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The Anti-gluten Age

Eliminating this bad boy can improve your tummy troubles

When the new King Soopers grocery store at 20th Street and Chestnut Place in downtown Denver opened in 2015, two whole lanes were dedicated to gluten-free products. Plenty of shoppers were taken by surprise. How did gluten gain such notoriety while we weren’t watching?

Gluten, a protein present in cereal grains, especially wheat, is responsible for the elastic texture of dough. A mixture of two proteins, it causes illness in people with celiac disease. Harvard Health explains it this way: In people with celiac disease, gluten triggers an immune response that damages the lining of the small intestine. This can interfere with the absorption of nutrients from food, cause a host of symptoms, and lead to other problems like osteoporosis, infertility, nerve damage, and seizures.

As people age, their tolerance to gluten proteins decreases. Problems like diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, bloating, gas, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and constipation result. Celiac affects 1% of Americans, about 400,000 adults over age 60, according to the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America.

As of now, the only treatment for those diagnosed with celiac disease is a completely gluten-free diet.

If you suspect you’re gluten intolerant, it’s time to consider a gluten-free diet.

And even those who are not gluten intolerant, but seek to improve their health, lose weight, and gain energy are going gluten free.

To get off the gluten, Mayo Medical Clinic advises avoiding wheat, barley, rye, triticale (a cross between wheat and rye), and sometimes oats.

A short list of gluten-free foods includes:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Beans, seeds, legumes and nuts in unprocessed forms
  • Eggs
  • Lean, non-processed meats, fish and poultry
  • Most low-fat dairy products. 

Grains, starches or flours that can be part of a gluten-free diet include:

  • Buckwheat
  • Corn — cornmeal, grits and polenta labeled gluten-free
  • Flax
  • Rice, soy, corn, potato and bean flours
  • Hominy (corn)
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Rice, including wild rice
  • Sorghum
  • Soy
  • Tapioca (cassava root)
  • Teff 

Now for the painful part. Mayo Clinic says to avoid the following when adhering to a gluten-free nutritional program:

  • Beer, ale, porter, stout
  • Breads
  • Bulgur wheat
  • Cakes and pies
  • Candies
  • Cereals
  • Communion wafers
  • Cookies and crackers
  • Croutons
  • French fries
  • Gravies
  • Imitation meat or seafood
  • Malt, malt flavoring and other malt products
  • Matzo
  • Pastas
  • Hot dogs and processed lunchmeats
  • Salad dressings
  • Sauces, including soy sauce
  • Seasoned rice mixes
  • Seasoned snack foods, potato and tortilla chips
  • Self-basting poultry
  • Soups, bouillon, or soup mixes
  • Vegetables in sauce.