Many people are turning towards a gluten-free diet to improve their GI problems. Unfortunately, this movement has caused a lot of people to shun all whole grains. Sure, the white bread you use for a sandwich has to go. However, there are gluten-free grains out there that are packed with protein. Not to mention, they serve as prebiotics for probiotic stomach bacteria. So, let’s take a look at which whole grains have gluten and which gluten-free grains you should add to your diet.
Which Whole Grains Have Gluten?
There are many healthy foods that people with sensitive digestive systems can’t digest properly. Anyone who is trying an Elimination Diet to ditch gluten may steer clear of whole grains altogether. However, these people are missing out on many amazing plant-based proteins.
Whole grains with gluten include:
There are at least 22 whole grains recognized by the Whole Grains Council . Almost one-third of whole grains are gluten-free grains. So, you are doing your body a disservice for removing these items from your diet. Let’s take a look at gluten-free grains and their benefits for improving your gut flora.
Benefits of Gluten-Free Grains
We shouldn’t turn a blind eye to gluten-free grains. Members of the Thryve Inside Gut Health Program get many recipes suggesting meals with gluten-free grains because they are versatile additions to any meal. You can include them as hearty side dishes or have these gluten-free grains be the main course Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of gluten-free grains in a healthy gut diet plan.
These fiber-rich food sources are excellent sources of high-quality protein. Plus, they come with lower calories than animal-based products. That’s why gluten-free grains, such as quinoa, are popular vegan proteins.
As we mentioned, most gluten-free grains have a fair balance between soluble and insoluble dietary fibers. Eating these foods will help you feel fuller longer. Consequently, you’ll cut down on filling up with other potential inflammatory triggers, such as vegetable-oil fried proteins, condiment-covered deli meats, and sugary desserts.
Dietary Fiber and Prebiotics
Being a good source of fiber, gluten-free grains can help you regulate your bathroom breaks. Not to mention, the fibers you don’t dispose of serve as food for your probiotics.
Gluten-Free Grains for a Healthy Gut Diet Plan
Intrigued about adding gluten-free grains to your diet plan, but not sure how to go about it? Let us help you. Here are some gluten-free grains you need to know and the benefits they can add to your wellness regimen.
Our Mayan and Inca ancestors highly regarded amaranth. These ancient grains (actually…seeds) have very potent anti-inflammatory properties. Research shows that this gluten-free grain interrupts NF-κB signaling up to 70% . NF-κB signaling is an immune response that evokes inflammation, inevitably promoting growth for cytokines, which cause chronic inflammation.
The results showed that amaranth lowered the appearance of the following inflammatory biomarkers in human and animals cells:
- Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha (36.5%, 33.5%)
- Prostaglandin E2 [PAGE] (15.4%, 31.4%)
- Cyclooxygenase-2 [COX-2 ](38.1%, 67.6%)
A lot of the health benefits of amaranth is thanks to its nutritional content. Just one cup of amaranth brings packs tons of nutrients:
- 9.3 g Protein
- 46 g Carbohydrates
- Manganese (105% DV)
- Magnesium (40% DV)
- Phosphorus (30% DV)
- Iron (29% DV)
Amaranth tends to soak up moisture. So, they’re ideal gluten-free grains for porridge. For those who find its earthy taste a bit much, you can make delicious protein bowls with amaranth. It will soak up liquid aminos, broth, or tomato sauce splendidly!
Just the name alone sounds freeing. So, of course, wild rice is one of our favorite gluten-free grains. On paper, wild rice doesn’t seem to have as much nutritional value as other gluten-free grains on this list.
One cup of wild rice contains:
- 4 g Protein
- 21 g Carbohydrates
- Manganese (14% DV)
- Zinc (9% DV)
- Magnesium (8% DV)
- Phosphorous (8% DV)
- Vitamin B6 (7% DV)
While these stats may not look impressive, this food has the lowest caloric index. Just one cup of wild rice has 101 calories. Compare that to amaranth, which has 251 calories.
So, for someone who is following calorie restriction, such as the Alternate Day Fasting protocol in Intermittent Fasting, they can get more of a bang for their buck with wild rice.
Use wild rice like any other rice meal. The beauty of wild rice over white rice is that these gluten-free grains still have their hull. That’s where all the fiber lies. So, this is a much healthier starch than its white counterpart.
