What’s in this article?
- What is gluten?
- How can gluten affect my health?
- Gluten intolerances
- Gluten-free lunch ideas
Gluten-free lunch ideas
The topic of gluten is controversial. Many researchers claim we should avoid gluten in our diets, while others argue it’s not harmful unless you have a gluten intolerance or a gluten sensitivity. Searching for gluten-free meals can be difficult, especially when you’re on-the-go. Whether you want to improve your health or have a gluten allergy, we hope the following gluten-free lunch ideas for a healthy liver will help.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a family of proteins found in certain grains like wheat, barley, rye. However, not all not all grains contain gluten and plenty of alternatives exist, such as brown rice and quinoa. When avoiding gluten, however, you should look outside of the grain group. Gluten found in other foods and beverages can include French fries, soy sauce, salad dressings, candy bars and beer. Some foods that are normally gluten-free can be contaminated during processing. If you’re unsure whether a food has gluten, it’s best to read the label, or if you’re eating out, check with the restaurant manager.
How can gluten affect my health?
Gluten is composed of two proteins: gliadin and glutenin. According to The National Center for Biotechnology Information, gliadin causes the most negative health effects. Proteins in gluten can cause gut inflammation. When this happens, harmful molecules, like gliadin, sneak past the gut wall into the bloodstream. In addition, since gliadin looks like cells lining the gut, antibodies that fight invaders might become confused and attack these cells. Known as “leaky gut,” this condition can induce autoimmune diseases, like liver disease.
Many studies have linked gluten to liver disease. The American Journal of Gastroenterology suggests that a gluten-free diet can decrease liver function test (LFT) abnormalities. Gluten can cause elevated liver enzymes, which leak chemicals into the bloodstream, often indicating inflammation or injuries to liver cells. While not all people experience these effects, it’s important to listen to your body if you feel discomfort after eating gluten ─ you might have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity.
Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disorder, is the most intense type of gluten intolerance. When Celiac Disease patients eat gluten, their bodies treat gluten as an invader. This is similar to how our bodies respond to viruses. Symptoms include digestive problems, tissue damage in the small intestine, diarrhea, skin rashes and headaches. People who are not celiac can still respond negatively to gluten. These people have gluten sensitivity and can experience symptoms such as tiredness and stomach aches. Gluten may also affect people with other health conditions and diseases, like Crohn’s Disease patients. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness estimates that about 18 million Americans experience gluten sensitivity.
Five gluten-free lunch ideas
- Corn Avocado and Tomato Salad
This fresh and colorful salad is abundant in nutrients, including healthy fats and fiber from avocados, vitamins E and B6 from tomatoes and antioxidants from onions. The dressing, a gluten-free addition to this recipe, also has lots of health benefits like monounsaturated fatty acids from olive oil, which can lower cholesterol.
- Gluten-Free Gnocchi
Simple, vegetarian and gluten-free, this lunch idea requires four ingredients: russet potatoes, eggs, gluten-free flour, and salt. Whole, unprocessed potatoes have very little sodium and are a good source of vitamins C and B6, while eggs are a good source of protein and contain small amounts of almost every vitamin and mineral our bodies need. Check out the recipe for this healthy, delicious spin on one of Italy’s most popular dishes.
- Hearty Chili
Perfect for a cozy night in, this flavorful and filling chili recipe is packed with black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, your choice of organic ground beef or turkey and veggies like garlic, a great source of prebiotic soluble fiber beneficial for liver health. Crushed red peppers, jalapenos and chili powder add a hint of spice ─ plus chili contains potassium that helps to control blood pressure.
- Gluten Free Ramen
This tasty and vegan Japanese style recipe has gluten-free ramen noodles and lots of colorful vegetables like celery, which can lower high cholesterol. Other ingredients include ginger to help with nausea and avocado oil, which is abundant in antioxidants and healthy fats.
- Chicken Stuffed Avocado
A delicious and light lunch option, the prep time for this recipe is only 10 minutes and it is easy to make. Chicken provides a great source of protein that helps with weight control, avocados offer potassium and red pepper contains vitamins A and C. Add jalapenos for a handful of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and a little kick.
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