gluten free grains image Title: Will gluten free help with bloating? Here is what you need to know!

Will Gluten Free Help With Bloating? Here’s what you need to know!

Will gluten free  help with bloating? It seems the older we get the more we tend to experience issues such as bloating and gas after we eat certain foods. 

In this blog you will learn what gluten is, what going gluten free means, does gluten cause belly bloat, will going gluten free help with bloating and can gluten intolerance go away along with some gluten-free recipes for you to try.

Image Pin: Will Gluten Free Food Help Your Bloating? Learn more on the blog.  Image of a woman holding her abdomen and bending over. with discomfort.

My Experience with Gluten

I remember it was after the birth of my second son around 2002, I was not doing so well with pasta anymore.  Also, the bread I would buy back then was a typical whole grain bread on the grocery shelf with lots of preservatives for a long shelf life.

But now the bread and pasta were starting to bother me.  I could no longer tolerate a hamburger.  My stomach was in so much discomfort.  I experienced burning stomach pain, belching and burping. I just did not know what was going on at the time. 

Consequently, I thought I had an ulcer.  And so, I got tested.  No ulcer.  I thought I had intestinal problems.  The colonoscopy found nothing.

I had to go on a learning curve about why grains were bothering me and the role that gluten was playing in my intolerance to these foods.

For a long while, I went entirely gluten-free.  It was not the most pleasant time in my life but it did help to get me feeling better in the short term.

What is Gluten?

=> Gluten is a protein.  It is made up of smaller protein molecules called gliadin and glutenin.

Think of gluten as the glue that holds food together, giving it shape and texture. 

Gluten is found in certain types of grains such as wheat, kamut, spelt, barley, and rye.  Oats may contain gluten so look for gluten-free oats.

Additionally, gluten influences your entire system by being a nitrogen source for both the good bacteria and the opportunistic bad bacteria in your colon.

Main Components of Gluten:

Glutenin: This protein gives dough its strength and elasticity.

Gliadin: This protein helps dough rise and gives it a chewy texture.

Misunderstandings About Gluten:

photo shows gluten pasta, crackers, barley and bread.  Image Label reads GLUTEN

There is a popular misunderstanding about gluten.  Have you heard that it is not good for you and can cause health problems by causing a leaky gut?

When there is a lack of good bacteria, you may have trouble digesting it as good bacteria is needed to produce the enzymes which are necessary for digesting gluten.

Also, you need enough of the good bacteria present to protect the gut lining adequately.

With this in mind, you can see how this imbalance of good gut bacteria can cause gluten to contribute to the damaging of the gut lining resulting in some inflammation in the body.

But it also influences how you digest other protein molecules.

Just remember that  the cause of your bloating and discomfort is dysbiosis (bacterial imbalance).   That is the reason for not tolerating a certain food.  Don’t blame the food.

Similarly, digestive issues with dairy and wheat are more common because we consume these foods more frequently.

Gluten is good for you if you can digest it and those who can are healthier than those who cannot.

How Gluten Works:

When you mix flour with water, gluten proteins form a sticky network that traps air bubbles. This is what makes dough rise and gives baked goods their structure.

What Does Going Gluten-Free Mean?

Being gluten-free means eliminating all foods that contain gluten from your diet.  For some people eating gluten can cause a range of digestive issues and other health problems. 

Symptoms can range from headaches, abdominal pain, rashes, joint pain, bloating, IBS and fatigue.

Foods That Contain Gluten

Wheat: Bread, pasta, cereals, cookies, cakes, and many processed foods.

Barley: Beer, malt, soups, and food coloring.

Rye: Rye bread, rye beer, and some cereals.

Celiac Disease vs. Gluten Intolerance

Celiac Disease: An autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system attacks the small intestine when gluten is consumed. This can lead to damage in the intestine, preventing nutrient absorption.

Gluten Intolerance (Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity): People experience symptoms similar to celiac disease, such as bloating, diarrhea, and stomach pain, but without the autoimmune response or damage to the intestine.

Testing for Gluten Issues

Blood Tests: Can check for antibodies typically present in celiac disease.

Biopsy: A small sample of the small intestine can be taken to look for damage indicative of celiac disease.

Elimination Diet: Removing gluten from your diet for a period (usually a few weeks) and then reintroducing it to see if symptoms improve or worsen. This can help identify gluten intolerance.

Over 15 years ago, before having the “gold standard test” for celiac or gluten allergy, I had to not eat gluten for a month and then eat lots of it before the test.  I did experience stomach and digestive discomfort but I had no positive test for celiac.

