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Considering Gluten-Free? Why It’s Probably Not Necessary (and May Even Be Bad for You)

 

gluten-free_LARGE

 

The Gluten-free craze is one of the most popular dieting and weight loss trends since the turn of the century.

But, in reality, it’s probably not necessary for most of us and may even be harmful.

A little background on Gluten before we explain why you may not really need to worry about it.

 

What is Gluten? And why do we love it?

Gluten is a protein composite that gives wheat products like bread and cereal their chewy, flexible texture. It is found in most modern-day carbs and humans have been consuming it, in some form, for thousands of years.
So why did we break-up with bread?

In the early 2000s, cardiologist Dr. William Davis began advocating against gluten and wheat, a concept that quickly caught on with celebrities and others in the health space.

Dr. Davis’ 2011 book, “The Wheat Belly” quickly became a New York Times bestseller, and the gluten-free diet has inserted itself into pop culture ever since.

The Expert Truth About the Gluten-Free Diet

Here’s the thing: most people eating a gluten-free diet don’t need to be, and may actually be harming themselves.

A gluten-free diet should only be used by people who have celiac disease — an autoimmune disease where the body mounts an immune response to gluten, causing stomach pain, indigestion, diarrhea, bloating, gas and even osteoporosis. And, in reality, just 1 percent of the population actually has celiac disease.

“There is no harm with whole wheat unless you have the disease,” says Dr. Gabe Mirkin, fitness guru, long-time radio host and sports medicine doctor with more than 50 years of practice.

Mirkin is one of thousands of health experts who have come out against the idea of leveraging a gluten-free diet for health and weight loss.

In fact, he says people who eat whole wheat are actually better off.

“Virtually everybody agrees that people who eat a lot of wheat, these people live longer, have less cancer, fewer heart attacks, diabetes, etc.,” Mirkin says. “Whole grains prevent disease. That’s what all the literature supports.”

For example, on his website, Mirkin points to two studies published this year showing that gluten-free diets cause nutritional deficiencies:

The study in Clinical Nutrition (May 7, 2016) reviewed scientific studies published between 1990 and 2015 and found that most gluten-free diets:

  • Lacked fiber because low-fiber foods made from sugars, starches and refined flours were substituted for fiber-rich foods made from whole grains;
  • Lacked vitamins B12 and folate, and minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium; and
  • Contained more high glycemic load foods and larger amounts of saturated and hydrogenated fats.

The study in The Journal of Pediatrics (May 13, 2016), from researchers at Dalhouse University in Canada, found that when given to children, gluten-free processed foods could cause:

  • Delayed growth and development because they often lack essential nutrients (the B vitamins, fiber, calcium, magnesium and iron); and
  • Weight gain because they are usually low in fiber and higher in sugar, other refined carbohydrates and fats.
Whoa, hold up a second.

Does that second study show that gluten-free diets can actually cause weight GAIN? Then why have so many of us been led to believe that gluten-free diets are a way to lose weight?

That’s a common misconception, Mirkin says.

“Yes, people who avoid flour and refined carbs can lose weight,” Mirkin says. “But the difference is between a whole grain and a ground grain, like flour.”

Processed flour, he says, can cause weight gain because it’s the result of wheat being ground up and refined into an ingredient that has little to no nutritional value (mostly to retain shelf life). That’s different than whole grains, which retain their fiber and other important nutrients, such as selenium, potassium and magnesium.

People do lose weight when they intentionally cut out gluten but it’s not because of the gluten, per se but rather that they have cut out things like cupcakes, chips, crackers, high-sugar cereals and the like. They lose weight because they’ve eliminated the refined flour — not the gluten.

So, wait, can I eat wheat or not?

According to the Whole Grains Council, when looking for a whole grain product, you should look at the list of ingredients to make sure it says; whole grain, whole wheat, whole wheat flour, and stone-ground whole wheat.

Processed wheat such as; wheat flour, semolina, durum wheat, organic flour and enriched flour (anything that doesn’t include the word “whole”), should only be consumed in moderation. If you find yourself at a bakery or restaurant where you don’t have access to an ingredients list, try to be conscious of the calorie content and portion so that your waistline doesn’t suffer.

Is a gluten-free diet right for you?

The best thing to do is to ask your doctor to give you an immunoglobulin A anti-tissue transglutaminase antibody (IgA TTG) test.

“If the test comes back negative, then it is extremely unlikely you have celiac disease and need a gluten-free diet,” Mirkin says.

