During the latest years, we have been hearing more and more about gluten free diet and sport performances: it looks like that in order to perform better in any sport, going on a gluten free diet, it’s an important step to take.
At Baci di Dama, we have decided to investigate more about it.
The most famous sport man who has started advocating that eating gluten free improved his performances is tennis player Novak Djokovic who also wrote a book about it: “Serve to Win: The 14-Day Gluten-Free Plan for Physical and Mental Excellence”.
Djokovic also excluded lactose (that gave him bloating) and processed sugar (that we should all learn to avoid more and more) from his daily diet.
The gluten free diet improved his performance and that is a fact but does it mean that all people who practise sport on a professional level and who don’t suffer from celiac disease or gluten intolerance should go gluten free?!!?
Actually if we look at scientific literature and studies from the past couple of years, we will see that there is very little evidence that prove that eating gluten free foods improves sport performances.
Some scientists from The University of Tasmania in Australia have shown that eating gluten or eating gluten free had no real effect on sport performances, at least not on the short term (that was about how long their tests lasted).
Of course athletes need to follow a specific diet but going gluten free or not, it looks like a factor that depends strictly on the person.
If the athlete is not celiac but he feels fatigue or have digestive problems like bloating or diarrhoea for example, then going gluten free can actually help him/her.
In conclusion going gluten free is not about a fashion trend associated to sport or any other thing: it is a health issue for some and a choice for others and if we choose it freely, it is important that we learn to listen to ourselves deeply to understand what it is the best to us.
People who suffering from celiac disease or gluten intolerance have one solution to get better: go on a gluten free diet and eliminate all products with gluten from their daily regime.
This will help the intestine to fully recover from the damages caused by gluten.
Unfortunately this isn’t all.
Very often going celiac disease for example can entail the lack of some precious nutrients like:
Deficiency of vitamin B12 is quite rare, however if it happens, it is important to eat certain foods that are rich of it like eggs and sardines for example.
Speaking of iron, the lack of it is very frequent in people suffering from celiac disease.
This causes fatigues and makes us feel tired and without energy.
We suggest to pay attention to eat all foods that are rich of it like dried nuts, dark chocolate, pulses, red meat…but we have to bear in mind that in order to help our body to fully absorb the iron, we have to combine these ingredients with precious Vitamin C.
Just start by squeezing some lemon in your vinaigrette, drink an orange juice or sprinkle some parsley all over our meal.
Whole cereals and grains are also a good source of iron.
The deficiency of folic acid is typical of 85% of patients; to integrate it in a natural way, we have to start eating many vegetables with large, green leaves or pulses.
If the lack persists, then it would be wise to see our doctor and get some supplements for a while.
Vitamin D and calcium are rare and most of people today, whether they suffer from gluten intolerance or not, lack of it much more than it was the case in the past.
Calcium can be found in several products that mainly come from milk: the Italian Parmigiano Reggiano is a precious source of calcium and it is almost lactose free; that’s good news indeed as there are many people who are celiac that are also suffering from lactose intolerance.
Pulses have calcium as well as water.
Vitamin D is a different matter: it can’t be find in any food, it is actually something that human beings can produce when they are exposed to the sun. It is important to take a good walk in the sun, by exposing our skin to it; however sun has become quite dangerous today especially in summer so we don’t have to exaggerate with it.
We would say…these are some of the contradictions of our modern world…things that used to be good in the past have become bad today, we still need them but we have to pay attention…
Speaking of zinc and magnesium, if we are very careful about avoiding gluten from our diet, we can fully recover from this deficiency in almost a year’s time.
So going gluten free can be tricky, we just need to become more conscious of the food we eat everyday and this can definitely be a good thing.
It will make us appreciate what we eat more and it will make us learn how to take care of our precious self.
Mono di-glycerides of fatty acids Light and Shadows
Today we often read about the mono- and di-glycerides of fatty acids and they have become so popular in the last fifty years that we might ask… why?!?
