gluten free recipes

By Mary Frances Pickett

Celiac Disease-The Symptoms and Treatments

Coeliac disease is caused by the body’s negative reaction to a prolamin, or gluten protein, known as gliadin. The substance is found in wheat and similar Triticeae grains. Although individuals diagnosed with celiac disease may appreciate the smell of freshly baked whole wheat bread, eating the gluten contained within the grain can cause various negative symptoms. From a bloated abdomen to an itchy rash or hives, a person with celiac disease can experience various side-effects that are all related to consuming gluten.

Also known as tropical sprue, gluten-sensitive enteropathy, or simply a disease of the intestinal tract, people with celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten found in wheat, barley, rye, triticale, kamut and spelt. However, wheat is the grain that contains the greatest amount of toxicity for those who suffer from celiac disease.

What is Celiac Disease?

Even though whole grains contain nutritional benefits for the majority of people, people who have celiac disease need to find other ways to supplement their diets with the same amounts of protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber. A person with celiac disease has an inflammatory medical condition that prevents proper absorption of nutrients. An individual diagnosed with celiac disease cannot absorb beneficial nutrients in the same way that a person without this illness absorbs nutritional components found in specific gluten-bearing grains.

For the person with an intolerance to gluten, the small intestine does not function in a normal way. A person diagnosed with celiac disease, or any individual that is intolerant to gluten, needs to embrace a new lifestyle that includes a different type of diet. A gluten-free diet is the number one recommended approach to eliminating the symptoms that relate to celiac disease.

An Autoimmune Disease that Weakens the Immune System

People with type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, liver disease or thyroid disease may unknowingly have celiac disease. Without a medical diagnosis, the person may not ever understand that an intolerance to gluten is what is causing the other chronic diseases. A patient’s physician may not even know that the reason why the patient has diabetes or arthritis is due to eating food containing gluten. When a person has a weakened immune system, the body can break down and open itself to illnesses that might otherwise never need to occur.

Villi Cease to Protect the Small Intestine from Harm

Protective substances that line the small intestine known as villi typically enable the average person to absorb nutrients. When a person has celiac disease, the nutrients from food do not enter the bloodstream because the villi no longer protect the small intestine from harm. In addition, the person’s body does not react in a normal way when it attempts to absorb gluten.

Celiac Disease is an Inherited Illness

Genetics play a large role in the lives of people who have celiac disease, but some people do not experience any symptoms until an emotional event or surgery occurs. Even though the disease is present in a person’s genes, it may take a specific circumstance to induce symptoms. A pregnant woman, or a person with a serious virus, may experience negative side-effects for the first time. Besides bloated stomachs and hives, other known symptoms experienced by people who have celiac disease include iron-deficiency anemia, diarrhea, constipation and vomiting.

Symptoms of Celiac Disease

Even though digestive disorders are noticed in people who do not tolerate gluten, other symptoms may take precedence. Adults who notice any of the following chronic medical conditions may want to get tested for celiac disease:

  1. Anxious feelings
  2. Chronic depression
  3. Osteoporosis or bone loss
  4. Numb or tingling fingers or toes
  5. Pains associated with arthritis
  6. Loss of Mental or Physical Energy
  7. In women, consistent miscarriages
  8. Unexplained seizures

Although the above mentioned symptoms may also relate to any number of causes, people who have concerns about celiac disease need to understand that their complaints may relate to inabilities for tolerating gluten that occurs in specific grains. Additionally, some people never experience any symptoms in spite of the fact that their bodies are not properly absorbing the food they eat.

Pay Close Attention to Symptoms Involving Fatigue and Anemia

Some people feel tired all the time. Even if these individuals get ample sleep, they still may not have sufficient amounts of energy to carry on simple daily tasks. A person who is always tired or who has iron-deficiency anemia may want to consult with a doctor to find out if gluten is causing a chronic tired feeling.

Can Children Get Celiac Disease?

Children can get celiac disease. Statistics show that five to ten percent of the population is susceptible to having inherited celiac disease. One out of every 105 to 133 people living in America, and one in 100 persons residing in the United Kingdom, has the autoimmune deficiency called celiac disease. In other countries, the illness affects one in 1,750 people.

A child who easily gets irritated may not need to see a psychologist. Celiac disease can cause children to experience mood swings, lack of concentration, memory problems and depression. A child with celiac disease does not absorb the required nutrients needed to maintain excellent health. Other symptoms experienced by children with celiac disease include dental problems and stunted growth.

A child with a skin rash may not need to see a dermatologist because the sores may occur due to symptoms related to celiac disease. Since many parents do not even think about the possibility that their children may have negative side-effects caused by intolerance to gluten, kids often live their young lives without knowing they are sensitive to the substance.

Parents Need to Watch for Danger Signs

A child’s parents need to pay special attention to any negative reactions the child may experience after eating grains containing gluten. Since celiac disease can even affect babies, some experts advise parents to refrain from giving their infants any food containing gluten until the age of six months.

