Gluten-free diet: is it something you might consider?

If you are not yet on a gluten-free diet, you’ve most likely considered it or heard about it from others already on it.

The past years have seen increased advertisements for such products promising a much healthier lifestyle. But what really is a gluten-free diet? And, is it something you might consider?

Understanding gluten

Gluten is a hard-to-digest protein found in wheat and other types of grain. According to Capital Lifestyle, “a gluten-free diet is the only treatment for people with Celiac Disease (CD), a potentially life-threatening autoimmune condition. CD should, however, not be confused with gluten intolerance.

Gluten intolerant individuals can tolerate small amounts of gluten up to a certain threshold, whereas celiacs cannot tolerate any gluten at all.

Professor of medicine and epidemiology Benjamin Lebwohl and others postulate that;

Celiac disease occurs in about 1% of the population worldwide, although most people with the condition are undiagnosed. It can cause a wide variety of symptoms, both intestinal and extra-intestinal because it is a systemic autoimmune disease that is triggered by dietary gluten. Patients with celiac disease are at increased risk of cancer, including a twofold to fourfold increased risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and a more than 30-fold increased risk of small intestinal adenocarcinoma, and they have a 1.4-fold increased risk of death.

What constitutes a gluten-free diet?

Image: @bbcgoodfood.com

The Gluten-Free Living website recommends the following foods and ingredients for a zero gluten diet:

Foods

  • Corn in all forms (corn flour, cornmeal, grits, etc.)
  • Plain rice in all forms (white, brown, wild, basmati, enriched rice, etc.)
  • Amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat (kasha), cassava, flax, millet, quinoa, sorghum, soy, tapioca, teff, polenta and fonio
  • Flours made from gluten-free grain, nuts, beans and coconut, including buckwheat flour, millet flour, almond flour, chickpea flour, amaranth flour, brown rice flour and coconut flour.
  • Look for products labelled gluten-free to avoid cross-contamination.

Ingredients

  • Annatto
  • Glucose syrup
  • Lecithin
  • Maltodextrin (even when it is made from wheat)
  • Oat gum
  • Silicon dioxide
  • Starch and food starch
    Citric, lactic and malic acids
    Sucrose, dextrose and lactose
  • Arrowroot
  • Cornstarch
  • Guar and xanthan gums
  • Tapioca flour
  • Potato starch flour and potato starch
  • Vanilla

Where to find gluten-free products in Kenya

Such a diet might prove expensive for the average Kenyan. However, there are always affordable alternative food sources in case products without gluten stretch your pocket.

You are most likely to find such products at Healthy You which has branches at Sarit Centre, Junction Mall, Yaya Centre, Galleria Mall and also T-Mall. You could also try the healthy food shop at the Village Market in Nairobi.

Lono Lodge in Watamu, on the coast of Kenya also has a gluten-free restaurant. Merree Gluten-free Foods in Nairobi also offers great tasting gluten-free and dairy-free baked goods.

If you enjoy baking, you could try making gluten-free bread made from gluten-free flour and products.

Facebook Comments

We'd love to hear your thoughts on this article