I was in a session with a new client today, and she mentioned that she tries to maintain a gluten-free diet because she notices less joint stiffness when she does.
I commended her on her efforts to manage her health naturally, but after getting more info on exactly what she’s consuming during the day, I noticed that an important nutritional component was completely lacking from her diet – whole grains.
I see this all too often now that gluten-free has become all the craze. People end up either cutting grains from their diet completely, or they turn to common gluten-free substitutes made from starches like tapioca starch and potato starch (which are not very nutritious, and often worse for digestion than eating other wholesome options).
Sadly, I think the concept of gluten-free has been confused with the importance of consuming, organic, whole grains. Often, when people have trouble digesting wheat products, they are made from non-organic, processed ingredients which can weaken our digestive systems and are harder to digest because they are genetically modified, grown with chemicals, and are not very wholesome, especially when processed. This can leave our gut flora out of balance, which weakens the entire system.
Fortunately, Ayurveda can be used to re-balance and strengthen our digestive system so that we don’t have these issues.
It is also important to choose organic grains whenever possible and certain options are easier to digest when it comes to gluten-containing products, such as sprouted grains and spelt (which contains a type of gluten that is often better tolerated than wheat).
*Please note: If you have been diagnosed with Celiac disease, I am not recommending that you eat gluten-containing products.
With that said, if someone does have a sensitivity to gluten, I do think it’s best to keep it out of the diet while the imbalance is corrected, or in the case of Celiac to eliminate it all together.
So if someone chooses not to eat gluten, but doesn’t want to consume unhealthy starch substitutes, what should they choose?
Well, the goods new is that there are lots of options! Some of my favorites include:
- Basmati rice
Basmati rice in particular is my favorite – it’s great for summer because it’s balancing for Pitta dosha (made up of the fire element primarily) and it has a wonderful flavor. It also contains all eight essential amino acids, is high in folic acid, and is low on the glycemic index.
Some of the ways I like to use it include:
- As a side dish with either lentils, wild salmon, or another protein
- Reheated the next morning with eggs and veggies for a wholesome breakfast
- I love to make homemade Khir (Indian Rice Pudding)
- On top of salad greens with some goat cheese and pecans
I always cook mine with a dollop of organic ghee, as this gives it a really nice flavor. If you have time, I recommend soaking it for ten minutes before cooking for a softer texture. Finish it with a dusting of sea salt and black pepper for a simple, delicious side dish and enjoy!
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