Well, they are used in most of the processed foods that we can find at the grocery stores: they are employed by large companies manufacturing pasta, bread, cookies, sweets, chocolate, ice-cream, chewing gum and the list is really long whether we are speaking about gluten free products or products with gluten.
These little ones are kind of “equally opportunity offender”, they don’t see differences only opportunities to jump in!
In the gluten free business, brands like Barilla, Garofalo and Rummo put them even in their pasta! Not so good to us to know…
But what are they exactly?
When we eat fats of any kind, our body transforms them in triglycerides and then it processes them into mono and di-glycerides.
Until here we are talking about a basic, natural way of our body to work and to transform the food we eat.
The issue is when food companies use them.
They actually produce chemical versions of the mono and di-glycerides of fatty acids to add them to their products.
The reason why is that they act as emulsifier and they bind ingredients together and help improving the taste, and texture of many products.
Very often they are labelled as E471 or E472.
Companies often produce them from cheap, fatty oils like palm or from animals fats whose origins are never clear or specified…
Even if some of these oils or fats can be fine, the big problem starts when they are submitted to high temperatures and that’s often at this point of heat that they can turn toxic for our body!
It’s the same when we overcook any oil at home for example, when we see it “smoke”, it means it has turned toxic! We must be vigilant on the temperatures of our cooking.
As we always say at Baci di Dama, the poison is in the quantity: we can eat one of these products once in a while but we have to keep an eye on the labels, eat less processed foods as we can and add more and more fresh, natural, seasonal, wholesome ingredients to our diet.
To us, vary what we eat is key to keep our body healthy and perky!
As we’ve pointed out in an older post, starches are polymeric carbohydrates made of a large number of glucose units.
Basically they can be found in cereals like wheat, root vegetables like potatoes and cassava, in beans, lentils, corn, rice, to name the most common staple foods.
To get a starch out of an ordinary flour, it takes several steps: first grains have to become soft, so they are soaked in different liquids, then they are grinded, soaked once again and put in a centrifuge to separate the different parts like gluten for example.
Some companies like Giuliani in Italy use specific enzymes or lactobacillus to facilitate the process.
At Baci di Dama, we have decided to talk about it once again because of the raising popularity of one ingredient in particular in the gluten free industry: the deglutinated wheat starch.
In Italy it’s become very popular because it helps the raising process and making bread or pizza, for example, it becomes much easier than using “natural” gluten free flours or starches.
Italian brands like Revolution Foods and lately also the famous Caputo gluten free pizza mix have adopted it. In Paris this pizza mix is used by Big Love Café and Gemini restaurants.
But our question would be the following:
Do we need to get so far?
Do we need to add a starch that has already gone through so many transformations and then, to deglutinate it, it is transformed one more time…!
Also, wheat is an allergen, with or without gluten.
It might be gluten free labelled but there are people out there that can’t tolerate wheat. Full stop.
Why can’t we simply use “natural” gluten free ingredients instead of turning our heads to this ingredient that is so processed and in the end it always comes from wheat??!!
We all know that the least a product is processed, the best it is for our health.
And then, when wheat is so impoverished, where does it come from?!!? We would love to know…
Companies are using it more and more but they never tell where they buy it…
At Baci di Dama, we would love to encourage everybody to use “natural” gluten free and wheat free ingredients: it may be harder to get the result that we want, but yes, we can get to it and once we do, what a satisfaction it can be!
Lately a new gluten free food has appeared on the scene and with a name like that, at Baci di Dama we got quite curious about it.
Elisa, our nutritionist, tells us what it is all about.
The arrowroot is so called because in ancient times it was used as an antidote against the poison in enemies’ arrows.
Today it is still used to neutralize the poison of some spiders and scorpions.
Food is our first medicine after all and it can act like one.
The arrowroot is a starch that comes from some tropical plants, in particular from the Maranta arundinaceae, a plant that we can find in Brazil or in Guyana.
It’s a rhizome like potatoes, people extract a refined, white powder from it that has neither particular taste nor smell. The glycemic index is not too high. It is used to cook both savoury and sweet foods.
