(NaturalNews) Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, semolina, kamut, barley, spelt, triticale, bulgur and rye and forms an elastic-type protein that helps bind molecules, causing flours to rise during baking. Its presence in certain flours contributes to a delicious, chewy bagel or bread dough; however, it is also an allergen for many people. Reactions to eating gluten may appear immediately or hours and days later. Gluten intolerance can cause serious autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, celiac and Crohn's disease as well as a multitude of other symptoms ranging from irritable bowl syndrome to skin rashes and headaches. Most problems can be prevented by avoiding those foods and adhering to a gluten-free diet.
The idea of giving up wheat -- the most commonly used flour for almost all commercial baked goods, pastas and cereals -- may be challenging and feel overwhelming at first. However, there are many new gluten-free products available and bakeries are producing more and more gluten-free recipes due to the high demand.
Certain grains should be avoided to prevent reactions to gluten, according to guidelines provided by Rush University Medical Center. All foods containing the grains mentioned above including but not limited to bread, pasta, cereals, muffins, bagels, cookies, cakes, gravies, croutons, bread crumbs, biscuits, rolls, pita, batter-fried foods, noodles, wheat-based tortillas, ice cream cones, bran, wheat germ, dumplings, pancake mixes, pies, pumpernickel and rye breads, cornbread, vermicelli, doughnuts, buns, pretzels, spaghetti, waffles and pastries, should be avoided unless the label states clearly that they are gluten-free. Many of these foods can be substituted with similar gluten-free products available in most health food and grocery stores.
2. Condiments and Seasonings
Many common condiments and seasonings contain gluten and cause problems for those who are gluten-intolerant. The following foods should be eliminated from the diet unless they plainly state on the label that they are gluten-free: Worcestershire sauce, MSG, modified food starch, malt products, bouillon, barley malt, soy sauce and any salad dressings or gravies thickened with wheat or other gluten-based flour.
3. Alcoholic Beverages
Eliminate certain alcoholic drinks like beer, ale, light beer and hard liquors made with grains containing gluten. For anyone newly diagnosed with gluten intolerance,it's recommended that youproceed cautiously to determine if you can tolerate alcoholic drinks distilled from gluten grains, which include most gin, whiskey and some vodkas.
4. Processed Meats
The Celiac Sprue Association recommends eliminating all processed meats from the diet. Sprue is one form of debilitating arthritis accompanied by a wealth of digestive symptoms and is caused by eating gluten. Along with having cancer-causing chemicals in them, almost all processed meats including cold cuts, liverwurst, hot dogs, sausages, bologna, pepperoni, salami and pate are high in gluten because various grains are used in their manufacture.
5. Sweets and Treats
Being on a gluten-free diet includes eliminating sweets and treats that may be made with flours and other substances containing gluten. Foods to avoid include all products made with malt, all chocolate and chocolate candy containing malt, ice cream, candies containing cereal extract, sherbets, commercial cake frosting, and root beer. Check labels and look for products that are specifically labeled gluten-free.
According to the Mayo Clinic, when a variety of gluten-free products come into contact with products such as grains containing gluten, cross-contamination may occur. This is common in factories that process both regular and gluten-free products and use the same machines for both. The other place cross-contamination can occur is in the kitchen. It occurs most commonly when preparing meals and sharing the same kitchen tools and surfaces. Use extreme care and have a back up cutting board that is only used for preparing gluten-free items to avoid cross-contamination.
JB Bardot is an herbalist and a classical homeopath, and has a post graduate degree in holistic nutrition. Bardot cares for both people and animals, using alternative approaches to health care and lifestyle. She writes about wellness, green living, alternative medicine, holistic nutrition, homeopathy, herbs and naturopathic medicine. You can find her at The JB Bardot Archives at www.jbbardot.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jbbardot23 or on Twitter at jbbardot23 or https://twitter.com/jbbardot23