 

If you feel like you react to gluten and may have an intolerance to it, cut it out for 3 months and then slowly feed it back into your diet. Make sure you take a good probiotic during the elimination and re-introduction phase so that your gut bacteria can assist with proper digestion and perhaps heal any damage you may have to your gut lining.

If you’re interested in cutting out refined flour and breads from your diet as a way to lose weight, take a look at Daily Dietitian’s Low Carb Diet instead, we will make things easy and delicious for you.

 

x DD

7 Easy Steps To A Happier, Healthier Gut

Healthier Gut

A properly functioning digestive system (a healthier gut) is critical to good health.

In fact, 60 -80% of our immune system is located in our gut, and 90% of our neurotransmitters (chemicals responsible for regulating mood) such as serotonin are made in our gut.

Problems in our gastrointestinal (GI) tract can cause more than just stomach pain, gas, bloating or diarrhea; they can be the root cause of many chronic health problems.

Gut imbalances have been linked to hormonal imbalances, autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid issues, diabetes, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, eczema and rosacea… just to name a few.

Still, the most common way people notice a problem in their gut is when they start regularly experiencing digestive issue like bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, or diarrhea.

While taking probiotics and drinking more water are helpful to your gut health, they’re not a cure for digestive issues.

Rather, the biggest factors in digestive health are your diet and lifestyle.

Here are nine easy steps we recommend for a healthier, happier gut:

1. Eat the right kind of fiber.

You may have heard that fiber helps with symptoms of constipation, but there are actually two types of fiber we should all be aware of: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.

Soluble fibers actually slow digestion, which prevents quick spikes in your blood sugar, whereas insoluble fibers help move food through your intestines, which can help prevent constipation.

Insoluble fibers are found in nuts, whole wheat, whole grains, seeds, and rice, while soluble fibers can naturally be found in oats, beans, peas, flaxseed, berries, and apples.

Make sure to avoid soluble fibers added to processed foods that add sugar substitutes made from dextrose, sorbitol, and citric acid, which can cause gas and bloating.

2. Buy veggies with flavonoids.

Certain fruits and vegetables have more molecules known as flavonoids, which make up their bright pigments.
Flavonoids are very beneficial for your digestion due to their anti-inflammatory properties and they assist in digestion of starch. A powerful antioxidant, flavonoids are found in romaine lettuce, onions, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, quinoa, and bell peppers. Incorporating more flavonoid-filled veggies can help you maintain healthier gut.

3. Find a method of stress management.

Stress not only affects your mental state but can also take a toll on your physical well-being. Stress negatively affects every part of your digestive system, causing your colon to spasm or even increases the acid in your stomach, causing indigestion.

If you’re not exercising regularly, we recommend finding a workout or active activity you can do at least three times per week for a healthier gut. It can relieve tension and release endorphins that improve your mood. Eating a healthy diet and deep breathing can also drastically relieve stress.

4. Sleep eight hours a night.

Many people who have GI problems also have issues falling asleep. Multiple studies have found a relationship between sleep disorders and GERD, IBS, IBD, and ulcers.

A solid eight hours of sleep is imperative to keep your digestive track healthy—and coincidentally keeps your mind and body healthy. So if you already suffer from a digestive issue, it’s important to work on your sleep schedule.

5. Avoid artificial sweeteners.

Artificial sweeteners can be extremely detrimental to your digestive health because they don’t get digested properly meaning bacteria will break them down and cause problems.

6. Make smart alcohol choices for a healthier gut.

Occasional alcohol intake is fine for your digestive system. However, excessively drinking alcohol can lead to digestive issues such as heartburn and inflammation of the stomach, and it can even increase the risk of small intestine cancers and leaky gut.

Not only does alcohol create problems, it can also increase symptoms of IBS and can cause both diarrhea and constipation.

7. Prevent “leaky gut.”

Bloating, gas, cramps, digestive irregularities, aches and pains are all symptoms of a leaky gut.

Leaky gut is just a term to describe the increased intestinal permeability that can happen if there’s inflammation in the intestines.

The gut is naturally permeable to very small molecules in order to absorb these vital nutrients.

In sensitive people, factors like gluten, toxins, stress and age can cause the gut cells to release a protein that can break apart tight junctions in the intestinal lining. Once these tight junctions get broken apart, you have a leaky gut.

