You or someone you know has probably tried the gluten-free diet in the past few years. The popularity of this diet has led to the creation of an array of gluten-free products and entire grocery store aisles dedicated to it. Gluten-free options are now widely available on restaurant menus, in flights, and even in pizza and burger joints.
It is estimated that about 1% of the population in Western countries is diagnosed with celiac disease, an autoimmune condition triggered by the consumption of gluten from wheat, rye, and barley that leads to the destruction of the intestinal lining and malabsorption of nutrients. 
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), which is gluten sensitivity in the absence of celiac disease is reported to affect about 13% of the population. 
Signs you may have non-celiac gluten sensitivity include:
- Brain fog
- Skin issues
- Low mood
- Nausea & vomiting
- Digestive issues: cramping, diarrhea or constipation, bloating & gas
But, why does gluten sensitivity seem to be on the rise?
When we turn to science, we can’t really find the ONE answer. There are many theories from the rise of the modern wheat, to the overuse of antibiotics and pesticides, and that it’s really FODMAPs and not gluten.
But what if the answer is far more simple than that.
REFINED FLOURS & OUR HEALTH
The truth is that as a population we consume too many products made up of a single grain…wheat. Just think about it: toast with eggs for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and a bowl of pasta for dinner. And, most of the gluten-based products on our menu are highly processed, refined and devoid of nutrients.
When a grain is refined, the bran and germ which are the most nutritious parts are removed and what’s left is the endosperm that contains most of the starch. Refining a grain leaves us with a processed flour that not only lacks the fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants but something that spikes our blood sugar levels and affects the health of our gut.
So, could the rise of gluten sensitivity be the combination of many factors, and could the answer really lie in our microbiome and the health of our gut? Researchers are definitely exploring that connection. 
The good news is that if you are sensitive or intolerant to gluten, there are many other healthy and nutritious options to try.
BEST GLUTEN-FREE FLOURS
This is a flour that’s on the top of our list. It is nutty, slightly sweet and is relatively easy to use as a replacement. It can generally be substituted 1:1 with wheat flour in baking recipes and can also be used to make delicious breadcrumbs. It’s denser and less fluffy than regular flour, but that makes for delicious bread.
Almond flour is incredibly nutritious and high in healthy fats, vitamin E, fiber and magnesium.
Coconut flour is high in fiber and helps to maintain steady blood sugar levels. It’s perfect for use in baking and desserts due to the light coconut flavor.
Coconut flour contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that have a positive effect on metabolism and energy production.
It’s also a great option for those on a paleo or keto diet, and anyone with a nut allergy.
Chickpea flour is incredibly nutritious and contains good amounts of folate, magnesium, zinc, selenium and B vitamins. It helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, protects against heart disease, lowers inflammation and is beneficial for your gut.
It can be used in both sweet and savory recipes.
Buckwheat flour is quite nourishing and contains an important flavonoid called rutin with anti-inflammatory properties that aid blood circulation, lower cholesterol and help reduce arthritis pain.  
As a flour, it’s great when combined in recipes as it has a strong earthy taste.
Oat flour is made by grinding whole oats and makes for a great cookie flour.
Oats contain a type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan that’s most widely known for lowering bad “LDL” cholesterol. Oat flour is also rich in manganese, selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron and B vitamins.
Make sure that the oat flour you buy is certified gluten-free, as oats are typically contaminated during processing.
An unconventional option that’s definitely gaining a lot of popularity, cricket flour is made by grounding whole roasted crickets. It is the new super nutritious and more environmentally friendly source of protein.
12 grams of cricket flour has 7 grams of protein including all 9 essential amino acids. It also has more B12 than salmon or beef, contains omega 3s, iron, and calcium – and is good for your gut! Give it a try with these cricket cookies here. 
Other available gluten-free flour options include:
- Brown rice flour
- Sorghum flour
- Tigernut flour
- Teff flour
- Amaranth flour
- Cassava flour
- Corn flour
Do you follow a gluten-free diet? What is your favorite flour?
ALMOND FLOUR BREAD RECIPE
Recipe: Elizabeth Rider
- 2 1/4 cups blanched almond flour
- 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon fine-texture sea salt
- 5 eggs
- 1/2 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). In a food processor, combine the dry ingredients and pulse them until well combined, about 10 pulses.
- Add the wet ingredients and mix until well combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the edges.
- Pour dough (will be like a very thick batter) into a greased 9×5-inch bread pan. There will be enough to fill the pan about halfway up.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center. Let cool in the pan for 30 minutes before serving.
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