Top 7 Gluten Free Bread Alternatives
By Sara Novak
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past decade, you have heard of gluten and products that are gluten-free. But do you know what gluten actually is and why so many people try to avoid it in their diets? Gluten sensitivities can vary in their seriousness but a number of people benefit from giving gluten up. Are you experiencing bloating, cramping, an upset stomach, brain fog, or a host of symptoms without knowing why? Let’s take a closer look at gluten and more importantly, why so many people seem to have a problem with it.
Table Of Contents:
- A Deep Dive Into Gluten
- Why People Have Trouble With Gluten
- Illnesses Helped By A Gluten Free Diet
- Gluten Free Bread Alternatives (Thermo Approved)
A Deep Dive Into Gluten:
Gluten seems to have appeared around 10,000 years ago, just as farming was becoming more widespread in the Fertile Crescent in southwest Asia. The word gluten comes from the Latin word for glue due to the protein’s ability to hold baked goods together. Gluten has long spelled the difference between leavened and unleavened bread since its role is giving the shape, structure, and elasticity of many of the starches that you love. It is found in so many of the foods we eat, including bread, fried coatings, sauces, dips, cakes, pies, pasta, grains, cereals, salad dressings. The list goes on, though in the past decade gluten-free alternatives have become more and more widely available. Glutenin and gliadin are the two main proteins found in gluten although gliadin is one that causes the most trouble. Allergies to gliadin have also been linked to other autoimmune diseases, though the research is not necessarily clear on the subject.
Why People Have Trouble With Gluten:
Gluten-free diets are a relatively new phenomenon that have grown more and more popular in the past two decades. Now, finding gluten-free alternatives is easy even in mainstream grocery stores. An allergy to gluten was first identified in A.D. 100 by Aretaeus, a Greek doctor. Celiac disease is the most devastating disease to result from ingesting gluten and its diagnosis has become much more common in the past 50 years.
My best friend has Celiac disease and has had it for most of her adult life. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease caused by eating gluten. It is genetic and occurs in about 1 of every 250 people. When those with Celiac disease eat gluten, it causes the immune system to react in the small intestine, causing cramping, diarrhea, bloating, fatigue, anemia, and major discomfort.
Over time, if you keep eating gluten when you have Celiac disease, it can cause damage to the small intestine. Untreated Celiac disease can result in malnutrition because your body has trouble absorbing nutrients from your diet. It can also result in bone weakening, infertility, lactose intolerance, and several forms of cancer. The only cure for Celiac disease is to completely avoid gluten in your diet and if Celiac disease goes untreated it can degenerate down the line and the problem can get much worse. Celiac disease is diagnosed with a simple blood test.
Gluten Intolerance Or Insensitivity:
It is thought that between .5 and 13 percent of people have a less serious though symptomatic gluten sensitivity. Those that experience a gluten sensitivity often experience bloating, according to a study published in the journal BMC Medical Journal. Other symptoms include diarrhea, upset stomach, headaches, fatigue, brain fog, depression, and skin problems. This is the most common reason why people give up gluten.
An allergy to wheat is another condition caused by eating gluten. This is a food allergy that can result in a range of symptoms including cramping, upset stomach, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and even anaphylaxis. Just like other food allergies, a wheat allergy is usually diagnosed by an allergist using a skin prick test or a blood test. It is not the same as Celiac disease, but in some cases, it can be just as serious.
Illnesses Helped By A Gluten-Free Diet:
You do not have to have an allergy to gluten or wheat to benefit from going gluten-free. It has also been shown helpful in populations with other autoimmune diseases. For example, those that have Celiac disease are at a higher risk of having other conditions. Many skin issues that are considered autoimmune may be alleviated with the help of a whole foods, gluten-free diet. If you are experiencing atopic dermatitis, it might be worth giving up these foods to see if it makes a difference.
Irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, according to the Mayo Clinic, “is a common disorder that affects the large intestine. Signs and symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea or constipation, or both. IBS is a chronic condition that you'll need to manage long term.” Some people with IBS claim to find relief through a gluten-free diet, though there is still not enough research to back this up.
A review of studies published in the journal Gastroenterology and Hepatology looked at whether or not a gluten-free diet helped relieve a number of different disorders. First, it looked at schizophrenia. The authors write that “it has been suggested that patients with schizophrenia have higher levels of antigliadin autoantibodies.” Still, the reviewers found no link between those with a higher risk of a gluten allergy and schizophrenia. Next, the study authors looked at the link between atopic skin diseases and gluten. They found that 30 percent of pediatric patients “had improvement in both atopic and gastrointestinal symptoms on a gluten-free diet.” In patients with fibromyalgia, patients on a gluten-free diet experienced an improvement in their symptoms. There was also an improvement in symptoms for patients with endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain when on a gluten-free diet.
