September 19, 2011
could gluten-free be the answer?
A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes foods containing gluten, a protein found in wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye, malts and triticale. It is used as a food additive in the form of a flavoring, stabilizing or thickening agent, often as "dextrin". While a gluten-free diet is the only medically accepted treatment for celiac disease, the diet is also helpful for those with a sensitive stomach.
If you frequently fall victim to stomach cramps or symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, it can be helpful to eliminate gluten from your diet. Even if you do not have celiac disease (which means your body is intolerant to gluten), your body may still be unable to digest gluten. In fact, all bodies find it difficult to digest gluten.
The presence of gluten is what allows bread to expand and become bread; this is due to its very high content of the sulphur containing amino acid cystine, which gives gluten its elastic and expandable qualities. It is, however, this exact trait that also makes gluten very difficult to digest. If a person's digestive system is the least bit compromised, it is very likely that the gluten will not be fully digested and be allowed to pass through to the intestines, where undigested proteins are the perfect nourishment for bad, putrefying bacteria.
Because of the physical nature of gluten, it is an especially unfavorable substance to have in the intestines. It has a tendency to stick to the walls and combine with another hard to digest protein, casein. The two proteins can form an adherent mass on the intestinal walls that makes absorption of essential nutrients problematic, if not impossible. It can also make the passage of waste material extremely difficult (constipation) contributing to overall body and bowel toxicity. This intestinal build-up can put an enormous toxic burden on the body, making it vulnerable to an infinite amount of chronic conditions.
While the jury is still out on the villainous characteristics of gluten, if you suffer from stomach pain, an elimination diet can be worth a try. Take out gluten from your diet for two weeks and see if your condition improves. Remember gluten is not just in bread, but in pastas, sauces, candies and baked goods. Read the label to make sure you are not accidentally consuming any gluten.
I've tried many different gluten-free products and I must admit that some of them really are compromised in flavour. Melinda's brownies are definitely not lacking in taste and I would go as far as to say, they are better than the original version. I improvised on the ingredients to add (as I so often do) by using half the amount of butter (organic always) and substituting the other half with quarter of a cup of low-fat soy milk. I also added 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter for added punch. I didn't melt the chocolate included as directed but instead folded through half of the chocolate before pouring into the tin. I prefer bits of chocolate rather than it get lost in the cake, however, if you like your brownies very fudgy, I would melt the chocolate first.