For those individuals who simply cannot take gluten in their regular diets, such as those suffering from Celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, skin issues and other autoimmune disorders like lupus. This makes gluten-free food choices highly valuable to their well being, nutrition and overall food satisfaction. If you or anyone in your family is sensitive to gluten, you want to find the best sources for gluten-free fare.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a complex protein — a highly nutritious vegetable-based protein for some, but for those with gluten allergies it can trigger headaches, digestive difficulties, autoimmune reactions, Celiac disease and a host of other damaging symptoms. Wheat, barley, rye, triticale are grains with naturally occurring gluten. Gluten is found, of course, in breads, pastas, cakes and many mixes as an “added starch” (or as a filler in some vitamins and medications, to give the pill its shape and buffer) but it’s also surprisingly found in a number of drinks as well (such as barley based drinks). Check the labels of prepared yogurts, cheese spreads, spice mixes and powders to make sure they’ve not added a wheat product for texture or balance in them, too. There are several “safe” grains which are also used as “starch” additions though, such as rice flour, tapioca, etc..
Those with severe gluten intolerance, such as those suffering from Celiac disease or Dermatitis Herpetiformis must find alternative healthy food options without gluten. Because of the impaired nutrient absorption often found with Celiac disease and its kin, and the avoidance of a full food group suffers can find themselves missing essential nutrients, enzymes and amino acids.
Finding Healthy Gluten-Free Choices
Even though there are some wonderful stores now who offer a delicious selection of gluten-free food choices (Whole Foods is one of my favorites), it often, it takes a magical-mystery-tour of trips to myriad grocery stores, health food specialty shops to find a selection of gluten-free food substitutes. And then you’re still at the mercy of “oh, sorry, we’re out-of-stock” responses.
The internet has become a great resource for finding gluten-free foods and snacks, and even beverages and dinner choices such as gluten-free pastas and bread mixes — with the added benefit of having them delivered to your door at your convenience! Many online sources (check out Amazon) even post the nutritional labels and ingredient labels online so you can double-check that no gluten containing substances have snuck into the foods. (And, those labels are a very nice READABLE size, not needing a microscope to decipher them!)
So, start surfing and make the internet work for you in your hunt for gluten-free foods!