Gluten free eating: don't forget the fibre!

Gluten free eating: don't forget the fibre!

How to include fibre in a gluten free diet.

One of the most common problems that may arise in a gluten free diet is the lack of fibre. But do the specific foods for coeliac-disease sufferers contain fibre?  This is an important question.  Most gluten free products are made with starch from highly refined flours such as rice flour to help thicken the product.  It is this very process of refinement that eliminates the external part of the grain, the bran, rich in fibre, minerals and B-group vitamins. It is therefore necessary to ensure an adequate and constant source of fibre. 

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According to LARN (level of recommended assumption of nutrients in Italy) adults require 25-30 grammes of fibre a day, whilst the daily ration for children is 5 grammes more plus 1 gramme multiplied by age. So the daily ration of recommended fibre for a child of 5 years is around 10 grammes, whilst that for a child of 10 years, is 15 grammes. In any case fibre must be supplied with moderation and gradually: an excess of fibre can prevent the absorption of certain minerals including calcium, selenium, iron and zinc. Fibres can be divided into soluble and non-soluble, based on their interaction with liquids.

When soluble fibres come in contact with water they create a gelatinous mass, they are responsible for the full filling after eating and regulate the absorption of sugars and fats. They also help to maintain a healthy weight, prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes and reduce the absorption of cholesterol introduced with food.  They are found in fruit and its skin, in legumes, potatoes and carrots.  Insoluble fibres, those with a hygroscopic action, are responsible for the regulation of intestinal function. They are mainly found in certain types of vegetable (broccoli, artichokes, cabbage) and in wholemeal cereals.

Fibres are therefore important also in the diet of coeliac-disease sufferers as they can help protect the intestine, promoting its functioning and regulating glicemia levels derived from the presence of starch and sugars, increasing the sense of feeling full and restricting the level of cholesterol and triglycerides. They also have a detoxifying effect on the body.

How can we include fibres in a gluten free diet?

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Here are a few suggestions that ensure that coeliac-disease sufferers get the correct supply of fibre - consume at least 5-6 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, eat legumes 1-2 times a week and include gluten free wholemeal products in your diet.  

Currently many gluten free products such as Pane Casereccio Bread and Cereale del Mastro Panettiere include cereals or pseudo cereals such as buckwheat and quinoa, enriched with rice bran and linseed and other ingredients that can easily add fibre to your diet.

An example of a daily menu is described below.

  • Breakfast: A cup of gluten free cereal with milk or two slices of gluten ffee wholemeal bread with jam and a piece of fruit. Crunchy Müsli is a tasty, healthy and energy- boosting way to start the day.
  • Mid-morning snack: A portion of fruit, preferably consumed with the skin left on.
  • Lunch: Wholemeal rice with tomato sauce and a portion of fruit or a sandwich filled with vegetables.
  • Snack: Cereal rusks with jam and fruit juice.
  • Dinner: Roast chicken breast with spinach and bread, fruit or a rich country soup with vegetables and beans. Then, every so often you can also enjoy a lovely cake such as Antica, made with Mix Dolci - Mix C Schär and the Schär Mix It Dunkel - Mix It Rustico: a wholemeal delight.