If you're one of the millions of people in the United States who are gluten intolerant, a gluten-free diet can change your life. If you have celiac disease, which affects 1 percent of the U.S. population, the dietary switch would halt the damage your immune system does to your small intestine in response to gluten. And if you have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, getting off the wheat protein could stop the affects of chronic inflammation – including diarrhea, fatigue, and joint pain – you may be experiencing.
A gluten-free diet isn't for everyone, but if you do have a sensitivity, you still need to watch what you eat. "A healthy gluten-free diet and a healthy 'regular' diet don't have to look all that different," says Tricia Thompson, author of The Gluten-Free Nutrition Guide. Both need to be high in whole foods and low in processed and packaged foods, she says. Here are some healthy gluten-free grains and other foods that you should load up on – whether you're going gluten free or not.
Though not directly related to "true" rice, wild rice is often used like regular rice. "It works really well when added to rice dishes," Thompson says. "And I like to add it to soup." Wild rice is a low fat, high fiber grain that's full of essential nutrients and minerals that may be deficient in your gluten-free diet, including iron, phosphorus, zinc and various B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, and folate).
Thompson also recommends eating brown rice, which is a good source of fiber, phosphorous and certain B vitamins, but to stay away from white rice that hasn't been enriched with nutrients (the milling process strips white rice of these things).
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