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Gluten Free

Celiac Disease and a Gluten Free Diet

A gluten free diet consist of a diet excluding the protein gluten, which is found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. Thought gluten is found mainly in foods, it can also be found in everyday products such as medicines, vitamins, and lip balms. The majority of people who are on a gluten free diet are people who are diagnosed with celiac disease. Gluten causes a problematic immune reaction in the small intestine in people who have celiac disease. The reaction results in damage to the inner surface of the small intestine and an inability to absorb certain nutrients from food.

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When people with celiac disease consume foods or use products that contain gluten, their immune system responds by damaging or destroying villi, which are the tiny, fingerlike protrusions lining the small intestine. In a person without celiac disease, villi allow nutrients from food to be absorbed through the walls of the small intestine into the bloodstream. Without healthy villi, a person will become malnourished, no matter how much food one eats.

Gluten Free Celiac disease is both a disease of malabsorption, which means nutrients are not absorbed properly, and an abnormal immune reaction to gluten. Celiac disease is genetic, meaning it runs in families. Symptoms vary from person to person with celiac disease. Symptoms can occur in the digestive system or in other parts of the body. Many adults have the disease for a decade or more before they are diagnosed. The longer a person goes undiagnosed and untreated, the greater the chance becomes of developing long-term complications.

There is only one treatment for celiac disease which is a gluten free diet. For most people, following a strict gluten-free diet will stop symptoms, heal existing intestinal damage, and prevent further damage. Improvement begins within days of starting the diet. The small intestine usually heals in 3 to 6 months in children but may take several years in adults due to eating the wrong foods for a long period of time. It is important to stay on a strict gluten-free diet so that the intestine can heal and villi can get back to absorbing nutrients from food into the bloodstream.

To stay well, people with celiac disease must avoid gluten for the rest of their lives. Eating even a small amount of gluten can damage the small intestine and cause the person to become sick. The damage will occur in anyone with the disease, including people without noticeable symptoms. Depending on a person's age at diagnosis, some problems will not improve, such as short stature and dental enamel defects.

The success rate for recovery of people on a gluten free diet is between fifty and ninety percent after the implementation of the diet, which proves it is obviously worth it to try to eliminate gluten from your diet, even if you only suspect your are gluten intolerant. However, it is best to get tested for celiac disease before starting the diet because you could get false results due to the fact you have not consumed any gluten in your diet.

The Gluten Free Diet

A gluten free diet consists of not eating any foods that contain any amount of wheat, rye and barley. Any food or products made using these grains should be avoided, even small traces of the grains can make someone who has celiac disease sick. In other words, a person with celiac disease should not consume grain, pasta, cereal containing those three grains as well as many processed foods.

Despite these restrictions, people with celiac disease can eat a well-balanced diet with a variety of foods. There are many options available to eat and there are increasingly new gluten-free products becoming available. To replace flour, you can use use potato, rice, soy, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat or bean flours instead. There are also many gluten free breads, pastas and other products available at many stores that carry organic foods or other dietary foods.

Always a safe choice to eat are fruits & vegetables, as well as rice, fish and most meats, assuming the animal the meat comes from did not consume gluten. In the past, people with celiac disease were advised not to eat oats. New evidence suggests that most people can safely eat small amounts of oats, as long as the oats are not contaminated with wheat gluten during processing, while some people with celiac disease indicate that they can tolerate small amounts of oats without experiencing symptoms, many people still have problems with oats. People with celiac disease should work closely with their doctor when deciding whether to include oats in their diet or simply try eating them and see how they affect you.

The gluten free diet requires requires many sacrifices and carefully reading all ingredients in everything that you eat. Eating out can be a big challenge to those on a gluten free diet. When in doubt about a menu item, a person with celiac disease should always ask the waiter or chef about ingredients and preparation or if a gluten-free menu is available.

Gluten is also in many things other than just food, gluten is used in some medications. People with celiac disease should ask a pharmacist if prescribed medications contain wheat. Because gluten is sometimes used as an additive in unexpected products, such as lipstick and play dough, reading product labels is always important. If the ingredients are not listed on the label, the manufacturer should provide a list upon request. With practice, screening for gluten becomes second nature.

A side benefit of a gluten free diet is that the majority of the foods that are gluten-free are foods you should already be eating for the healthier diet, whether or not you have food allergies.

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A Quick List Of Non Gluten Free Foods

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Farina
  • Graham flour
  • Semolina
  • Durham
  • Bulgur
  • Kamut
  • Kasha
  • Matzo meal
  • Triticale
  • Breads
  • Cereals
  • Crackers
  • Croutons
  • Pasta
  • Cookies
  • Cakes and pies
  • Soups
  • Gravies
  • Sauces (including soy sauce)
  • Salad dressings
  • Beer
  • Candy
  • Imitation meat or seafood
  • Processed luncheon meats
  • Self-basting poultry

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