In an age where newer and improved diets are emerging, gluten-free is one of the most followed. It is estimated that more than 20% of the American population has made gluten-free products a staple. About 20 million of them think that gluten is indeed unhealthy and 13 million of them are avoiding gluten to aid in weight-loss. There has also been an increase in people reporting issues with gluten sensitivity and intolerance in recent times which has led to the boom of gluten-free products industry!
What Happens When Gluten Reaches Your Gut?
Gluten, the sticky protein found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale is hard for some people to digest. It’s also found in many baked goods as well as in beverages like beer too. Gluten allergy has become so prevalent these days because we no longer consume the wheat that our forefathers used to. Today, hybridized wheat varieties are bug and drought resistant as well as fast-growing. Filled with many different types of proteins, it’s only natural that the gut finds them hard to digest and pro-inflammatory in nature.
If the gut considers gluten as an irritant, then its breakdown products can trigger symptoms like bloating, joint pain, brain fog, constipation or diarrhea and in severe cases weight gain/loss along with the malabsorption of nutrients with a leaky gut.1
9 Gluten-Free Grains For Your Digestive Health
Gluten-free grains are power-packed with nutrition and health benefits you wouldn’t want to miss. All you have to do is choose what would serve you the best based on their individual nutritional value.
A popular grain that has been used since the Aztec civilization, amaranth is just right for providing you with essential nourishment especially on your gluten-free journey. It has healthy phytosterols and oils that lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides. Anti-inflammatory peptides in it also help to protect the blood vessels and vital organs from inflammation and even reduce cancer risk. Being rich in calcium it boosts skeletal health and due to high fiber content it does wonders for your digestive system.2
2. Brown Rice
Rice is consumed by more than half of the world’s population. However, many eat white rice which is devoid of many nutrients when compared to its brown variety. Brown rice has a high content of manganese which plays a crucial role in the digestion of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. It also protects the body against oxidative stresses due to free radicals. In addition to that, it improves insulin tolerance, lowers bad cholesterol and is a great food choice for the calorie-conscious.3
A favorite breakfast cereal worldwide, oats can be a great addition to a gluten-free diet. It helps to lower bad cholesterol and high blood pressure. Being high in soluble fiber, it regulates blood sugar levels as well as prevents constipation. However, it’s best to go for oats with bran attached to it like the steel-cut oats which are more nutritious than the flattened and whiter instant oats.4
Buckwheat is not actually a grain but is a seed which is high in soluble fiber which is known to slow down the rate of glucose absorption. It also contains resistant starch that is very beneficial for colon health. Buckwheat contains high levels of zinc, copper, manganese, and potassium which boost the overall mental and physical health.5
Millet seeds are not only a popular bird feed but they are great for humans too. Being a low glycemic index with a lot of high fiber content and proteins, it helps to keep blood sugar levels in check especially if you are pre-diabetic or diabetic.6
Quinoa is also a pseudo-cereal that’s a gluten-free superfood. It has all the essential amino acids as well as a high protein to carbohydrate ratio and a high potassium content to regulate blood pressure.7
The wonder grain corn is gluten-free and loaded with vitamin A and dietary fiber. The only thing to consider is that while buying corn go for the organically grown ones as the genetically modified ones can wreak havoc with your health.8
Sorghums are gluten-free with many versatile uses in cooking. Studies have found that the waxy layer around sorghum is rich in policosanols and antioxidants which can reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, heart and neurological diseases.9
The staple grain in Ethiopia, teﬀ is gluten-free with a very high content of resistant starch that’s effective in maintaining normal blood-sugar levels, a healthy weight as well as digestive health.10
A gluten-free diet is healthy and one that your digestive system would love. However, do combine a healthy amount of organic fruits and vegetables with regular exercise to allow your body to make the most of your diet.
|↑1||Saturni, Letizia, Gianna Ferretti, and Tiziana Bacchetti. “The gluten-free diet: safety and nutritional quality.” Nutrients 2, no. 1 (2010): 16-34.|
|↑2||AMARANTH – MAY GRAIN OF THE MONTH. OLDWAYS WHOLE GRAINS COUNCIL|
|↑3||RICE AND WILD RICE SEPTEMBER GRAINS OF THE MONTH. OLDWAYS WHOLE GRAINS COUNCIL|
|↑4||OATS – JANUARY GRAIN OF THE MONTH. OLDWAYS WHOLE GRAINS COUNCIL|
|↑5||BUCKWHEAT – DECEMBER GRAIN OF THE MONTH. OLDWAYS WHOLE GRAINS COUNCIL|
|↑6||MILLET AND TEFF – NOVEMBER GRAINS OF THE MONTH. OLDWAYS WHOLE GRAINS COUNCIL|
|↑7||QUINOA – MARCH GRAIN OF THE MONTH. OLDWAYS WHOLE GRAINS COUNCIL|
|↑8||CORN – OCTOBER GRAIN OF THE MONTH. OLDWAYS WHOLE GRAINS COUNCIL|
|↑9||SORGHUM JUNE GRAIN OF THE MONTH. OLDWAYS WHOLE GRAINS COUNCIL|
|↑10||TEFF AND MILLET – NOVEMBER GRAINS OF THE MONTH. OLDWAYS WHOLE GRAINS COUNCIL|