoClinic.org, people who follow a gluten-free diet may have low levels of certain vitamins and nutrients in their diets. Many grains are enriched with vitamins. Avoiding grains with a gluten-free diet may mean eating fewer of these enriched products.

(The writer is a vegan chef and author of The Vegan Kitchen: Bollywood Style!)

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