The advancement of modern medicine has given us many clues into the progress of general health. No suggestion from the medical community has been more alarming than the presence of gluten in the foods we consume. But is rice or rice flour gluten free?
Shopping at the grocery stores for bread, grains and cereal has made people cautiously aware of the intolerance that comes with gluten. Gluten related diseases include celiac disease, wheat allergy and dermatitis which have affected people more broadly when they digest gluten associated foods.
Gluten containing grains like wheat, rye and barley are used for other commercial purposes outside the production of bread and rice. I was astounded to find out six years ago that those who consume beer and other alcoholic beverages, request for gluten free alcoholic beverages. This gluten free phenomenon has far extended beyond the occasional nutritional food extremist who suggests to you that every processed food containing substance is detrimental to your health.
Let’s examine what the composition of gluten is. According to Live Science contributor, Alina Bradford, “gluten is a mixture of distinct proteins…primarily made up of two different classes of proteins: gliadin, which gives bread the ability to rise during baking, and glutenin, which is responsible for dough’s elasticity”. To a novice hearing about gluten proteins, it sounds like gluten effects all the types of grain carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates is a portion of the food pyramid table, which is also a staple food on plates globally. The Mayo Clinic accredits the carb containing Mediterranean diet to be a heart healthy regime that significantly lowers bad cholesterol (LDL) as well as “reduce incidence of cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases”. With this being said I pose the following question: How can the Mediterranean diet be considered healthy and contain grains as their nutritional foundation?
In a 2016 Huffington Post article composed by Jill Brown, she compared the the Paleo, Ketogenic, and Mediterranean diets. Each sustain their benefits of vitality and reduction of acute and chronic illnesses. However, Jill Brown’s compelling comparison between the three diets showed the contributing limitations of weight loss when adding carbohydrates. Both the Paleo and Ketogenic diets demand avoiding starchy foods such as refined sugars, potatoes and cereal grains . Meanwhile, the Mediterranean diet embraced whole grains like whole wheat bread, brown rice, and quinoa. Although researchers might have leaned towards the Mediterranean diet as the healthiest of the three currently popular health trends, this diet does not comprise solely on grains that contain gluten.
The foundation of the Mediterranean diet only includes a trivial amount of grains while incorporating fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. The necessity for carbohydrate consumption is used to burn energy. When replaced with natural fruits and vegetables, fats become the part of bodily composition that is burned. This creates a healthier opportunity that allows the stomach to absorb more nutrients for efficient bodily functioning.
Gluten is not easily absorbed due to its fundamental nature to rise and stretch as it does during the baking process. Gluten undergoes the same process along the intestinal wall in attempt to be absorbed. A person who suffers from gluten insensitivity will feel irritability in the small intestines (the area parallel and below your last rib on the right side). The small intestines are responsible for nutrient absorption by finger-like projections on the intestinal wall called villi. Wheat containing gluten attacks the villi preventing any attempts to absorb food nutrients.
According to the Medical University of South Carolina Digestive Disease Center, clinical signs and symptoms of this malabsorption include iron and folic acid deficiencies, anemia and diarrhea.
So Is Rice or Rice Flour Gluten Free?
A short answer is Yes. There is hope for your favorite milled rice called rice flour. Rice flour is produced by grains free from gluten such as brown and wild rice instead of wheat. As a reminder, each type of rice can be perfectly substituted into the Mediterranean diet if you’re looking for the extra health benefits.
If you use brown or wild rice then rice flour will be gluten free. If you choose to use wheat flour which is commonly found in breads and cereals then expect it to have gluten.
Gluten is a sensitive (no pun intend) topic to unwind. However, if you are trying to make sure your body receives the proper amount of nutrients, rice flour is an amazing way to go. It does not fall prey to the susceptibility of gluten while absorbing the necessary energy to fuel your day.