These gluten-free grains tend to get written off in the same category of gluten grains due to their placement in the grocery aisle.
For decades, we’ve pictured Quaker Oats in the section as the Frosted Mini-Wheats.
However, steel-cut oats not made with the same equipment as gluten grains are naturally gluten-free. Make sure to read about manufacturing processes first.
Oats are the best source of oat beta-glucan. Oat beta-glucan is a soluble fiber that helps draw water into the gut to ease the digestion process. Since it assists with removing toxins from the system, oats are considered a heart-healthy food.
One analysis surrounding oats and heart health found,
“Studies conducted during the past 13 years support the suggestion that intake of oat β-glucan at daily doses of at least 3 g may reduce plasma total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels by 5-10% in normocholesterolemic or hypercholesterolemic subjects .”– Nutr Rev
- 5.9 g Protein
- 28 g Carbohydrates
- Manganese: (191% DV)
- Phosphorus: (41% DV)
- Vitamin B1 (39% DV)
- Magnesium: (34% DV)
- Copper: (24% DV)
- Iron: (20% DV)
- Zinc: (20% DV)
The best way to eat oats is to get steel-cut oats and soak them in warm water, milk, or coconut milk overnight. Add in your fruits and seeds in the morning. Make sure to give a good stir before eating!
Buckwheat may graduate from your favorite Little Rascals character to your favorite gluten-free seed. This superfood is growing in popularity because it is a rich source of two potent antioxidants.
One unique antioxidant in buckwheat is rutin. This compound gives buckwheat is distinctive citrusy notes. However, it also exhibits neuroprotective properties through the gut-brain-axis.
A study on rutin in buckwheat stated,
“Rutin has demonstrated the neuroprotective effect on brain ischemia. Administration of rutin caused attenuation of ‘ischemic neural apoptosis’ due to the embarrassment of p53 expression and lipid peroxidation along with increment in ‘endogenous antioxidant defense enzymes .”– Saudi Pharm J.
The study noted that rutin works in unison with querectin. This potent molecule is what gives onions and garlic their antioxidant benefits.
Buckwheat is chewy and makes for great granola mixes and yogurt bowls. However, you can also add some liquids and whip it into a gelatin-like texture. This health hack makes buckwheat a popular vegan baking item.
Teff is tough. Much like chia seeds pack a ton of nutrition for a seed so small, teff does the same. This popular Ethiopian grain is one of the smallest known to humankind.
Just one cup of teff boasts:
- 10 g Protein
- 50 g Carbohydrates
- Manganese (360% DV)
- Vitamin B1 (31% DV)
- Magnesium (32% DV)
- Phosphorous (30% DV)
- Iron (29% DV)
- Copper (20% DV)
Adding these gluten-free grains to your weight loss regimen will help you along your journey. One study fed teff hay to obese horses to see if these gluten-free grains improved the animals’ digestive issues.
Results found that the teff boosted the digestion of food for these mammals . In addition, the dietary fibers in teff caused a 10% decrease in food intake. So, the animals consumed fewer calories and eliminated excess waste from their system.
This plant-based powerhouse is considered a complete protein source. It contains all of the essential amino acids our body can’t generate on its own.
One cup of quinoa contains:
- 8.1 g Protein
- 39.4 g Carbohydrates
- Manganese (58% DV)
- Magnesium (30% DV)
- Phosphorous (28% DV)
On top of carrying trace minerals, quinoa is rich in antioxidants. It has an elevated level of ferulic acid. This plant-based molecule is used in many beauty ingredients that fight aging. That’s because ferulic acid can fight off free radicals that create cell damage resulting in aging skin.
An analysis on ferulic acid and skincare found,
“Ferulic acid exerts its antioxidant effects by supplying protons or hydrogen ions to free radicals with phenolic hydroxyl groups . Ferulic acid also protects against the toxicity of active oxygen, or superoxide, similarly to superoxide dismutase. Ferulic acid and several of its derivatives have been shown to decrease tumor formation in chemically-induced skin carcinogenesis models .”– PLoS One.
Quinoa is one of the most versatile gluten-free grains. They soak up the flavor of whatever you cook them in. Plus, they make for great binding agents. That’s why quinoa is perfect for veggie burgers, salads, and chilis.
