Gluten-Free Diet: Some Facts You Need to Know

Last week, we have discussed about gluten, its sources, and substitutes. Now why don’t we move a little bit further and talk about the gluten-free diet.

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What is a gluten-free diet?

Gluten-free diet, as the name suggests,  is a dietary intervention where we try to remove gluten from meals. Due to the adverse effects of gluten for people with gluten sensitivity, it is necessary for people to be knowledgeable about gluten, its sources and its best alternatives.

Though name of the diet speaks for itself, there are certain facts about it that are worth mentioning.

1.) Gluten-free diet is primarily made for people who experience adverse reactions to gluten. With that being said, certain claims that it is a miracle diet for weight-loss should be taken with a grain of salt due to the lack of substantial studies to back such claims[1]. Though it is not intended to provide an express lane for dieters, weight-loss can still be achieved when undergoing gluten-free diet plan. We’ll learn more about this in the future blog posts, so keep your eyes peeled!

2.)  A gluten-free diet does not require people to worry about other proteins and fat sources aside from gluten. Certain starch sources, which are essentially the main sources gluten, are the only food items that concerned individuals should keep a sharp eye to.

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3.) Aside from celiac disease, gluten-free diet is also applicable to those who are suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This is a condition where muscle contraction during digestion is no longer coordinated, resulting to irritation during the process. The diet prescribed for such health concerns is called FODMAP (Fermented Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols) diet, which includes gluten-free food items to avoid allergies or any other potential intolerance[2].

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4.) Gluten-free diet is also applied to certain health problems such as gluten ataxia, dermatitis herpatiformis, wheat allergy as well, other than the most commonly known diseases associated with this diet (Celiac disease and non-Celiac gluten sensitivity[NCGS]).  

5.) Gluten-free diet may also help improve systemic symptoms in certain diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and HIV enteropathy[3]. However, it is recommended to consult first your physician before following this diet in pursuit of remedy for these symptoms.

So there you have it. These additional bits of information will surely help not just those people who have Celiac disease and non-Celiac gluten sensitivity, but also those people who have certain medical concerns that necessitates gluten-free diet as well. Share this piece to your friends who need to be informed too!

Got questions about gluten, and the gluten-free diet? Just leave a comment below.

Sources:

 1.) CERTIFICATION, GLUTEN-FREE. Información en Español. The Gluten Intolerance Group of North    America, 2016. Web. 21 Oct. 2016.

2.)Angelle, Amber. “Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention.” livescience.com. 20 Apr. 2015. Web. 21 Oct. 2016.

3.) El-Chammas K, Danner E (Jun 2011). “Gluten-free diet in nonceliac disease”. Nutr Clin Pract (Review). 26 (3): 294–9. doi:10.1177/0884533611405538. PMID 21586414.

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The Boon, the Bane, and the Basics of Gluten

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A lot of us are lucky enough not to experience the pressure of scrutinizing the details of what we eat. But for some, it can be a daunting process to know the components of their meal, just right before indulging in it.

Aside from the typical food allergens, there are also various substances that some of us need to keenly observe beforehand, lest we experience discomforts of having to deal with adverse reactions to the food that we eat. And one of those compounds is the hidden gluten component  in various starches.

What is gluten?

We constantly see a lot of articles about gluten being published in social media, among other sources. However, some fail to address the basic question before giving it a bad rap. So first things first, what is gluten?

Gluten is basically a mixture of different types of protein activated by water that provides elasticity and form to the final product of almost all breads and pastries that we love. It is generally found in wheat, barley, rye, malt, triticale, and even brewer’s yeast.  

Majority of the population do not experience adverse reaction when consuming gluten. Nevertheless, there are certain medical conditions that require avoidance of the said protein combination. This includes Celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, and wheat allergy. Since a lot of our processed starch sources contain gluten, it is necessary  that those people who have either of these medical concerns be well informed about the presence of gluten in products they wish include in their shopping list.

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Being well informed about gluten

Wheat is one of the most consumed cereals around the world. It is therefore implied that wheat gluten is one of the items that should be watched-out if you belong to the population who needs avoid it. Aside from wheat products, it’s also important to recognize other sources of gluten as well to make sure that there are no stones left unturned.

Though avoiding sources with gluten can be excruciating to some extent, preparing a gluten-free food list is quite an easy job. Since gluten is found only in certain grains, other carbohydrates sources such fruits, vegetables, and root crops are already out of the equation. Of course, animal proteins and fats are not included in the list.

When preparing a list of gluten-free foods, particularly grains that can serve as perfect alternatives to those gluten-rich grains, remember to include these perfect substitutes which you can incorporate into your meals:

  • Buckwheat
  • Corn
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Oats
  • Millet

Based on the grains listed above, there are far more varieties of grains that do not have gluten than those that have it. Filipinos are primarily rice consumers, so it would  not be difficult to stick to it during meal time.  However, it is wise to consider the manufacturing process of these grains, as most like oats are harvested, packed and manufactured in the same facilities as wheat.

Other gluten-free products to consider

Luckily, people who need to avoid gluten no longer bound to perpetually avoid their go-to comfort foods. Certain methods of gluten extraction and purification paved way to innovative production of gluten-free bakery products which we can all definitely enjoy. Here in the Metro, online shop such as GERALD.ph offers a wide selection of gluten-free products from different kinds of pastries, pastas, and even ice cream, which would certainly make people with gluten concerns live like any other gluten tolerant  individual.

