Many people decide to go gluten free these days (which can have great health benefits), but there are some pitfalls that can be encountered when replacing a food with a gluten free option. The supermarket shelves are filled with gluten free products, but are they actually any better for us?
In Latin, the word gluten literally means ‘glue’. Gluten is found in all forms of wheat (durum, semolina and spelt), rye, and barley. Gluten is what provides the elasticity and stretch of doughs and is found in a countless number of processed foods from bread to sauces and processed meats. Some people can be allergic to gluten whilst others can have a sensitivity or just find that reducing the amount they consume in their diet improves their health.
Giving up bread or replacing it can be one of the trickiest parts of a gluten free diet, however there are a number of reasons why supermarket gluten free breads should be avoided.
- They are incredibly high on the glycaemic index, meaning they elevate blood sugar levels quickly. Chronically elevated blood sugar can lead to metabolic syndrome, diabetes and even heart disease.
- They hardly contain any fibre which will leave you feeling hungry rather quickly. Fibre helps you feel fuller for longer, can improve cholesterol, blood sugar levels and can assist in preventing some diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and bowel cancer.
- Canola oil is very often used in these breads, which is pro-inflammatory and can cause irritation of the gut and promote systemic inflammation.
- Supermarket gluten free breads tend to be minimally nutritious with corn flour or potato starch used in place of wheat flour.
- The binders used to hold the bread together such as xanthan gum are highly processed and can actually trigger allergies that mimic gluten sensitivity.
- A whole host of chemical additives and preservatives are added to make the product look and feel more like regular bread. But despite this, they tend to crumble easily and the flavour is still pretty bland!
The production process of the gluten free breads found on supermarket shelves delivers a highly processed product that may in fact make your symptoms persist. So it’s best to avoid the supermarket gluten free breads, and instead look out for speciality breads that are devoid of the binders, chemicals, fillers and other nasties discussed above. Seek out specialty products available at independent health stores made with ingredients such as buckwheat, pea, quinoa, rice, and almond or coconut flour.
Or better still, make your own bread and even combine grains such as buckwheat and rice in a food processor to make your own flour.
Yours in natural health,
Always consult your healthcare professional before commencing a new dietary or exercise regime, before using any supplements and before making any changes to prescribed medications.