What you need to know about the gluten-free diet and Celiac disease before getting started it.
SEE ALSO: Gout diet: what to eat and what to avoid
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in certain grains . When consumed, this protein triggers an autoimmune response in individuals who are gluten-intolerant. It’s not fun.
It is present in wheat, barley, and rye. Since these are common grains in a Western European diet, it’s difficult to avoid them without learning a new skill: reading the labels on food products.
There are all sorts of foods with hidden gluten, all of which should be avoided while on a gluten-free diet.
What Is Gluten Intolerance?
Gluten/gliadin is a protein found in wheat and certain other grains like rye and Barley. Oats have a small amount of gluten – some people with gluten sensitivity do okay with oats while others find that they must avoid oats too.
Gluten intolerance comes in three forms: Celiac Disease, non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, and Wheat Allergies .
With Celiac Disease, the proteins in gluten cause the body to release unusual antibodies which eventually wear down the villi (little hairs) that line the intestines.
This is serious because those villi are responsible for processing the nutrients in your food and if they don’t work right, you won’t get the nutrition you need to maintain good health .
Another issue is that undigested gluten may pass through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream. There is a panel of suggested blood tests to check for this but the results are not always conclusive.
The intestines can be biopsied but if you’re not comfortable this you can just focus on removing gluten from your diet to see if and how your health improves.
Non-Celiac Gluten-Sensitivity – If your blood test does not indicate Celiac Disease but your symptoms are relieved by eliminating glutens, you have “Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity” .
Wheat allergies get lumped into gluten sensitivity issues because wheat is the most common source of gluten in the average North American diet.
If you avoid glutens, you’re generally avoiding wheat. People with wheat allergies (rather than gluten intolerance) may be able to eat rye or barley; whereas people with gluten sensitivities won’t be able to eat these grains.
Gluten sensitivity symptoms can vary widely but common symptoms include:
* Weight loss
* Mild weakness
* Bone Pain
* Nutrient deficiencies
* Some (like my daughter) will have a very itchy skin rash called Dermatitis Herpetiformis.
Gluten Free Diet Weight Loss
A weight loss plan which uses a gluten-free diet is a program which includes only natural whole foods that will help you lose weight and get healthy again by eliminating all gluten.
You will be eating delicious meals which include fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs and meats cooked in healthy oils.
Many people are allergic to gluten and are looking for a weight loss program using a gluten-free diet.
Gluten is one of the proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley. Oats have also been found to be troublesome to those allergic to gluten.
Some symptoms of gluten allergies are gas, bloating, feeling very tired and weak.
If you suffer from these symptoms, you should try eliminating all gluten from your diet to see if it helps.
Even if you aren’t allergic to gluten, it is easier to lose weight and is better for your health if you don’t include it in your diet.
For those people with gluten allergies or celiac disease, eating gluten can cause intestinal damage. Using a gluten-free diet makes losing weight very easy.
Many of the processed foods such as cakes, cookies, and bread contain gluten. When these are avoided and replaced with nutritious whole foods, the fat will start to melt off.
Weight loss with a gluten-free diet is possible when you eliminate all processed foods and eat only organic fruits and vegetables and grass-fed meats.
Your body is filled with chemicals, growth hormones and pesticides from non-organic fruits and vegetables and meats.
When you follow an organic gluten free diet weight loss plan, you will feel and look better very quickly as your body rids itself of these chemicals.
Foods To Eat For Gluten Free Diet Weight Loss
The best foods to eat on a gluten free diet are whole natural foods . Eat only real foods that are grown naturally and don’t contain chemicals, additives or pesticides.
These can cause weight gain, hormone and brain chemistry imbalance, cancer and many digestive problems.
When you switch to organic foods with no chemicals, you will start losing weight and feeling more energetic very quickly.
Your body will begin to rid itself of these dangerous additives and your health and vitality will return.
Most grocery stores and all health foods stores carry gluten-free foods which are usually made with rice or potato flour instead of wheat.
