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Gluten Free Living

Gluten Free Living - How to get the most out of your gluten free diet By Bridget Pennington, The Wellness Mentor It is a well-known fact that the gluten-free market is booming, nay...

Gluten Free Living

Gluten Free Living - How to get the most out of your gluten free diet

By Bridget Pennington, The Wellness Mentor

It is a well-known fact that the gluten-free market is booming, nay exploding. And why, prey tell, is this magnificent boom happening? Quite simply it’s because so many people are being guided by their doctors, both traditional and alternative, to give gluten a miss.

This troublesome little protein isn’t bad for everyone, but a growing number of people need to steer clear to keep their health in check.

Naturally we make an association with coeliac disease and gluten, but there are many, many people who need to avoid gluten to maintain their health. Of course right up near the top of the gluten-avoiding ladder is the coeliac, followed closely by the gluten intolerants. You can then place anyone suffering from other autoimmune diseases, psoriasis, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and anyone with gastrointestinal complaints like colitis, Crohn’s or IBS on the ladder. Add yet another rung for sufferers of depression and anxiety and it turns out to be quite a big ladder!

Here’s one of the biggest, fattest food misconceptions of our modern time – gluten free equals healthy. The fact is it does not.

How can this be? Celebrities are losing weight, sportspeople are playing better tennis, kicking more goals in footy… Surely that is because they stopped eating gluten and they’re healthier, right?

They might be healthier, but it may not be just because their food is free of gluten. Chances are these people are being coached to eat what could only be classified as a whole food diet. And there, my dear gluten avoiders, is the secret. And it’s a 10,000-year-old secret to boot!

When you trot down the aisle of your local supermarket you will very likely see a gluten-free section. Rewind 10 or even seven years and that would rarely have been seen. In fact, there was a time when a person with coeliac disease had to get a prescription and go to the hospital to get gluten-free bread. Can you even imagine?!

Whether you are currently eating gluten free or considering it, when your fridge and pantry are stocked with products that line the inner sanctum of the supermarket, it is very likely that these items are nutritionally deficient, highly processed ‘food-like’ products. They don’t resemble their original, nature-grown components and, as Michael Pollan discusses in his incredible book The Omnivores Dilemma, if you dissect and decode your processed food item, most of it is probably corn. Corn!

Why does that matter, I hear you murmur. Well, let’s see. Corn, by and large, is genetically modified (another modern term lost on the caveman). Its genetic make-up has been interfered with to increase the yield and to give it a superman-like inbuilt resistance to certain pests and pesticides. If you get to the nitty-gritty of how highly processed the corn is and how many chemicals have been used on it, it barely even resembles corn any more. Holy cow! Many of the processed corn ingredients also have abominable levels of fructose, which will slam your liver quicker than you can say “but the label said natural”.

It would be easy to spend quite a while discussing the flailing values of processed food, but instead let’s now invest in some quality. The essential answer to the question “how can I get the most out of my gluten-free diet?” is simply eat quality food. Where at all possible, aim for organic. I don’t worry about what the science says when comparing the mineral and vitamin content to conventional produce because organic is more about what’s not in and on it. If the people who spray the crops need to wear protection, that’s a jolly good indication that we are not meant to ingest it – from the bottle or from the plant.

The other piece of advice I give to my clients is to scrap the packets. Eating as much of a whole food diet as you can means that your body, in all of its genetic wisdom, will recognise the food and understand what it needs to do to digest and assimilate it. That means you actually get the goodness that Mother Nature intended. The amazing and wondrous thing about food as nature created it is that it is bioavailable. That means if the nutrients are fat soluble (meaning you need fat to absorb them) then the food will contain fat (like unhomogenised raw milk). If they are water soluble, then the food will be watery (like fruit). It doesn’t get any easier than to just eat food as it is meant to be.

The types of food you will see in a whole food diet include meat (again, shoot for organic), poultry, fish, vegetables, nuts, rice (not bleached), quinoa, seeds (including seeds like amaranth), fruit, herbs and spices.

Staying gluten free is essential for a growing number of Australian men, women and children. Simply replacing gluten-containing products with gluten free is not the way to a healthier mind, body or spirit.

You can make it easier by implementing a gradual change to an organic, whole food diet. Each week, simply aim to gather more food as it would look freshly harvested and reduce the amount of packeted products in your trolley.

As Ann Wigmore, raw food matriarch said, “The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison”.

Bridget Pennington has just released her brand new book, 'Happy Gluten Free Kids'. This book is for you if you spend hours reading labels trying to work out what does/doesn't include gluten, whilst trying to protect your child's health, and make your life easier. Click here to find out more and get your copy.

[Image credit: womenshealthmag.com]