Team Slice of Health had a quick chat with Shonali Sabherwal on going gluten free. (Shonali is a Macrobiotic Nutritionist, Chef and Author of the books: The Beauty Diet and The Love Diet.)
1. Can you give our readers an insight into Gluten & what role it plays on the Indian diet?
Indians have been eating gluten for ages, and had quite a resilient system to this protein. Our whole wheat chapattis are a staple and mainstream in Indian diets. Gluten is a protein made up of gliadin and glutenin found in many grains like maida, semolina (rava), barley (jov).
2. What is gluten intolerance?
The word itself is a Latin word meaning “glue” that which binds. It is used as a binding agent in many products not just patisserie. If you suffer from gluten intolerance, it does mean you may have celiac disease – an autoimmune disorder, where people are predisposed to not digesting gluten.
3. However, Indians have been eating it for ages, then why are all Indians going wheat free?
Primarily it’s the weight loss industry that has pushed us over the edge, first with its influx of the foreign grain quinoa (now we Indians are making it, but it sells at the same price as the foreign grain) and second, with making a big deal about how gluten leads to weight gain. Please remember nothing adds to fat in the human body, if you are assimilating it well.
4. What’s your take on celiac disease and how far is the Indian diet from this disease?
According to me, celiac disease is more a Western concept, as the consumption of white refined flour is higher in the West than in India. Therefore most studies (for lack of anything better to pin it on) put it down to hereditary factors. The hybridization of the whole wheat grain has produced issues with its digestion in the West. It is estimated that 5% of the proteins found in a hybridized grain are new, and difficult to digest. In India, we tend to keep our whole wheat close to our hearts, and try to retain it in its 100% form.
5. Finally could you tell our readers how one knows if he/she is gluten intolerant?
The best way to find out if you are gluten intolerant is to take it out of your diet for 30 days; then re-introduce it and look for significant changes in the in-between phase. Signs would include: bloated feeling, acid reflux, feeling of fullness, lethargy, mental fogginess. Take it out of your diet only if this happens. You are okay to eat it, if you digest it well, and NO it will not make you fat.
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