The problem is that many of these are still dangerous processed foods with chemicals in them.
They can cause weight gain and health problems. These are not the foods to eat when you’ve planned to go gluten-free. Stick with nutritionally superior whole foods which will improve your health.
Be Aware Of Hidden Sources of Gluten
If you have celiac disease, you know that you have to make sure that your food doesn’t come into contact with gluten at all.
If you touch a gluten-containing food, you must wash your hands with soap and water before eating your own gluten-free food, or you can get a reaction just from the residue on your hands.
The fact that a reaction can happen with such minimal ingestion is the reason that inedible products can also cause a reaction.
Whether a certain type of gluten-containing inedible product will cause a reaction depends on your lifestyle, your activities of daily living and your personal habits. It is up to each person to determine if a type of product may pose a risk.
Most people with celiac disease do not get a reaction from merely touching gluten. The reaction generally happens when the residue on your hands makes its way onto your lips or into your mouth. This can be easier than you might think.
Unfortunately, inedible products don’t have the same labeling laws and restrictions. Sometimes a product will have gluten in it, but it won’t be labeled as such.
Many manufacturers simply don’t have the ability to fully verify all of their ingredients because one ingredient can come from several sources.
Inedible products can sometimes be the culprits in a “mystery glutening”, a glutening (reaction) where the source has been difficult to identify.
If you believe that you may be getting glutened by an inedible product, and the manufacturers of the suspected products aren’t able to confirm whether or not they have gluten in it, you’re going to have to do some detective work.
You can get some good advice and information on inedible products at online celiac support groups.
Many times, a quick search of the message board archives can produce quite a bit of information on the specific brands and items you’re concerned about.
If nobody has any experience with the products you’re concerned about, you can do one of two things – switch to products that are trusted to be gluten-free by others in the celiac community, or, after not using the products for a period of time, reintroduce them one by one to determine which one is causing a reaction.
Individual products should be reintroduced several days apart from each other because reactions can sometimes take a few days to manifest.
What Products Are Hidden Sources of Gluten?
Hair Care Products
There are many ways to get glutened by inedible products. Unfortunately, a majority of hair care products contain gluten.
In the case of shampoos and conditioners, many people believe that any gluten in the product will not get into their mouths because they don’t allow the rinse water to run down their faces.
However, the mist-like spray that comes back to the face off of the shower wall or shower curtain can land on the lips and be licked off.
Most of the time you don’t even realize you’re doing this. Pay attention to this the next time you shower, and see if it’s true for you.
Cosmetics, especially lipsticks, lip balms, nail polish and artificial nails, can also be a source of glutening.
The more obvious source is lip balms and lipsticks. If either of these products contains gluten, any time you lick your lips, drink or eat, a small amount of the lip balm or lipstick is ingested.
Nail polishes and artificial nail products can be a source of gluten if you touch your food, during preparation or eating, with your hands.
Foundations, powders, blushes, and bronzers can settle on your lips during application.
They also can be a source of gluten if you absent-mindedly touch your face and then forget to wash your hands before eating.
Precautions To Take With Hidden Sources Of Gluten
Washing your hands with confirmed gluten-free soap and water before you eat, and getting into the habit of not touching your lips or mouth with your hands may help keep you from being glutened in this manner.
In the case of pet food, especially dry pet food and treats, many of them contain gluten. You would need to use the same precautions you would use in handling any other type of gluten-containing food.
How to read labels for hidden gluten
Wheat contains gluten
The proteins in wheat are called gliadin and gluten. Wheat can be found in “graham flour”, “farina”, “matzo”, “seitan” (“wheat meat”), wheat berries, wheat germ, wheat grass, wheat gluten, wheat nut, wheat starch.
Wheat is one of the major allergens and will usually warrant a special label. Watch for it.
Types of wheat:
Barley contains gluten
The protein in barley is called hordein. Barley is present in many foods under the labels of “malt”, “flavorings”, and “colorings”.
