The truth about gluten-free foods
Let’s get one thing straight: Gluten isn’t bad for everyone. In fact, foods that have been stripped of it are sometimes less nutritious than their gluten-containing counterparts. Gluten is a protein composite that helps give elasticity to foods made from wheat, barley, and rye — kind of like glue. But for people with Celiac Disease and food intolerances, it can cause bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and problem skin. If you’re one of the millions of men who need to skip the substance, these tips will help you steer clear of gluten in its many forms.
Gluten is a protein composite that helps give elasticity to foods made from wheat, barley, and rye — kind of like glue. But for people with Celiac Disease and food intolerances, it can cause bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and problem skin.
Learn to read between the labels
With all these unpleasant side effects, it’s no wonder grocery store shelves and coolers boost gluten-free labels professing their “eatability” for people avoiding it. Yet, a recent study found that two beers labeled low-gluten had surprisingly high levels of the substance. Even scarier, the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t have specific guidelines for labeling gluten-free foods, so food manufactures are on the honor system.
Wheat, rye, oats and barley are the foursome every guy avoiding gluten loathes. That cuts out regular bread, cereal, pasta, and (we’re sorry to say) beer. Unfortunately, gluten is a sneaky little substance. It’s also in French fries, seasoned rice mixes, and processed deli meats. Condiments aren’t safe either. Gluten lurks in ketchup, soy sauce, and even salad dressing. “That’s because many other ingredients can also mean gluten, as they are derived or related to one of these grains: bran, modified food starch, farina, kamut, semolina, spelt, triticale, malt,” says Georgie Fear, Registered Dietitian.
Since there isn’t a standard definition of gluten-free, it’s up to companies to test their products and ensure that they haven’t been contaminated, says Fear. Until the FDA steps in, the Celiac Disease Foundation suggests that men limit their gluten intake to 20 ppm (parts per million). Compare that to a slice of white sandwich bread, which has a whopping 124,000 ppm of gluten.
Ready for some good news? Many food makers have decided to limit their products to 10 ppm in order to get the Gluten Free Certification Organization seal of approval. Hundreds of brands with everything from Pumpkin and Sage Ravioli to Caramel Swirl Ice Cream meet the standard.
Beer is made from barley and wheat, so it’s hard to know exactly how much gluten is in a brew without a science lab. Luckily, the study printed by the American Chemical Society determined that while several beers marked as low-gluten exceeded the recommended allowance, those branded gluten-free were safe. The Celiac Disease Foundation suggested imbibing Bards Tale and Redbridge brew. Better yet, Fear pointed out that distilled alcohols are gluten free, so rum, gin, whiskey and vodka are fair game.
The bottom line is that eating gluten-free isn’t easy or cheap, but not getting sick from the foods you eat is priceless.