This ancient gluten-free grain was a staple in the diet of our Australian and African ancestors. These whole-grain kernels are ground into fine flour granules. That makes sorghum an excellent alternative to wheat gluten in making protein-rich loaves of bread.
1/4 cup of sorghum includes:
- 4 g Protein
- 25 g Carbohydrates
- Phosphorous (10% DV)
- Iron (8% DV)
Of the gluten-free grains, sorghum is the least nutrient-dense. However, it packs an abundance of anthocyanins . These antioxidants give sorghum its distinct black, brown, and red hues. Anthocyanins also play a role in optimal wellness, including boosting memory, improving blood circulation, and fighting cancer cells.
Yes, millet is a common ingredient in bird seeds. However, you don’t see many birds having the cardiovascular problems us humans on the ground have. This ancient African grain is only made from hybrids. So, it’s not a victim of Genetically-Modified Organisms (GMOs).
One cup of millet has:
- 6.1 g Protein
- 41.2 g Carbohydrates
- Manganese (24% DV)
- Magnesium (19% DV)
- Phosphorous (17% DV)
These gluten-free grains have a high-fiber content and are low on the glycemic index. Together, these factors make millet ideal for preventing type 2 diabetes.
One study looked at how two types of millet improved the lifestyle of people with diabetes.
“Two studies from the same group on proso- millet and foxtail millet concluded that diet with mixture of their respective protein faction improved HDL-C concentration as well as reduced insulin and plasma glucose concentration .”– Front Plant Sci.
Millet can be used a lot like couscous. For best flavor, toast in a saucepan with healthy oil fats. Then add a broth and spices to make for a nutrient-rich side dish. Add in some lean proteins and greens to make a delicious and nutritious bowl.
Gluten-free Grains and Thryve Gut Health Program
Sometimes the hardest part of achieving optimal gut health is figuring out what to eat. There are many recipes on The Food Network that look delicious, but don’t pack the nutrition your beneficial stomach bacteria needs. That’s where we can help.
Join the Thryve Gut Health Program and get your gut tested at home. Based on the results, we recommend custom probiotic bacteria supplements for your particular gut biome.
With that information, we can tailor a healthy gut diet plan to meet your dietary needs. We know which prebiotic-rich foods, including gluten-free grains, your intestinal flora craves. Our database of over 1,500 ingredients will set you up with recipes for gut health for month’s on end!
 “Whole Grains A to Z.” Whole Grains A to Z | The Whole Grains Council, 20 Jan. 2020, wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/whole-grains-z.
 Montoya-Rodríguez, Alvaro, et al. “Extrusion Improved the Anti-Inflammatory Effect of Amaranth (Amaranthus Hypochondriacus) Hydrolysates in LPS-Induced Human THP-1 Macrophage-like and Mouse RAW 264.7 Macrophages by Preventing Activation of NF-ΚB Signaling.” Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, May 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24431078.
 Othman, Rgia A, et al. “Cholesterol-Lowering Effects of Oat β-Glucan.” Nutrition Reviews, U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21631511.
 Ganeshpurkar, A., & Saluja, A. K. (2017). The Pharmacological Potential of Rutin. Saudi pharmaceutical journal : SPJ : the official publication of the Saudi Pharmaceutical Society, 25(2), 149–164. doi:10.1016/j.jsps.2016.04.025
 Staniar, W B, et al. “Voluntary Intake and Digestibility of Teff Hay Fed to Horses.” Journal of Animal Science, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20581289.
 Burns, E. M., Tober, K. L., Riggenbach, J. A., Kusewitt, D. F., Young, G. S., & Oberyszyn, T. M. (2013). Differential effects of topical vitamin E and C E Ferulic® treatments on ultraviolet light B-induced cutaneous tumor development in Skh-1 mice. PloS one, 8(5), e63809. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063809
 Awika, Joseph M, et al. “Properties of 3-Deoxyanthocyanins from Sorghum.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 14 July 2004, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15237941.
 Kam, J., Puranik, S., Yadav, R., Manwaring, H. R., Pierre, S., Srivastava, R. K., & Yadav, R. S. (2016). Dietary Interventions for Type 2 Diabetes: How Millet Comes to Help. Frontiers in plant science, 7, 1454. doi:10.3389/fpls.2016.01454