Gluten is a protein in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. It is essential to help knead the dough, provide elasticity, and allow it to rise when baking bread. Most commonly consumed grains contain gluten, and most people eat this protein all their lives without any problems.
However, some people may develop gluten sensitivity due to certain diseases. For them, it is best to consume gluten-free grains to avoid reactions like bloating, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. Also, regular gluten consumption may be harmful to health for everyone in the long run. In this article, we have listed some gluten-free grain options if you want grains with low gluten content or gluten-free grains.
What are the Harmful Effects of Consuming Gluten Regularly?
- Foods Containing Gluten – All commonly consumed grains like wheat, barley, and rye contain high quantities of gluten. Although whole wheat is considered healthy, it has been genetically modified to increase gluten, increase bread or roti calories, and reduce nutrition. It has helped mass-produce wheat and bread products, but in turn, it has made whole wheat a harmful, high-gluten food. Other foods that contain gluten are –
- Wheat Grass
- Graham flour
- Ice Cream
- Roasted Nuts
- French Fries
- Wheat germ
- Health Complications and Diseases Due to Gluten – Gluten has various harmful effects on the human body. Our bodies produce an enzyme known as protease to digest proteins like gluten. However, consuming gluten in high quantities may remain undigested in your intestine for a long time. This build-up of undigested gluten may trigger an autoimmune response, making your body sensitive to gluten. Such a reaction is known as the celiac disease. Celiac disease may permanently damage the small intestine if untreated.
Those who do not have gluten sensitivity may also experience discomfort due to regular gluten consumption. Problems like bloating, diarrhea, headaches, or skin rashes are common among those who eat packaged foods daily.
- Who Should Avoid Gluten – Experts advise that everyone should limit their consumption of gluten-rich foods. However, those with health problems like celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy, or gluten ataxia should be particularly careful about the grains they eat.
Choose From the Following Gluten-Free Grains
- Oats – Oats are a popular alternative to gluten-rich grains. The ease of cooking oats is making them a household staple worldwide.
- Nutritional Content: Oats are rich in easy-to-digest proteins and healthy fats and contain less starch than other grains. It is also high in fiber, magnesium, zinc, selenium, and Vitamin B1. The beta-glucan in oats helps reduce blood sugar and improve insulin levels.
- Health Benefits: Consuming oats or oat bran for some time helps reduce LDL cholesterol and total plasma cholesterol in the human body. Oats are a good choice of grain for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
- Usage: Enjoy a comforting bowl of oatmeal, or add oats to pancakes, granola bars, or parfaits for a healthy diet.
- Buckwheat – Buckwheat or kuttu ka atta is a nutritious option for gluten-free grains.
- Nutritional Content: Eating one cup of buckwheat grains can give you 5 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein, plenty of antioxidants, and other nutrients like magnesium, copper, and manganese.
- Health Benefits: Usually, those who have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar are advised to include buckwheat flour in their daily diet. Buckwheat helps reduce LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream and has anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Usage: Use buckwheat flour to make delicious pancakes, soba noodles, or fried treats.
- Millets – A humble but healthy option for people of all ages. Some of the most popular millets include jowar, bajra, and ragi.
- Nutritional Content: Millets are full of anti-toxins and valuable nutrients. They are rich in niacin, essential for skin health, vitamin A, and good carbohydrates.
- Health Benefits: Millets are ideal for age-onset degenerative diseases. It helps reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, protects from diabetes, and lowers cancer risk. Millets are non-acid forming and, therefore, much easier to digest for everyone.
- Usage: Bajra roti is a staple in many parts of India. You can also use millet to make fermented foods such as idli, dosa, dhokla, and uthappam. It can also be eaten as porridge with a healthy sweetener.
- Amaranth – Amaranth has a long history of being a staple grain for many large civilizations worldwide.
- Nutritional Content: Eating amaranth in one meal per day can supply your body with several essential nutrients like iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese. It is also rich in protein and good cholesterol.
- Health Benefits: Research has shown amaranth contains compounds that prevent inflammation by blocking the neural pathways that trigger allergic reactions. As a fiber-rich food, amaranth is recommended to improve gut health and treat gluten intolerance.
- Usage: Use popped amaranth as a component in ladoos, chikkis, and sweetmeats. You can also use it to bake breads, cakes, and cookies.
- Gluten-Free Pulses – Pulses or legumes like chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans, and kidney beans are great substitutes for gluten-rich grains in your daily diet.
- Nutritional Content: Pulses are rich in proteins, essential vitamins including A and B, and several minerals.
- Health Benefits: Pulses are easy to digest and supply your body with essential proteins without harming your digestive system.
- Usage: Legumes and pulses should always be eaten soaked, sprouted, or pressure-cooked. Be mindful to break down the phytic acid in the pulses before consuming.
- Quinoa – Quinoa is increasingly gaining popularity as a gluten-free grain option among the modern population.
- Nutritional Content – Quinoa has many antioxidants, proteins, and amino acids. It also contains minerals like manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus.
- Health Benefits – Quinoa gained most of its popularity due to its help in weight maintenance. However, it is also effective for those with metabolic, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal diseases.
- Usage – Quinoa is an excellent substitute for rice in dishes like pilaf, risotto, and paella. Add some quinoa to give your salads more substance and protein.
Following a gluten-free diet can be challenging, primarily if you have grown up eating wheat, barley, or other common grains. However, gluten-free grains are an essential switchover for those with celiac disease. They can help reduce their digestive discomfort, improve nutrition in their daily diet and help them eat a wholesome meal. If you wish to try a gluten-free diet, consult your dietician about a diet plan. Include grains like bajra, jowar, quinoa, and oats in your daily meals to reduce gluten consumption.
Following a gluten-free diet plan can help regulate your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. You can not only avoid lifestyle diseases like diabetes and hypertension but also prevent the development of cancer and age-onset degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s in the long run.