Gluten allergy means intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat and some other grains. The only way to treat it is to remove all gluten from your diet effectively. Fortunately, gluten free bread and other foods are widely available today.
How to Find Gluten-Free Bread
Typical celiac disease symptoms include constipation, diarrhea, bloating and weight loss. If the allergy is left undiagnosed, the problems can get more serious as celiac disease also affects the absorption of nutrients from food. Some celiac patients suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies. If your diet does not contain enough iron (and since celiac disease affects the absorption of iron from food) the condition can lead to anemia. Problems with the absorption of calcium can eventually lead to osteoporosis. Other symptoms include mouth ulcers, skin rashes, tiredness and psychological symptoms, such as depression.
To find out if you are gluten intolerant you will need to visit a doctor for a series of tests. If the results confirm that you have gluten allergy, you will need to remove all gluten from your diet. This can at first seem impossible as so many foods contain this protein. Gluten allergy is sometimes confused with wheat allergy, but although wheat contains gluten, there are other grains you should to avoid too. Spelt, rye and barley all contain gluten, and some gluten-intolerant people are also allergic to porridge oats.
Breads, cakes and cookies, pizza, pasta and breakfast cereals are the most obvious foods that can trigger your allergy but there are many more. Some tinned soups, packaged meals and microwaveable ready meals contain gluten, and it can also be found in many sauces and condiments. Foods you can eat include all fruit and vegetables, rice, pulses (lentils and beans), eggs, all types of meat and fish, milk, cheese and other dairy products, nuts and seeds and some soy products (although always check the ingredients to find out if gluten has been used in the production).
Making Your Own Gluten Free Bread
Many supermarkets and food stores now stock gluten free bread and gluten free foods. If you would like to bake your own bread, gluten free flour mixes are available from health food stores and from many large supermarkets. The easiest way to find a gluten free bread recipe is to go online. Several books have been written about maintaining a gluten free diet and most of these contain a range of gluten free recipes. Gluten free bread machine recipes are widely available online and in books.
Once you get used to baking without wheat flour, and as you get used to the flavor of gluten free bread, you can start to experiment with different types of flour. Corn flour and cornmeal, bean and nut flours, brown and white rice, soy and tapioca flour are some examples of gluten-free flours suitable for baking. Try mixing 6 cups of white rice flour with a cup of tapioca flour and 2 cups of potato starch to create your own mix. You may also need to add gluten substitutes to cookie and cake recipes as gluten prevents pies, pastries and cakes from crumbling and gives them elasticity. Good substitutes include guar gum and xanthan gum.
Once you have removed all gluten-rich foods from your daily diet, the symptoms can disappear completely. To stay healthy and to keep the symptoms away you need to continue on a gluten-free program. Most celiac patients can control their symptoms with diet and can make a full recovery. Gluten free bread and other foods are so widely available today that keeping a healthy and varied diet is easier than ever before.