Going Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free
Starting a gluten-free and dairy-free diet can improve your health, reduce inflammation, manage food sensitivities, and help fight chronic diseases. Both gluten and dairy are common allergens for many people- you can find out more information about this on the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) website. In this article, we will give a brief overview of gluten and dairy, the effects they may have on your body, and some tips on getting started with a gluten-free and dairy-free diet.
Gluten & Inflammation
Gluten is type of protein known as prolamin, naturally found in some grains including wheat, barley, and rye. This protein acts as a binder, or glue, holding foods together and adding a stretchy quality, helping edibles keep their shapes. Think of pizza dough having that malleable characteristic, or baked goods such as bread, bagels, cookies, and cake.
Gluten is considered an inflammatory because it contains high levels of anti-nutrients, which are proteins that can bind with and interfere with the absorption and digestion of nutrients in your gut. This can then lead to inflammation. Gluten also produces the release of zonulin in the body. Zonulin, another protein, controls the opening and closing of junctions in the gut lining. The release of zonulin takes over natural selective permeability and opens junctions regardless of what should be allowed into your bloodstream. This can cause an immune response in your body, also leading to inflammation.
Dairy & Inflammation
Dairy is another food that is difficult for the body to digest, therefore resulting in inflammation. Lactose, the sugar found in milk, requires the enzyme lactase for digestion. Lactase is produced in early childhood, but we lose production ability as we age. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, approximately 65% of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy.
Dairy also contains a protein called casein, a protein that can cause compromised digestion and immune system function. Particularly, A1 casein is the specific protein that can cause these issues. This food also contains a high level of hormones that may influence your body’s natural hormonal balance.
Many people think that by going gluten-free and dairy-free, they are restricted to what they can or cannot eat. This is not the case! There are plenty of foods that you can eat by choosing whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, meat, poultry, seafood, legumes, grains (except for barley, rye, and wheat), nuts, and seeds. There are also many popular alternatives for gluten and dairy options. For example, wheat flour can be replaced with almond flour, coconut flour, or gluten-free all purpose flour (just to name a few). Milk can be replaced with nut milk (almond/cashew/hemp), coconut milk, or soy milk.
When removing gluten and dairy from your diet, it is important to educate yourself on their effects on your own body, and where these foods may be found. Once you are aware of which foods contain gluten and dairy, you can make informed choices when shopping for food or when you’re ordering from a restaurant. Many times, there will be labels and sections in the store labeled gluten and dairy-free.
Having a dairy-free diet means that you omit:
- ice cream
- sour cream
- cottage cheeses
- baked goods containing milk
When looking at labels, other ingredients to look out for that include lactose are:
- milk byproducts
- dry milk
- non-fat dry milk
- dry milk powders
Here is a list of gluten-free foods for your reference.
Gluten-Free Whole Grains
- brown rice
- wild rice
- oats (make sure they are labelled gluten-free!)
*The grains to avoid: wheat, rye, barley, triticale.
- nuts & seeds
- red meat
- traditional soy foods
*Proteins to avoid:
- any meat, poultry or fish that has been breaded
- proteins combined with wheat-based soy sauce
- 100% fruit juice
- coffee / tea
- some alcoholic beverages (including wine, hard ciders, and beer made from gluten-free grains)
- sports drinks
*Beverages to avoid:
- non-distilled liquors
- malt beverages such as wine coolers
Many healthy foods are naturally gluten-free, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, certain whole grains, dairy products, and oils, as well as fresh meat, fish, and poultry. Wheat, rye, and barley are the major foods that need to be avoided while following a gluten-free diet. Gluten is also commonly added to processed foods, such as canned and boxed items. It is always good to double check the ingredients because some grains, such as oats, may be cross-contaminated with gluten, depending on where they were processed.
For extra support and the opportunity to connect with others implementing a gluten-free or dairy-free diet, please check out Let Go & Grow®’s Mind Body Reset. In the Mind Body Reset, Dr. Brooke Stuart will be there to guide you through every step of the way, healing your system through fundamental shifts in mindset, diet, lifestyle, and other natural methods. You will also be able to engage in an elimination provocation diet to personalize and tailor a diet that works for you. We hope to see you inside!