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The gluten free diet: A beginner’s guide to a gluten free meal plan

gluten free diet involves excluding foods that contain the protein gluten, including wheat, rye and barley. Most studies on gluten free diets have been done on people with celiac disease, but there is another condition called gluten sensitivity that also causes problems with gluten.
If you are intolerant to gluten, then you need to avoid it completely. If not, you will experience severe discomfort and adverse health effects. Here is a complete guide to the gluten-free diet, including links to the most delicious gluten free meal plans from Soul Santé Café in Dubai since it’s one of the best gluten free cafes in Dubai. But first, let’s start with the basics.

What Is Gluten?

Gluten is a family of proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and spelled. Its name comes from the Latin word for “glue,” as it gives the flour a sticky consistency when mixed with water. This glue-like property helps gluten create a sticky network that gives bread the ability to rise when baked. It also gives the bread a chewy and satisfying texture.

Unfortunately, many people feel uncomfortable after eating foods that contain gluten. The most severe reaction is called celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the body mistakenly harms itself. Celiac disease affects up to 1% of the population and can damage the intestines. If eating gluten makes you feel uncomfortable, it’s best to tell your doctor.

These are the most common ways to test for celiac disease:

  • Blood test. A blood test will look for antibodies that incorrectly interact with the gluten protein. The most common test is a tTG-IgA test.
  • Biopsy from your small intestine. People with a positive blood test will likely need to have a biopsy. This is a process in which a small tissue sample is taken from your intestine and checked for damage.

It’s best to get tested for celiac disease before trying a gluten free diet. Otherwise, it will become hard for your doctor to tell if you have celiac disease or not.
People who don’t have celiac disease but feel they may be sensitive to gluten can try a strict gluten free diet for a few weeks to see if their symptoms improve. Be sure to seek assistance from a doctor or dietitian.
After a few weeks, you can reintroduce foods that contain gluten into your diet and test for symptoms. If a gluten free diet doesn’t help your symptoms, it is likely that something else is causing your digestive problems.

Gluten is a family of proteins that is found in certain grains. Eating it causes harmful effects in people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.

Why Gluten Is Bad for Some People

Most people can eat gluten without experiencing side effects.
However, people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease cannot tolerate it.
People with other disorders like wheat allergy and non-celiac gluten sensitivity also frequently avoid gluten.
Aside from an allergy, there are two main reasons why someone would want to avoid gluten.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease affects up to 1% of people worldwide.
It is an autoimmune disease in which the body mistakes gluten as a foreign threat. To remove this “threat” the body overreacts and attacks the gluten proteins.
Unfortunately, this attack also damages surrounding areas, such as the gut wall. This can lead to nutrient deficiencies, severe digestive issues, and anemia, as well as increase the risk of many harmful diseases
People with celiac disease often experience sharp stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, skin rashes, stomach discomfort, bloating, weight loss, anemia, tiredness, and depression.
Interestingly, some people with celiac disease don’t experience digestive symptoms. Instead, they may experience other symptoms like fatigue, depression, and anemia.
However, these symptoms are also common in many other medical conditions, making the celiac disease difficult to diagnose

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is believed to affect 0.5–13% of people.
People who are classified as having non-celiac gluten sensitivity do not test positive for celiac disease or a wheat allergy. However, they still feel uncomfortable after eating gluten.
Symptoms of non-celiac gluten sensitivity are similar to those of celiac disease and include stomach pain, bloating, changes in bowel motions, tiredness, and eczema or a rash.
However, non-celiac gluten sensitivity is highly controversial. Some experts believe this sensitivity exists, while others believe it is all in people’s heads.
For example, one study tested this theory on 35 people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Scientists gave participants both a gluten-free flour and a wheat-based flour at separate times without identifying them.
They found that two-thirds of people could not tell the difference between gluten-free flour and wheat-based flour. In fact, nearly half of the participants had worse symptoms after eating the gluten-free flour.
Nevertheless, some evidence shows that gluten-sensitivity exists.
At the end of the day, the evidence surrounding non-celiac gluten sensitivity is mixed. However, if you think gluten is making you uncomfortable, it’s best to let your doctor know.

