What are villi? Villi are the hair-like projections along the intestinal wall that absorb nutrients in the bloodstream. However, in some people, when they get flattened or broken off from eating gluten (some aren’t properly diagnosed for years or decades) their ability to uptake (absorb) nutrients is severely compromised.

The grocery aisles are brimming with gluten-free packages of everything from crackers and cookies to cereal, bread, and frozen foods.

This might seem like good news for more than 1% of the Canadian population who deal with celiac disease, and the other tens of thousands who suffer from (non-celiac) gluten intolerance, however they could be doing more harm than good to their health, without even realizing it.

Walking down those aisles can seem like a huge relief to someone newly diagnosed or who has recently discovered that the gluten in some grains are causing symptoms.

A WHOLE LOT OF CONFUSION

But what if the gluten-free crowd is unknowingly eating products that instead of promoting health are actually depleting it?

What if those who need optimal nutrition the most (in order to allow healing to their damaged villi) are unknowingly eating low-nutrient food that prohibit the healing of their gut?

While a healthy gut might be able to get away with eating refined, highly processed food-like ingredients, the last thing someone with celiac disease or digestive challenges should be consuming is low-nutritive highly processed foods.

Yet, that’s exactly what’s happening!

Just pick up the packages of breads, cookies, bars, and other gluten-free goods and read the ingredient list. How many of those ingredients are whole, intact, gluten-free grain flours? Or do you read things like – corn starch, potato starch, white rice flour, tapioca starch? What about the other cheap, inferior ingredients? They’re abundant and promote weight gain and dis-ease.

FINDING THE HEALTHY OPTIONS

While an intake of whole plant foods, like fruits and veggies, and whole-grains and beans is the best foundation for anyone looking to achieve optimal health, there is no reason to avoid bread, cookies, and other baked products providing you know how to discern the difference between those that will promote health vs those that will deplete it.

There’s a simple question one can ask yourself to discern the difference.

Keep this question in your back pocket for when you’re shopping and you’ll be empowered to provide yourself with power-packed nutritious staples and goodies.

“Are the ingredients a whole-food origin, or refined?”

Why does the answer make such a critical difference?

Because when components (the fiber-rich bran layer and the fatty acid and vitamin E rich germ layer) of a whole grain are stripped away from the the starchy endosperm, and only one component is used, this is not what nature intended and that’s why we get into trouble. The bran and germ are what help slow the metabolism of the starch, keeping blood sugar in balance, moving the food through the digestive tract at a healthy pace to expedite bi-products of metabolism that can be harmful if circulated too long, and a whole host of other benefits.

The same with sweeteners. Refined sugars (there are numerous names) are not whole food sweeteners. Whole-food sweeteners have intact nutrients “as nature intended.” Some examples are – whole sugar cane (Sucanat), coconut palm sugar, maple syrup, dried fruit or fruit puree (date paste) or dehydrated fruit powered (date sugar).

Ditto for fats. Whether it’s the cheap, highly refined sunflower oil, safflower oil, canola oil, or the highly marketed coconut or olive oil…they’ve been extracted, creating imbalance in the body. Eating the whole foods they were extracted from (sunflower seeds, coconut, and olives) provides the body with all of the components it needs, as nature intended, to create healthy cells.

Protein Powders. Have you ever heard of a food called “protein powder?” Of course not.  Protein powders are extracted from dairy milk, soybeans, peas, and other whole-foods. One component of the whole. Promoting imbalance and dis-ease.

Do yourself a favor and leave them on the shelf. Find better alternatives. They are out there! You may have to search a little harder to find them but it’s worth the effort. And making your own with whole-food ingredients is the best way to know what exactly is going into your tummy.

Check out some of my whole-food baking recipes.

Here’s a few whole-food bars and crackers I buy from time to time for convenience:
Lara Bars
goMacro Bars
Okanagan Rawsome crackers

WHAT IF IT’S ORGANIC?

Just because it’s organic, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Repeat after me: “Just because it’s organic, doesn’t mean it’s healthy.” 

Organic refined sugar, organic refined flour, organic refined oil…they’re all refined. They’ve been stripped of most of their goodness, the stuff nature intended to be metabolized by the body as a nutrient package.

Organic implies the ingredient hasn’t been sprayed with herbicides or pesticides, but if it’s had the majority of the health promoting components removed…”just because it’s organic, doesn’t mean it’s healthy.”

Interested to learn more about gluten-free, whole food, eating?

Learn about Victoria's 7 Steps to Gluten Freedom eCourse

Looking for whole-food, delicious, gluten-free, allergy friendly or vegan ingredients?

Check Victoria’s tried and true recipes, including her family favorites converted from grandma’s specialties!