Sunday, September 4, 2011

Gluten free diet

Gluten free diet has been in the news, as is evident by its popularity with the hollywood celebrities and with the emerging labeling trend on the packaged foods (its still new in India). It has become somewhat of a fad-diet too for all types of food allergies.

What is Gluten free diet?

Gluten is a part of the grain protein (mainly found in Wheat, rye, jowar/barley, buckwheat and sometimes jai/oats). A diet free of all these grains and their products is known as gluten free diet.

Who needs to follow this diet?

People suffering from Celiac disease, Non- tropical sprue or Gluten sensitive enteropathy need to follow this diet. They are allergic to the alcohol soluble portion of gluten (called gliadin) which triggers an immune reaction leading to intestinal damage, thus affecting nutrient absorption. A person sensitive to gluten, needs to avoid these grains and their products (usually for life) because even a small amount can make them very sick.

Being a Celiac in India
Its often a blow to those who can't imagine that they will not be able to eat roti (the staple indian flatbread, usually made from wheat flour). But all is not lost, many options are available for Indians locally.

Natural Gluten free foods
Rice - rice flakes, rice flour; Bajra ; Ragi; Corn flour(makai atta); Pulses/dhals of all kinds as well as besan; Soy; Sago (sabudana);Eggs ; Milk and dairy products; Fruits & vegetables (all kinds; oils and fats; meat & poultry etc.

Things to remember

1. Avoid wheat or maida (white flour) based products eg. Pasta, semolina (suji), bread, paav, pizza, buns, cakes etc.
2. Never mix or store gluten free foods with other foods.
3. Be aware of how a food is made/processed. Eg. Gulabjamun, Jalebi, Ladoos etc. have gluten in them.
4. Read labels at all times. The labeling of food as Gluten free means that it will have no more than 20 ppm (parts per million) of gluten in the food. Avoid a packaged product with the following things listed in the ingredients like:

a) Modified food starch
b) Caramel colour
c) Malt
d) Bleached wheat flour
e) Dried soy sauce
f) Hydrolyzed wheat protein
g) Maida (All purpose flour)

Oh! and yes, it doesn't have any benefits for a normal person, so no need to jump on the wagon to be like a celebrity.


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