I did not understand about gluten sensitivity or non-celiac gluten intolerance at that time.  Consequently, this made me very upset not knowing why I was in so much discomfort.

As a result, I had to eliminate gluten entirely from my foods for a very long time.  This was much harder back then compared to the food choices today.  

Going forward, I think this set me up for environmental sensitivities including asthma every hot and humid summer.  

However, this is not the case anymore.  And I am so glad I was able to recover the health of my digestive tract.

Does Gluten Cause Belly Bloat?

someone offering slices of white bread and a bun and a woman's two hands out refusing to take it.  Text reads gluten luanaflacco.com

Gluten can cause belly bloat.  

It's not unusual in midlife to start experiencing more issues with bloating because our guts are compromised with so many food additives, preservatives and chemical sprays for so many years.

And so you may ask yourself, "will going gluten-free help with bloating."

Because gluten is a protein, it needs to be broken down into amino acids which are the building blocks of protein, enzymes, and hormones.

Furthermore, bloating can be from an imbalance of gut bacteria and the lack of the specific strains of bacteria needed to break down gluten into its smaller protein molecules.  This imbalance is also known as dysbiosis

Digestion always starts in the mouth since there are enzymes to break down protein in the mouth.  These proteolytic enzymes are produced by bacteria in the mouth. 

So, chew your food!

It's not unusual in midlife to start experiencing more issues with bloating because our guts are compromised with so many food additives, preservatives and chemical sprays for so many years.

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Imbalanced Gut Bacteria

Bloating can be from an imbalance of gut bacteria and the lack of the specific strains of bacteria needed to break down the gluten into its smaller protein molecules.  This imbalance is also known as dysbiosis. 

The gut needs a healthy balance of bacteria to break down food, including gluten.

When these bacteria are imbalanced, it can lead to digestive issues such as bloating.

It is not the same for each person because each person has a different set of gut bacteria and the strains required to break down certain foods.

I know of two people who both took out gluten and still did not see a change in their symptoms.  This could mean that a carbohydrate they were eating was not being digested properly.

Remember correlation is not causation.

The gut needs a healthy balance of bacteria to break down food, including gluten.

Sourdough and Gluten Intolerance

Once I discovered sourdough, it made all the difference.  At first, I could only eat a little bit but now I am fine with it all the time.  I find it concerning that not one of my healthcare providers both alternative and conventional even mentioned for me to try sourdough.  

It just shows how much we are all still learning and need to know.

Sourdough Bread: Made through a fermentation process that can break down some of the gluten, making it easier to digest. This doesn’t mean it’s safe for those with celiac disease, but some people with gluten sensitivity might tolerate it better.  I know for me this was the case. 

Below is are photos of sourdough I made recently.  It was my second try at baking sourdough.  The first try was a disaster.  Glad I tried again.  It tastes so good and I am so glad I have no issues with digesting it.  This is how bread was originally made.

sourdough slice of bread
sourdough boule

How Gluten Affects the Intestines

In celiac disease, gluten causes inflammation and damage to the small intestine’s lining, which can lead to nutrient malabsorption. 

However, if you are intolerant or just lack the right bacterial strain to break down the gluten protein, then you will start to experience symptoms of bloating, gas, or what most women I talk to call IBS.  

Also as mentioned other symptoms may include headaches, abdominal pain, rashes, joint pain, bloating, and fatigue. 

Your large intestine uses gluten as a nitrogen source. Proper breakdown of gluten requires a healthy gut microbiome.

Dysbiosis can disrupt this process, leading to symptoms like bloating.  

In response to this imbalance, your focus needs to be a restoration of the good bacteria and proper balance in good vs the bad.

Will Gluten free help your bloating?

A woman holding her stomach.  Text reads bloating discomfort.  luanaflacco.com

The problem is that if you do not address the imbalance in your gut, then you will also start to develop other food sensitivities and perhaps other health problems. 

Going gluten-free will help with the bloating if gluten is the problem, but it should only be a short-term solution. 

However, this should not be a permanent lifestyle unless you have celiac disease which is an autoimmune disorder and not just an intolerance to gluten.

Gluten-Free Grains: Rice, corn, buckwheat, teff and sorghum.

Quinoa, millet and amaranth are gluten free as well but are not in the grain category.

Examples of flours and pastas: made from legumes such as soy beans, chickpea, lentil, fava bean, and other foods such as arrowroot, tapioca, ground coconut (coconut flour) and ground almonds (almond flour).

