Gluten-Free Grains

In my post How can I get plant protein without eating soy? I suggested that people limit their intake of wheat gluten products to 2 to 3 servings a day. Someone asked me why gluten should be limited.

Gluten should be limited because eating large amounts of the same protein day after day can, in some cases, lead to developing an intolerance to that protein. Gluten, in particular, appears to be a protein to which many people develop an intolerance. In the worst-case scenario, eating too much gluten might actually trigger celiac disease in someone who is genetically predisposed.

About 1 in 133 people in the U.S. have celiac disease. Celiac disease is when gluten causes someone’s immune system to mount a reaction against their intestinal tissue. It is very unpleasant and means that for the rest of someone‘s life they will have to avoid foods with gluten. You can read more on celiac at the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.

Wheat, barley, and rye contain gluten. If someone has celiac, they have to be very careful about all sorts of products that would not at first seem like they have gluten. But for people without celiac disease to vary the proteins in their diet as much as possible, here are some foods that do not contain gluten:

Corn
Rice
Oats
Quinoa
Buckwheat
Teff
Amaranth
Millet
Tapioca
Wild rice

Although buckwheat doesn’t contain gluten, many buckwheat products are a mixture of buckwheat plus regular wheat. However, Eden Foods’ soba noodles are pure buckwheat.

Teff is the grain from which the Ethiopian bread, injera, is made (note that some restaurants mix wheat into their injera, so people with celiac disease should ask). Teff can also be cooked much like cream of wheat and has a similar consistency.

Finally, I want to mention my friends at Sun Flour Baking Company in Sacramento who are supporters of Vegan Outreach and also make a line of gluten-free, vegan cookies, brownies, and bars.

8 Responses to “Gluten-Free Grains”

  1. Jack’s Latest Nutrition Blogging | Vegan.com Says:

    […] Gluten-Free Grains, Creatine, Vegan Pregnancy Questions, Mercury Poisoning, and the CCF and Teenagers. […]

  2. Johanna Says:

    Is tapioca a grain? I thought it was a root.

  3. Jack Norris RD Says:

    It is a root! But it seems a lot like a grain, doesn’t it? 🙂 Thanks for catching that, Johanna.

  4. Jessika Says:

    I believe your right with overeating gluten could possibly trigger celiac disease to manifest itself! Growing up I lived on pop tarts, donuts, cereals, sandwiches, oatmeal, granola bars, pizza…if it had gluten I most certainly ate it (thank god for a fast metabolism after eating all that!). I really never ate fruits/vegetables and I was afraid of meats so I’d say I lived off gluten filled products until I was 15 and had to go gluten free even though only one great X4 grandfather was allergic to wheat…but nobody else in my family has been diagnosed or seems to have such a bad reaction to it as I do.

    Maybe if I ate better I wouldn’t be Celiac, but then again you never know 🙂

    – Jessika : Celiac Speaks – Symptoms, Recipes, Restaurants and Daily Life

  5. Nina Says:

    Oats are not gluten then? But perhaps I shouldn’t eat so much anyway. I have porridge for breakfast about five days a week. Gluten free breads, pasta etc are too expensive to be a staple food. I would miss my wholewheat bread if i go gluten free.

  6. Jack Norris RD Says:

    Nina,

    My understanding is that some people with celiac disease have problems with oats but most do not. It sounds like you do not have sensitivities to oats, and if that is the case, eating them five times a week should be no problem at all.

  7. Zahara Says:

    Hello,
    I have been following you for a while and really appreciate your blog and the information you provide.
    I’m a vegetarian with a gluten sensitivity, so I do eat a lot of those gluten free grains you listed above.
    Recently this article (http://thepaleodiet.com/millet-gluten-free-grain-avoid/) about millet was shown to me by a friend and I wonder if it’s a real concern, and how much would be too much. Would you happen to have any further information?
    Thank you for all you do.

  8. Jack Norris RD Says:

    Zahara,

    I generally find the paleo dieters problems with grains to be far overblown, but I’ve never done a comparison of millet to other grains. This is the first I’ve heard millet criticized. If you’ve been eating it for a few years now without problem, that I wouldn’t worry about it.

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