Try cutting out gluten for your health. There are alternatives to wheat flour.

Try cutting out gluten for your health. There are alternatives to wheat flour.

Statistics suggest that over 690 million tonnes of wheat are produced every year worldwide and this figure is just increasing. Wheat plays a huge role in our daily lives as it appears to be in almost everything we it. Wheat provides a simple, straightforward source of carbohydrates but statistics suggest it may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

Aside from the genetic modification aspect, there is research that suggests gluten can wreak havoc on your intestines. Both gluten intolerance and coeliac disease are on the up and even if you don’t believe you have either condition, gluten can cause uncomfortable gas and constipation. Sound familiar? Neither of these is particularly pleasant and if left untreated can lead to further complications.

Wheat intolerance is more common than we think and whilst wheat is the most common and easily sourced, there are other grains available to us. Online shopping or visiting a local health food stores means you have the chance to try out a different grain and see if it effects your gut positively. Below are four alternative flours you can choose from and they have positive possibilities for your intestines as well as the larger GM situation.

Amaranth

Amaranth flour is not actually made from grains. It’s a plant which is known as a pseudo-cereal and rather than grains you utilise its seeds to create your staple. It’s a great option for bulking out casseroles and burgers. It can be ground and used to bake bread too. The suggested health benefits of amaranth include:

  • Potential anti-inflammatory properties
  • It has high levels of phytosterols which help lower cholesterol
  • It is high in protein which is high to animal protein so a great option for vegetarians and vegans.

Quinoa

Quinoa is a South American crop that’s growing in popularity further afield. Once again it’s not a grain but can be cooked just as you would cook rice and can be ground into flour and then used to make pasta as well as baking bread and cakes. The suggested health benefits of quinoa include:

  • It can relieve migraine pain due to high levels of magnesium and riboflavin
  • It is 100% gluten free so suitable for coeliacs
  • It has a very low glycaemic index (GI) and therefore can help prevent blood sugar and weight problems
  • It is high in lysine which helps with tissue growth and repair as well as offering anti-inflammatory properties

Rice Flour

Better known in its standard grain form, rice can also be ground down to make flour. Both white and brown rice flours can be sourced from your local health food shop and if health is a key concern opt for brown. Brown rice has the extra bran layer which provides even more nutrients and offers a fuller, nuttier taste. Rice gluten is in both products but this isn’t the same gluten as found in wheat so is perfectly safe for people living with a gluten allergy. There are over 8000 varieties of rice, all of which can be made into flour and below are some of the possible health benefits of brown rice flour:

  • It can help prevent diabetes
  • It can help lower your cholesterol levels
  • It  can play a key role in maintaining a healthy body weight
  • It offers high levels of anti-oxidants

Coconut Flour

Grain free and gluten free coconut flour is naturally sweet and a great option for baking and sweet products. It does offer a sweet flavour that you may want to counteract by ensuring you add no further sweeteners. Coconut flour has many great properties and some its positive health benefits include:

  • Extremely high levels of protein so a great option for vegans and vegetarians
  • High levels of manganese to support a healthy immune system
  • High levels of fibre for digestive health

Cutting wheat from your diet isn’t something you have to commit to but many health and fitness professionals are coming around to it being a sensible idea for an overall healthy diet. Some of the added benefits of ‘going gluten free’ include:

  • Less instances of acid reflux
  • Improved bowel function
  • Improved cardiovascular health (expect to enjoy better results at the gym)
  • People eating gluten free diets report decreased anxiety

Of course some of these benefits may be personal and you may only enjoy one or two of them but it can’t hurt to try – especially if you’re looking for a healthy eating plan which delivers results for your body then this could be it. It certainly isn’t for everyone but as more and more professionals are highlighting the negative, bloating effects of wheat and gluten on our bodies it’s something that we could all benefit from considering.

Going gluten free shouldn’t be a diet option, it should be a lifestyle choice. Investigate your options and you’ll soon realise that there are very few things you simply ‘can’t have’ due to cutting gluten out of your life.

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