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Posted by: Georgi 

When you study rye, wheat, low level oats, and barley closely, you will discover a rubbery like protein substance known as gluten. It is this ingredient that helps dough bind, as is evident in baked food products such as bread and stuff. Even though the grains contain gluten, if you are sensitive, you can suffer from gluten allergy. Further, there are other protein ingredients that can trigger allergic symptoms in very sensitive people.

The four major types of proteins found in these grains include glutenin (gluten), globulin, albumin, and gliadin. The symptoms, and subsequently their severity to gluten allergy will vary significantly from one person to another, but generally, people with gluten allergy suffer from abdominal cramps, swelling, hives, vomiting, nausea and asthma. If you are highly sensitive to this allergy, rest assured the symptoms could be very serious and life-threatening, to say the least.

Not to be discouraged though, if you are suffering from gluten allergy by reacting after eating any of the wheat products mentioned above, it can be very easy to make an early diagnosis, and subsequent early treatment. Your doctor or a professional allergist does so by conducting a skin prick test or drawing blood to confirm that indeed the allergic reaction comes from the intake of gluten. The challenge however lies in the fact that most of the foods available today are made from wheat, so it could be very difficult to tell exactly what wheat product is responsible for the reaction.

If you are suffering from a severe reaction to gluten, your best bet would be to get rid of all wheat products from your diet, at least until you identify what it is that is causing the reaction. On the flip side of the coin, if it is a mild one, you can reduce the amount of wheat products intake, or you can use readily allergy medications or shots to counter the effects. If it is a kid suffering from gluten allergy, unless very severe, they can outgrow the condition with time.

Gluten allergy in kids manifest itself inform of impaired growth, abdominal distension, irritability, abnormal stools, malabsorption, poor muscle tone, loss of appetite, and muscle wastage. As for adults, it manifests itself in the form of significant weight loss, diarrhea, bloating and abdominal cramping, constipation, and very offensive and annoying stools. With the right diet and care, you can still enjoy a delectable meal minus the irritating symptoms even when suffering from gluten allergy. How?

The following are safe alternatives of gluten-free flour to choose from:-

- Corn flour has significantly low gluten content, and can be used for general baking purposes. To ensure it does not go sour and to maintain its freshness, keep it refrigerated and dry all the time.

- Rye flour can be used and even though it is a known gluten product, you can add guar gum or xanthan gum so you can attain the soft texture that many people desire.

- Rice flour, whether you opt for brown or white rice flour can be a great thickening agent when cooking. Alternatively, many people today use rice flour as a breakfast cereal, in cake mixes, snacks, and batters. The best form of rice flour is undoubtedly brown rice flour, as it is very nutritious because the outer kernel of fiber is left intact during processing. Just like corn flour, keep your rice flour dry and refrigerated for long life.

- Barley flour is a traditional flour which ought to be mixed with other types of flour for optimal results

- Oat flour is a great addition on all baked foods as it will make the end result fluffy and more importantly lighter

- Potato flour, which is made by crashing a whole potato including the skin can also be a great alternative, and should be used in tiny amounts when mixing it with other flours during baking. Equally, keep it dry and refrigerated.

- There is also the potato starch, which is notably different from potato flour in that it is made only out of the starchy part of a potato. This flour is ideal during baking when mixed with other flours. Equally, keep it dry and refrigerated.

- Tapioca flour is made from cassava and is known to add no flavor to the end result. Most of the time it will be used in place of arrowroot flour when none is available.

- Arrowroot flour is another alternative which equally adds no flavor to the finished result. It can be replaced by cornstarch when cooking and baking.

- Amaranth flour is another common type of flour used for baking thanks to a nutty and delectable flavor it adds to the end result. Keep it dry and refrigerated and only mix 10-25% of this flour to the flour you are blending for baking.

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