Hidden Dangers: Before you jump on the gluten-free bandwagon, think about your shopping strategies. While ditching gluten-filled grains such as wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut and farro is a great step towards a healthier and more vibrant body, many packaged gluten-free options contain anything but nutritious ingredients. In order to recreate the same texture, taste and feel as gluten-filled bread and crackers, companies use a slew of chemical additives, cheap binders and leavening agents, and genetically modified starches and oils that are no healthier than the gluten itself.
What you should avoid: Many gluten-free bread and cracker products have a long list of unrecognizable ingredients. Many of these ingredients are genetically modified, including corn, soy, canola (rapeseed), sugar (sugar beets), maltodextrins, yeast and xanthan gum. Corn starch and soy flour are commonly used in both gluten-free breads and crackers, along with canola oil and sugar. Canola oil is derived from rapeseed, and is often found in vegetable oil blends. Genetically modified foods have the potential to cause liver and kidney damage, infertility, sterility and food allergies – and may even leave materials inside us that cause long-term problems that are yet unknown. Another additive to steer clear of is (tetra) sodium pyrophosphate; while it is an approved chemical additive by the CDC, research indicates that it may have the potential to do harm. Short-term side effects include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and long-term consequences may include kidney damage and birth defects.
Avoid: GMO corn, soy, canola oil, sugar, yeast, xanthan gum, maltodextrins, (tetra) sodium pyrophosphate
Here’s what to do: Don’t fret, your plans for going 100% gluten-free have not been derailed. Thanks to numerous diligent and health-driven companies, there are GMO-free brands that make packaged breads and crackers without the fake stuff. Get in the habit of reading your labels, and stick with the brands that have short lists and ingredients that you can pronounce. Also be on the look out for the “Non-GMO” label. Another great shopping trick is to purchase raw-nut and seed-based crackers, which are usually naturally gluten-free and super packed with vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and antioxidants.