What Is Gluten?

Posted on Posted in Continuing Education, Homestudy, Nutrition, Seminars, Webinars

By Annell St. Charles, Ph.D., R.D.

Gluten is the general name given to the proteins found in certain grain products — including wheat and its derivatives (wheat berries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, faro, graham, and einkorn wheat), rye, barley, triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye), malt, brewer’s yeast, and wheat starch (Celiac Disease Foundation, 2014).  Apparently, the hybridization that led to the production of modern bread wheat enabled the creation of a product with high amounts of the gluten complex, making modern bread wheat the worst gluten offender.

Gluten plays a significant role in nourishing plant embryos during germination.  In addition, as the name implies, “glu-ten” acts as a type of glue that holds food together, affects the elasticity of dough made from these grains, and gives shape and a chewy texture to products (such as bread) that are made from the dough.  It is also used as an additive in foods that have low-protein levels or no protein at all.  When it is used in vegetarian recipes (lacking any animal products), it helps to increase the firmness of the texture of the finished product in order to replicate that found in meats and other animal foods.

Gluten is actually made up of two different proteins, gliadin (prolamin) and glutelin, which are attached to starch in the endosperm of the grain.  Because the starch is water-soluble but the gluten isn’t, gluten can be obtained by dissolving away the starch with cold water.  (Salty cold water works best).  When gluten enters the digestive system, the proteins are broken down into smaller units called peptide chains, which are made up of amino acids.  Apparently, these peptide chains are the source of gluten sensitivity in some people, resulting in an array of symptoms, potentially contributing to more serious conditions such as celiac disease.  Whereas glutelin is water-soluble, gliadin is alcohol-soluble.  Gliadin is considered the most toxic.  Among the problematic disorders related to gluten, approximately six percent may be due to non-celiac gluten sensitivity, 10 percent may be the result of wheat allergy, and only one percent would be celiac disease.  However, despite its lower occurrence, celiac disease is considered the most serious of the bunch.

zikavirus

Is the Paleo Diet Healthy? Arguments For The Paleo Diet

Posted on Posted in Continuing Education, Homestudy, Nutrition, Seminars

breakfast-1058726_640More than one-third of U.S. adults are obese—and at high risk for obesity-related diseases such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers. Yet is the Paleo Diet, one of the newest weight-loss trends, the most healthful way to reduce the risk of obesity-related diseases?

The Paleo diet—which relies on eating like our hunter-gatherer ancestors — is one of today’s most controversial diets. It is based on the nutrition of our ancestors living in the Paleolithic period between 2.5 million and 10,000 years ago. The Paleo nutrition plan is a low-carb diet based on meat, non-starchy vegetables, and fats such as coconut oil. It eliminates many of the products of modern agriculture—such as grains, dairy products, beans, and soy products.

Since the 1990s, researchers have known that lifestyle factors, such as diet, can lead to obesity-related health risks, morbidity, and mortality. Yet whether the Paleo diet really plays an important role in avoiding these risks is hotly debated among leading nutritionists.

Arguments for the Paleo Diet: A Good Bet for Reducing Health Risks

The Paleo diet is not only helpful for losing weight—it also has the potential to reduce the incidence of diabetes, high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, and hypertension, according to some nutritionists. Paleo diet proponents even claim that the Paleo nutrition plan can decrease the risk for cancers and inflammatory diseases.

Some studies do show that a Paleo diet can be beneficial for those with metabolic syndrome, and it can also lead to lower HbA1c levels, lower triglycerides, and lower blood pressure levels, according to Kellyann Petrucci, a naturopathic physician, who wrote an editorial for the Wall Street Journal in March 2015.

Dr. Petrucci argued that some studies suggest that the Paleo diet can be as healthful as the Mediterranean diet for reducing risk for cardiovascular disease and some cancers. She argued that studies have suggested that the Paleo diet in patients with ischemic heart disease may lead to better glucose tolerance and a larger drop in abdominal fat than the Mediterranean diet. She also maintains that diets high in carbohydrates increase risk for colon cancer, while the Paleo diet may reduce this risk.

