What is Gluten?
Gluten is the protein that gives dough its elasticity. The word “gluten” actually means “glue” in Latin.
What Foods Have Gluten?
Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye, contaminated oats, triticale and any of their derivatives. People often ask “are oats gluten free?”. Oats are often contaminated with gluten because of the high risk of contamination in the fields where they are grown. There are certified gluten free oats available, however.
Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance, Gluten Sensitivity & Wheat Allergy
Wheat free diets are important for those with wheat allergy but gluten from other sources does not need to be excluded.
However, a gluten free diet is essential for anyone diagnosed with Celiac Disease.
Many people have gluten allergy symptoms due to gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity. They would also benefit from going gluten free.
However, gluten free living may be lacking in iron, B-vitamins, calcium, magnesium, zinc and fiber because many gluten free grains are not fortified with these vitamins and minerals.
Also, some gluten free products may have higher fat content to hold the baked goods together compared to foods with gluten.
Vegan diets include only foods from plant sources and exclude any meat, poultry, fish, dairy and any of their derivatives.
Gluten free living and veganism can be a very healthy way of eating if done with balance. However, protein deficiency, low vitamin D and calcium deficiency can occur as well as anemia due to low iron and vitamin b12. Here are some suggestions for healthy gluten free living and vegan living.
Try to include a vegan protein source such as nuts or nut butters, beans, lentils or tofu/soy products with meals to include a regular source of protein in your diet. Also choose whole grains such as brown rice or wheat bread to gain an additional 3 grams of protein per serving.
Foods High in Calcium:
Choose calcium-fortified beverages and include sources of calcium with meals and snacks daily. Here are some examples.
• Calcium-fortified orange juice
• Beet greens
• Turnip greens
• Bok choy
• Mustard greens
• Sweet potato
• White beans
Sources of Vitamin D:
This is a trickier vitamin to get for vegans, but there are foods high in Vitamin D available. The benefits of Vitamin D include strong bones and so it is essential to have sources of this vitamin in your diet. If you live in a northern region and tend to see the sun a bit less than you’d like you may want to consider a supplement to avoid a Vitamin D deficiency.
• Vitamin D fortified gluten free cereal
• Vitamin D fortified orange juice
• Vitamin D almond, hemp or rice milk
Foods High In Iron:
Pump up your iron intake with iron rich foods.
• Dark green, leafy vegetables
• Sweet potatoes
• Dried fruits such as apricots, dates, raisins and prunesAlso consider preparing your meals in cast-iron skillets to increase your iron intake through cooking.Vitamin B12 foods:B12 plays an important role in promoting normal metabolism. In order to avoid a b12 deficiency, this micronutrient needs to be included for gluten free living as well going vegan.
Here are some examples:
• Nutritional yeast
• b12 Fortified gluten free cereal
• Soy milk
• Certain meat alternatives e.g. veggie burgers
Other B Vitamins:
B vitamins are essential for a healthy metabolism. Unfortunately, many gluten free grains are not fortified with B vitamins. It is, therefore, very important to make sure that B vitamin rich foods are included when going gluten free and vegan. Here are some examples:
• Dark green, leafy vegetables
Sources of Fiber:
Many gluten free grains such as white rice do not have fiber. Therefore, it is important to focus on gluten free grains that do have fiber.
• Pure, certified gluten free oatsAlso aim for at least 5 servings per day of fruits and vegetables to provide a naturally gluten free source of fiber into your diet.
Nutrition labels should always be read for sources of gluten and its derivatives. The easiest word to identify as a source of gluten is “wheat” as this is one of the top 8 food allergens included under the 2006 Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA). Since wheat falls under the FALCPA, it must be clearly stated on any packaged foods in theU.S. It will either be displayed next to the allergen ingredient such as “wheat” or underneath the ingredient list such as “contains wheat”.
If wheat is not identified, read the nutrition label further for the following words: barley, malt extract or flavoring, brown rice syrup (may contain barley), natural flavoring if made from malt, rye, oats (unless stated as certified gluten free), Brewers yeast, beer, ale, lager, triticale or soy sauce (typically made with wheat). This is just a brief review of reading food labels for gluten; if you have been diagnosed with Celiac disease it is highly recommended that you see a registered dietitian for education on the diet.
Milk and eggs also fall under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act and must be clearly stated on nutrition labels of any packaged foods in the U.S. It will either be displayed next to the allergen ingredient such as “whey (milk) or eggs” or underneath the ingredient list such as “contains milk or contains eggs”.