Should I Give Up Gluten?:
If you are experiencing some of the symptoms listed above including cramping, bloating, weight gain, diarrhea, brain fog, and depression, or if you have a condition that may be improved through a gluten-free diet, then it is worth giving up gluten to see whether it benefits you. Not to mention that gluten is often found in many processed foods like breads, fried foods, baked goods, and sauces that do not do a body good. Many believe that gluten is not easy for the body to digest.
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Gluten Free Bread Alternatives (Thermo Approved):
Here are our Thermo-approved gluten-free alternatives that you may want to try. Remember that just because a food is gluten-free does not mean that it is good for you. French fries are gluten-free and you do not want to be eating them on a regular basis.
- Choose Organic - Choose items that are organic, which means that you do not have to worry about genetically modified ingredients and synthetic pesticides and herbicides.
- No Enriched Flours - Flours can be enriched with any number of nutrients and minerals. Iron fortification is one of the most popular and it is problematic because it means that your body may be getting more than what it needs.
- Less Ingredients - The fewer the ingredients the better. Choose gluten-free products that contain as few ingredients as possible. Avoid chemical colorings and preservatives and anything that you do not know what it is.
- No PUFAs - PUFAs are short for polyunsaturated fats or nut and seed oils that are unstable and oxidize causing free radicals, which can result in aging and other diseases. Make sure that you do not make your gluten-free bread with PUFAs or choose breads that contain them as an ingredient.
The majority of potato breads are not actually gluten-free because they contain potato with the addition of wheat flour. You can however make gluten-free potato bread with russet potatoes, almond flour, tapioca flour, and herbs. You can make a quick bread version without a leavening agent or you can make a yeasted version with all purpose gluten-free flour and dry active yeast. Just throw the ingredients together and add to the bread making machine.
Sourdough bread is not ok if you have Celiac disease or a gluten allergy, but it contains a lot less gluten than regular bread and is generally easier for the body to digest. Sourdough is easier on the body because it contains lactobacilli. Lactobacilli is a good bacteria that is among the most populous in the gut. When there is an imbalance of the good and bad bacteria in the gut, it can result in a number of digestive and autoimmune disorders.
Coconut Flour Bread
Pure coconut flour is gluten-free and it is delicious. It adds a rich, sweet, and creamy texture and flavor to your favorite foods. I love coconut flour pancakes. Make a delicious gluten-free coconut bread with coconut flour, baking powder, eggs, vinegar, and coconut oil. I love this recipe from the Sugar Free Diva Yum!
Masa Harina (Tortas / Bread)
Masa harina is a maize dough flour that is found in many of your favorite homemade southwest and Mexican foods. Think corn tortillas, tamales, Gorditas, and pupusas. If you want to make about the most delicious tacos on the planet, consider making your own tortillas. All you need is organic (I like Bob’s Red Mill) masa harina, grass fed butter, salt, and water. This Mark Bitman New York Times recipe is easy and delicious.
Cassava Flour Bread
Cassava is a starchy tuber found in tropical climates. It makes sweet, delicious bread with cassava flour, eggs, arrowroot powder, maple syrup, grass fed butter, and coconut flour. You can add dry active yeast if you want the bread to be leavened. I like this bread from Easy Real Food. It is a simple recipe and you end up with a delicious and healthy treat.
Rice Flour Bread
Simply put, rice flour is made from raw ground rice. It is used in a number of South Indian recipes, substituted for wheat flour in breads, baked goods, and Indian appams or used to thicken soups and stews. Combine white rice flour with eggs, active dry yeast, sea salt, grass fed butter, and organic sugar. To make the recipe Thermo-approved, you will need to substitute vegetable shortening for grass fed butter, but this Bob’s Red Mill recipe is otherwise great.
Egg White Clouds
This is a fun and versatile recipe. All you have to do is separate the egg whites and the yolk and then whip the egg whites into stiff peaks. Then place the yoke on top and heat on a baking sheet for a few minutes. It’s best to place your egg white cloud and egg atop a piece of home baked gluten-free bread. Yum! I love this recipe from ComplEATly. This is a simple morning recipe that is also a great on-the-go snack.
Want to learn more about proper nutrition and how to restore your body's natural healing abilities? Check out The Thermo Diet!