Living Gluten Free
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet while living with Celiac disease can be done! Diagnosing the disease early is key as Celiac disease can cause serious health conditions such as osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, poor absorption of vital nutrients, and severe inflammation. One percent of the U.S. population is known to have celiac disease, and it’s estimated that 30-50% of the population may be gluten sensitive. If you experience these symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, or diarrhea after eating gluten, and you are unsure if you truly have Celiac disease, make sure to see your doctor and get tested. You can also adjust your diet right away as it will pay itself forward to a healthier life in the long run.
Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and some oats. Gluten gives these foods its doughy elastic texture. Think of it as the glue that holds the dough together and gives it that chewy consistency. As explained by Alessio Fasano, MD, who directs the Center for Celiac Research at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston: “Unlike other proteins, we don’t digest gluten completely. In some people, the immune system sees gluten as the enemy and will unleash weapons to attack it, causing inflammation in the intestines as well as in other organs and tissues.”
Several years ago it was difficult to find foods that omitted gluten; however, grocers are offering more and more gluten free options. Although there are many products accommodating gluten free diets, we must be aware that gluten free is not necessarily healthier than the alternative.
Here are some tips if you have Celiac disease or are gluten sensitive/intolerant:
- Become an expert on reading food labels – you’ll soon know innately what to be watchful for when dining out or traveling. Look for the words: Wheat, Barley, Rye, Wheat protein/hydrolyzed wheat protein, Wheat Starch, Wheat Flour, Bulgur (a form of wheat), Malt (made from barley), and Seitan (made from wheat gluten and commonly used in vegetarian meals).
- When dining out, avoid grains. Order healthy proteins and vegetables, or a burger without the bun! Restaurants are very accommodating so don’t be afraid to ask.
- Be careful at Asian restaurants. Soy Sauce has wheat in it. If you are cooking an Asian dish at home, a great alternative is Tamari (gluten free soy sauce) or Coconut Aminos.
- Be careful of cross contamination. Oats are naturally gluten free, yet many places process their oats in the same facilities as gluten containing grains.
- Say nay to grains in general! If you avoid gluten and grains, your body will thank you as the likelihood of leaky gut and overall inflammation decreases.
- Watch sugar content. Oftentimes food manufacturers add additional sugar to gluten free products to make them taste better. If sugar (in any form, by any name) is listed in the first three ingredients, put the item back on the shelf.
Fact: There are at least 281 symptoms associated with celiac disease, many of which overlap with other conditions and make celiac hard to diagnose. Other common symptoms of the disease include tooth discoloration, anxiety and depression, loss of fertility, and liver disorders. – Mental Floss
Awareness Challenge this week: Even if you have a mild sensitivity to gluten or you are unsure, try eliminating gluten from your diet for 2-3 weeks and see if you notice any changes!
Tune in next time; we’ll talk about Childhood Obesity.
If you need help achieving a healthy gluten free diet, reach out to us at PHD Weight Loss & Nutrition. We will create a customized meal plan for you supporting your unique body and goals!
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“Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better is best.” – St. Jerome
Blog Photo Credit: Charleston Physicians
Cover Photo Credit: Medical Xpress