By: Anielly Rocha
Gluten is a hot topic in the nutrition world, as the global prevalence of gluten induced wheat allergies is estimated around 5%.1 So, how do you know if you need to be gluten-free? There are essentially three main categories of people who should be cutting out wheat and/or gluten for health reasons.
Gluten is the main structural protein of wheat, however it is also found in grains such as rye and barley. There are three different types of wheat allergies: Celiac disease (the most common), wheat allergy, and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Celiac disease is an autoimmune reaction triggered by gluten proteins that create inflammation, damaging the small intestine’s lining. This condition leads to medical complications. It also prevents absorption of some nutrients because of malabsorption. Wheat allergy is an immune system reaction to gluten proteins contained in wheat and related grains with a similar route of response as other food allergies like nut or egg allergies. The response to eating gluten protein with either of these can cause hives, lip swelling, wheezing, rash, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea and in some extreme cases death.2,3,4
So, word of advice: Don’t go gluten-free just because it’s trendy. There is no need for you to avoid gluten unless you have been tested positive for a wheat allergy. If you do have Celiac disease or a wheat allergy, don’t worry! There are many other delicious options for you to still enjoy the foods that you like! It is often easy to mistake the grains do or do not contain gluten proteins. Many gluten free flours and goods are made with corn flour, brown rice flour, coconut flour, almond meal and other specialty flours which are not structurally made with gluten protein. These make for great wheat substitutes, and below is an example of a great gluten free recipe!
Cinnamon Apple Gluten Free & Vegan Pancakes
Makes: 6, 6″ Pancakes
- 1 cup & 2 tablespoons, Bob Red Mills – Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour
- 2 tablespoon ground flaxseed (mixed with 5 TBS of water)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey if non-vegan)
- 3 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
- 3/4 cup almond milk (or nondairy substitute)
- Grease a pan, and heat over low medium heat.
- In a small bowl, mix the ground flax meal with water and place in the fridge for a minimum of 10 minutes.
- In a separate mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
- In a different bowl, combine the maple syrup, vanilla, applesauce, and almond milk.
- Remove the flax mixture from the fridge and combine with the dry ingredients.
- Slowly mix half of the liquid with the mixture, stirring continuously, and then the rest ¼ cup at a time to avoid a runny batter.
- Pour the mixture in the pan and begin to cook the pancakes, using about ¼ cup of the batter for each one.
- Cook for 2 minutes, until they start to bubble and are golden around the edges, then flip. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes until golden brown on both sides. Remove from pan, and serve with your favorite toppings! delicious with fresh fruit, peanut butter or just butter and syrup!
- Elli L, Branchi F, Tomba C, et al. Diagnosis of gluten related disorders: Celiac disease, wheat allergy and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. World Journal of Gastroenterology.
- Bauer J, MS, RDN, CDN. Clearing Up Gluten Confusion. Published March 7, 2016.
- Celiac Disease – National Library of Medicine – PubMed Health. National Center for Biotechnology Information.
- Cianferoni A. Wheat allergy: diagnosis and management. Journal of asthma and allergy. Published January 29, 2016.