While giving a Weight Management Class I was asked regarding my view on the Gluten Free Diet. I in term responded, “it is an absolute necessity for individuals diagnosed with Celiac Disease”. I also added, there are those who have chosen to follow the diet without being diagnosed with Celiac, however, there is no scientific evidence to support the benefits of following a Gluten Free diet other than for Celiac Disease.
I would like to take this time to explain about Celiac especially for those who have relatives with this condition. Celiac is a hereditary autoimmune disease of the intestine. People with celiac experience severe diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, cramping and bloating whenever they ingest anything that contains wheat, rye, malt or barley (even the crumbs). In the past, oats were considered to also be harmful so I am adding Oats to the mix as well. The body literally starts to attack it very own intestinal lining when any food containing these grains are consumed. If the conditions go untreated complications such as bone disease, and the inability to absorb nutrients usually occur.
When we think of wheat, barley, rye, malt and oats, what does these grains contain to causes the body to start attacking itself? It is the protein portion of these grains known as Gluten which devastatingly affects the intestines. Consequently, the primary treatment for Celiac Disease is the complete elimination of Gluten from the diet, which allows the intestines time to heal, as well as prevents the attacks from occurring.
It is important to be aware of what foods contain wheat, barley, rye, malt, and oats. Many of these ingredients are found in food products such as flours, bread products, pasta, breakfast cereals, cakes and cookies, which means individuals with Celiac must become informed ingredient label readers. Always look for gluten-free products, and choosing foods made with alternative plant foods, such as amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, rice, or corn which provide reliable sources of fiber, iron and some B-vitamins. I always try to encourage the selection of foods made with enriched rice, corn, legumes, nuts, potatoes, flax, soy, tapioca, wild rice, tiff, sorghum. Meats, dairy, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds are all acceptable. The diet is only restricted to Gluten containing grains.
Are you living the Gluten Free Life, if so my question to you is why? If you are experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms after consuming Gluten products please to talk with your health care provider to be tested for Celiac. Other Gastrointestinal (G I) disorders that present with similar symptoms as Celiac are: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), colitis, Cohn’s disease, and, diverticular disease. These G I diseases also present with some form of diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, bloating, constipation which may be mistaken as Celiac disease.
Please note Celiac disease is a serious condition that must be diagnosed and monitored due to the seriousness of the side effects it presents on the body. The Gluten Free Diet is exclusive to those diagnosed with Celiac, it is not intended to be used as one of the many “Diet Crazes” we observe. I have encounter several individuals (not diagnosed with Celiac) following the Gluten Free Diet because they state it makes them feel better. As stated there is no sound scientific bases for the use of this diet outside of Celiac. However, we are free to choose what goes into our bodies, Gluten Free Diets will not harm you by any means.
So, I ask you, are you really living the Gluten Free Life?