[widget id=”ad_unit-350545263″]Ad Widget: Gluten Free – 468×60 Banner[/widget]If you have just been diagnosed with celiac disease or have a family member who’s suffering from the condition, you probably know what gluten-free diet is all about. If you have not heard of such health affliction, however, you’re probably asking, “What is gluten-free diet”, or better yet, “What is celiac disease in the first place?” Well, this article intends to answer these two questions and more. But first, let’s try to understand what celiac disease is, the symptoms associated with it, the diagnostic procedures needed to identify its presence, and of course, the recommended cure for the condition.
Celiac disease, which is usually spoken about in terms of food intolerances and food allergies, is actually an auto-immune disease. Although the most common symptoms are digestive in nature, technically, celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that is triggered and precipitated by the ingestion of a protein known as gluten. Gluten is largely found in wheat, rye, barley, and other grains. For individuals with celiac disease, eating foods rich in gluten or that have traces of it has a life-long debilitating effect on the small intestine. Medical experts researching about the condition believe that the disease may affect as many as 1 person in every 100, with the majority left undiagnosed.
The symptoms of celiac disease are often confused with those of irritable bowel syndrome (IBM) and can include diarrhea, anemia, weight loss, and easy fatigability. Other signs may also include infertility, unexplained abdominal cramps, numbness of the hands and feet, and a general feeling of being unwell. These presentations can occur together or separately and may range from mild to severe. Stressful events such as surgeries, accidents, intestinal infections, or pregnancy can trigger the onset of this illness.
If you are experiencing some of the symptoms of celiac disease, it is recommended that you make an appointment with your physician for further investigation. Various blood tests are now being used to help screen for the disorder. The self-testing kits launched in the UK can be useful but are not 100 percent accurate. A specialized doctor known as a gastroenterologist can confirm the presence of celiac disease by performing an intestinal biopsy via a procedure known as endoscopy. Here, a tiny portion of the intestinal lining is taken and the hair-like structures known as villi are examined under a microscope. In order for the biopsy to yield accurate results, it is important to remain on a gluten-containing diet prior to the procedure.
Until now, there is no miracle treatment for celiac disease. The only safe and effective therapy is a gluten-free diet for life. But then again, exactly what is gluten free diet and how important is it for celiac sufferers to adhere to it?
In its most basic sense, gluten-free diet is a diet that requires the exclusion of all gluten-containing products, such as wheat, rye, and barley. Fortunately, there are plenty of foods that are naturally free of gluten. Fresh meat, poultry, fish, fruits, and vegetables are all gluten-free. Most types of milk and dairy items are gluten-free including milk, cheese, margarine, eggs, butter and yogurt. Additionally, nuts, wine, tea, coffee, and fruit juices are all safe to consume as well. Breakfast cereals, crackers, and pasta made from rice and corn are likewise acceptable.
On the other hand, all food products made from wheat, rye, barley, and their flours must be avoided. Read the package labels of bread, cakes, biscuits and pasta before consuming as most of these products are made from these grains. Also, remember that the majority of manufactured and processed foods contain gluten. Hotdogs, sausages, burgers, processed meat, and instant meals (especially those with sauces and gravies) should be avoided. Be careful when buying chicken nuggets and other breaded and battered fish and meat. The terms “breaded” and “battered” are already warning signs that the product contains wheat. Beverages like carbonated drinks, herbal tea, milkshakes, malted milk drinks, barley water, and beer all contain gluten and must be excluded from the diet. When it comes to medicines, it’s always a good idea to check with your pharmacist if the medicine does not contain gluten. This includes vitamins, minerals as well as supplements too.
To help make the gluten-free diet easier to comply with, there are now a lot of gluten-free foods available in the market. Specially made gluten-free products such as breads, breakfast cereals, flour mixes, pizza, cakes, muffins, pasta, and biscuits have been developed to cater to the needs of celiac sufferers. Now, gluten-free diet doesn’t have to be boring because many food manufacturers and companies offer a huge range of gluten-free products all over the country.
Adhering to a gluten-free diet is very crucial in the recovery of the damaged intestines and prevention of symptom reoccurrence. Following a gluten-free diet is needed by celiac victims to ensure long-term health and well-being.
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