Should I Avoid Gluten?


What's the deal with gluten? I see that the abundance of gluten free products available these days leaves many people confused as to whether they too should avoid gluten. Gluten is part of the protein content of wheat flour (white flour is also wheat flour) that is responsible for making bread fluffy and desirable. For most people it also turns into a gummy substance when digested and therefore much of it stays in the digestive tract causing inflammation, abdominal pain, joint pain, tiredness among other symptoms.

Am I eating gluten? Where is it? Gluten is found in all types of "normal" bread, sweet bread, pizza, all types of pastas, crackers, cereal, cookies and breaded foods. The surest bet is that you are eating it and a lot. Modern diet exaggerates gluten partly because it depends on people becoming addicted to it without knowing.

For Ayurvedic constitutions and imbalances:

VATA: for the sensitive Vata digestion eating gluten can often result in bloating, chronic gas, tiredness and pain throughout the body. Also, gluten can constipate Vata which often leads to headaches. Even though wheat is classically recommended for Vata, in my experience most can't digest it, possibly due to the way it is cultivated and consumed present day.

PITTA: in moderation (3-4 pieces a week) a balanced Pitta has no problem with gluten and in fact it can slow down an accelerated Pitta metabolism. In excess, like eating it daily, gluten can cause inflammation, digestive irritation and acidity in Pitta due to the salt and yeast in most breads.

KAPHA: since gluten is heavy, moist and sticky it causes Kapha many problems as they share the same qualities. Upon eating it, gluten can cause them to feel tired, create a sluggish digestion, cloudy mind, weight gain and water retention.

IN OTHER WORDS: all constitutions/imbalances should avoid gluten except for Pitta who should consume it only in moderation.

Recipe: Gluten Free Hot Cereal with lots of Protein

1/2 cup of oatmeal

1/2 cup of quinoa

1/2 cup of puffed amaranth

1 cup of water

1 1/2 cup almond milk (or other type of non-lactose milk or water)

1 pinch sea salt

1 pinch cinnamon powder

Optionally you can add a piece of chopped fruit to cook with the cereal such as banana, pear, apple or guava. Another option is to also add nuts and seeds.

Instructions: Place everything in a medium sized pot on high heat, once it begins to boil turn the flame down to low and let simmer as you stir once in a while until you cooked. Cook time is more or less 10 minutes. Serve with a little honey or other sweetener and a tablespoon of ghee. *If you are VERY sensitive to gluten, such as those with celiac disease, you will need to rinse the oats very well because a flour powder that contains gluten often is in the facilities where oats are processed.

Gluten free bread: Rice bread or rye bread can be delicious but only when heated and eaten recently toasted, if not it is very hard. Also, use ghee or something similar to soften the hardness. You can find other types too now which are mixes of different flours such as chickpea, rice, oat, tapioca etc. There is a type of bread that is not completely gluten free but since it is not made with flour and uses organic ingredients can be a much more digestible option for many people. Iy is called Ezequiel Bread and you can find it in the frozen isle of many big supermarkets and health food stores (yes even in Mexico).

Corn tortillas: It is important to find and exclusively buy from a tortilleria who uses real nixtamalized corn instead of the Maseca most places use. Maseca is made from GMO corn and is excessively processed.

Gluten free pasta: The best gluten free pasta is made from mostly, or entirely, rice. The other options tend to fall apart too easily for my taste. In almost all supermarkets these days you can find 2 or 3 options of gluten free pasta.

Pan de Muerto: If you feel much better when you avoid gluten but in this dia de muertos time of year you feel sad that you can't eat pan de muerto don't worry. Last year I found a gluten free bakery where I enjoyed a truly delicious gluten free chocolate pan de muerto. The bakery is called Pan Gabriel and it is in La Condesa in CdMX. Above you can see the photo of my mothers and and my own about to eat it, hahaha!

By Iris Campion

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