When your gut is leaky, things like toxins, microbes, undigested food particles, and more can escape from your intestines and travel throughout your body via your bloodstream. Your immune system marks these “foreign invaders” as pathogens and attacks them. The immune response to these invaders can appear in the form of any of the nine signs you have a leaky gut, which are listed below.

9 signs you may have a leaky gut:

  1. Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  2. Seasonal allergies or asthma.
  3. Hormonal imbalances such as PMS or PCOS.
  4. Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, psoriasis, or celiac disease.
  5. Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia.
  6. Mood and mind issues such as depression, anxiety, ADD or ADHD.
  7. Skin issues such as acne, rosacea, or eczema.
  8. Diagnosis of candida overgrowth.
  9. Food allergies or food intolerances.

*NOTE: If you’re constantly experiencing digestive irregularities and diet changes are not making a difference, go to a medical professional, such as a gastroenterologist, who will help you diagnose your symptoms correctly and effectively.

x DD


If you’d like advice on getting a healthier gut, book a consultation with a Dietitian.

Low Carb Lamington Recipe

Lamington Recipe

These delicious looking and enticing coconut dusted cakes are an Australian tradition but have steadily gained popularity in South Africa. Unfortunately, whether bought or made, they are high in processed sugar and flour without beneficial nutrients.

Daily Dietitian’s Lamington recipe uses xylitol for sweeteness and almond flour instead of refined white flour. The xylitol-sugar swop ensure stable blood sugar levels and the almonds add healthy fats and decrease carbohydrate content.

DD SUGAR-FREE, LOW-CARB LAMINGTONS

Serves: 24 squares

Ingredients

  • ½ cup butter (or coconut oil), at room temperature
  • 6 tbsp xylitol
  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup almond milk (unsweetened)
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 ½ cups almond flour Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 cups desiccated coconut

Method for the Lamington Recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Cream the butter and xylitol together in a bowl. Whisk the eggs into the mix. Add milk and vanilla slowly and whisk until you have a creamy texture.
  3. Next, place almond flour, baking powder and salt into a separate mixing bowl, and add the coconut. Add the wet ingredients gradually, mixing well.
  4. Pour this into a brownie pan. Bake for 18–20 mins. They are cooked when an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  5. Place on a wire rack and let cool, then cut into squares.

TYPICAL NUTRITION INFORMATION (per 1 serving)

Each serving is 1 square

Per serving

  • Energy (kJ): 594kJ
  • Protein (g): 4g
  • Total Carbohydrates (g): 5g

    — of which are sugars (g): 0g

  • Total fat (g): 12g

    — of which is trans fat: 0g

  • Total Sodium (mg): 54g

TYPICAL NUTRITION INFORMATION (per store-bought Lamington cake slice)

Each serving is 1 square

Per serving

  • Energy (kJ): 782kJ
  • Protein (g): 2.3g
  • Total Carbohydrates (g): 23.0g

    — of which are sugars (g): 17.6g

  • Total fat (g): 9.1g

    — of which is trans fat: 0g

  • Total Sodium (mg): 127g

(Information taken from www.woolworths.co.za (Lamington Cake Slices 5pk))

Enjoy baking (or let us do it for you)

x DD

Quinoa Sushi Recipe

Quinoa Sushi Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup cooked, cooled quinoa
  • 3 tbsp hummus
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1/4 cup carrot slices
  • 1 Nori sheet

Instructions for Quinoa Sushi Recipe:

  • Spread 3 tbsp hummus over the nori sheet and cover evenly with quinoa. Leave outer edges of nori sheet free of topping.
  • Cut carrots and avo into slices and lay a line of both near edge of nori sheet (about 5cm from one end)
  • Roll nori sheet over carrots and avo and secure side of nori sheet with no topping with water if needed.
  • Cut roll into sushi size pieces.

Benefits of nori:

  • Made from dried seaweed.
  • High protein content: from 20% in green algae to 70% in spirulina.
  • High mineral content, especially: iodine, calcium, iron,magnesium.
  • More vitamin C than oranges.
  • Natural iodine for healthy thyroid function.
  • Anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory properties.
  • One of the richest plant sources of calcium.
  • Polysaccharides: important in the prevention of degenerative diseases including cardiovascular and diabetes 2, increase the amount of feel-good chemicals in the brain, improves liver function, stabilizes blood sugar.

