Celiac disease is a common genetic disorder. About 2 million Americans, children and adults, are affected by this disease. Coping with a disorder that requires a change in diet can be difficult for many people, especially infants and children. A gluten-free diet does not have to be difficult to follow. Using naturally gluten free foods is the only treatment for celiac disease.
Symptoms of celiac disease vary. Some adults experience only vague symptoms. Infants and children exhibit mostly symptoms related to their digestive tracts. Diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and pain are commonly seen in this age group. The symptoms of celiac disease are caused by a family of proteins. These proteins cause an allergic reaction in our body, and triggers an inflammation in the lining of the intestine. Over time, the lining can be destroyed through the constant inflammation. Essential nutrients in our food cannot be absorbed anymore. The proteins in barley, rye, or wheat are the cause. This family of proteins is called gluten.
Adhering to a strict, gluten-free diet may be overwhelming at first. Many wonder if they will be able to eat any of their favorite foods. Even though wheat, rye, barley, as well as gluten containing products have to be permanently banned from the menu, many other options exist.
A Brief Overview of Naturally Gluten Free Foods
Many are shocked about the amount of food they have to discard because it contains gluten. Most, if not all, can be replaced with gluten-free substitutes. The list of naturally gluten free foods is quite extensive.
Vegetables, fruits, meat and poultry, even certain grains are gluten free. Just about any vegetable you can think of is on this “safe”, naturally gluten free foods list. The same holds true for the list of fruits that are safe to eat. Meat and poultry are also safe to consume. The dairy food group excludes butter with additives and blue cheese, but eggs, milk, other cheeses, and unflavored plain yoghurt are allowed in a gluten free diet.
The list of “safe” foods shrinks considerably for grains. Most breads, noodles, and cereals are made from wheat, rye, or barley. Rice and corn products replace the gluten containing staples of a regular diet. Wheat flour for example can be substituted with rice flour or quinoa. Corn flour is a popular substitute in many baking products.
A gluten free diet does not have to be boring or fad. In fact, a whole industry caters to people with celiac disease. Just about every supermarket has a section with gluten free products. Particularly health food stores carry an extensive assortment of products that meet the requirements of a gluten free diet.
Naturally gluten free foods are used in gluten free food recipes. Many traditional recipes have been adjusted to meet the requirements. Cook books are available in many book stores and online. New recipes are listed on a regular basis. A tasty, flavorful meal does not have to contain ingredients from the “forbidden” list of foods.
Adhering to a strict diet has its challenges. Like people who suffer from diabetes, are lactose intolerant, or have another disease that requires a particular diet, most people adjust over time. Many welcome the challenge to create new recipes within the boundaries of their diet restrictions.
It is definitely easier for an adult to adjust. Infants and children, who mostly suffer from digestive symptoms, are not able to understand the ramifications of not following a strict diet. A small amount of gluten can have big, long-lasting consequences. The lining of the intestine will get inflamed. This is very painful and it can take several days to recover. The absorption of essential nutrients is compromised during this time. Adjusting and adhering to a gluten-free diet, with naturally gluten free foods, will minimize the effects of malnutrition and lessen the symptoms of celiac disease.