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Gluten-free diets – 2

In this video , Dr. Krupa-Kozak discusses facts and myths related to gluten-free diets, and some "super" gluten-free alternative grains.
[music] -It is quite remarkable that almost all fresh food except some cereals are gluten-free. Foods that might contain gluten is a group of products that might contain hidden gluten simply because of the way they were produced even if originally these products did not contain gluten, but wheat flour or gluten could be just added during their processing. Moreover, a cross-contamination by gluten should be noticed during storage, processing, and cooking. Therefore, labels should be carefully read and special attention should be paid to the ingredient list and certification marks that guarantee the absence of gluten. In the last 25 years, we have witnessed a tremendous rise of the popularity of gluten-free foodstuff.
The gluten-free market represents one of the most prosperous markets in the field of food and beverages. Why? Because not only people suffering from gluten intolerance buy gluten-free products. Today, one in four, so around 25% of US American citizens claim to eliminate gluten from the daily diet. According to the latest study by Lis and coworkers from 2015, more than 40% of non-celiac athletes follow a gluten-free diet more than 50% of the time, taking into account that gluten-free products are not so widely available, are more expensive, and have lower palatability and nutritional value than their gluten-containing counterparts. We may wonder why people choose gluten-free products, why people would like to pay greater prices for gluten-free food.
In fact, because of non-medical reason, just basing on incorrect information available in some media and books, I will provide you with the evidence-based explanation of the most common inaccuracy regarding gluten and gluten-free diet. You may believe that gluten-free foods are a healthier choice with no disadvantages, but this is the fiction number one. There is no data supporting the presumed health benefits of gluten-free products for healthy people. In fact, the opposite situation might be true. Commercially available gluten-free product frequently contain a greater density of fat and sugar than conventional counterparts. Increased fat and sugar intake may lead to overweight, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome.
In addition, consumption of only processed gluten-free foods may lead to deficiency of important nutrients and dietary fiber. Elimination of gluten-containing cereals means the elimination of important micro-nutrients such as iron, zinc, calcium, and magnesium because cereals are the major source of these nutrients. Wheat, rye, and barley supply approximately 35% of the dietary fiber that is an important component with several physiological functions. Moreover, wheat flour products are usually enriched. Contrary, gluten-free cereal products are not, and therefore, they do not contain the same level of vitamins B, folate, vitamin D, calcium, and iron. You may heard that gluten is toxic or carries negative health effects, but again, there is no data supporting the theory that gluten is toxic for healthy people.
Gluten is one of many proteins of wheat and for majority of people, gluten protein just pass through gastrointestinal track without leading to diseases. Gluten generally contain multiple glutamine and proline. The high level of these amino acids make gluten resistant to enzymatic degradation in gastrointestinal tract which reduce its immunogenicity. To conclude, gluten-free diet is not a super diet. It is a treatment reserved for some individuals for whom it was recommended because of the medical reasons. Recently, researchers working in the field of gluten-free foods try to improve the nutritional value of gluten-free products, by application of naturally gluten-free superfoods. This is a great possibility worthy to try. What are these gluten-free superfoods?
When I’m thinking about gluten-free superfoods I mean some mineral cereals, pseudo-cereals, and legumes. Naturally, gluten-free pseudo-cereals include buckwheat, quinoa, and amaranth. They are characterized by superb protein profile and high content of minerals, vitamins, phenols, and dietary fiber. The protein content in amaranth and quinoa is higher than in cereals. Besides, the essential amino acid profile of pseudocereals is well-balanced. They are excellent source of lysine and methionine. Moreover, they are rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, and zinc and are a good source of vitamins, in particular of riboflavin, folic acid, vitamin C, as well as dietary fibers and bioactive compounds. Teff is another gluten-free superfood.
This ancient mineral cereal is especially appreciate [sic] in bread making because of its high nutritional value. The proteins of teff have well-balanced amino acid composition. Teff is also a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals like calcium, iron, and zinc. It contains only 2% of lipids, but mainly unsaturated fatty acids, among which oleic and linoleic acids are predominant. Finally, the incorporation of legumes like beans, green peas, lentils, to gluten-free products is a great idea, that is in line in the current dietary needs. Legumes are important source of proteins rich in lysine. When consumed with cereals, may complement the proteins and provide a more balanced final product.
Legumes are also a good source of calcium and iron, B complex vitamins and nutrient fibre. In addition, legumes are identified like a foods flow glycemic index that can be helpful in weight management. Take home message, avoid gluten-free diet introduction without medical recommendation. Avoid auto diagnosis of any gluten-related disorders. Gluten-free diet is a therapeutic pathway, it need to be controlled by a dietitian or physician, to prevent from nutritional deficiencies.

What are the consequences of gluten-free diets?

Myths about gluten lead towards gluten-free choices by many people that have no medical reasons for them. Usually, this is not a good choice: gluten-free bakery products often have inferior nutritional characteristics, either due to increased amounts of sugars and fats or to decreased amounts of fibre and other micro-nutrients.

The result is a paradox: consumers looking for healthier choices might risk nutritional deficiencies or excessive caloric intake, along with the increased expenditure for gluten-free products.

But not all is lost: minor cereals, pseudocereals and legumes can all be considered as traditional superfoods: they have a very good protein content, are not necessarily expensive and often have a role in culinary tradition. This is not only the case of quinoa and amaranth in the Andean region and Central America, but also of teff (grown and widely used in Ethiopia and Eritrea to produce a flatbread called Injera) and of buckwheat.

In conclusion: gluten possesses unique properties, and it plays a crucial role in baked products. It can cause intolerances or allergies, but they should not be self-diagnosed. There are gluten-free “super” alternatives, but a proper gluten free diet requires medical advice.

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Superfoods: Myths and Truths

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