Gluten-free lifestyle might be overwhelming to some of us. But with the right selection and now with wider varieties to choose from, developing a habit would be way easier than it was before.

Sources

 

  1. Lamacchia, Carmela, et al. “Cereal-Based Gluten-Free Food: How to Reconcile Nutritional and Technological Properties of Wheat Proteins with Safety for Celiac Disease Patients.” 6.2 (2014): n.pag. Web. 14 Oct. 2016.
  2. 4310830, 95 -. Sources of gluten – celiac disease foundation. Celiac Disease Foundation, 1998. Web. 14 Oct. 2016.
  3. Awika, Joseph M. “Major Cereal Grains Production and Use Around the World.” Advances in Cereal Science: Implications to Food Processing and Health Promotion. N.p.: American Chemical Society (ACS), Jan. 2011. 1–13. Web. http://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/whats-whole-grain-refined-grain/gluten-free-whole-grains
  4. “INFOGRAPHIC: How much rice do Filipinos consume?” Rappler, 7 Oct. 2012. Web. 14 Oct. 2016.

Know Your Status: Are You Gluten Sensitive?

food-allergies

A good number of people already know that gluten is found in various starchy carbohydrate sources. Here in the Philippines, we take pride in our carbohydrate-rich menus which are customary in every meal. However, since gluten intolerance is still not a familiar concept to many of us, we discount having gluten sensitivity when experiencing discomforts after certain meals, allergy or intolerance specifically to gluten is hardly even thought about.

Pandesal, typical Filipino gluten laden bread.
Pandesal, typical Filipino gluten laden bread.

Studies on the prevalence of gluten sensitivity or gluten allergy in the Philippines have yet to be published, though we have to be aware of the possibility that anyone of us might be part of the statistic, especially if the source of discomfort is not top-of-mind.

It is important also to differentiate between gluten intolerance and gluten allergy. Allergic reactions tend to be immediate and often severe, as opposed to intolerance, the symptoms of which are not immediately felt, could be from days to weeks, the cause of which are subtle and not readily detectable. Both are abnormal reactions to certain foods manifesting in your body in different ways. Gluten adverse reactions include skin conditions like eczema, digestive conditions like bloating, constipation, pain and diarrhea, even others seemingly unrelated to digestion, like fatigue, migraines and severe ones like seizures.

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When adverse symptoms continue to bog you down, allergy testing and food intolerance testing would definitely help shed some light on your concerns.

Allergy Testing

A trip to the allergist would help you determine if you are susceptible to allergic reactions to specific components of a particular food, such as gluten. Some other common food allergies are caused by milk, eggs, nuts, fish or shellfish. Gluten and other food allergies can also be identified by undergoing a series of brief tests and interviews. Here in the Metro, we have quite a number of hospitals and centers that conduct tests know which food items you have to watch out for.

Quezon City

St. Luke’s Medical CenterQuezon City, ranked as one of the top hospitals in the country, offers a variety of services from asthma, drug allergies, insect allergies, and of course food allergies, to determine which substance you have an allergy to, through its St. Luke’s Allergy and Immunology Department.

It is located at 279 E Rodriguez Sr. Ave, Quezon City. They also have a branch in Bonifacio Global City: St Luke’s-Global is located at Rizal Drive cor. 32nd St. and 5th Ave., Taguig.

Makati and BGC (Bonifacio Global City)

Another center you can visit in BGC is LifeScience Center for Wellness and Preventive Medicine. Through a simple blood sampling that is analyzed using their in-house Food Detective Kit, which uses Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) technology, which is a plate-based assay technique designed for detecting and quantifying substances including antibodies, assisting in determining your food intolerances.

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Healthway, the mall based clinic also  offers what they term as “FIT”, short for Food Intolerance Test, which already includes a consultation with nutritionist for briefing on their FIT service and to explain the findings of the test. You can find them in Greenbelt 5, as well as other malls in Alabang, Bonificio Global City, and Quezon City.

Manila

Manila Doctors Hospital, through its Pediatric Allergology and Immunology Department also conducts tests to determine your food allergies and food intolerances. Among its Allergology Services are allergy screening, and allergy management.

MDH is located at UN Ave., Ermita Manila City

Alabang

With 30 branches nationwide, including Alabang, High Precision Diagnostics offering Food Intolerance Testing is also an option for you. The food intolerance test is simple, done through blood sampling. You can get the results of the test in two weeks.

Asian Hospital And Medical Center in Alabang also offers food intolerance and allergy testing. As with its tertiary hospital counterparts in the North, AHMC provides services for immunologic/allergic disorders, such as allergic rhinitis (hay fever), asthma, sinusitis, insect allergy, unusual vasculitis syndromes, and penicillin and other drug allergies.

AHMC is at r, 2205 Civic Drive, Filinvest Corporate City, Alabang, Muntinlupa City

With the variety of healthcare providers around, tests in determining whether you have some food intolerances is now very accessible. If you maybe suffering from any of the symptoms mentioned or you have an inkling that you could be adversely reacting to food but not completely sure, visiting your doctor and taking a food intolerance test could be well worth it. It can help improve your health and might even save your life in the long run.

Sources:

“Philippines.” Welcome to Ranking Web of Hospitals. Centro De Información Y Documentación (CINDOC), n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.

Raneses, Katherince Grace. “Getting Tested for Food Intolerance at LifeScience.”Mucking Around Manila. N.p., 14 Nov. 2014. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.

Aventajado, Michelle. “My Food Intolerance Test – Momma ‘N Manila.” Momma N Manila. N.p., 2016. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.