Does organic mean gluten free?

Organic foods may not be gluten free, but gluten-free foods can definitely be organic. Do you know what organic foods are? These are foods that are grown naturally. This means they are not exposed to pesticides and fertilizers. Additionally, these foods are not exposed to additives, and industrial solvents. Traditionally, agricultural products were organic. The turn of the twentieth century brought about a transformation. Chemicals and fertilizers were used in the food business. But organic farming soon came into existence. Interestingly, organic farming came about as early as the 1940s. And it still continues in many parts of the world unabated. During the 1940s agriculture was heavily industrialized. Farmers concentrated on producing quick harvests. This lead to the invention of pesticides and fertilizers. But it also brought about the onset of organic farming as an agricultural specialty.

What is gluten?

Gluten does a lot like what its name suggests. It is used as a thickening agent. Being a sticky protein, gluten has many applications. This wheat protein is used in confectionery  bread, and other such related products. Gluten has so many applications that you’d be pleasantly surprised. For instance, many manufacturers use it as an anti-clumping substance when manufacturing spices. It is also used in cosmetics as a thickener. A lot many products have traces of gluten. It is difficult to completely list down all products that use high, moderate, low, and traces of gluten. A gluten free diet is primarily advised if you have celiac disease. When you are unable to digest gluten, you are said to suffer from celiac disease. Most people may not have a problem eating gluten rich foods. But some people do have this sensitivity to gluten. These people don’t just experience digestive problems. They experience brain fogging, memory loss, and depression. So it is a highly discomforting disease. And many manufacturers advertise their products as gluten free. Gluten free food can be organic, but not always There is a lot of misinformation about gluten free foods being organic. Gluten free means that there no traces of gluten. It does not necessarily mean these foods are organic. Well, they can be organic, but it is not mandatory for gluten-free foods to be so. Now this is where the misinformation lies. Many people assume that gluten free foods are organic. In other words, the quality of a food being gluten free automatically makes it organic. And this has lead to steady sales of gluten free products. All because rumors travel more than genuine information does. Another section of consumers think that a gluten free diet can help them lose weight. They feel that this type of food is good to maintain one’s body weight. There are so many gluten free foods that can increase weight rather than decreasing it. Some gluten free foods are rich in carbs, fats, and calories. Eating them regularly can actually make you gain weight in quick time. You will have a hard time losing this weight. Gluten free foods also use food additives and chemicals which are harmful. Unfortunately, many mainstream manufacturers use this as an opportunity to cash in on uninformed customers. They use the gluten free label to invite unsuspecting customers into buying their products. These customers are lead to believe that eating such foods is actually beneficial to their health in the long run. Another alarming trend is that manufacturers use this tag on foods that naturally have no traces of gluten. All this is done in an opportunistic manner. So what is the best way to deal with this? Customers are advised to gain as much knowledge on gluten free foods. Knowledge is power when it comes to choosing gluten free products.

A simple search on the Internet can help you understand which foods are rich in gluten and which foods are not. Additionally, you may read user reviews on popular food forums to understand which manufacturers resort to such unscrupulous tactics.

How much gluten is good for you?

  • People suffering from celiac disease must totally abstain from gluten. It has been researched that eating gluten can increase risks of osteoporosis, certain types of cancers, and cause infertility to people suffering from celiac disease.
  • No, there are no shortcuts for people affected with celiac disease. They ought to stay away and stay off gluten forever. This is a commitment they have to make. Understandably it is difficult. But there’s no other choice.
  • There are no general recommendations for people with gluten intolerance. There are no prescribed limits as well. The nature and intensity of the gluten intolerance varies by individual. But yes, there is a spectrum of gluten sensitivity that doctors refer to. The higher the sensitivity on the spectrum, the more chances of contracting celiac disease and vice versa.
  • Physicians feel that people who are on the lower end of the gluten sensitivity spectrum can eat healthy amounts of gluten. However it is yet to be established whether they could move up in the gluten sensitivity spectrum due to their eating habits.

