Monthly Archives: October 2010

What Is Gluten?

If you are concerned about gluten intolerance or gluten allergies, this is the article for you. We’ll explain gluten intolerance, discuss what gluten free means and what a gluten free diet consists of, explore places to purchase gluten free food and also discuss the other health risks that being gluten intolerant can pose. Read on to learn more about gluten!

What is gluten intolerance?

Gluten intolerance is when an individual cannot consume gluten without an adverse reaction. Symptoms can vary from individual to individual. Common symptoms include diarrhea, bloating and gas, abdominal pain and mental fogginess to name just a few. One way to determine if gluten is causing your symptoms is to eat a gluten free diet for a period of several weeks to see if the symptoms dissipate.

What does gluten free mean?

Gluten free means a food that does not contain gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. While oats do not technically contain gluten, it is generally categorized as a gluten containing food because it is processed with other grains that do contain gluten and becomes contaminated.

What is a gluten free diet?

Eating gluten free consists of avoiding all foods that contain wheat, rye, barley and oats – and any derivative of those grains. At first glance it seems simple enough, until you discover that many ingredients contain a wheat, rye or barley byproduct. Cooking your own food is the best way to begin a gluten free diet, and then slowly add processed foods in while being vigilant about checking labels.

Where can I buy gluten free food?

Fortunately gluten free food is widely available. Most grocery stores carry at least a few gluten free products and health food stores are an even better bet. The best selection of all can be found online. There are hundreds of products and lots of retailers who carry specialty items from gluten free pasta to pizza dough – all just a few clicks away.

Does being gluten intolerant have any other health implications?

It can. Some people who are sensitive to gluten have an allergy or a reaction that causes symptoms that are irritating but not life threatening. Others have a more serious disease called celiac disease. Individuals with this disease cannot eat gluten at all because it actively damages their small intestines which leads to nutrient loss and in extreme cases can be life threatening. If you’re concerned that you may have celiac disease be sure to see a healthcare professional right away. (For more information on this topic, be sure to read our article on celiac disease symptoms.)

Celiac Disease Symptoms

With gluten intolerance becoming more prevalent in the United States, many people are learning that intolerance and allergic reactions are not the only possible impact of gluten. Celiac disease impacts 1-2% of the population and can be life threatening if not diagnosed and treated properly. In this article we’ll define celiac disease and discuss the symptoms of celiac disease as well as celiac disease diagnosis.

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is when an individual has an adverse reaction to ingesting gluten whereby the gluten causes damage to the small intestines leading to nutrient malabsorption.

What are the symptoms of celiac disease?

While there is no set list of symptoms that can be used to definitively diagnose celiac disease, there are some general symptoms that many suffering from the disease report. These symptoms include:

Abdominal pain
Gas
Diarrhea or constipation
Problems with nutrient absorption, including
Weight loss
Anemia
Weakness
Fatigue
Easily broken bones

In some individuals, a very itchy rash may develop which may be diagnosed as dermatitis herpetiformis which is a skin disease related to celiac disease and gluten intolerance.

Celiac disease diagnosis

Generally celiac disease is diagnosed in a three-step process.

1.Do a small intestine biopsy. This takes only a few minutes. Children are usually sedated, while adults typically do not need to be. If the biopsy reveals that the villi in the intestines are damaged, the process moves to step
2.Try a treatment plan consisting of a strict gluten-free diet for at least six months and then perform another biopsy. If the villi are healed proceed to step 3.
3.Reintroduce gluten for six months or longer and then do another biopsy. If the villi are damaged again then the diagnosis is complete. The recommended treatment plan is a gluten free diet for life.

It is important to note that not all doctors use the three step process. Many believe that step 1 is the only one that is needed. There are also blood tests that can be done to help diagnose the disease. Before having the biopsy it is important to eat normally – removing or reducing gluten or eating differently than you usually do can impact the results of the test.

If you think that you may be gluten intolerant or that you may have celiac disease, be sure to consult your physician. Testing is relatively straightforward and if you test positive your doctor will be able to assist you with a treatment plan.

Celiac Disease – What You Should Know

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with celiac disease, or if you have often wondered if you’re gluten intolerant, read on. Celiac disease is a widespread condition that impacts over 2% of the population. With symptoms that can mimic other gastroenterology disorders, it can be difficult to diagnose. In this article we’ll define the disease, cover some of the more common symptoms and give an overview of diet recommendations. By the end of the article you’ll have a better understanding of celiac disease and how it can be treated with a few dietary choices.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is an inability to tolerate wheat protein – also known as gluten. When people with celiac disease consume gluten, an autoimmune response is triggered which can cause damage to the small intestines. Over time, this damage can cause the small intestines to no longer be able to absorb nutrients found in any food. The complications of this disease are very serious including malnutrition. This condition is found in both adults and children. Approximately 1 in 133 people have celiac disease but unfortunately very few of these people have been formally diagnosed.

Celiac Disease Symptoms

Common symptoms of celiac disease include weight loss, diarrhea and various nutritional malabsorption issues. Symptoms vary depending on the length of time that absorption of nutrients has been disrupted – with stronger symptoms showing in people who have had nutrients blocked for a longer period of time. Some people with celiac disease report no symptoms at all. Other physical symptoms can include fatigue, weakness, dry skin, night blindness, muscle cramping, cramping and bloating among things. Emotional and psychological symptoms can include irritability, inability to concentrate, depression and moodiness.

