Bharat Savur

The gluten-free way of life

Bharat Savur | Updated on September 12, 2013

I suffer from frequent stomach pain. After various blood tests and a biopsy, it was concluded that I was wheat-intolerant. I was also asked to avoid foods containing gluten. Could you tell me which foods these are?

— N. Jaidev

Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye and barley. For reasons unknown, it hits the small intestine and causes inflammation. In time, the continual inflammation can damage the small intestine. And since the body cannot absorb nutrients, it suffers from all kinds of ailments.

I suggest you carry this extensive list of ‘Foods to avoid’ wherever you go to prevent any gluten from entering your system: Chapatis, rotis, parathas, puris, theplas, khakras, golgappas, breads, croutons, soup sticks, buns, pizza breads, wheat laddus, pasta, noodles, spaghetti, macaroni, wheat flakes, biscuits, cookies, wheat dosas, breakfast cereals containing wheat bran, oats, rye, and barley; rava kheer, wheat germ, wheat bran, oatmeal, wine, whisky. Read the fine print before you buy any packaged food.

And never feel shy at parties — better to appear fussy and picky than to be down with that awful stomach pain.

Fortunately, there are enough gluten-free foods. Do make them a part of your lifelong habits. As you continue eating them, you’ll develop a taste for them. Gluten-free foods include rotis made with bajra, ragi, or jowar; brown rice pulao, corn bhel, and sabudana khichdi. Balsamic vinegar and lime are safe to use as dressings. Buy stuff from an organic shop that has a knowledgeable person at the counter. There’s a good chance of getting gluten-free biscuits, wafers, and puris. Above all, never allow yourself to feel deprived or cheated. Gradually, you’ll fall into a correct pattern of eating.

I am in the early stages of osteoporosis. I’ve been advised to walk in the sun, weight-train, and eat calcium-rich foods. I’m also on calcium and D3 supplements. However, whenever I weight-train, my entire body aches. Please advise.

— Radhika S.

Your body-ache could be due to overworked muscles and/ or a wee bit of calcium loss due to exercising intensively. Take these four simple steps and you’ll be striding painlessly on the highway of health:

Before your weight-training session, have a small bowl of calcium-rich yoghurt or a calcium supplement.

In between sets, drink water to keep your muscles hydrated and flexible. Drink at least 1.5 to 2 litres a day.

Warm up before your weight-training session.

Use lighter weights initially to condition your muscles. Start with half-kg and build up gradually. Experiment and see when you are pain-free the next morning — that’s your ideal exercising intensity.

I’m 27. I jog for 30 minutes every day. I’ve heard that this practice leads to knee joint pain in the long term. I don’t want to quit jogging as I like it best of all exercises, and it keeps me fit. Please guide.

— Siddharth K..

It’s true that conventional thinking held that jogging/ running leads to joint pains in the years to come. However, that thinking is beginning to change. A researcher at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, University of California, studied the data of 75,000 runners and found that the risk of osteoarthritis as well as hip replacement decreased with running and walking. He believes that these activities don’t wear out joints but stimulate them to deposit more cartilage in these areas.

However, being cautious, I’d give this advice: Since you love jogging, continue to jog regularly, and also do some knee- and ankle-strengthening exercises as insurance, just before you go for a jog.

Knee-strengtheners. Lie on your back on a mat, arms at sides, legs stretched straight out. Lift your left leg straight up towards the ceiling to a 90-degree angle. Then lower it, but without touching the mat. Repeat with the right leg. Do this 20 times for a start, and build up to 50 over the weeks.

Ankle-strengtheners. Walk from one end of the mat to the other end and back on your toes (3 times). Walk from one end of the mat to the other end and back on your heels (3 times).

I’ve joined an aerobic dancing class. But the dancing exercises bring on asthma and I feel so breathless that I sit and watch the remaining time. The teacher says it will get better. What should I do?

— Selma N.

The intensity does not seem to suit your airways, which need warm, moist air. While exercising vigorously, you’re taking in cold, dry air, which makes the airways narrow defensively and brings on breathlessness.

You need to do a less intensive exercise. I suggest stationary cycling to improve your respiratory system, a few breathing yoga exercises, and stretches with a thera-band.

The writer is co-author of the book ‘Fitness for Life’. Queries may be sent to life@thehindu.co.in

Published on September 12, 2013

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