Being gluten free doesn’t mean you are eating healthy

  • When you eat wheat, barley or rye, and feel a deep discomfiture, you may be having gluten intolerance. You have to get checked by a doctor immediately.
  • Before cutting off gluten from your diet, you should seek help from a good dietician. There are many foods that are gluten free, but are not healthy. They are high in fats, and calories. They use toppings, and additives that can do your health more harm than good.
  • You must know that there are plenty of foods that are a hidden source for gluten. Getting a collation of such foods is difficult. Only a qualified dietician or a nutrition scientist can help you with this. Gluten free food can be organic as well. At the same time, some gluten free foods can be nothing but junk food that you can do without.
  • Getting professional help is the right step forward. And you can see dramatic results in short time. Your world will be gluten and fat free. And you will be walking on the highway to healthy living.

What is soy sauce?

Soy sauce which is also popularly known as soya sauce, is a common condiment used widely in South and Southeast Asian cuisine. The sauce probably originated in China. Today, it is also widely used in western foods and in many prepared foods. The sauce is dark colored liquid and has a distinct salty taste.

The history of the sauce

Soy sauce is produced by fermentation of soy beans. The earliest history of the sauce is found in China between third and fifth century BC during which time this sauce was first prepared. Salt has always been an expensive commodity. In China, the soy beans were fermented and used with salt to cure fish which was then consumed as a condiment. Gradually, the fermented soy beans developed into soy sauce while the fermented fish developed into fish sauce.

During the colonial times, records are obtained which showed that soy sauce was exported from China and Japan. By the middle of nineteenth century, all soy sauce was being made in China. Europeans could not master the art of making soy sauce as they failed to comprehend the role of the fungi in the creation of the sauce.

Nutritional facts about soy sauce

According to the USDA, the nutritional facts of soy sauce are given as follows:

100 ml of soy sauce contains:

  • Calories : 60
  • Fat: 0.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 5.57 g
  • Fibers: 0.8 g
  • Protein: 10.51 g
  • Sodium: 6 g

Most soy sauce contains a high quantity of salt which constitutes 14 to 18 percent of the sauce. Certain low salt varieties have become available in the market, but it is not possible to completely eliminate salt from soy sauce.

Types of soy sauce

Depending on the type of raw material used and stage and process of fermentation, a number of different types of soy sauce can be identified. Some of them are as follows:

Chinese soy sauce is made from soybeans and has little amount of other grains. It can be of two types:

  • Brewed – This type is formed directly by fermentation without adding anything else.
  • Light or fresh soy sauce is thin and opaque and widely used as seasoning.
  • Yaam Yau is made mostly in Taiwan and is created by mixing steamed soybeans with coarse rock salt which is then dry fermented for long period of time. It is used for dipping or for red cooking.
  • Blended – Sweet or other types of tastes are added.
  • Mushroom dark soy – where broth of mushroom is added into the sauce and then exposed to the sun
  • Thick soy sauce – when the sauce is thickened by addition of starch and sugar and MSG is sometimes added to flavor.
  • Shrimp soy sauce – where fresh soy sauce is simmered with fresh shrimp, spices and a special type of distilled liquor.

Japanese soy sauce – The sauce was brought to Japan from China by Buddhist monks. Wheat is the main ingredient. So, they are sweeter. There are five types:

  • Koikuchi contains equal amount of soybeans and wheat and is the most common type.
  • Usukuchi is lighter and sweeter as fermented rice is added to it.
  • Tamari – Darker and richer, it contains almost no wheat and is closest to the Chinese variety.
  • Shiro – It uses mostly wheat and little soy bean and has a sweeter and lighter taste.
  • Saishikomi – It is twice brewed and darker and richer.

Indonesian soy sauce includes different fermented sauces. There are three types:

  • Salty soy sauce is similar to Chinese but thicker and stronger.
  • Sweet soy sauce has treacle like flavor as palm sugar is added to it.
  • Medium sweet soy sauce has less sweetness than the sweet soy sauce and is a little more salty.

Apart from these, different flavors and varieties of soy sauce are found in Burma, Korea, Philippines, Hawaii, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Health benefits of soy sauce

According to several studies, soy sauce has a number of health benefits. Some of them are:

  • In a study conducted by Elam in 2000, it was found that soy sauce increases the level of HDL and lowers triglycerides thereby leading to better health of the heart.
  • Soy sauce is rich in anti oxidants.
  • It also contains manganese which helps in clotting of blood and formation of connective tissues.
  • Soy sauce contains high amount of an amino acid called tryptophan. This material is used in production of serotonin which helps you to fight depression.

Why Should You Buy Gluten-Free Soy Sauce?