Celiac Disease Diet Recommendations

On the positive side, there is a way to combat this serious condition. Treatment does not require surgery, medication or regular doctor visits. The only known treatment is the complete elimination of gluten from the diet, generally known as a gluten free diet. Gluten is found in many common foods such as bread, pasta, cookies and baked goods – but it is also found in processed foods like cereals, french fries and even soy sauce. Even foods that come in contact with gluten but do not directly contain it are discouraged. By avoiding all gluten and carefully self-managing what is eaten Celiac disease will remain under control.

The good news is that there are non-gluten variations of many of your favorite foods. You can find or cook gluten free bread, gluten free pizza, and even gluten free pancakes, so you won’t have to go without yummy food when you go gluten free.

Celiac disease is a serious condition that can be life threatening. Fortunately, once diagnosed, treatment is easy to understand – if harder to implement. A major change in lifestyle is usually required but once done can restore health and well being.

FAQ About Gluten

What You Should Know about Gluten

If you’re looking to live a healthy lifestyle understanding gluten and how it impacts some people is important. Gluten intolerance is becoming more and more widespread. In this article we’ll define gluten, discuss gluten intolerance and its symptoms and then cover some of the foods that are available that are gluten free. If you’ve experienced any digestive issues understanding gluten can be an important step toward healthy living.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein that is found in some grains – notably wheat, rye and barley. Gluten is what gives dough its elastic nature. Gluten is sometimes used as an additive for flavor or as a thickening agent making it difficult to detect in some food products.

What is Gluten Intolerance?

Some people are unable to properly digest gluten. This can be caused by conditions such as celiac, or by other types of gluten intolerance. One easy way to determine if you are gluten intolerant is to ask your doctor for a gluten intolerance test. Another way is to look for symptoms. For some people, gluten intolerance is a physical thing. They notice gluten intolerance symptoms like indigestion, diarrhea or bloating. For others, gluten intolerance produces psychological issues like moodiness, depression and lack of focus. Some people experience a combination of symptoms. The most common symptoms are abdominal pain and diarrhea usually occurring about 6 hours after ingesting food containing gluten.

What Kinds of Foods are Gluten Free?

Fortunately those who suffer from gluten intolerance will find a wide variety of foods from which to choose. All fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, meats and eggs are free of gluten. Within those categories there is an abundance of food choices. Gluten free does not mean giving up all grains either – rice, amaranth and buckwheat are just a few of the grains that do not contain gluten. More and more products are being introduced every day – baking mixes, flours, pizza dough – all made with gluten free ingredients. Choosing to live gluten free does not mean sacrificing any of your favorite foods.

If you find yourself experiencing any kind of digestive upset several hours after ingesting wheat or products containing gluten, you may want to try a gluten free diet for a period of time. If your symptoms lessen or disappear entirely then there is a good chance that you are gluten intolerant. It’s an easy, risk free way of troubleshooting the issue. With the wide variety of gluten free products available there is no issue with making all your favorite wheat products, only without the wheat. Give it a try, you and your family will be glad you did!

Celiac Q & A

In this article we’d like to present some common questions and provide answers that we hope will prove helpful.

Q: What is celiac disease?
A: Celiac disease is a condition where there is an adverse reaction to gluten. Gluten is a protein chain found in some grains. The reaction causes damage to the small intestine and leads to nutrient malabsorption.

Q: What are celiac disease symptoms?
A: Unfortunately there is no typical symptom list. Some people experience no symptoms. Celiac disease symptoms in adults can include diarrhea, weight loss, gas, and severe abdominal pain. Some individuals also develop dermatitis herpetiformis which is a related disease where an extremely itchy rash appears.

Q: Who is impacted by this disease?
A: This condition primarily impacts people over the age of 20. Celiac disease in children is rare, but does occur.

Q: What is the suggested treatment?
A: There is no medication available to treat this disease. The standard recommendation is to avoid all foods containing gluten, including foods that are typically gluten free but that may have come in contact with gluten during processing. Gluten can be found in wheat, rye, barley and most oats are processed along with gluten-containing grains so are not safe for individuals with celiac disease.

Q: Are there support groups or other ways to get help?
A: Yes! There are several support groups in all parts of the country. To get more information on a local support group, call one of the following:

American Celiac Society 973-325-8837
Canadian Celiac Society 905-507-6208
Gluten Intolerance Group of North America 206-246-6652

Q: Where can I find gluten free food?
A: There are lots of gluten free retailers online. There are also a number of them that provide a catalog. More and more mainstream grocery stores are offering a selection of gluten free foods and most health food stores have a gluten free section.

Q: Can I drink alcohol?
A: Absolutely. Wine, tequila, sake, rum and vodka are generally safe. Grain alcohols are controversial. While distillation should remove all gluten, some individuals report problems with them. There are also many brewers that are introducing various types of gluten free beer that are definitely worth investigating.

We hope that the above Q&A has been helpful in learning more about celiac disease. Remember, if you or someone you love has been diagnosed with this disease – you’re definitely not alone. There are many resources available to help you learn about the disease, treatment and leading a gluten free lifestyle.