Most people can tolerate gluten, but it causes problems in people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Foods to Avoid

Completely avoiding gluten can be challenging.
This is because it is found in many common ingredients that are added to foods.

These are the main sources of gluten in the diet:
– Wheat-based foods like wheat bran, wheat flour, spelled, durum, Kamut, and semolina
– Barley
– Rye
– Triticale
– Malt
– Brewer’s yeast

Below are some foods that may have ingredients containing gluten added to them:
– Bread. All wheat-based bread.
– Pasta. All wheat-based pasta.
– Cereals. Unless labeled gluten-free.
– Baked goods. Cakes, cookies, muffins, pizza, bread crumbs, and pastries.
– Snack foods. Candy, muesli bars, crackers, pre-packaged convenience foods, roasted nuts, flavored chips and popcorn, pretzels.
– Sauces. Soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, hoisin sauce, marinades, salad dressings.
– Beverages. Beer flavored alcoholic beverages.
– Other foods. Couscous, broth (unless labeled gluten-free).

The easiest way to avoid gluten is to eat unprocessed, single-ingredient foods. Otherwise, you should read the food labels of most foods you buy.
Oats are naturally gluten-free. However, they are often contaminated with gluten, as they might be processed in the same factory as wheat-based foods

Completely avoiding gluten can be challenging, as it’s found in many common foods. The best way to completely avoid it is to consult a dietician and have them plan your healthy, gluten free meal plans.

Foods to Eat

There are plenty of gluten free options that will allow you to enjoy healthy and delicious meals.

The following foods are naturally gluten free:
– Fruits and vegetables. All fruits and vegetables are naturally free of gluten.
– Grains. Quinoa, rice, buckwheat, tapioca, sorghum, corn, millet, amaranth, arrowroot, teff, and oats (if labeled gluten-free).
– Starches and flours. Potatoes, potato flour, corn, corn flour, chickpea flour, soy flour, almond meal/flour, coconut flour, and tapioca flour.
– Nuts and seeds. All nuts and seeds.
– Spreads and oils. All vegetable oils and butter.
– Herbs and spices. All herbs and spices.
– Beverages. Most beverages, except for beer (unless labeled as gluten-free). Soul Sante Cafe is known as one of the best gluten free restaurants in Dubai. Try our gluten free meal plans now!

A gluten-free diet has plenty of options when you order your gluten-free meal plans from Soul Sante Cafe.

Health Benefits of a gluten-free Diet

A gluten-free diet has many benefits, especially for someone with celiac disease.
Here are the main benefits of a gluten-free diet:

May Relieve Digestive Symptoms

Most people try a gluten-free diet to treat digestive problems.
These include bloating, diarrhea or constipation, gas, fatigue, and many other symptoms.
Studies have shown that following a gluten-free diet can help ease digestive symptoms for people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
In one study, 215 people with celiac disease followed a gluten-free diet for six months. The diet helped significantly reduce stomach pain and the frequency of diarrhea, nausea, and other symptoms.

May Boost Energy

People with celiac disease often feel tired, sluggish, or experience “brain fog”..
These symptoms may be caused by nutrient deficiencies because of damage to the gut. For example, an iron deficiency can lead to anemia, which is common in celiac disease.
If you have celiac disease, switching to a gluten-free diet may help boost your energy levels and stop you from feeling tired and sluggish.

Can Help You Lose Weight

It’s not unusual to lose weight when you start following a gluten free meal plan or try the low-cal meals from Soul Sante Cafe.
This is because it eliminates many junk foods that add unwanted calories to the diet. These foods are often replaced by fruit, veggies and lean proteins.

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