Benefits of quinoa:

  • Popular “superfood”, grain loaded with protein, fiber and minerals.
  • Gluten free.
  • Stems back to the ancient Inca empire they referred to it as the “mother of all grains” … even though it is actually a seed.
  • 100g cooked has 120 calories, 4gr protein, 21g carbs and 2 gr fat.
  • High in flavonoids which are antioxidants and anti-inflammatory.
  • Higher in fiber than most grains.
  • High protein.
  • Low GI for blood sugar control.
  • High in magnesium which many people don’t get enough of and is important for a multitude of bodily functions.

Benefits of hummus:

  • Arabic and Mediterranean dish typically made from chickpeas, olive oil and tahini (sesame paste).
  • 100g has 166 calories, 10g fat, 14 gr carbs, 8g protein
  • Rich in essential minerals like potassium, zinc, calcium, magnesium and iron.
  • Also rich in vitamins A, B’s and folate.
  • Low GI so helps regulate blood sugar.
  • Rich in amino acids for healthy muscles and tissues.
  • High fiber for healthy digestive system.
  • Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids for inflammation.

Benefits of avocado:

  • Prized for high nutrient value.
  • 100 grams 160 calories, 2 grams protein, 9 grams carbs and 15 grams healthy fats.
  • Great source of Vitamin K, C, B, E, folate and potassium.
  • More potassium than bananas – beneficial for reduced blood pressure.
  • Loaded with heart healthy mono-unsaturated fatty acids can lower cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • Fats help you absorb fat soluble nutrients like Vit A, D, E, K.
  • High in anti ageing antioxidants
  • Have lots of soluble and insoluble fiber for gut health.
  • Fat and fiber make you feel full; increased saiety means you eat less.

Benefits of carrots:

  • Second most popular after potatoes.
  • 100g has 41 calories, 0.2g fat, 10g carbs, 0,9g protein.
  • Good source of beta carotene which converts into Vit A. Important for eye health.
  • Antioxidants for anti-aging
  • Carotenoids important for heart health
  • High fiber for digestion and gut health.

x DD

Za’atar roasted cauliflower, red onion, and lentil salad with harissa tahini dressing (gluten free)

salad recipe

This ridiculously delicious salad can be served without lentils to make it low carb, without chicken to make it vegetarian or as is if you are following a balanced diet.

It’s one of the favourites on our menu so if you have some free time, give it a try. If not, sign up to Daily Dietitian healthy meal delivery and we will be sure to feed you this delicious creation!

SERVES 4

Salad Ingredients:

For the Salad:

  • ¾ cup dry brown, green, or Le Puy lentils, picked over (substitute 2 cups cooked lentils, or 1 can, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, washed and chopped into bite-sized florets (about 800g after prepping)
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons za’atar spice mix
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 4 heaping cups arugula

For the harissa tahini dressing:

  • ⅓ cup tahini paste
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed or very finely minced
  • 2½ tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon harissa powder or paste (more or less, depending on your tolerance for heat)

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  • If you’re cooking lentils from scratch, mix the dry lentils in a saucepan with enough water to cover them by 5cm. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 25 minutes, or until the lentils are still tender but retain their shape and firmness.
  • You can start testing them at the 20 minute mark for doneness.
  • Drain the lentils and set them aside.
  • While the lentils cook, toss the cauliflower florets and sliced onion with the oil, za’atar, lemon, paprika, salt, and black pepper. Spread the veggies onto two parchment-lined baking sheets. Roast the vegetables for 20–25 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender and lightly browning, and the onions are getting crispy. Check on the veggies and stir them on the sheet halfway through roasting. Allow the roasted vegetables to cool to room temperature.
  • While the veggies roast, whisk together the tahini, water, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and harissa to make the dressing. If it’s too thick, add a few extra tablespoons of water.
  • When the vegetables are cool, toss them together with the lentils and arugula. You can either pour the dressing over the whole salad and toss to coat, or you can plate the salad and serve it separately. If you want to keep salad leftovers.
  • We recommend dressing each plate individually.
  • Salad leftovers will keep for two days in an airtight container in the fridge, and the dressing will keep for up to five days.

YUM!

x DD

7 sugar rules we follow

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The FDA recently proposed putting added sugars on a product’s nutrient label, a move that did not please the food industry. As consumers become savvier, manufacturers seem determined to make understanding sugar even more confusing.