People have become a lot more concerned about their diet in the past few years. Different kinds of diseases along with obesity have forced people to become conscious about their health. You might have come across the term gluten-free which is used in the labels of a number of food products.

If you do not know the actual meaning of the term then you need to understand it to decide whether you require gluten-free foods or not. Gluten is actually a protein complex that can be found in barley, wheat, triticale and rye.

A person needs to take up a gluten free diet when he is suffering from celiac disease. If you suffer from this condition then you surely need to take up gluten-free food. People who follow this kind of a diet might be shocked to find out that soy sauce is not actually gluten-free.

In most of the cases you might find that the leading brands use wheat as one of the first ingredients. But before that you need to understand when you should buy gluten-free soy sauce. Celiac disease is a type of chronic disease in which people suffer from inflammatory disorder especially in the small intestine.

This conditioned is triggered when a person takes a certain kind of protein which is known as gluten. If you love to have soy sauce in your food but you suffer from celiac disorder then you surely need to find a brand which offers the best quality gluten-free soy sauce.

The problem with the disease is that it cannot be cured and hence it needs to be managed by the right diet. The patients need to avoid all kinds of food that have gluten in them.

How is Gluten-free Soy Sauce Made?

You do not need to worry much because you can find some natural brewed sauce that is gluten-free. You need to look for the brands that follow the traditional methods of soy sauce making without the use of wheat.

This type of soy sauce production is known as tamari. To search for gluten-free soy sauce you need to perform a little research. Soy sauce is mostly required in Korean food. Soy sauce is extremely important for the marinating purpose for preparing Korean food.

As you perform a good research regarding gluten-free soy sauce you will come across brands which ferment the soy sauce naturally. There are actually two different ways which are used to ferment the soy sauce. The first method is natural.

On the other hand the second method uses chemical hydrolysis. In both these methods the complex protein in the form of gluten is actually broken down into smaller components which then become polypeptides and amino acids.

There are companies which follow the standards set by certain bodies of including gluten in soy sauce. According to the standards the gluten content should be well below 20ppm so that the product can be declared to be gluten-free.

Some of the brands that claim to sell gluten-free soy sauce usually have a limit of 5ppm gluten content which is quite below the range. If you still want to be safe then buying tamari sauce is the best possible way out to avoid the intake of gluten completely.

How to Recognize Gluten-free Soy Sauce

It becomes quite difficult to take the right decision regarding which gluten-free soy sauce to buy as there are so many brands available in the market these days. If you are confused then you surely have a way out to this problem.

One of the best ways is to compare the ingredients present in the soy sauce. If you are looking for gluten-free soy sauce you should go through the labels of the major brands that claim to produce the gluten-free soy sauce.

For reading the labels you always do not need to purchase the sauce. You can find the labels on the internet. Internet has a number of stores from which you can buy the soy sauce. You can even save some time by doing this.

But if you are not satisfied regarding the labels available on the internet then you can go to the shops which sell gluten-free soy sauce brands. You can then personally read the labels and find out whether the brand has used wheat for the fermentation of the sauce.

There are at least 7 to 8 popular brands that produce gluten-free soy sauce these days. You can go through the reviews written regarding these various brands to choose the best of the lot. You will find in the reviews that there are certain brands which are not recommended by the experts.

There are soy sauce brands which do not mention gluten products in their labels but lots of people have had a number of problems after having the sauce. You should find a brand which uses soybeans, water, vinegar and salt.

It is always a better option to buy a sauce which is allowed to age for at least one year before they are put into the bottles. There are certain brands which use rice instead of wheat to brew. You should also try to purchase soy sauce that is preservative free.

Looking For Gluten Free DIET Meal Plans?

A gluten free diet meal plan is restrictive. But it is not at all depriving. Rather, it is enriching, nourishing and perfectly healthy. There is tons of gluten free food available. Not all foods have gluten as you would have thought.

It is advised that you don’t go purely by the gluten-free tag on food labels. Just gluten free is not enough. It should be devoid of too many calories, and bad cholesterol. There are so many packaged junk foods that advertise as being gluten free, but are a haven of calories.

Some processed food products that are gluten free lack fiber. When you eat such foods you don’t feel full at any point of time. Your digestive system is not made to work hard. You end up eating more food and in the process gain more weight.

Frequently asked questions about gluten free diet plans

Is gluten a bad word?

