Gluten Free Diet: Is it Healthy?

Gluten is a mixture of proteins found naturally in certain cereals. People with celiac disease must follow a gluten-free diet. People who have been diagnosed with gluten sensitivity also benefit from avoiding gluten.  Gluten is found in products made from certain grains, such as all kinds of ordinary bread, rusks, crackers, pastries, cakes and pasta such as macaroni, spaghetti and vermicelli. It is also found in products in which a binder containing gluten has been used, such as soup, sauce, sausage and minced meat. Gluten-free diet products can be recognized by a gluten-free logo on the packaging. It is not wise to follow a gluten-free diet if this is not necessary. A gluten-free diet is complex and the risk of a nutrient deficiency is high. That is why it is important to have a doctor determine whether you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity and to call in the help of a dietician if you have to follow a gluten-free diet. Gluten is a mixture of proteins that occurs naturally in some grains. Gluten, for example, makes dough rise well. It makes dough products such as bread and pasta airy and firm.  

Where is gluten? 

Cereals containing gluten are called gluten-containing grains. These are the gluten-containing grains: 

  • Wheat, including spelt, and khorosan wheat (also known as kamut)
  • Rye
  • Barley (groats)
  • Oats Oats do not naturally contain gluten, but it is known that oats can regularly come into contact with grains containing gluten. As a result, cereals that are naturally gluten-free may still contain gluten. Because of this 'contamination', oats are not gluten-free, unless the term 'gluten-free' or the gluten-free logo appears on the label.

Nutritional advice

Gluten is only harmful to people with the condition celiac disease (gluten intolerance). They must follow a strict gluten-free diet. People diagnosed with gluten sensitivity also benefit from a gluten-free diet.

Gluten-free diet

If you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, you should avoid products containing gluten. Bread and other cereal products contain fibre, iron, vitamin B1 and folic acid. Bread also contains iodine. It is important to get enough of these substances within a gluten-free diet.

Healthy eating with celiac disease

The five food groups is also the basis of a gluten-free diet. Within the Five food groups you can choose products that are naturally gluten-free or gluten-free variants of products with gluten, such as wholemeal bread and wholemeal paste.

The 5 food groups for celiac disease

Fruit and Vegetables

All fresh fruit and vegetables are naturally gluten-free so you can just eat them.

Bread, cereals and potato

Many products in this section contain gluten. Because they also provide carbohydrates, protein, fibre, iron, vitamin B1 and folic acid, you will need to replace them properly. Brown rice and potatoes are naturally gluten-free and you can just eat them. Gluten-free grains, millet and teff are also suitable. Also oats, which bear the gluten-free logo. Make sure that this logo is really there, because the naturally gluten-free oats are often contaminated with gluten. Bread and pasta contain gluten. These products can be replaced by gluten-free wholemeal bread, gluten-free wholemeal crackers and gluten-free wholemeal paste.


Fish, legumes, meat, egg, nuts and dairy products

Unprocessed fish, legumes, tofu, tempé, meat, egg and nuts are naturally gluten-free. By processing such as panning and marinating and by using spice mixtures, these products can contain gluten. Seitan is made from wheat protein and therefore contains gluten. In addition to being a good source of protein, legumes are also a good source of fibre and carbohydrates. As a basis for the meal, they are therefore very suitable for people with celiac disease. Milk, yogurt,soft cheese and cheese made from cow's, goat's or sheep's milk are gluten-free. Dairy products with additives such as custard, fruit curd cheese, cheese spread and foreign cheeses can contain gluten.

Lubricating and manufacturing fats

Butter and oil are gluten-free. Most halvarines and margarines are also gluten-free.

Drinks

Water, tea and coffee are gluten-free. Certain herbal tea mixtures do contain gluten due to the ingredient malt (extract).

Products and ingredients with gluten

Cereals containing gluten are used in many products and ingredients. For example: bread, crackers, rusk, muesli, cake, pastry, pizza and pasta, couscous, bulgur and seitan. Flour, flour, binders and breadcrumbs are usually made from gluten-containing grains. That's why many soups, sauces, meats, custard, liquorice and other products in which you might not expect it contain gluten. Gluten may also be present in some vitamin supplements. It is therefore advisable to check the packaging when taking vitamins. If you are on a gluten-free diet, do not use disposable crockery and cutlery made from wheat bran. This contains gluten. These plates or cutlery can get gluten into your food or drink, which can cause complaints. For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, it is necessary to recognize gluten-free products. This can be done by reading the label. You can also download an app and immediately see whether the product is gluten-free. 

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