Barley is not a major allergen so it may not be given any special attention on the ingredients list. So be sure to read carefully.
Rye contains gluten
The protein in rye is called secalin. Rye is commonly fermented for many types of alcohol. Rye is not a major allergen so you’ll need to read carefully to find it.
Rye bread normally contains a large amount of wheat, by the way.
Oats may or may not contain gluten
The protein in oats is called avenin. Oats are found in oat bran, oat fiber, and oat gum.
Officially oats are gluten-free. However, 10% of all people who are gluten intolerant react to them because the proteins are very similar.
Most avoid eating them because most oats (gluten-free or not) are heavily cross-contaminated with wheat.
There are special gluten-free oats available if you would like to test your reaction to them.
Celiac Disease Tips
Are your child’s behavior problems caused by Gluten?
Dr. Majos Hadjivassiliou, a highly regarded authority on gluten sensitivity reported that gluten sensitivity can and at times, exclusively be a neurological disease .
It makes perfect sense to believe problems with brain function in children can easily be linked to gluten sensitivity.
Gluten sensitivity is primarily caused by elevated levels of antibodies triggered by gliadin, a component of gluten.
This anti-gliadin antibody is turned on and combines with gliadin when your child consumes any gluten-containing foods.
When these genes are triggered, cytokines (inflammatory chemicals) are created which are highly detrimental to brain activity. Without going too deep into cellular biology, these cytokines have been linked to diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and Autism.
Results of numerous studies have found pediatric and young adults with CD were more likely to develop neurological disorders and behavioral problems.
A study by Zeinik et al. (2004) showed:
Pediatrics and young adult patients were more prone to disorders including hypotonia, developmental delay, learning disorders and ADHD, headache, and cerebral ataxia – 51.4% vs. 19.9% in comparison with control subjects.
Common signs and symptoms reported by mothers with children who have Celiac disease:
* Daydreaming in school
* Speech delay
* In and out of Special Education classes
* Struggles in school even though they test well in intelligence
* Vitamin deficiencies
* Poor attitudes
* Poor memory
* Anxiety issues
* Misdiagnosis of fibromyalgia
* And numerous others.
Most, if not all of these cleared up when gluten was removed from the child’s diet.
A warning here – See your doctor first. A simple test for the antibody can be performed in any doctor’s office.
Don’t automatically start a gluten-free diet just because your child has behavioral problems!
If you automatically put your child on a gluten-free diet and they need to be checked later a test called a “gluten challenge” may be suggested.
This test has been known to cause the body to cross a threshold from which coming back to a normal lifestyle may be difficult.
Save yourself the headaches and have your child tested if you suspect gluten sensitivity.
The test is safe is you, child, if your child is currently consuming gluten – but be sure and check with your doctor.
If your child is diagnosed with CD, or gluten sensitivity understand this is not a death sentence.
Actually a gluten-free diet is a much healthier diet than the one your child is likely on now and in the long run, the benefits of a gluten-free diet will make your child healthier.
If your child is diagnosed with CD take steps now to:
* Educate yourself
* Understand the disease
* Eliminate gluten entirely – There are tons of gluten-free foods that taste great.
* Learn that gluten is hiding everywhere
One place that you need to think about is your child’s school. For instance, did you realize Play-Dough is made from wheat flour? Meet with your child’s teacher and inform them of your child’s dietary needs.
The best thing you can do for your child is to take a proactive approach to your child’s special needs and learn everything you can about a healthy gluten-free lifestyle.
Celiac Disease Facts You Need to Know
If you, or someone you know, lives with diabetes you already know how important it is to watch your diet. Throw in the fact that 8-10 percent of people with diabetes will also suffer from Celiac disease .
And we think counting carbs is hard?
Celiac disease is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine preventing it from absorbing parts of food responsible for staying healthy.
While the exact cause of the Celiac disease is unknown, it is known that the damage is due to eating gluten which is found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats.
