What is gluten intolerance?
People who have intolerances to gluten often find themselves checking the ingredients label when they go to buy certain products, most notably anything containing wheat, rye or barley.
That's because gluten is a protein found in wheats which can be hard for the body to digest. Celiacs, or sufferers of coeliac disease as it's known, may find themselves experiencing severe abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea, joint and bone pain as well as muscular disturbances.
These symptoms can be unpleasant and last for a long time - anything from a few days to a week in some instances. Therefore, knowing how to avoid foods which cause these allergies to flare up is the best idea and coeliacs often know from experience what foods they can eat and what is a no-go area.
Thankfully there are many gluten-free ranges available which take the task out of searching for gluten-free foods easy.
Many supermarkets now cater to people who have celiac disease and a wide selection of products are available which can take the hassle out of shopping.
How can celiac disease be controlled?
If it's thought that you have celiac disease, a doctor can take a blood test to determine if this is correct. Traditionally anyone who was thought to have celiac disease would've had to see a hospital specialist to have a biopsy of the intestine but nowadays this can be done with a simple blood test instead.
If you are a celiac then while it isn't curable it can be easily controlled by following a gluten free diet which eliminates these protein composites traditionally found in wheat, rye or barley. Getting rid of gluten will also enable the body to absorb food properly again.
While celiac disease isn't curable it can be controlled by allowing the damaged villi which line the small intestine to recover, so that digestion can occur normally and the nutrients in your food can be easily absorbed again. This also means that any associated symptoms of the disease will disappear.
What products can I get gluten free?
You will be surprised at what you can get free of gluten. There's no need to avoid any of your favourite foods as most of them will be there, minus that ingredient!
To give you an insight into the wide range of foods you can enjoy on a gluten-free diet:
Naturally gluten free foods:
- Dairy products
- Fresh fruit and vegetables
- Fresh eggs
- Fresh meat, poultry and fish (without any batter, breadcrumbs or marinade)
- Nuts and seeds as well as beans in their natural form
Foods which are available as gluten free:
- Gluten free beer
- Gluten free banana bread
- French Fries
- Mock seafood or imitation meats
- Processed lunch meats
- Salad dressings
- Sauces as well as soy sauce
- Seasoned snack foods
- Soups their bases
- Seasoned rice mixes
- Vegetables in a sauce
Chat with a dietitian if you have any problems
While being on a gluten free diet is beneficial to reducing the symptoms you may be experiencing, it has other pitfalls too. Gluten free diets can be low in nutrients as grains are often enriched with vitamins.
Check with your dietitian if you are low in any of the following vitamins:
A dietitian will be able to work with you to review your current level of these nutrients and determine how your diet can be improved.
There is plenty of online help for those who want to learn more about the gluten free diet and how it can benefit their health. Even people who aren't celiacs can benefit from going gluten-free as according to research by a panel of celiac experts who met in Oslo in 2011, there are many non-celiacs who have gluten sensitivity.
The number of people estimated to have celiac disease in the USA is 1 in every 105 people according to a report by the National Institute of Health.
All of which means you won't be alone if you do have celiac disease - there is plenty of support out there. It shouldn't affect your life too much so long as you stick to a gluten free diet.
Resources you might want to look into:
- Gluten Free Girl - A plethora of gluten free recipes and food stories for your delight
- Celiac Disease Foundation: Gluten Free Resource Directory - A food directory for everything celiac
- Gluten Free Easy - Gluten facts, news, products etc.
- Punchfork - The top gluten free recipes from various sites, Pinterest style
- Gluten Free Living - Magazine all about how to live gluten free