Although gluten-free is a great diet trend that some are now following, for others following a gluten-free diet is essential for their health. This is due to the fact that celiac disease can negatively affect the body when gluten is ingested. For those with celiac disease, a celiac-friendly diet can mean the difference between pain and discomfort and increased quality of life.
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that can seriously damage someone's internal organs. Celiac disease occurs when someone's immune system is triggered by the ingestion of gluten, leading to an immune response in the small intestine. In this sense, celiac disease behaves much like an allergy to gluten, although with some serious damaging side effects.
Over time, the continuous response to gluten leads to damage in the small intestine lining. This can then prevent the small intestine from absorbing nutrients, also known as malabsorption.
Signs and Symptoms
Some people with celiac disease won't know until they've already experienced damage to their small intestine.
Celiac disease can have symptoms including:
Celiac Treatment and Diet
The treatment for celiac disease is a major change in diet and lifestyle. A celiac-friendly diet consists of eating gluten-free foods to prevent the autoimmune trigger of celiac disease. These include eating everyday foods like:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Fish and seafood
- Beans and legumes
Although it doesn't seem like it, many grains are naturally gluten-free and can be readily enjoyed by people with celiac disease. These include:
- Flax seeds
Beverages are also mostly gluten-free, including sodas and juices. Wine is also considered gluten-free, especially wine that has been fermented in barrels lined with wheat paste. Beer lovers can also enjoy several gluten-free beer brands.
Whatever foods someone chooses to ingest, it's important to first research whether it is gluten-free, or less than 20 parts per million of gluten according to the FDA standard.
People with Celiac disease should avoid foods that include:
- Rye or wheat
- Gram flour
A quick internet search can lead to online recipes that can help you or a loved one follow a celiac-friendly diet. Some great resources are the Celiac Disease Foundation and the National Celiac Association.
The bottom line is this: if it has gluten or if you're unsure whether a portion of food has gluten, avoid it! Luckily, there are many brands of foods that are gluten-free, and everyday foods can be delicious and still be part of a celiac-friendly diet.