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Grains and Gluten Intolerance

If wheat, rye and barley are the main grains with gluten, how about other grains?  Can you still eat Grains with Gluten Intolerance?

First off, grains and processed foods made with grains is not quite the same thing.  According to one of my favorite experts on the Gluten Free issues, Dr. Vikki Petersen:

Should Celiacs (or Gluten Intolerants) Eat dr_vikki1-227x300Grain?

A whole, organic grain is a beautiful complex carbohydrate that the body burns cleanly for good energy. The refined version (like those in processed foods) spikes blood sugar, creating an insulin response, inflammation, weight gain and, over time, degenerative disease. So as you can see they are vastly different!

If you are keeping track of the GMO issues, you know that corn and soy are mostly GMO now (unless marked organic or non-GMO).  Personally, I don’t eat soy and I watch for homegrown or organic corn.  Also, I don’t eat corn as a vegetable — I eat it as a grain in cereal, baked goods, etc. — but mostly as my favorite snack:  Popcorn!!

And even though oats are not considered a gluten grain, they are often processed in the same facilities as wheat; thus are often contaminated.  Oats processed in a gluten free environment will be marked as such and are safe for folks avoiding gluten.

Dr. Petersen goes on to explain:
Another facet of grains to be aware of is how they may fall into the category of cross-reactive foods as it relates to gluten intolerance. These particular foods, chiefly dairy products and grains,  have a similar protein structure to gluten and can create stress for certain patients whose immune system is unable to differentiate between these foods and gluten. Yes, the foods are, themselves, gluten-free. But in susceptible individuals the protein structure is similar enough to gluten to confuse the immune system into thinking it actually IS gluten. ….

When I was first tested for food allergies, my profile for dairy products showed a high susceptibility for an allergic reaction.  So along with wheat and gluten, I eliminated dairy (and eggs — which also was listed high) from my diet.  Now, after nearly four years, I have been slowing adding some occasional dairy into my diet.  I felt that my body needed LOTS of time to recover from the gluten damage.  But since I have seen a great improvement in my health during the last several months, I have been a bit more lenient with dairy and eggs.

Dr. Petersen concludes her article  ….

Where that leaves us is that there is no ‘pat’ answer to the question of grains being acceptable or not. But I do disagree with a viewpoint that eschews all grains for everyone. I find that not only unnecessary, but many gluten-free grains in their organic, whole form are very nutritious. These include rice, tef, quinoa, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, tapioca, arrowroot – the last few are not actual ‘grains’ but they are treated as such in many grain-rich gluten free foods.

Which grains do you eat?

My favorites are quinoa and rice (not including my organic popcorn!) although I do occasionally eat teff, millet, amaranth and buckwheat.

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GMO and Gluten Free Foods

I find it very annoying when people say, or worse yet, post on the web, that switching to Gluten Free is the healthiest thing they can do — regardless of what they eat.  There are plenty of bad gluten free foods out there that are far from healthy.   Of course, for us gluten intolerant or celiac folks , we don’t have a choice to whether or not we eat gluten.  But how about the QUALITY of the Gluten Free foods you are eating.  Did you know that LOTS of Gluten Free foods contain GMO.

GMO is a genetically modified organism  —  an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques.  If you have been following the news, studies have shown that GMO food can cause an array of nasty side effects including cancer and premature death.

Now, back to how Gluten Free foods contain GMOs.  If you don’t eat wheat, barley or rye, what is the next most common gluten free grain?  Corn!  And corn is the most likely grain to be GMO.

The following article by Mike Adams, editor of Natural News, explains further:

(NaturalNews) In the wake of all the recent revelations about the dangers of GMOs, a special warning needs to go out to all those health-conscious consumers buying “gluten-free” foods. As it turns out, most “gluten-free” foods sold in the USA contain genetically modified organisms.

Why is this so? Because the primary ingredient in most gluten-free foods is corn. And most corn-based foods are made with genetically modified corn. Around 85% of the conventional corn grown in the USA is genetically modified corn, and that corn is engineered to produce its own deadly insecticide right inside every grain.

When GM corn is harvested and made into gluten-free foods, the insecticide stays with it and resides in the gluten-free food. As a result, people who are buying gluten-free are often exposing themselves to the risk of toxicity from GM corn.

As Mike points out, the best way to avoid GMO and still eat corn based foods is to find  certified organic corn products.

Personally, my husband and I had big corn chip and taco eaters.  What do we do?  Costco carries a brand of organic corn chips that we buy regularly (sorry don’t remember the brand, but it is in a big brown bag).  Food for Life Brand makes a delicious organic sprouted corn tortillas that we use for our tacos — which you could also cut up and fry into chips.

Mike also suggests to check the labels on all the food you buy.  Unfortunately, companies are not required to put GMO ingredients on the label, so look for organic corn products.  (Watch the Proposition 37 Ballot Measure coming up in California.  Passage of this measure could be the starting point for a change in the labeling laws.) Mike says …

Do the ingredients include corn? Corn syrup? Maltodextrin? These are all corn derivatives, and if they’re not USDA organic, they’re likely to be genetically modified.Of course, this is NOT true outside the USA. GMOs are already banned in many countries, and GMO labeling laws exist in prominent nations around the world. This article is written solely for American consumers who remain inundated with genetically modified corn grown from the evil seed of Monsanto and other biotech seed suppliers.
In conclusion, eating Gluten Free is good, but we need to watch our labels to make sure our Gluten Free food is really the healthiest Gluten Free food.
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Gluten Free Grain: Corn

Corn, which is considered a staple in many countries, had been used by the Native AmerGluten Free Grain:  Cornicans for thousands of years.

Read more about Corn on my Squidoo Lens:  Gluten Free Grains!

Gluten Free Vegan Corn Bread

  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup almonds (60 raw almonds)
  • 1/3 cup sugar (reduce for low sugar dietary needs)
  • 1/2 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup water (warm or hot)

Directions:

  1. Finely chop the almonds, the add them (dry) to a blender. Blend until a fine meal consistency. Add the water and blend until smooth. Do not strain.
  2. In a glass baking bowl or casserole dish, combine all dry ingredients. Blend well.
  3. Add the heavy almond milk mixture from the blender to the bowl of dry ingredients. Blend well.
  4. Pour into 8′ pie pan or square pan.  Bake at 400 deg F, 12-15 minutes, until golden on top. (No need to preheat or grease anything.).

Recipe from Food.com

Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corn

http://www.healthy-foods-lifestyle.com/gluten-free-grains.html

Complete Gluten-Free Cookbook: 150 Gluten-Free, Lactose-Free Recipes, Many with Egg-Free Variations

Sources for corn meal and corn starch:

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