The damage caused by Celiac disease affects the villi of the small intestines and inhibit its ability to absorb nutrients. A person becomes malnourished no matter how much food they eat.
The disease can develop at any point in life, from infancy to late adulthood and as previously stated is found in 8-10 percent of diabetics!
People with family members that are affected by Celiac disease are more likely to develop the disease. Women are more likely to be affected than men.
People with Celiac disease may also suffer from:
* Type 1 diabetes
* Autoimmune diseases; rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, and Sjogren syndrome
* Down’s Syndrome
Some Symptoms of Celiac disease
There are more than 300 symptoms of Celiac disease, and some people may experience no symptoms at all.
While the symptoms can vary widely from one person to another many Celiac victims suffer from any combination (or no symptoms at all) of the following:
* Indigestion, bloating, gas and abdominal cramps
*Loss of appetite
*Nausea and vomiting
*Foul stools; floating, bloody, or fatty
*Unexplained weight loss
Many symptoms are delayed and may not show up for years due to the body’s inability to absorb vitamins and minerals critical to normal body maintenance.
* Muscle cramps and joint pain
* Easily bruised
* Depression or anxiety
* Delayed growth in children
* Itchy skin and hair loss
* Missed or abnormal menstrual periods
* Mouth ulcers
Anemia, delayed growth, and weight loss are signs of malnutrition. Malnutrition is a serious problem for anyone, but particularly for children because they need adequate nutrition to develop properly.
What can be done?
There is no cure for Celiac disease. However, it can be managed with proper eating.
Many if not all the symptoms will disappear and the villi in the small intestines will heal if you follow a proper diet, a life-long gluten free diet.
Foods and medication labels need to be carefully read to watch for secret or hidden sources of these grains – Wheat, Barley, Rye and possibly Oats. Do not eat any foods, beverages or medications that contain Gluten!
Despite these restrictions, people with celiac disease can eat a well-balanced diet with a variety of foods, including bread and pasta.
Many gluten-free products are now made with potato, rice, soy, or bean flour. In addition, plains meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables do not contain gluten, so celiacs can eat as much of these foods as they like.
4 Gluten Free Bread Recipes
Gluten Free Sandwich Bread
3 extra large eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, sunflower or canola
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups white rice flour
1 1/2 cup brown rice flour
2 1/4 teaspoons xanthan gum
3 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
1/2 cup powdered milk
2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Blend all dry ingredients in a bowl. In a large mixing bowl, mix all wet ingredients until well blended.
Add dry ingredients to wet and beat well, until dough is thick but not too stiff. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan. Cover and set aside in a warm location for one hour to rise.
Once the dough rises, bake for 50-60 minutes or until edges are well browned. Yield: 12-16 slices, or 1 loaf.
Banana Bread – Gluten Free Bread Recipe
1 full stick of butter, softened to room temperature
3 to 4 large, ripe bananas mashed
2 cups rice flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup of chopped nuts, optional
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325. Grease and rice flour a 9-inch loaf pan. Blend butter and sugar in a large bowl until creamy. Add vanilla, eggs, and bananas.
Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl; add slowly to banana and butter mixture. Add nuts, if desired.
Blend batter until well mixed and then turn into loaf pan. Bake for 70-80 minutes or until edges are browned. Yield: 1 loaf.
Apple Bread – Gluten Free Bread Recipe
1 1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup soy or whole bean flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons xantham gum
1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup raisins
1 1/2 cup chunky applesauce
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 egg whites, beaten
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and soya flour a large bread loaf pan. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
In a small bowl, blend applesauce, egg whites, and vinegar. Pour liquids into the flour mix and blend. Pour batter into baking pan and bake for 55-60 minutes. Cool and serve. Yield: 1 loaf.
Gluten Free Corn Bread Recipe
1 1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cup gluten-free sour cream
1 cup creamed corn
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons granulated sugar, optional
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all ingredients together until well blended. Pour into a 9-inch dark metal, square baking pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until edges has browned. Yield: 9 to 12 squares.