Gluten Detox: Simple tips to help you maintain a gluten-free diet

Introducing gluten detox

Gluten is a protein that is present in non-protein foods. Yes! Some carbohydrate foods do contain protein, and that protein is called gluten. Examples of grains that contain gluten include barley, rye, and wheat.

Most people do not have any allergy to gluten. However, consuming gluten may prove harmful to people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity or celiac disease (1, 2).

People who are allergic to gluten may experience symptoms such as headaches, weight loss, fatigue, discomfort in the gut, and dermatitis after consumption of gluten (3).

Even people who are non-allergic to gluten may benefit from a gluten detox.

The good thing about gluten-related conditions is that it disappears once you eliminate gluten from your diet, or a gluten detox as you may call it. This article will teach you some gluten detox tips.

Gluten detox gluten free diet
Photo Credit: Healthline

Gluten detox tip 1: Buy and cook grains that are gluten-free

Examples of grains that contain gluten are barely, wheat, and rye. However, there are other gains that are free of gluten. Such grains include (4):

  • Brown rice
  • quinoa
  • millet
  • oats
  • amaranth
  • buckwheat

Because of the name buckwheat, so many people may think that it is actually related to wheat. But that’s not the case. It is a seed that looks just like grain and totally unrelated to wheat. What’s more? It is gluten-free. Buckwheat can be eaten as a cereal or used in making gluten-free baked foods (5). Oats do not have gluten in them but may make contact with some traces during processing. If you are sensitive to gluten, or you have celiac disease, then you should eat oats that have been certified free of gluten (6).

Gluten detox tip 2: Make sure that your foods are certified gluten-free

All so-called gluten-free foods are screened by The Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

A food product that claims to be gluten-free must comply with the FDA’s definition by containing no more than 20 parts per million of gluten. The same standard is maintained by The European Union (7, 8).

Also, some organizations have created gluten-free certifications for manufacturers of food products. That notwithstanding, food products that have these third-party certifications must still comply with the regulations from the government. For instance, the Gluten Intolerance Group created the Certified Gluten-Free label. To be certified with this label, a food product must contain no more than 10 parts per million of gluten, or even less. Compliance is ensured by regular testing and inspections (9).

Gluten detox tip 3: Eat more fresh foods

All fresh produce are naturally free of gluten. These include vegetables and fruits.

Diets that have little to no gluten in them may lack macronutrients such as magnesium or folate unless gluten-containing products are replaced with other nutrient-dense foods. You can get these nutrients by adding more fresh foods to your diet. Doing same will also help you to eliminate gluten from your foods (10).

Here are some tips that include fresh produce to your diet:

  • you can replace bread with a lettuce wrap
  • spiralized veggie noodles can replace pasta
  • do away with salad, and replace it with a sandwich instead
  • A good example of a gluten-free side dish would be butternut squash or roasted potatoes. Use this as a side dish.
  • Your side dishes should consist mainly of roasted vegetables or fresh fruit.
  • Add some fruits to your breakfast or eat it as a snack.
  • Replace your bread with slices of sweet potatoes.

Processed vegetables and fruits may contain some gluten (usually as a thickening agent or as a food additive). The best you should do it to check the food label for wheat or gluten when purchasing frozen, canned, or dried vegetables and fruits.

Gluten detox tip 4: Ensure that your pantry is cleaned out at all times

Always check out your pantry and clean off all items that may have some gluten on them.

The most effective way of determining whether a product has gluten in it or not is to cross-check the ingredient list. Do away with grains like barley, wheat, rye and, wheat. Buy ingredients with lesser amounts of gluten such as brewer’s yeast, malt vinegar, and seitan.

A gluten detox may be somewhat difficult if you do not educate other members of your household on similar dietary restrictions.

You may store all gluten-free items in a part of your pantry. No other food item should go in there. This will help you to avoid accidental exposure of food items to gluten and cross-contamination. You can move a step further by using a separate toaster and cleaning your utensils and cutting boards before cooking.

Gluten detox tip 5: Avoid beverages that contain gluten

Beverages such as alcohol contain some gluten.