Sticking with a whole food, unprocessed diet is the easiest way to avoid sugar confusion. When you eat broccoli or quinoa, you don’t need to worry about added sugar or sneaky sweeteners. But we live in the real world, which means sometimes you’re going to eat processed foods or add a little sweetener to your green tea. When you do, keep these seven rules in mind to make the best decisions:

1. Remember: added sugar is worse than total sugar.

All sugars ultimately have the same effect on your body, breaking down to glucose and fructose. That said, sugar in fruit and other whole foods comes wrapped with nutrients, phytonutrients, fiber and other good stuff that buffers its effects. Added sugars, on the other hand, often come in nutrient-empty, heavily-processed foods, which automatically deems them worse for your waistline and your health.

2. Sugar hides under innocuous-sounding names.

Manufacturers hide sugar under seemingly healthy names like fruit juice concentrate. Your pancreas and liver don’t care whether sugar comes in an organic package or carries a pretty name. It all breaks down the exact same way.

3. Sneaky sugars lurk in “healthy” foods.

Visit your health food store and you’ll likely discover numerous products sweetened with agave nectar, honey and other so-called healthy sweeteners. Don’t be fooled. A health bar could have as much sugar as a chocolate bar. Look at the nutrient label for sugar amounts, being aware this is for one serving and you’re likely to eat several portions.

4. Artificial sweeteners aren’t better for you.

For far too long, artificial sweeteners got a free pass. Then a few troubling studies surfaced that found, among other things, aspartame and other sweeteners created glucose intolerance (paving the way for Type 2 diabetes) and gut-flora imbalances. Steer clear of those pretty pink, yellow, and blue packages.

5. Green juices can have as much sugar as a coke.

One popular commercial green juice, which actually contains more fruit than veggies, packs almost 55 grams — that’s 11 teaspoons — of sugar in a bottle. If you juice, make your own or ask your juicer to only add veggies with maybe a little lemon/ one small green apple for flavor.

6. Be judicious when buying natural alternative sweeteners.

If you have to sweeten your coffee or tea, erythritol, xylitol or stevia provide better options. Just be aware many commercial varieties come loaded with nebulous “natural flavors,” dextrose (sugar) and maltodextrin (corn). Instead, look for a 100 percent xylitol, stevia or a stevia/ erythritol blend with no bulking agents or other added ingredients.

7. Fructose is especially metabolically damaging.

Unlike glucose, which nearly every cell can utilize, fructose heads directly to your liver, the only organ that can metabolize high levels of it. Studies show that fructose induces less insulin production and triggers hunger signals in the brain. Rather than utilize this sugar for energy, our body often turns fructose into liver fat. This increase in visceral fat has been shown to increase one’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

If you want us to take the stress away from hidden-sugar searching, label-reading we will create your meals for you! All our food is sugar free, artificial sweetener free and preservative free so you don’t have to worry about a thing! Email us on hello@dailydietitian.co.za or go to our website.

x DD

How to Grocery Shop Like a Dietitian

While grocery shopping is one of our personal favorite hobbies, we know some people can’t relate… After all, the average grocery store contains more than 35,000 different products! Since you are probably not planning to spend your spare time wandering aisles and comparing crackers, here are a few of our favorite market tips for healthy eating and cooking.

Bring a recipe or two. We’ve all felt the “a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear,” and on the same page, who hasn’t gone on a big market trip and come back with a fridge full of food with nothing to make for dinner? Bring a recipe with you so you have all the ingredients and know what’s on the menu.

Stick to the perimeter 90% of the time. The perimeter is where the healthier foods like fruit, vegetables, dairy, eggs, meat, fish, poultry and their frozen versions are stored. In general, the center aisles are filled with the processed items we want to avoid. Do pop into the aisles for beans (canned are fine), nuts, and whole grains like brown rice and quinoa.

Ingredients first, nutritional facts second. Most people go directly to the nutritional facts panel, but it is more important to us that you read the ingredient list and know exactly what you are eating. Skip anything you don’t recognize (or tweet it at us and we will give you a “Yay! or “Step away!”).

Love that freezer. Always get a few frozen goodies. We are freezer junkies with fruit and a few veggies; we

Woman grocery shopping
Woman grocery shopping

can always make a smoothie or a veggie loaded dinner in a jiffy. Of course steer clear of most of the salt-laden and weird-ingredient-filled frozen dinners.

Your basket should look like you came from a farm, not a factory. When you’re checking out take a look at your cart contents, are most of your groceries fresh and unpackaged? Great, happy eating!!

For any questions, email us on hello@dailydietitian.co.za or if you don’t want to shop and cook, let us feed you!