Some scientific studies have found no evidence that diets high in saturated fats and low in carbohydrates increase risk for heart disease, according to Paleo diet proponents. The criticism that the Paleo diet leads to nutritional deficiencies is also unfounded, according to nutritionists who favor the Paleo diet. Paleo diet foods such as salmon, kale, and broccoli, for instance, are high in calcium. Necessary dietary fiber and nutrients can also be found in the vegetables and fruits, seafood, eggs, and meat found in the Paleo eating plan.

  1. Petrucci K. and Nestle M. Is a Paleo Diet Healthy? The Wall Street Journal. March 23, 2015.
  2. Jabr F. How to Really Eat like a hunger-gatherer: Why the Paleo Diet is Half-Baked. Scientific American. June 3, 2013.
  3. Hamblin J. Science Compared Every Diet, and the Winner Is Real Food. The Atlantic. March 24, 2014.

webinarsSeminars-CTA

What Is Gluten?

Posted on Posted in Continuing Education, Homestudy, Nutrition, Seminars

wheat-allergiesBy Annell St. Charles, Ph.D., R.D.

Gluten is the general name given to the proteins found in certain grain products, including wheat and its derivatives (wheat berries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, faro, graham, einkorn wheat), rye, barley, triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye), malt, brewer’s yeast, and wheat starch.  Apparently, the hybridization that led to the production of modern bread wheat enabled the creation of a product with high amounts of the gluten complex, making modern bread wheat the “worst” gluten offender.

Gluten plays a significant role in nourishing plant embryos during germination. In addition, as the name implies, GLU-ten acts as a type of glue that holds food together, affects the elasticity of dough made from these grains, and gives shape and a chewy texture to products (such as bread), which are made from the dough. Gluten is also used as an additive in foods that have low-protein levels or no protein at all. When it is used in vegetarian recipes (lacking any animal products), it helps to increase the firmness of the texture of the finished product in order to replicate the texture found in meats and other animal foods.

Since gluten is found in the grains wheat, rye, barley, and triticale (as stated above, a hybrid of wheat and rye), and foods made from these grains, people who are sensitive to gluten should avoid any foods that contain these substances. Avoiding wheat is considered especially difficult because of the number of wheat-based flours and ingredients commonly used.

Common Foods that Typically Contain Gluten

  • Pastas (ravioli, gnocchi, couscous, dumplings)
  • Noodles (ramen, udon, soba, chow mein, egg noodles)
  • Breads and pastries (croissants, pita, naan, bagels, flatbreads, cornbread, potato bread, muffins , donuts, rolls)
  • Crackers (pretzels, goldfish, graham crackers)
  • Baked goods (cakes, cookies, pie crusts, brownies)
  • Cereal and granola (corn flakes and rice puffs often contain malt extract/flavoring; granola is often made with regular oats, which do not contain gluten, however oats may be cross-contaminated during growing, harvesting, or processing
  • Breakfast foods (pancakes, waffles, French toast, crepes, biscuits)
  • Breading and coating mixes (panko, breadcrumbs)
  • Croutons (stuffings, dressings)
  • Sauces and gravies (many use wheat flour as a thickener; soy sauce, cream sauces made with a roux)
  • Flour tortillas
  • Beer (unless listed gluten-free; malt beverages)
  • Brewer’s yeast

By all accounts, gluten sensitivity is increasing in the U.S. The rise in gluten-related sensitivity disorders can be traced back to changes in the way that wheat is processed and wheat-based products are manufactured.  The changes led to alternation in the type and availability of grain products in the marketplace. In essence, the amount of gluten in grain-based products increased as manufacturers attempted to create products with more consumer appeal.  In addition, the number of complaints that seemed to stem from an increased consumption of these products kept pace with their availability. Somewhere along the line, our genes also changed in response to these modifications in our diet. Our bodies reacted in alarm to the presence of gluten, targeting it as a foreign invader.

INR-Bookstore-CTA