No. But if you have celiac disease, or any other form of gluten intolerance, or a type of allergy to wheat, you are advised to stay off gluten. Some people experienced breathing irregularities and even developed skin rashes because of gluten. This clearly indicates that such people had severe allergic reactions to gluten.

Why is this negative perception of gluten so profound?

When a substance is avoided in foods, and foods advertise as being free of it, people tend to perceive that this substance is bad for health. Wheat contains gluten. And gluten is a type of protein. So when you eat wheat, you are actually consuming some gluten. Some people can’t digest gluten, so they have problems with it. And hence they look for foods that do not have gluten.

How difficult is it living without gluten

If you are a person who enjoys cooking, living without gluten may not be a big deal. It becomes an effortless task combining various ingredients to achieve a gluten free diet. Although it could be challenging at first, you get used to it. The more you cook food in a conscious effort to make it gluten free, the more well-versed you are as to which ingredients have gluten and which don’t have it.

What are the substitutes of gluten?

If you can’t live without that ‘’starchy’’ taste, there are plenty of substitutes for gluten. You can find gluten free pasta made by several manufacturers. This pasta combines various ingredients. Some of them are soy, brown rice, and corn. Some manufacturers use potatoes and quinoa in their pasta products. You can get pastas that combine all the aforementioned ingredients.

For the bread-loving, there’s always gluten free bed. This type of bread did not taste great in the recent past. But manufacturers took consumer feedback seriously. Nowadays gluten free bread is soft, delicious, and comes in various manifestations.

Even though the prices are high, it is worth it. If you can make it on your own, it is a better option. You can make gluten free bread in your home at a low cost.

Tips to stay gluten free

If all this seems very complicated to you, a simple tip can help. Just avoid wheat, barley and rye. Now think of all the foods that use wheat, barley and rye. Avoid such foods too. Obviously you would have figured it out by now. Breads, pastas, and certain types of cookies have gluten in them. Yes, understandably, it could be difficult for you to avoid them completely. But there’s good news. There are tastier breads, pastas, and cookies available that are totally free of gluten!

The main problem with being gluten free is that you cannot be completely gluten free. Gluten does hide behind food labels as manufacturers may not care to disclose them. And some foods do have traces of gluten. So you can’t avoid it completely.

For instance, any product that contains starch will also have traces of gluten. If you eat a candy that uses natural flavors, do you think it is still gluten free? So the first set of tasks for you before you embark on a gluten free diet plan is to identify which foods contain gluten.

Manufacturers are not bound by disclosure laws

The gluten free diet plan wave is rising every day. Almost every department or home store has gluten free products lining its shelves. There are all types of gluten free products. You won’t have a dearth of gluten free product varieties.

Interestingly, manufacturers need not disclose gluten as part of their foods on the package labels. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has no law that governs this. Meaning, manufacturers can use gluten in their products and not tell you about it.

Many manufacturers explicitly state their products to be gluten free. They display a ‘’gluten-free’’ label on their product packages. This enables customers to easily identify their products.

There are certain well-known manufacturers that disclose information about their products on their food labels. In fact, they have standard company policies that entail them to disclose such information. You can constantly buy foods from these select manufacturers. This way you will stay safe from gluten. You can easily trust such manufacturers.

Starting the gluten free diet plan

Meal Plan

Initially, eating gluten free foods may seem intimidating. But you can avoid the rigmarole of choosing gluten free products by sticking to natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, poultry and fish. When you are out shopping, choose non-packaged fruits and vegetables if possible. When you buy meat such as pork, beef, or seafood don’t buy meat that has additives. Some meat products use marinades on them. Don’t buy such meat products. Stick to plain meat.

You can begin with whole foods initially. You then progress to using grain products that do not have gluten in them. You can also order foods from the local supermarket. They are delivered to your doorstep. Prefer fresh produce. Give secondary preference to packaged foods.

You need to give your body some time to get used to the diet. Once you feel you are ok, you can branch out to other gluten free diet plans.

Is gluten free, actually healthier?

In the recent years, there has been increasing emphasis on gluten free diet for general improvement of health. The proponents of the gluten free diet say that this diet helps you to lose weight, make your digestive system work more efficiently which helps in overall improvement of your health. However, before you decide to switch to a gluten free diet, there are a number of things to consider.