You should avoid store-bought gluten-free products as they contain refined starches, sugars chemicals and gums which does not help create the proper environment for the gut to repair itself.

Therefore, when you shop for commercial gluten-free products, remember to read the ingredient labels and look for products that have whole grains and natural ingredients.

The best solution would be to make your own gluten-free meals. I have been using Epicure’s meal solutions for a few years.  They have gluten-free seasonings and mixes to help with baking, breakfast and dinner.  These gluten-free meal solution products are delivered in both Canada and the U.S.

Baking can be tricky and eating out is difficult for dessert in some places.    However, many restaurants and take-out do have gluten-free options on their menu now compared to ten years ago.

if you are intolerant or just lack the right bacterial strain to break down the gluten protein, then you will start to experience symptoms of bloating, gas, or what most women I talk to call IBS.  

Can gluten intolerance go away?

I believe that with the right support and understanding, you can repair your digestive tract and lining and start incorporating sourdough along with other fermented foods to help with the lack of enough good bacteria in your digestive system. 

There is no test for which strains you lack.  However, taking foods out is not the permanent answer.  Doing this long term just because it is popular to do so, will only make things worse.

It is best to work with a qualified health practitioner if you find you are not able to do this by yourself.

Most importantly, you will want to look for organic and nonGMO foods as much as possible.  I know this is not always easy.  This is why I suggest avoiding the dirty dozen for a foundation in your shopping choices. 

You may feel you have lots of energy.  Then you are probably on the right track.  You may just need a bit of proper supplementation and fermented foods such as sourdough bread, sauerkraut and kefir.

The problem with the grains these days is a herbicide called glyphosate that is sprayed on them which affects the plants ability to defend itself and thrive.  This may be a factor in gluten sensitivity,

That is why it is best to look for organic when possible, even with sourdough.  

Being a label reader is so important. 

At the time of writing this post, I am making my own sourdough starter for the first time.  It's not a won and done process for me.  I am constantly working on the health of my gut.  The older I get, the more I need that support and so do you. 

sourdough starter

If you haven't tried sourdough bread and you still are still eating gluten-free because of intolerance, I suggest you give it a try in small amounts first and see if you can handle it provided you are only sensitive and not celiac.  You may want to consult with your health care practitioner first if you have extreme symptoms.

Why Certain Grains May Be Easier to Digest for Gluten-Intolerant Individuals

You may also do better with a wheat-free direction in your grains.

Spelt:

spelt grains pouring out of a container.

Spelt is an ancient grain and has a lower gluten content and structure compared to modern wheat.  The gluten in spelt is more water-soluble, making it easier to digest. 

Spelt is the first grain I tried in small amount while I was working on restoring the health of my gut microbiome.

Because whole spelt is high in fiber, it also helps with digestion.  Spelt does have a higher protein content than regular wheat.  It is also easier to find as organic spelt.

Kamut:

Kamut grains

Kamut is also an ancient grain (also known as Khorasan wheat). It has a lower gluten content and is higher in protein, which may make this grain easier to tolerate for you.

Additionally, Kamut is rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals, which can support overall digestive health.

Oats:

Oats pouring out from a scoop,

Pure oats do not contain gluten.

However, cross-contamination during processing is common, so it's important to choose certified gluten-free oats.

In addition, oats contain a type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which can promote healthy digestion and reduce symptoms of bloating and  digestive discomfort.

Cassava:

Cassava root shown in a basket. Cassava flour also shown in a spoon.

Naturally Gluten-Free: Cassava is a root vegetable and does not contain any gluten. It's used to make tapioca flour, which is a common gluten-free flour alternative.

Easy on the Digestive System: Cassava is low in fiber compared to whole grains, making it easier to digest for some people with sensitive stomachs.

Einkorn:

Einkorn grain

Ancient Wheat Variety: Einkorn is one of the earliest forms of cultivated wheat. Its gluten proteins are simpler and easier to break down, which can make it more digestible for some people with gluten sensitivities.

Higher Nutrient Density: Einkorn is higher in protein, essential fatty acids, and other nutrients, which can support digestive health.

How These Grains Differ

from Modern Wheat

Gluten Structure: Modern wheat has been selectively bred for higher gluten content and elasticity, which is great for baking but can be harder to digest for those with a weaker digestion and dysbiosis of essential bacterial strains.

Ancient grains like spelt, kamut, and einkorn have not undergone the same level of modification and often have a different gluten structure that is less problematic for some individuals.

