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Gluten-free diets have gotten a lot of attention in the last few years as the number of Americans seeking to avoid wheat proteins has nearly tripled in the last decade. As the food industry is increasingly capitalizing on this growing trend, more and more people are contemplating the legitimacy of steering clear from gluten. Criticisms regarding the adoption of a gluten-free diet usually center around the fact that most people who claim to forego wheat are surprisingly not diagnosed with celiac disease. In fact, an overwhelming 72 percent of people who self-identify as ‘gluten-free’ do not suffer from the disease.

In the midst of discussions regarding going gluten-free or not, skeptics are quick to point out the possible hypochondriac nature of the so called ‘gluten-sensitivity’ that motivates most to make this seemingly dramatic diet change. Separating facts from fiction can be difficult even for health conscious minded people.

As a Green Monster, being gluten-free or considering making the switch has likely been on your mind at one time or another. Perhaps you have been experiencing some symptoms that sparked the question: should I go gluten-free?

If that’s the case and you want to find out more about celiac disease and gluten-sensitivity, we’ve got the deets for you with some delicious gluten-free recipes from the Food Monster App as a bonus.

What is Celiac Disease?

Žarko Šušnjar/Flickr

Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder in which the villi, small finger-like protrusions lining the small intestine, are attacked and damaged following the ingestion of gluten, a protein found primarily in wheat, rye, barley, and other grains. This permanent damage to the small intestine greatly impacts nutrient absorption and over time can lead to serious complications.

Affecting around 1 in 10 people worldwide, it is also estimated that upward of 2 million Americans are currently undiagnosed and at risk of suffering from long-term repercussions on their health due to the disease. These issues range from developing type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, anemia, osteoporosis, cancer, and even neurological disorders.

Consequently, knowing how to detect an intolerance to gluten is paramount in order to prevent severe health complications. Although as many as two hundred symptoms have been reported in relation with celiac disease, some of the most common include digestive issues such as bloating and diarrhea, fatigue, anemia, joint pain, migraines, and canker sores.

If you’ve been experiencing any of these issues, speaking with your doctor is advised. Unfortunately, there aren’t any existing treatments as of yet besides adopting a 100 percent gluten-free diet.

What is ‘Gluten Sensitivity’?Easy Yeast-Free Bread

Easy Yeast-Free Bread/One Green Planet

Similar to diagnosed celiac disease sufferers, people who claim to be sensitive to gluten experience symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, and irregular bowel movements. Apart from digestive issues, reports of having a ‘foggy mind’, headaches, tiredness, depression, and anxiety are also common.

Although not presenting with the specific immunomarkers warranted for the diagnostic of celiac disease, a larger and larger percentage of people are now classified as ‘gluten sensitive’ following a remission of symptoms after the exclusion of gluten from their diets. As of now, this specific diet protocol supervised by a doctor and a nutritionist is the only mean to test out a possible gluten-sensitivity.

The lack of clear biological basis for the sensitivity has been baffling the scientific community and the general public but the current consensus among researchers posits that ‘non-celiac gluten-sensitivity’ is a legitimate medical concern even in the absence of a set criteria for diagnosis.

Some theories regarding the innate nature of a wheat-allergy or sensitivity to gluten have been advanced and are currently being studied. The field of immunogenetics, especially, is exploring possible DNA markers of non-celiac gluten-sensitivity.

Want to Try Out a Gluten-Free Diet?vegan gluten free italian meatballs

Italian Meatballs/One Green Planet

Whether you’ve been experiencing some of the symptoms related to gluten-sensitivity or you’re simply curious about trying out a gluten-free diet, there are some things you should keep in mind.

First off, you should seek medical supervision if you are truly having severe symptoms. Apart from validating your experience and eliminating other possible health issues that could be the cause, a trained professional can also help make this diet change easier on you.

If adopting a gluten-free diet tempts you but you have no clear issues with gluten, be mindful that foregoing wheat and other grains can significantly reduce your intake of carbohydrates which are essential nutrients for energy production and the maintenance of a healthy body and mind. It’s also good to note that gluten-free products are not necessarily healthy as they may contain excessive amounts of fat or sugar.

In short, unless you suspect an underlying condition caused by gluten, it may be best to stick to a regular vegan diet that includes a wide variety of healthy grains. However, if you or a loved one needs to cut out gluten, here are a few quick tips and recipes from the Food Monster App that will help you make the change!

Tips and Recipes for Living Gluten-FreeFillet-O-Fishless

‘Fillet-O-Fishless’ Artichoke Sandwich/One Green Planet

Gluten is hiding in many products that you wouldn’t suspect. From soy sauce, salad dressings, candy, lip balm, and even beer, gluten is omnipresent in store-bought products. Thus, making sure you read labels carefully is an essential first step in living gluten-free. Some of the ingredients to look out for include wheat, wheat-berries, durum, semolina, spelt, rye, barley, triticale, and malt. It’s also important to remember that gluten-free labeled products may or may not be vegan as the use of eggs is common for binding purposes.

If that sounds too time consuming for you, focusing on nourishing your body with whole foods makes adhering to a plant-based gluten-free diet a lot simpler.

Need help finding delicious gluten-free recipes that feature healthy and wholesome ingredients? We’ve got you covered from pasta dishes to bread and burgers!

Try out this Ooey-Gooey Baked Ziti, this Lemon ‘Parmesan’ Pasta, this Creamy Truffle Pasta With Roasted Romanesco, and this Roasted Corn Alfredo Pasta to get your fill of delicious carbs. Then, you can make this Easy Yeast-Free Bread or check out The Best Gluten-Free Bread Options to accompany your bowl of pasta.

Some of our favorite gluten-free dinner recipes include these Scalloped Sweet Potatoes in Cauliflower Sauce, this Spiralized Potato Crust Pizza With Kale Pesto, this Butternut Squash Burger, and this Rich and Comforting African Peanut Stew.

Last but not least, you can make these Chocolate Cream Caramel Bars, these Decadent Raw Tiramisu With Coffee Ladyfingers, this Quinoa, Chocolate, and Orange Cake, and this Chocolate Almond Espresso Cake to indulge your sweet tooth in!

In short, adopting a gluten-free diet can be a challenge at first but it’s absolutely possible to thrive and eat delicious food as long as some time and a little effort is put into it.

Are you gluten-free? If so, what are some of your go-to products and recipes? Let us know in the comments!

Recommended Resources and More RecipesKung Pao Noodles

One-Pot Kung Pao Noodles [Vegan, Gluten-Free]/One Green Planet

Want to learn more about gluten and gluten-free diets and recipes? We suggest checking out these articles that might interest you:

If you’re looking for more delicious gluten-free recipes, as well as gluten-free baking and cooking tips, we suggest downloading the Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 10,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to ten new recipes per day. Check it out!

Lead Image Source: Shutterstock

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