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Is Gluten-Free for Me?

By Lindsay Stenson, Acupuncture Denver Staff 

Are gluten-free foods all the rage or I’m just paying closer attention? Walking the aisles of the grocery store or sitting down to eat at a local restaurant, I have been pleasantly surprised by the increasing number of gluten-free options. It is during these times that I ask myself, should I go gluten-free too? While I don’t recommend going gluten-free if there isn’t a need (don’t fix what isn’t broken), I do think that some people may have gluten sensitivity and not even realize it. Gluten is the protein portion in wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut and oats. So why eliminate gluten from your diet? A gluten-free diet is necessary for those who have intolerance to gluten. When these individuals consume gluten they may get symptoms that include abdominal discomfort, bloating, pain, diarrhea, constipation, gas, weight loss, skin rash and fatigue. Celiac disease is a condition in which the immune system responds abnormally to gluten. This can cause damage to the lining of the small intestine, leading to malabsorption of vital nutrients. It is important to note that some people can have sensitivity to gluten without testing positive for celiac disease, but both are treated with a gluten-free diet.

Many people walk around with digestive discomforts thinking it is normal, but find that when they exclude gluten from their diet they feel better. If you fall under this category, eliminating gluten from your diet may be worth a try. While this diet modification can be difficult, as many foods contain gluten (hello bread, pasta, cereal and baked goods) acceptable alternatives include rice, sorghum, soybean, buckwheat, arrowroot, flax, millet, tapioca, quinoa, corn, and potato.  Be sure to read labels carefully, as many processed and packaged foods contain gluten-containing grains. Look for products marked gluten-free. In fact, I find myself throwing gluten-free products into my shopping cart because they look good, and end up coming back for more because they taste good! There are a lot of tasty gluten-free products out there to choose from. Some brands that I favor are Canyon Bakehouse bread, Tinkyada Pasta, Udi’s, Pamela’s Products, Bob Red Mill, and Amy’s Kitchen.

As many of you know, we recommend the “Spleen Qi” fertility diet for most of our patients. This is a gluten-free, cow dairy-free whole foods diet that is part of traditional Chinese medicine. But more and more, Western medical research correlates unexplained infertility with gluten intolerance. We have seen the gluten-free diet not only improve our patients’ fertility outcomes but also the quality of their daily lives!

For those of you wanting an easy, gluten free muffin recipe, here’s one to try:

Easy Gluten-Free Banana Muffins*

1 c. Sweet Sorghum flour

1 c. Rice flour

½ t. Baking powder

1 t. Baking soda

¾ T. Cinnamon

¼ t. Nutmeg

1 ½ c. Apple juice

2 Ripe bananas (mashed)

1 Egg

¼ c. Honey

1/3 c. Brown sugar

½ c. Raisins

Preheat oven to 3500F. Combine dry ingredients and slowly add liquid ingredients until well mixed. Line muffin pans with cupcake liners and fill muffins two-thirds full. Bake 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. *From University of Northern Colorado food sciences textbook.