As any starch, it improves the consistency of the food we make whether biscuits, pudding, gel or sauces.
The arrowroot acts like a natural thickener.
We need very little like; in general it’s 1 coffee spoon for 1 litre of water and we need to be careful not to heat it too much otherwise it looses its properties.
The arrow root is important not only when we cook but also for our health: recent studies have shown that it helps regulate the movement of our intestine and it can sooth colitis; it is very easy to digest and it’s a good source of iron, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium.
It is not a cereal so it is naturally gluten free but if we buy it as a powder we have to be careful to see if there is the “gluten free certification” on the label to avoid any risk of cross contamination with gluten.
I don’t know about you but at Baci di Dama we have the impression of hearing more and more magazines, people, friends talking about one topic in particular: food additives.
Are they good? Are they bad? What are they for and why we end up finding them in most of the foods that we eat and buy daily???
Let’s try to make things more simple and clear.
Food additives are substances added to food to preserve flavour or enhance its taste and appearance, to help the food be fresh for a longer period of time.
In Europe, the EEC (European Economic Community) has decided that all approved food additives are labelled starting with an “E number” and they have to be clearly stated on each label.
Besides it is mandatory to specify its function: if it is, for example, food colouring or thickening agent.
The thing is that most people, when they say additive, they think chemical but it is not all the time true.
Men have used food additives for centuries.
In ancient times they used salt to preserve food like meat or fish.
An additive is something that we literally “add” to another to help it perform better or last longer.
That’s been a basic need for ordinary men, during their daily life, as well as for the big industry in more recent times.
Of course methods are different and that’s the reason why we have to learn to read the labels, get to know the different ingredients without jumping on conclusions based on stereotypes that can often end up being wrong like all additives are… bad!
Today the most used food additives are:
Some of them are natural, not chemical, even if the name might sound kind of ‘strange’.
To make an example what we read as “sorbic acid” is simply vitamin C, a natural organic compound used as a food preservative.
Also all food additives go through serious testing and are examined rigorously by the SCF – Scientific Committee for Food – that encourage the industry to avoid them or, at least, use them in small quantities.
This is because the importance is not to exaggerate.
At Baci di Dama, we think that “poison is in the quantity”, so it is key to our wellbeing to vary what we eat as often as we can.
Let’s not be scared next time we see an “E number” appear on a label but let’s always be well informed and learn about the food we eat everyday.
During the years, in Italy in particular, many researchers have been studying how to make wheat a friendly friend for people who suffer from celiac disease or are intolerant to gluten.
In this article, at Baci di Dama, we decided to speak about one of the latest studies in Italy.
The good news is that a group of researchers from Foggia, in the Puglie region (South of Italy) are studying a procedure that consists in treating wheat grains at very high temperatures by using micro waves and they saw that these temperatures can actually change both the “gliandin” and the “glutenin” that constitute the protein of gluten.
This change would make the wheat non-toxic for celiac people and it wouldn’t change the elasticity of wheat that makes it so suitable in many preparations and foods.
The technique is not new: farmers from Puglie have been using it for years and years. After the harvest they burn the straw that is left in the fields and with it, wheat grains that dropped out during the harvest. They get naturally toasted. In this way nothing is wasted.
This kind of wheat is very common in Italy, it is called “grano arso” (burnt wheat). People make flour with it, and then pasta and lately even pizza. My brother had one and said it was very good, different in taste but good.
Researchers at the University of Foggia are studying how to master this procedure and make this change in the protein of gluten become stable.
Would the wheat be toxic after such high temperatures? In the fields it can happen but in the laboratory, it should not.
However we can’t by wait for final results with much patience and a pinch of optimism and in the meanwhile, don’t try to microwave wheat at home
In Europe, many fast food chains are proposing a gluten free option on their menu like Mac Donald, and Roadhouse. At Baci di Dama we are not “that” fan of fast food but once in a while, why not…!
