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Gluten is a protein, more specifically a combination of two proteins, gliadin and glutenine, joined with the starch inside the grain endosperm.


Wheat, single –grain semolina and rye are high in gluten, while dinkel, oats and barley are low in gluten. However, there are gluten free grains such as teff, millet, corn, rice and pseudocereals or non-cereal grains that are gluten free, such as quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat etc.


Gluten free diet concerns certain population groups but not to the same degree, due to a variety of problems gluten may cause. Let’s see what these population groups are:

  • People who have been diagnosed with celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, i.e. your immune system attacks your body when exposed to gluten. Lots of different celiac disease symptoms can develop at any age.
  • People with gluten sensitivity (Non celiac gluten sensitivity, NCGS) who actually cannot be diagnosed with celiac disease. However, NCGS individuals cannot tolerate gluten and experience symptoms similar to those with celiac disease (ex. gastrointestinal problems etc.) which disappear when being on a gluten free diet. The first studies about NCGS begun around 1980 while later studies have shown it might be 6-10 times more common than celiac disease. Validated diagnostic criteria are still required.
  • Some people interested in reducing abdominal swelling or irritable bowel syndrome symptoms for a specific period of time such as athletes before matches, women before and after giving birth.
  • Nevertheless, in recent years, gluten free diet has been a trend as considered a healthy diet. We should keep in mind that all nutrients intake contributes to a balanced state of physical and mental health and consequently a medical advice is always indicated concerning our health and diet.

Fats and oils are part of a healthy and balanced diet. However, different types of lipids have a different contribution to human health (Lin et al., 2010). On the distinction of fatty acids, the scientific community agrees on their distinction into two categories: those that are beneficial to health and those that increase the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and other degenerative chronic diseases. The industrially produced trans fats are fatty acids and they have an adverse effect on human health.

What are trans fatty acids

Trans fats are unsaturated straight chain fatty acids in which a double bond or more does not allow the carbon atoms to rotate along the axis of the molecule, whereby several constitutive isomers appear on them. Concerning the double bond, the hydrogen atoms that lie on one side of the molecule are called cis. Alternately, the isomers where the hydrogen atoms are on opposite sides of the double bond are called trans.

There are trans fats that can be found in nature, for example in ruminant milk and meat. Their content is 3-8% of total fat, so their consumption is not particularly harmful on public health. But there are also the industrially produced trans fats whose production flourished in the early 20th century. Their total fat content can reach up to 60%, depending on the degree and mode of hydrogenation (e.g. catalysts, etc.) or any further treatments.

Partial hydrogenation of vegetable oils generally serves two purposes: (a) to convert oils from liquid to solid form, and (b) to improve their oxidative stability thereby increasing the shelf life of the products. Therefore, these types of oils can be used, among other things, in confectionery products (for desired shape and texture) but also in repetitive frying fats.

Trans fat effects on health

Since the early 1990s, published studies demonstrate the positive association between dietary trans fatty acid intake and the risk of developing coronary heart disease. Since then, numerous scientific studies have been conducted (e.g., Colon-Ramon et al., 2007), which have confirmed the original findings and have significantly contributed to the understanding of trans fatty acid 5 mechanisms contributing to cardiovascular damage. For example, trans fats appear to increase blood serum levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) while lowering the levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL cholesterol). Moreover, a meta-analysis (Mozaffarian et al., 2006) showed that a daily intake of 4g of trans fatty acids (in a 2000 Kcal diet) was associated with a 23% increased risk of coronary heart disease. These findings show that the risk of cardiovascular disease per gram of trans fatty acid intake, is four to five times higher than the same amount of saturated fat. The detrimental effects of industrially-produced trans fatty acids on the cardiovascular system are now beyond dispute (Brouwer et al., 2013). In addition, according to the World Health Organization, they have been linked to some forms of cancer (WHO – press release 2014).

Legislative initiatives in Europe regarding trans fats

Denmark has been the first European country that, in 2003, enacted legislation precising trans-fat limits in food. According to official reports, the measures taken were very effective. Specifically, trans- fat intake has decreased in all age groups by 90% since the relevant legislation was adopted (WHO – press release 2014). Following Denmark’s example, similar legislative initiatives have been adopted by Switzerland (2008), Austria (2009), Iceland (2011), Hungary (2013) and Norway (2014). The legal limits for Austria and Iceland apply to both their internal market and exports, while for Denmark, Hungary and Norway the limits apply only to their internal market.

