Three years ago, Jane Schuster put her nine-year-old son Andrew on a gluten-free diet because he was experiencing digestive disturbances. Over time, it became clear that Andrew was experiencing gastrointestinal upset from eating foods other than gluten-especially corn and soy, which could be found in most of the processed gluten-free baked goods and convenience items he ate.
Six months ago, at the suggestion of a friend, Jane watched the movie Genetic Roulette. It revealed information that has been hidden from most Americans: namely, that corn and soy are the two most common genetically modified (GM) foods, that eating them is associated with numerous health problems, and that growing numbers of doctors recommend non-GM diets as an effective way to clear up numerous ailments, including gastrointestinal problems.
The Schusters are just one of a growing number of gluten-free families who are waking up to the issue of GM foods-specifically, that these foods have been allowed onto the market without being tested or labeled. People also want to avoid any possible adverse health effects from eating these laboratory-created concoctions.
Soy, for instance, is one of the top eight food allergens, and research shows that the incidence of soy allergies dramatically increased in the United Kingdom after the crop began being genetically modified. While not as common, reactions to corn also appear to be on the rise, according to a number of reports and corn-allergy websites such as http://CornAllergens.com.
Whether you want to protect yourself from possible reactions or just play it safe, try these tips for avoiding genetically modified corn and soy, as well as gluten.
- Begin by removing all corn and soy from your diet. Steer clear of the obvious, such as corn on the cob and tofu, and avoid processed foods, which contain many hidden forms of corn and soy, as much as possible. Read labels carefully and steer clear of derivatives, which include cornstarch, corn syrup, corn meal, fructose, distilled white vinegar, and xanthan gum (which is usually derived from corn). For an extensive list of corn-based ingredients, visit CornAllergens.com.
- Emphasize fresh fruits and vegetables (other than corn, of course) in your diet. This is an easy way to avoid GM corn and soy.
- Use corn-free and soy-free alternatives. Try arrowroot powder in place of cornstarch to thicken sauces. Or swap cornstarch-containing baking powder for Hain Pure Foods Featherweight Baking Powder, which is made with potato starch. And Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos, which is made from organic raw coconut sap and sea salt, makes a great substitute for soy sauce.
- After you've stayed away from corn and soy for a few weeks or months, try adding organic or Non-GMO Project Verified corn or soy products, one at a time, back into your diet. This way, you can determine if you have a reaction to all types of corn or soy, or just to the GM versions. A few suggestions: For corn chips, try blue corn chips from RW Garcia or Cadia Organic. For baking powder, there's gluten-free Rumford Baking Powder made with non-GMO cornstarch. For soy sauce, try Bragg's Liquid Aminos or San-J Organic Tamari Gluten Free Soy Sauce, which are both Non-GMO Project Verified.
Asian Chopped Salad*
This salad is versatile and easy to put together. It has a light Asian flavor, yet contains no soy.
6 cups organic romaine lettuce or organic baby lettuces
3 cups sliced Napa cabbage leaves
1 large carrot, cut in half and sliced thin diagonally
½ organic red pepper, chopped
1 small organic zucchini, chopped
2 Tbs. chopped green onion tops (optional)
6 Tbs. chopped fresh organic cilantro
3 Tbs. slivered toasted almonds
1 small orange, peeled into segments and chopped
3 cooked organic boneless chicken breasts, chopped into pieces (optional)
6 Tbs. organic cold-pressed sesame oil
2 Tbs. Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos soy-free seasoning sauce
1 Tbs. coconut nectar
1 Tbs. sesame seed
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp. grated ginger
½ tsp. lime zest
- Combine salad ingredients together in large bowl.
- Whisk together dressing ingredients in small bowl.
- Pour dressing over salad, toss to combine, and divide evenly among serving plates.
PER SERVING (without chicken): 198 cal; 3g pro; 17g total fat (2g sat fat); 11g carb; 0mg chol; 133mg sod; 3g fiber; 6g sugars
*Recipe reprinted from the Going Against the Grain Group, 2013.
Melissa Diane Smith, a nationally known writer and holistic nutritionist who specializes in personalizing the gluten-free diet, offers long-distance telephone counseling and coaching services to clients across the country. She is the author of Going Against the Grain and Gluten Free Throughout the Year: A Two-Year, Month-to-Month Guide for Healthy Eating. To learn about her books, long-distance consultations, nutrition coaching programs, or speaking, visit her websites melissadianesmith.com and againstthegrainnutrition.com.
Copyright ©2012 Melissa Diane Smith. This article and recipe may not be reprinted on other sites without written approval and permission from the author. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.