Monday, June 20, 2011

Gluten-Free Diet For Celiac Sufferers: Suffer No More!

Here’s a very interesting statistic: one out of every 133 people in the United States has celiac disease! This amounts to about 2 million people, and probably more! Celiac disease is very difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can be very similar to other physical problems like irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal infections, and chronic fatigue syndrome, which means that many people have celiac disease and don’t realize it, thinking that their discomfort is symptomatic of something else.

What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is when the body is unable to tolerate gluten, a substance that is found in many, many foods and in fact is often hidden in other everyday products like vitamins, lip balms, and medications. Gluten is a common protein in wheat, rye, and barley, which usually form a general part of our daily diets.

Gluten intolerance causes interference with absorption of nutrients in the small intestine. Gluten intolerance or celiac disease creates a signal for the immune system to destroy what is called the “villi,” tiny hair-like elements lining the small intestine that help pass nutrients through the walls of the small intestine into the bloodstream. When the villi are destroyed, we can’t get the essential elements we need to stay healthy, no matter how much food we consume.

Celiac disease often is genetic, but it can also be triggered by strong conditions that occur in the body like viral infections, severe emotional stress, surgery, pregnancy and childbirth, and the like.

Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance
Gluten intolerance can affect people differently. Here is a list of some symptoms that can show up:
• Abdominal bloating
• Abdominal pain
• Chronic diarrhea
• Constipation
• Vomiting
• Weight loss
• Bad smelling bowel movements
• Pale and fatty bowel movements
• Fatigue
• Iron deficiency anemia
• Irritability, depression, anxiety, mood swings
• Bone and/or joint pain
• Bone loss or osteoporosis
• Arthritis
• Tingling numbness in the hands and feet
• Seizures
• Missed menstrual periods
• Infertility or recurring miscarriages
• Canker sores inside the mouth
• Itchy skin, rashes, dermatitis

Discovering Glucose Intolerance
Celiac disease is often found in people who have Down or Turner Syndrome as well as those with Type 1 diabetes, autoimmune thyroid disease, autoimmune liver disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and Addison’s disease. It is important to be tested if you seem to have any of the chronic symptoms listed above as ignoring celiac disease can lead to malnutrition and eventually to more serious conditions that are harder to treat.

You can find out if you have celiac disease through being tested for high levels of TGA (transglutaminase antibodies) or EMA (anti-endomysium antibodies). If you have celiac disease, these antibodies will be present, preventing the absorption of essential nutrients from the foods you eat.

Treating Celiac Disease Easily
If you have celiac disease, you need to eat a gluten-free diet, which is not hard to do with just a little research and a change of habit. A gluten-free diet is also essential if you have a wheat allergy, which many people have without realizing it.

Foods to Avoid
There are several foods containing gluten that are obvious and easy to pick out. They include:

• Wheat
• Rye
• Barley
• Spelt
• Wheat germ
• Wheat bran
• White flour
• Graham flour
• Semolina
• Farina

But gluten creeps in to many other foods, especially processed goods where it is not so evident. For this reason you have to READ THE LABELS to familiarize yourself with those products that contain hidden sources of gluten.

Here is a partial list of other foods to avoid:

• Modified food starch
• Preservatives and stabilizers made with wheat
• Corn and rice products made in factories that also manufacture wheat products (contamination by proxy!)
• Bouillon cubes
• Brown rice syrup
• Candy
• Chips
• Wafers
• Matzo
• Rice mixes

• Cold cuts and other processed foods
• Sauces
• Cheese spreads
• Commercially packaged soups
• Self basting turkey

These days products for celiacs are labeled “gluten free.” Health food stores are a good source as they provide many more options for packaged goods if you don’t have the time to make your recipes from scratch.

Acceptable Foods for Celiacs
There is actually an enormous range of food you can eat if you suffer from celiac disease. The best choice is always fresh, unprocessed foods that include fresh, organic fruits and vegetables that help to cleanse and detoxify the body while adding easily digested anti-oxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Dried fruit is also a good option. Organic meats and poultry and wild (not farmed) fish will provide you with essential protein, with fish giving you doses of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids so necessary for immune and brain function.

Here is a short list of some other foods that work well for those with gluten intolerance:

• Potato
• Rice (including rice noodles to replace wheat or semolina pasta)
• Quinoa
• Soy
• Amaranth
• Buckwheat
• Teff (and all flours made with the above)
• Arrowroot
• Yeast
• Bicarbonate of soda
• Any gluten-free bread or pasta
• Nuts
• Flax seeds
• Eggs
• Yoghurt
• Dried beans
• Peas
• Pulses
• Organic oats
• Cider and cider vinegar
• Wine vinegar
• Distilled Vinegar
• Vegetable oils such as sunflower and olive
• Honey
• Molasses

Alcohol and Celiac Disease
Gluten-free beer is becoming more available in the marketplace. This is made from sorghum, millet, rice, or buckwheat, which are all tolerable to those with gluten intolerance. Again, read your labels carefully, as most beer is made with barley, which contains “hordein.” Hordein is very similar to a substance found in wheat and can cause the same negative reaction for those with gluten intolerance. Most gluten-free beer should have a label saying so. Wine is also another perfectly good option for enjoying your candlelight gluten-free dinners!

The Healthiest Diet
Once you get used to a gluten-free diet, you’ll find that it is actually one of the healthiest ways to eat. You will have eliminated all processed foods as well as wheat and will find that your energy levels will soar as your immune system strengthens. Keep your meals balanced with carbohydrates, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals and you will have no problems with digestion or nutrient absorption.

By reading labels carefully and buying only Gluten Free products, you can eliminate negative symptoms and get your system back on track again.

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