Processing Methods: Modern wheat is often heavily processed, which can strip away nutrients and make it harder to digest.

Many ancient grains are used in less processed forms, retaining more of their natural nutrients and fiber.

Considerations for Gluten-Intolerant Individuals

Individual Tolerance: Sensitivity to gluten can vary greatly. Some individuals with gluten intolerance might tolerate these grains better, while others with celiac disease should avoid all gluten-containing grains, including spelt, kamut, and einkorn.

Certified Gluten-Free Products: For oats, always choose products labeled as certified gluten-free to avoid cross-contamination.

It's important for you to consult with a healthcare provider or a dietitian to determine which grains are safe and appropriate for your specific condition such as digestive upset and bloating.

Understanding these differences can help you make informed choices about using alternative grains in your diet.

How to test for a gluten intolerance with the provocation diet

First you will want to remove gluten containing food one at a time for at least 2 weeks and then reintroduce one at a time for 72 hours. 

Eat once and observe any symptoms for 3 days duration then do not eat again until all foods have been assessed.  This is because you may not be reacting to the gluten but maybe to something else in the food.

What You Have Learn About Gluten-Free and Bloating

In conclusion, you have learned what makes up gluten, the misunderstanding of about gluten and gluten containing foods, how to go gluten free and what foods you may tolerate.  You have also learned why you may be bloating and if your intolerance can go away.

Below are a couple of recipes you can try that will help with your gluten-free dessert or snack dilemmas.  Give them a try.  Also, if you need more help with cooking in the kitchen using gluten free products, please check out my 3 Weeks of Easy Dinners.

GLUTEN FREE RECIPES

flourless brownies with peanut butter

Flourless Peanut Butter Brownies

Ingredients:

2 large eggs ½ cup (60ml) water 

¾ cup (90g) ground almonds

⅓ cup (35g) unsweetened cocoa powder

⅛ tsp. salt

¾ tsp. baking soda

½ cup (175g) honey

1 tsp. vanilla extract

½ cup (90g) dark chocolate chips

⅓ cup (85g) peanut butter

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C).

Spray a non-stick 9x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray or use parchment baking paper to line your pan. 

In a medium bowl, whisk 1 large whole egg with 1 egg yolk.

Add ¼ cup (60ml) water, the honey, and vanilla extract and stir with the spatula until combined.

In a large bowl, combine the almond meal, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda.

Pour the egg mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix well.

Fold in the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, then top with the peanut butter.

Mix it slightly on the top, creating swirls with a fork.

Place in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool for another 30 minutes before cutting into 12 pieces.

gluten free muffins

Lemon, Coconut & Chia Seed Muffins

Ingredients:

½ cup (60g) coconut flour

2 tbsp. chia seeds

¼ tsp. baking soda zest from 2 lemons

pinch of salt

¼ tsp. vanilla extract

2 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

½ cup almond milk

4 tbsp. honey

4 eggs

¼ cup (60ml) coconut oil, melted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). 

Line a muffin tray with paper muffin cups.

In a medium bowl, add coconut flour, chia seeds, baking soda, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt.

Mix well.

In another bowl, crack the eggs and add vanilla extract, almond milk mixed with stevia or honey, melted coconut oil, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar.

Next fold in the dry ingredients into the wet, mixing well until a smooth batter is formed.

Pour the batter into paper muffin cups dividing equally between the 12 cups.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Once baked, remove from the oven and transfer the muffins onto a rack to cool completely.  Enjoy!

Pin to your dessert board to save for later.

Gluten Free Desserts, image shows photos of muffins and brownies.  Get Recipes.

References:

Einkorn Wheat: The Ancient Grain Making a Comeback - Ancient Grains:  https://www.veganbakerymiami.com/blogs/news/einkorn-the-mighty-ancient-grain-making-a-comeback-in-the-superfood-world

The Benefits of Einkorn Wheat - Food & Nutrition Magazine General Information on Gluten and Digestive Health:https://www.einkorn.com/healthy-grains/

Gluten Sensitivity Is Real: Here’s What You Need to Know - Healthline https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gluten-sensitivity-is-real

https://www.science.org/content/article/what-s-really-behind-gluten-sensitivity

Gluten: A Benefit or Harm to the Body? - Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

https://nutritionsource.hsph.harvard.edu/gluten/

The Grain Wheat Debate

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/grain-wheat-debate

Book to consider reading: The Gluten Lie by  Alan Levinovitz 

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