In Nordic countries like Denmark or Sweden, society is more aware of food issues and allergies. Many grocery stores and restaurants clearly label their product gluten free or dairy free or nuts free. In Finland there are also some restaurant chains like Rosso and Kotipizza that have regular gluten free menus.
If you are planning to go on a cruise, then it is good and nice to know that some companies like
“MSC CROCIERE” has a full gluten free menu that comes with no supplement!
If you travel and are stoking some food with you for the road, bear in mind that there are some countries like Australia for example that are very strict when it comes to traveling with foods into their country. However their famous chain, Gelatissimo, has a whole gluten free range that is yummylicious to know.
If you go grocery shopping in a foreign country, it is always good advice to check that the product displays the crossed grain logo: this logo guarantees that there is less then 20 ppm of gluten in the product. That’s what makes a product labelled gluten free in Europe.
In the U.S, we can find the crossed grain symbol as well and back there, gluten free has become more mainstream. Food chains like Wamagama, Outback Steakhouse, Pizza Hut or Uno pizzeria & Grill have all gluten free foods available.
Recently I have noticed an app for smartphone called “Find me GF”: it localises restaurants all over the world. It might be fun to give it a try.
One last, small piece of advise, bring a small pocket dictionary in your bag in case you might need to explain the waiter what gluten free is…
From the Baci di Dama team, enjoy your gluten free holidays to the fullest!!!
Food labels are the link between us and the products we buy everyday. We can see them as ID card and to learn to read them properly, it helps us to get to know better what lies there in front of us. They are an important tool to preserve our health and natural well being.
To read the labels properly, we need to focus on few but important things like where the product comes from, who’s produced it, its shelf life and how to store it properly.
However the most important pieces of information are the quantity and the quality of the ingredients.
The ingredients are always listed in decreasing order. The shorter the label, the best it is.
Very often the simple things are the best.
Try to avoid products, which have artificial flavours or colourings and privilege those with extra virgin olive oil instead of palm oil or margarine.
Don’t trust 100% the so-called “healthy” labels.
One classic example is “sugar free”. By sugar we mean saccharine (the caster sugar) but if we read that there is fructose or glucose syrup, then there is actually sugar in the product and it’s not sugar free at all! Another would be “low fat”: sometimes industry, to reduce fat but still keep on taste, adds more sugar in the product so in the end we eat something that is rich in calories, not what we would call a “low fat” product.
If we become more conscious and responsible of what we buy every day, we can see how each single gesture can contribute to a better respect of ourselves and have a positive impact on our health.
Starches represent the most important source of carbohydrates for our metabolism; they are a precious source of energy for us.
Technically starches are long complex chains of monosaccharide that are the smallest molecule of the carbohydrates.
Starches can be found in all the cereals, some tubers like potatoes and manioc, and also in pulses.
When used in cooking, they tend to absorb the water and they can increase their size up to 20-30 times their volume.
If they are heated up, they become jelly and act as thickening agents.
They are important allies if we want to make a smooth, velvety sauce or a cream for example.
When we are on gluten free diet, starches can help us replacing gluten in many recipes.
In mass market most of the starches available come from rice, corn, tapioca, wheat and potatoes.
In Italy producers of wheat starches are making one which is gluten free and it is widely used in many mix for bread and pizza today.
The main difference between a starch and a flour is that starches are poor of proteins.
That means that their glycemic index is slightly higher that regular flours.
To compensate the lack of protein, it is important to eat starches with some beans or lentils for example.
However we don’t need to get “scared” of their higher glycemic index.
Starches are a “complex” chain of monosaccharide that tend to be absorbed slowly by our body. Sugar for example is composed by only two monosaccharide, therefore when we eat it, it is very easily absorbed by our body and makes the glycemic index skyrocket for good.
No need to be “scared” of starches. We eat them everyday already.
At Baci di Dama our philosophy and our only advice is to vary what we eat as much as we can, eat a good bite at a time, and never forget to add a pinch of creativity and fun to our meals.