Greece does not currently have law restrictions on the subject, except for specific food categories sold in school canteens which may contain a maximum of 0.1% trans fats (Ministerial Decision Υ1γ/ΓΠ/οικ 81025/ΦΕΚ 2135/τ.Β’/29-08-2013 as amended by Υ.Α. Υ1γ/ Γ.Π/οικ 96605/ΦΕΚ 2800 τ.Β/4-11-201).


The glycemic index primarily concerns the diet of a person with diabetes as it is crucial for him to have accurate blood sugar regulation, but it is equally important for someone following a diet plan.

The Glycemic Index (GI) is a method of classifying foods that contain carbohydrates (pasta, legumes, cereals, fruits, vegetables, etc.) according to how they affect blood glucose levels, 2 to 3 hours after their consumption. The GI varies between foods; high GI foods release glucose rapidly thus increasing insulin in order to lower the sugar levels in the blood; the excess sugar is transferred to cells where it is converted into fat. The GI classification scale ranges from 0 to 100.

The glycemic index was initially measured for specific foods containing 50 grams of carbohydrates. But later, it was also measured for meals containing different percentages of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Today, there is a table of glycemic index rates ​​for thousands of foods.

Low and high GI

  • Low GI: <55
  • Moderate GI: 56-69
  • High GI:> 70
  • Max GI: 100 (glucose)

Theoretically, pure glucose goes into the blood faster than any other carbohydrate, causing the highest rise in blood sugar, so it was given an official price of 100. All the other foods got a GI that indicates the glucose rise in blood over pure glucose.

Assigning a Glycemic Index (GI) value to a food

Usually, the GI is calculated using typically 10 healthy volunteers, who consume a quantity of a food under study containing 50 grams of carbohydrates, after an overnight fast. After consuming this food, the blood glucose concentration is measured every 15 minutes, over the next two hours. As low GI foods are classified those producing GI values 55 or less, moderate those producing values between 40 and 70, and high those producing values above 70.

Main factors affecting the Glycemic Index (GI)

  • Variety of food
    A GI value depends on the variety of the food. For example, the GI is different for common white rice, brown rice, basmati and long grain rice; for different potato varieties etc.
  • Ripeness (fruit and vegetables)
    The more fruit and vegetables are ripe, the higher GI they have. For example the GI value for the unripe banana and the ripe banana is 43 and 74 respectively. This is the reason why diabetics are advised to avoid eating ripe fruits.
  • Presence of fibre
    Foods high in fibre have low GI, because fibre can slow down the absorption of carbohydrates.
  • Cooking method and time
    Cooking methods, ex. boiling, baking etc., increase GI, as softening the food fibre or making food carbohydrates more digestible. Also, the more cooked a food, the higher the GI.
  • Food processing
    The less processed a food is, the lower its GI. For example, whole-wheat products have a lower GI and raise less glucose levels compared to white ones.
  • Combination of foods (fat and protein)
    Quality foods and healthy eating combinations are associated with good health and healthy weight maintenance.

Fats: consumption of good quality fats, such as high quality olive oil, facilitates the fat-soluble vitamins absorption. Scientific evidence has shown that foods containing protein and fats have different GI when being consumed with carbohydrates.


Reducing the daily consumption of sugar contributes to the following:

  • It increases the feeling of satiety. Leptin, the hormone that controls the feeling of satiety, is suppressed by eating sugar thus resulting in a permanent sense of hunger.
  • It reduces the risk of heart diseases, as it reduces blood triglyceride levels -a type of fat that stores extra calories derived from sugar- and, at the same time, it reduces the effect of “good” cholesterol.
  • It reduces fat accumulation. Sugar has high calorie content and a lack of nutrients. Therefore, it contributes to the accumulation of fat with a high likelihood of obesity.
  • It protects the liver.
  • It reduces the chances of kidney stones appearance.
  • It reduces the rate of cell aging. Recent studies report that simple sugars consumption, such as sugar, promotes skin cell aging.
  • Increases energy


How to avoid gluten contamination

By “contamination” we mean the contact of a gluten free food with traces of gluten derived from external factors, such as food that does contain gluten, soiled cooking utensils and tableware or storing gluten free food in non gluten-free areas (eg. oven, breadbox, etc.).

  • Keep it clean – the most important tip to avoid contamination.
  • Use separate cupboards for gluten free products and no gluten free foods.
  • Prepare first the gluten-free meals.
  • Cover with aluminum foil all cooking utensils that are difficult to clean, like a toaster.
  • Ideally use separate cooking utensils, such as pans, oven pans, pots, etc., for preparing gluten-free meals.
  • Use aluminum foil to cover packaged gluten free products that have not been consumed.
  • Clean the oven with soap after using it for foods that contain gluten.

Gluten-free foods

  • Milk, Natural Yogurt, Cream
  • All kinds of meat
  • Poultry, Fish, Eggs
  • Most types of cheese
  • Fresh or dried fruit
  • Fresh vegetables
  • All legumes
  • Rice, Rice Flour
  • Potatoes
  • Buckwheat
  • Soy
  • Millet
  • Corn, Corn Oil
  • Unsalted nuts / unprocessed
Gluten Free<br><em>Advice</em>

Gluten-containing foods

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Roquefort
  • Blue Cheese
  • Cream cheese
  • Wheat cereals
  • Barley coffee

Products in which the above are basic ingredients

  • Bread, Toasts, Rusk
  • Cake, Biscuits
  • Beer
  • Cheese puffs, Potato Chips
  • Chocolates


Whatever we do, wherever we go, we always wonder: “What if something happens?”. We can feel joy, experience adventure and keep memories from a trip, only if we remain self confident and organized.

  1. Plan your trip diet

Given your personal preferences, you may get used to preparing in advance airtight pachages of healthy foods you love and satisfy your appetite, (ex. a combination of healthy carbohydrates, proteins and fat). Some suggestions could be homemade salads (especially fruit salads), sandwitches with Grecian Living gluten free bread and Grecian Living gluten free biscuits with chocolate.

  1. Pack a variety of snacks

Fruits such as apples, bananas and oranges are remarkably well preserved throughout your journey. Just Grecian Living muesli or mixed with fresh fruit and nuts may satisfy you.

  1. Ask your airline for a gluten-free meal

At 30,000 feet your choices are extremely limited, so provide for your meal, ordering it at the airline, easily, through its website. Good to know: special meals must be ordered at least 48 hours before flight.

  1. Learn dietary keywords in the language spoken in the country you are traveling to

Before your trip do a little research about dietary keywords in the language spoken in the country you are travelling to, thus ensuring a better communication and avoiding misunderstandings.

  1. Use restaurant vocabulary

While in your native language saying “I am a celiac” or “I am on a gluten free diet” you can be perfectly understood, in a foreign language you might not. This could be a problem every time you talk with people who serve you. Therefore, you may try to be more specific mentionning the ingredients you do not eat, ex. “I am allergic in gluten which is found in wheat, barley, rye. Are these included in the meal I asked for?” This approach will help you more.

  1. Remember to bring herbal teas with you

While being on a trip, herbal teas may help in case you feel sick. For example, mountain tea is suggested for digestive problems while mint tea to boost the immune system, help digestion and reduce possible inflammation; also a chamomile tea reduces stress and boosts the immune system helping sleep. Nature’s pharmacy can be a close ally of you allowing to better enjoy your trip.

  1. Customs regulations

To get information about customs regulations in the country you are travelling to, earlier than your departure date, might help you to avoid surprises, in case you want to carry your beloved snacks.

  1. Search for equipped accommodation

To meet your dietary needs, look for hotels providing with the necessary equipment, such as a mini fridge or microwave.

  1. Trip planning

In any of your trip, if you prefer to visit and know well only two or three cities, you will have enaugh time to find out restaurants offering gluten free meals and, propably, local cuisine gluten free dishes. In this way you will enjoy your vacation avoiding hasty meals likely to contain gluten.

  1. Find out where to find Grecian Living products

Visit Grecian Living website to find supermarkets and restaurants offering Grecian Living products.

Gluten Free<br><em>Travel Free</em>