Saturday, June 11, 2011

What is gluten intolerance?

What is Gluten Intolerance?

At a very basic level it can be defined as: a genetically inherited disorder in which gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, spelt, and barley) causes an abnormal inflammation of the intestinal lining. This, in turn, causes a malabsorption of vital nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in the foods eaten.

An extreme form of Gluten Intolerance is called Celiac Disease, a chronic autoimmune condition that presents itself with actual damage to the intestinal lining and bowel.

What are the symptoms?

Here is a list of the most common symptoms:
* Stomach and abdominal pain/cramping
* Bloating
* Constipation
* Diarrhea
* Gas, often very foul
* Heartburn or acid reflux

A list of other symptoms:
* Weight loss
* Stubborn weight gain
* Vomiting
* Floating/fatty stools
* Foul smelling or bloody stools
* Delayed growth/puberty
* Failure to Thrive (in infants/small children)
* Type 1 Diabetes
* Irritable Bowel Syndrome
* Autism/behavioral issues
* Bone loss/osteoporosis/bone pain
* Depression, irritability
* Fatigue
* Infertility
* Arthritis/Joint pain
* Mouth sores/ulcers
* Seizures/epilepsy
* Numbness or tingling in hands and feet
* Hypoglycemia
* Hair loss (Alopecia)
* Lactose intolerance
* Teeth and gum problems
* Mineral and vitamin deficiency, esp anemia
* Dermatitis Herpetiformis (a skin rash)

Pleasant, eh? It's all because nutrients are NOT being properly absorbed in the intestines! Even an individual with an extremely healthy diet can show signs of malnutrition. If the intolerance progresses to full-blown Celiac Disease, the villi and microvilli of the small intestine experience actual damage and proteins and toxins will freely pass through the intestinal lining into the bloodstream (called Leaky Gut Syndrome), causing a myriad of health issues (as seen in the symptom list above).

How Can I Get Tested?

Saliva, blood, or stool samplings are the methods.

As unpleasant as it may seem, a stool sample is best in testing for gluten intolerance because it will directly check for antibodies, your body's defense mechanism against the intestinal inflammation, that are already in the bowel. A blood sample would work for an actual Celiac patient because proteins and toxins have already entered the bloodstream through Leaky Gut Syndrome, causing an autoimmune response within the blood. Someone that only has a gluten intolerance may very well come back with a negative blood test result, as they are only producing antibodies within the intestines.

*Note: do NOT cut out gluten prior to taking a test. Maintain your normal diet for at least 4 weeks in order for an accurate test result.

Another simple way to test for gluten intolerance is to introduce your body to a gluten free diet for several weeks and see if the symptoms resolve themselves. This can seem very daunting and overwhelming at first because gluten is often "hidden" in foods, like "modified food starch" and "barley malt extract", etc. You have to read labels militantly and learn all the code words for gluten, like:

* Binder or binding
* Bulgur
* Couscous
* Duram (durum)
* Farina
* Filler
* Flour
* Graham
* Hydrolysed wheat protein
* Malt
* Natural Flavoring
* Semolina
* Starch
* Thickener or thickening
* Triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye)

As I began my journey of eating gluten free (summer '10), I stuck to meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, berries, and dairy pretty much exclusively until I began to feel comfortable and brave enough to branch out a bit. I was terrified of seasonings and processed/pre-packaged foods because I didn't know what everything meant on the labels. As I became more learned, I stepped out and began eating a more varied diet. I still eat mostly from scratch and as homemade as possible because I don't want to risk getting sick. An introduction to gluten causes me gastro-pains for 3 days!!!

If you suspect you may have a gluten intolerance, may I encourage you to get tested by your doctor or to start a change in diet. Your health is worth it!

**I am by no means a medical expert on this topic. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please contact your physician.

Friday, June 10, 2011

GF Breadmachine Bread


  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon xanthan gum
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 1/2 cup soy flour
  • 2 cups white rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast


  1. Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer.
  2. Select the sweet dough cycle. Five minutes into the cycle, check the consistency of the dough. Add additional rice flour or liquid if necessary.
  3. When bread is finished, let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before removing from pan.
Yields: 2 lb loaf

Some tips:
-if you don't have buttermilk, you can curdle regular milk with a tablespoon of lemon juice.
-if you don't have soy flour, you can substitute with GF all-purpose flour or tapioca starch/flour.
-this recipe is very versatile; you can jazz it up with cinnamon & sugar or make foccacia bread by adding Italian seasoning, sun dried tomatoes, and garlic. Just add your extras when your bread machine does its "add more ingredients" indicator beep thing.
-dough will have a "batter" like consistency.

Thank you,!!!

Fun finds!

Last night my husband and I were scoping out the Hispanic grocer section at our local Walmart. Now granted, we have a pretty extensive Hispanic population in our area so these finds may not follow across board, but we found some fun finds!

First of all, many of the sodas there, even name brand Coca-Cola!, are made from sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup (yippy!).
I remember taking a missions trip to Mexico when I was in high school and was introduced to apple soda- it was truly an amazing moment in my life for this stuff is SO GOOD! Found some right here at my local Walmart: Sidral Mundet! Be still my heart! Thoroughly enjoyed one last night. Yum!

Second, goodies such as:
-a huge bottle of organic agave nectar for $5-something
-huge containers of Knorr chicken, beef, and tomato bouillon for $5-something (never tried tomato bouillon myself,but I bet it's probably pretty good)
-huge cans of Herdez salsa for $2-something
-real vanilla (not imitation) for $1-something

There were also many other things that caught my eye, but those will have to wait for another trip. :-)

More "no high fructose corn syrup" alternatives


Our Hispanic grocer section at Walmart also has many varieties of soda, even Coca-Cola!, that is made of sugar rather than HFCS.

Other HFCS-free ideas that came to mind were:
-homemade or Amish-made jellies

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Favorite Noodles

On an earlier post, I discussed my favorite noodles...

Well... add these two brands to the list!!!



Stay away...

RD and I are making some changes.

Change #1: we're cutting out High Fructose Corn Syrup

We've been doing some research and high fructose corn syrup is a bad deal. I'm working on a write up now on what exactly it is and how it affects the body (negatively, I'll say that). But I'll save that rant for a future post.

If you read labels for any length of time, which all gluten free-er's do, you will see that high fructose corn syrup is in seemingly EVERYthing! Pop, sauces, dressings... even in breads and cereals. Check it out. You'll literally see it everywhere you turn!

As we're pulling this from our diet, here are several alternatives we've come across at the grocer: