In recent years, there’s been a lot of attention focused on gluten and its effects on the body and on health in general. Gluten has been associated with several disorders and conditions, including digestive-related conditions such as celiac disease. People who have gluten sensitivity (or gluten intolerance) have reported a host of symptoms, including abdominal cramping, diffuse aches and pains, and other symptoms that can take a big toll on the activities of daily life. But what is gluten, and how could eliminating gluten from your diet help you enjoy better health? Here’s some background.
What is gluten?
Gluten refers to a group of proteins found in some grains, including wheat, rye and barley. Gluten has certain elastic properties that help foods hold their shape, and it can be found in a wealth of foods — some expected, like breads, pastas and cereals, and some unexpected, like many bottled sauces, canned foods, and even chips and cookies. Because so many products contain gluten, learning to read labels and cook from scratch are essential when following a gluten-free diet.
What are the benefits of a gluten-free diet?
Gluten has been suggested as a cause for many conditions, including:
- Gas, bloating, cramping, diarrhea and constipation.
- Fatigue or “brain fog,” especially after eating gluten.
- Feelings of dizziness or lightheadedness.
- Migraines or other headaches.
- Swelling or discomfort in the joints.
- Fibromyalgia or chronic regional pain syndrome.
- Problems with mood, including irritability, anxiety or depression.
Where can I find gluten-free recipes?
If you’re ready to give gluten-free cooking a try, the Internet has a wealth of recipes to help you cut out gluten without losing out on nutrition — or flavor. Here are three top sites to check:
- com is the Internet’s leading recipe site, and it has lots of gluten-free recipes for everything from appetizers to desserts, plus the forum offers lots of cooking advice and tips.
- com is where you’ll find plenty of gluten-free recipes from television’s top cooks and cooking experts.
- The Celiac Disease Foundation provides almost 800 gluten-free recipes as well as plenty of information about the reported health effects related to gluten.
Before making any permanent change to your diet, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor, especially if you’ve been experiencing any of the symptoms associated with gluten sensitivity. But you can start today by trying a few recipes and incorporating them into your regular roster of meals. It’s easier than you think to start cooking gluten-free.