Beer is rich in gluten because it is produced from fermented wheat or barley. We have already established that wheat and barley contain gluten. However, there are many beers in there are many beers in the market that are free of gluten. You can buy these. They are made from ingredients like rice or sorghum (11).

If you crave for gluten-free alcohols, you may go for gin or vodka. Both are distilled liquors. You can also go for wine. Wine is free from gluten. That said, there may be malt barely in wine coolers. Malt barley is a grain with some gluten content. Other examples of non-alcoholic beverages include tea, sparkling water, and coffee. That notwithstanding, coffee drinks, milkshakes or pre-made smoothies may contain some gluten. Your best bet is to examine the labeling before purchase.

Gluten detox tip 6: Go with your own food

Most people like attending social events. A variety of dishes may be served at these events. If you have a gluten allergy, then consider attending such social events with your own food (which should be gluten-free).

Accidental exposure to gluten is common at such social events. Even if the dish is free of gluten, there is a high risk of contamination during cooking. This may be risky for persons who are very sensitive to gluten. You can bring enough gluten-free dish to go around. You will make everyone happy, and besides, having one gluten-free dish can tone down on social stress and also reduce exposure to gluten.

Gluten detox tip 7: Include more seeds and nuts in your foods

Most gluten-free diets are deficient in some nutrients like calcium, fiber, and zinc (10).

Nuts and seeds have zero gluten content, and are equally rich in thee nutrients (12, 13).

Some seeds and nuts that you may add to your diet include:

  • Cashews
  • almonds
  • pecans
  • pistachios
  • walnuts
  • pumpkin seeds
  • macadamia nuts
  • chia seeds
  • sunflower seeds
  • flax seeds

You can add seeds and nuts to gluten-free oats, replace wheat flour with finely ground nuts, sprinkle some seeds on your salad, or make nut butter with your nuts. Of course, you can enjoy it with celery sticks or apple slices.

Gluten detox tip 8: Know the different types of wheat and their names

There are many varieties of wheat. This, in some way makes it difficult to study food labels. Study food labels carefully for these wheat varieties when looking out for hidden sources of gluten (4):

  • Einkorn
  • Durum
  • Khorasan (Kamut)
  • Farro or spelt
  • Triticale

Wheat flour(s) is also known by different names such as graham flour, farina, or semolina. These flours are all loaded with gluten and you must exclude them from your diet if you really want to follow a gluten-free diet.

Also, some food additives may be loaded with caramel color, maltodextrin and, modified food starch. These are all less well-known sources of wheat.

The best way to know whether a product contain gluten and wheat or not is to evaluate the allergens statement on the food label of that product. The FDA has mandated that all food products should clearly state whether or not they contain the top allergens, such as wheat (14).

Gluten detox tip 9: Reduce your intake of processed foods

Manufacturers of food products can include gluten to their products with the aim of improving shelf life, mouthfeel and, texture. For instance, some gluten may be added to foods such as baked goods, seasoned rice mixes, sausage, French fries, and lunch meat.

Also, gluten-free products have high sugar, fat, and sodium content compared to other products. Thus, while these products may be free from gluten, they may not be the best substitute for whole foods (15).

Natural foods that are free of gluten include fruits, eggs, vegetables, seeds, and nuts. You should include more of these foods while reducing your intake of processed foods.

Gluten detox tip 10: Eat out less often

Most restaurants are now serving gluten-free meals. However, these meals are quite expensive, and are also at risk of cross contamination.

Preparing more of your meals at home can help you purge out the gluten from your diet, while enjoying the health benefits of your food.

As a matter of fact, people who eat more at home eat more vegetables and fruits compared to those that eat out, and have their risk of obesity reduced by 28% (16).

The easy way out is to create a weekly meal plan. Fill your pantry with fresh foods such as seeds, legumes, nuts, fish, eggs, and gluten-free grains.

WHAT’S THE SUMMARY?

Most people are not allergic to gluten.

However, some persons who have celiac disease, or who are sensitive to non-celiac gluten must avoid gluten foods as they may trigger very fatal symptoms. You have a duty to do…read the nutrition labels of all food products carefully, remove gluten from your diet by taking in whole foods, eating at home more often, and eating more of gluten-free grains.

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