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Staying Healthy with Celiac Disease
Foods like pizza, crackers, pasta, or bread typically contain a substance known as gluten. This substance is a protein commonly found in grains that are very popular in modern diets. Some people may experience a condition known as celiac disease, in which the body’s digestive system has a difficult time processing gluten. When this happens, the intestines react to the consumed gluten and cause irritation and other painful symptoms because they cannot absorb the nutrients correctly. For those suffering from celiac disease, it’s important to understand how to avoid dealing with these symptoms and what they can do to make their eating habits more tolerable and healthy.
For those who have been diagnosed with celiac disease, when they eat gluten, the body’s immune system reacts to the protein and causes the villi in the small intestine to become damaged. When this happens, they are unable to absorb essential nutrients in order to stay healthy. As a result, they run the risk of becoming malnourished and may even be at risk for osteoporosis, which can cause the bones to become brittle. Without the ability to absorb these key nutrients, they can also feel fatigued, experience weight loss, and could even be prone to developing more serious problems like thyroid disease or type 1 diabetes. If someone has been diagnosed with celiac disease, it’s extremely important that they only consume foods that do not contain gluten.
Learning Which Foods Contain Gluten
Most foods that are mass-produced will indicate if they contain gluten on the label, so it’s important to read all food labels before consumption. A good rule of thumb is that most pasta, bread, crackers, and baked goods contain gluten unless they are labeled gluten-free. Thankfully, more food manufacturers are now producing foods that do not contain gluten so that people with celiac disease can enjoy things like bagels or breads without the risk of side effects. Always check for foods that do not contain gluten, and try to eat natural food like fruits and vegetables as well as proteins such as fish or chicken. When eating meat, be sure that it is not breaded to avoid a potential source of gluten. Keeping a list of foods that are gluten-free may help someone to shop for groceries or go out to dinner more easily.
Learning About Gluten Contamination
If someone has celiac disease, it’s very important to avoid cross-contamination with foods that may have come in contact with gluten. If you dip a knife into a jelly jar, for example, there may be breadcrumbs left over from a previous knife that could get into your food. Try to use condiments with a fresh knife each time, and choose versions that come in a squeeze bottle rather than a screw top. Check to see if the gluten-free foods you purchase are made in a facility that’s completely separate from foods that contain gluten. Keep all of your utensils and work surfaces at home clean so you can avoid the possibility of cross-contamination, and when in doubt, ask restaurants about their food’s gluten content. Many restaurants now offer menu items specifically for people who are avoiding gluten.
Finding Alternatives to Gluten
In order to be completely sure you’re not consuming foods that contain gluten, adopt a new diet that includes food you know you can eat safely. Try to stick to whole foods like proteins in the form of fresh meat as well as fruits and veggies. There are plenty of excellent gluten-free foods sold today, and many can be found at your local grocery store or health food store as well as online. Even breweries have now begun to process beer that is gluten-free. Create a comprehensive list of the foods you know you can eat and try to stick to them as often as possible. Do some research to find out which companies process the purest forms of gluten-free crackers, cookies, cereals, and other items. With a little bit of menu planning, you should be able to eat a healthy diet without the worry of gluten consumption.
Finding Support Groups
Because celiac disease is becoming more widely known, there are plenty of ways you can find support to help you deal with this disease. Look for local support groups where other sufferers meet and talk about their current conditions. The Internet is also a great place to find message boards and support groups where you can talk with people from all over the world and have your questions answered. There have been many books published about the effects of gluten and celiac disease, so find a few resources to read that can help you learn more about how to cope. Look for national celiac organizations that give help and hope to those who are dealing with the disease, and never be afraid to reach out for support, information, or help. With a few dietary changes, you should be able to live with celiac disease and enjoy a flavorful and delicious diet without consuming gluten.
- All About Celiac Disease (PDF): This helpful brochure provides thorough information about celiac disease for patients.
- Diagram of Celiac Disease Effects on the Small Intestine: This illustration shows the difference between a normal intestine and one with celiac disease.
- Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Disease: This article explains more about gluten sensitivity and what it can feel like for those who deal with it.
- Celiac Disease Facts and Figures (PDF): Read here for some interesting statistics about celiac disease.
- Gluten-Free Crazy Boon and Bane for Those With Celiac Disease: An NPR report looks at how the trendiness of gluten-free diets leads to celiac disease not always being taken seriously.
- Celiac Disease and Safe Grains: This comprehensive article discusses the various grains that can affect celiac disease and which ones may be safe to consume.
- Celiac Disease: WebMD discusses the causes, symptoms, and treatments for this disease here.
- Against the Grain: An in-depth article from The New Yorker probes the many possible causes of celiac symptoms, from gluten to complex carbohydrates, along with the growing incidence of the disease.
- Living With Celiac Disease: Here are a few helpful tips to make life easier when dealing with celiac disease.
- Gluten-Free Food Choices: This page provides a list of several foods you can eat that do not contain gluten.
- Gluten-Free Diets: What Do I Eat Now? (PDF): Print these handy pages for a quick reference of foods to eat and ones to avoid.
- What Is a Gluten-Free Diet?: Read this article to learn more about having a gluten-free diet.
- Managing Your Diet: This article discusses how to eat well without gluten and ways to manage celiac disease.
- How to Bake With Sorghum Flour: You can bake your favorite foods using sorghum flour, a substance that does not contain gluten.
- What Is Celiac Disease? The Celiac Disease Foundation gives a clear definition of this illness.
- Six Truths About a Gluten-Free Diet: This website has a helpful video and article to assist you in purchasing the best gluten-free foods available.
- Symptoms of Celiac Disease, Wheat Allergy, and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity: Read here for a list of symptoms to help you determine if you are sensitive to gluten or if you may have celiac disease.
- Facts About Celiac Disease: Get the facts about celiac disease, risk factors, symptoms, and treatment here.
- Wheat and Gluten Allergies: Read here to learn more about wheat and gluten allergies.
- Are You Gluten-Sensitive? This article can help you determine if you’re dealing with a sensitivity to gluten.
- Five Warning Signs of Gluten Intolerance: Take a look at these five common warning signs that could indicate that you are gluten intolerant.
- What Foods Have Gluten? This list of foods can help you easily spot the foods that most commonly contain gluten.
- Gluten-Free Diet: Safe Foods and Foods to Avoid: Use the information on this site to help you read labels more carefully when looking for gluten-free foods.
- The Lymphoma Connection: This article discusses the possible risk of lymphoma in people who have experienced intestinal damage from celiac disease.
- About Celiac Disease: Read this article for thorough scientific information about celiac disease and gluten intolerance.
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