It’s easy to be gluten free without feeling deprived. When I went off of gluten, I thought I could never have cookies, pasta, cakes, or pizza again. Then I discovered the whole world of gluten-free products, most of which are as good or even better than the original. The greatest find was bread. Toast and coffee, sizzling grilled cheese, and picnic sandwiches were mine to be savored once again. My delight fell flat when I read the ingredient list on the packaged loaf.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in cereal grains (wheat, barley, rye, spelt). This protein has two components, gliadin, and glutenin. Gliadin is the component responsible for most of the negative side effects of gluten. When one combines these flours with water, they create a sticky paste that contributes to the chewy texture of baked goods and helps it rise. Interestingly enough, the name gluten came from the word ‘glue’.
What is So Bad About Gluten?
Many people think, “So this is all cool and whatever, but I don’t have coeliac so I’m good with eating this stuff, right?” Wrong! There are many forms of gluten reaction and they can happen to anyone even without a positive coeliac test.
- Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity is especially common with those with intestinal disorders such as IBS.
- Inflammation. See that swollen red patch around a splinter on your finger? Imagine that in your gut. This natural immune response is not exclusive for gluten-sensitive people.
- A Trigger for Type A Diabetes. This potential is chiefly in wheat gluten.
- Leaky Gut. Gluten releases a hormone called zonulin which causes intestinal permeability.
- Gastronomical Symptoms. We know all these: bloating, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, gas, cramping, etc.
- Brain Fog and Fatigue. Are you surprised? Don’t be. The gut isn’t the only organ affected by what you eat.
- Skin Problems. Symptoms similar to eczema, psoriasis, or dermatitis herpetiformis can be caused by this protein.
Avoiding gluten saves you from these tribulations.
What is Considered Healthy Gluten-Free Bread?
One thing needs to be clear: ALL BECAUSE A PRODUCT SAYS ‘GLUTEN-FREE’ DOESN’T MEAN IT’S HEALTHY!
In a conscious lifestyle, one avoids harmful ingredients such as margarine, refined sugar, inflammatory processed vegetable oils, and preservatives. Yet manufacturers slip these toxins into gluten-free bread and we think it’s good for us. Their goal to sell without much regard to the negative effects of their merchandise. Especially with gluten-free bread, there may be even more sugar, fats, and chemicals to compensate for the lack of the binding and rising agent, and to cover the bland taste of the starches they use. Since these products are stuffed with bad ingredients, there is little to no nutritional benefit.
Compare These Two Loaves
Udi’s White Sandwich Bread
INGREDIENTS: WATER, TAPIOCA STARCH, BROWN RICE FLOUR, CANOLA OIL, EGG WHITES, POTATO STARCH, MODIFIED FOOD STARCH, TAPIOCA MALTODEXTRIN, DRIED CANE SYRUP, TAPIOCA SYRUP, YEAST, GUM (XANTHAN GUM, SODIUM ALGINATE, GUAR GUM), SALT, LOCUST BEAN GUM, CULTURED CORN SYRUP SOLIDS AND CITRIC ACID (MOLD INHIBITOR), ENZYMES. CONTAINS: EGG
Silver Hills Gluten Free Chia Chia Bread™
Water, organic whole sorghum, organic sprouted chia seeds, organic cane sugar, organic psyllium husk, cultured rice flour, yeast, sea salt, organic vinegar, organic sunflower oil (used on equipment only not as an ingredient).
Made in a certified gluten free facility. Made in a facility that also processes products with eggs. Made in a peanut and tree nut free facility.
See the Difference?
Bread should be nutritious, delicious, and filling. Food that lacks fiber will leave you hungry after the meal. A piece of toast shouldn’t be spiking your blood sugar levels and causing you inflammation, which is what a gluten-free diet is trying to avoid. Check the ingredients of the loaf you are purchasing to ensure it is truly healthy. Can’t pronounce most of the list? Here’s a tip: Don’t buy it.
Brands to acquire: Silver Hills, Food for Life, Manna Organics
Brands to avoid: Udi’s, Ener-G, Glutino, Kinnikinnick Foods
What’s the Best Option?
My personal favorite, and what is healthiest for you, is homemade gluten-free bread. I’d trust a loaf that expires in a few days much more than one that keeps for over a month. You know for certain what is in your bread and you match it to your taste. Imagine opening the oven door with the aroma of freshly baked loaf filling the kitchen, browned to perfection, soft to touch… and as you slowly take a bite… Ah, nothing beats the homemade.
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