Bear in mind that gluten is one of the most common substances found in food. If you are committed to giving up gluten, you will have to sacrifice a number of your favorite foods. This will not be worthwhile if you do not get significant benefit from the diet. So, you need to truly understand how much a gluten free diet is a fad or whether it actually has some health benefits.

The characteristics of a gluten free diet

Before analyzing the health benefits of gluten free diet, it is necessary to understand what a gluten free diet is. The characteristics are as follows:

  • Gluten is a type of protein found in most cereals. Wheat, flour, oats etc naturally contain gluten. Hence, their products like spaghetti, pasta, biscuits, cookies etc also contain a high amount of gluten.
  • Gluten makes the bread chewy and stretchy. It helps it to rise.
  • Apart from these carbohydrates, gluten is used an as additive in many foods because it can act as a thickening agent. So, it is used in sauces, mustard, puddings, desserts, ice creams and many more.

If you are going to adopt a completely gluten free diet, here are the things that you can include in your menu:

  • Non wheat cereals like rice, millets, quinoa, amaranth etc.
  • All fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • All lean protein provided they are not breaded or accompanied by curry.
  • All legumes, nuts and berries.
  • Recently launched gluten free alternatives like gluten free breads or gluten free ice creams.

As you see from the above list, in order to follow a gluten free diet, you will have to make considerable changes in your dietary habits. The change must start with a change in the shopping pattern itself. So, before you take such a drastic step, you should find out whether the health benefits of gluten make it worthwhile to completely change your food habits.

The health benefits of a gluten free diet

The health benefits of a gluten free diet vary in different situations. These are:

  • If you are allergic or intolerant to gluten, a gluten free diet is going to improve your quality of life in a significant way. For this, in order to be on the safe side, you should not eat any food which contains even a very small proportion of gluten. You should also avoid as much as possible gluten free substitutes like gluten free breads, pasta or ice cream. If you switch to foods which naturally contain no gluten, you will find that all the symptoms of illness which were appearing in your body would gradually disappear.
  • Headaches, tiredness and fatigue, nausea and vomiting etc will be reduced.
  • Your digestive system will be able to function with greater efficiency. Hence, problems of bloating, gas, acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea and fatty stool will be reduced.
  • Eliminating gluten implies eliminating refined and processed foods because these contain gluten. This dietary change will help your body to obtain more nutrition and less useless calories. So, you can see a definite and quite marked change in your weight. According to the observations of a noted dietitian, you can lose between 15 and 20 pounds of weight in the first month if you truly follow a gluten free diet.
  • For people with celiac disease, gluten free diet is the only option. Celiac disease is an immunity related condition where the body cannot absorb the necessary nutrients. When celiac adopt a gluten free diet, a definite health benefit is observed and the severity of the symptoms of the celiac disease begins to recede.
  • What about people who do not have celiac disease or any symptoms of gluten allergy? Can a gluten free diet be beneficial for them? It is seen that even for non celiac, if you have neurological problems or autoimmune disorders like joint pain, loss of balance, brain fog etc, it is seen that a gluten free diet helps to reduce the severity of the symptoms and the discomfort. However, no well documented medical study has been conducted about this.
  • If you are suffering from ailments like rheumatoid arthritis, seizures, multiple sclerosis, neuromylosis. Ataxia, anemia, diabetes, Down’s syndrome, Parkinson’s etc, a gluten free diet will help to keep the symptoms under control.
  • Finally, what about the absolutely fit person who is free from any ailment? If you are such a person, you need to know whether a gluten free diet will help you maintain your health. There is probably no direct benefit that you will get if you eliminate all gluten from your diet. However, since the foods containing gluten also often contain lots of sugar, calories, preservatives and additive, doing without them is bound to improve your natural health.

So, is gluten free, actually healthier?

From the different viewpoints sited above, it can be concluded that gluten free is definitely healthier for people who suffer from gluten intolerance, gluten allergy and celiac disease. In these people, a gluten free diet helps in better absorption of nutrients and helps to maintain better health.

In case of fit individuals who do not suffer from any gluten related disorders, the impact of a gluten free diet is much more difficult to identify. Since gluten rich foods are also rich in calories, eliminating them naturally remove the calories and you are bound to maintain a healthy weight.

However, this benefit will be completely nullified if you load up on gluten free fat rich substitutes. So, it is not simply going gluten free but eating sensibly at the same time which will prove healthier in the long run.