Questions Parents Need To Answer

According to a study in Denmark, parents can observe a few simple things to ascertain if their children may have celiac disease. Constant pain in the abdomen, especially if it lasts longer than three months, may indicate that celiac disease is present in the child’s body. Another thing to look for is whether the child has a chronic diarrhea problem or an equally consistent issue with constipation. Parents need to observe whether their children are growing properly and gaining the right amount of weight. If their children seem underweight and short of stature, the possibility exists that they might have celiac disease.

Look for Common Indicators that a Baby May Have Celiac Disease

A baby who is perfectly normal in every way may suddenly become extremely ill after gluten is introduced into the baby’s diet. Warning signs include a swollen stomach, diarrhea, rapid weight loss and occasional vomiting. The baby’s stools may start to look irregular and have a foul odor. Any of these symptoms warrant a visit to the baby’s pediatrician for further medical diagnosis.

A Gluten-Free Diet Helps Children Cope with Celiac Disease

Parents need to understand that celiac disease is not a phase that eventually corrects itself. The disease is a chronic illness that does not go away unless the child starts eating gluten-free food. A diet free from gluten is the medical solution for controlling symptoms related to celiac disease. Unlike other diseases that require prescribed medications, celiac disease has a simple cure that involves changing the diet.

Get an Early Diagnosis to Avoid Serious Medical Difficulties

Some individuals never experience symptoms related to celiac disease. People can go through their lives for ten years, or even longer periods, without experiencing any specific negative side-effects only to learn later that their livers and intestines no longer function correctly. An early diagnosis can help prevent dangerous chronic illnesses later in life. Any person who suspects that celiac disease is a possibility needs to address the issue by ceasing to eat food containing gluten.

Celiac Disease Diagnosis and Testing

Celiac disease is sometimes misdiagnosed because the symptoms are similar to certain other illnesses. For instance, a person experiencing digestive problems may leave the doctor’s office with an erroneous diagnosis that suggests irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis or inflammation of the bowel. Avoid a misdiagnosis by speaking with a physician about undergoing the proper tests.

Since many physicians are not aware of celiac disease or its symptoms, it is important for patients to tell their doctors that celiac disease is a probable cause of the symptoms. If the doctor does not recognize the inherent dangers in a diet that is not devoid of gluten, the patient needs to find another physician that recognizes the disease and its symptoms.

What is an Autoantibody?

Most people know about antibodies that perform helpful bodily functions. But, many individuals may not understand anything about autoantibodies. Unlike a useful antibody that identifies problems and may even prevent harm caused by bacteria in a person’s body, an autoantibody has the opposite effect. Autoantibodies do not protect a person’s body from invading viral attacks. Instead, an autoantibody goes after an individual’s healthy body tissues.

An autoantibody’s mission is to destroy an individual’s tissues and leave the person without any protection. Consequently, a person with celiac disease who does not make the right dietary changes can only hope to experience health that deteriorates over time. Eating gluten-free food is the official recognized method that alleviates medical symptoms related to celiac disease.

Blood tests do not Necessarily Provide Definitive Answers

People with celiac disease typically have high levels of autoantibodies in their bloodstreams. IgA anti-endomysium antibodies, or AEA, blood tests, along with immunoglobulin A, or IgA, anti-tissue transglutaminase or tTGA blood tests are helpful in diagnosing whether a patient has celiac disease.

Unfortunately, blood test results do not always yield correct solutions. Even though blood tests indicate autoantibody levels in the blood, the tests are not always accurate. A person can have celiac disease and obtain blood test results indicating that the autoantibody level is normal.

Get a Bowel Biopsy to Find Out if Celiac Disease is the Culprit

A person who suddenly starts to lose weight without any known cause or notices a consistently bloated stomach may want to get a bowel biopsy to find out if celiac disease is the cause of the distress. Since blood test results are not always conclusive, a person can get a blood test and leave the medical building with an incorrect diagnosis. If a person really wants to know the truth, a bowel biopsy in which the person’s tissue is examined yields the definitive answer about the presence of celiac disease in the body.

Coeliac Disease vs Celiac Disease. What’s the difference?

At first glance, a person may think that coeliac disease and celiac disease are two different illnesses. However, the fact is that coeliac disease and celiac disease are different words for the same chronic autoimmune disease. Americans prefer the celiac spelling of the word, while Europeans prefer the word spelled as coeliac, with the introduction of the letter o between the first letter c and the third letter e.

Basically, the only difference between coeliac disease and celiac disease is related to how the word is spelled. Whether the word is spelled with or without the letter o, any person who is diagnosed with this debilitating autoimmune deficiency has the same exact disease. The word coeliac with the added letter o contains the original British spelling, but the word celiac is the most common spelling that physicians recognize. With more people incorporating the gluten-free diet into their daily lifestyles, the word celiac without the letter o is the term that most individuals recognize.

What sort of diet do people with Celiac Disease eat?

People with celiac disease can eat food that does not contain gluten. Since gluten is predominantly found in wheat, barley, rye and a few other whole grains, people can eat many different types of food offering similar nutritional benefits. Beef, pork, chicken, turkey and fish are gluten-free foods, so people with celiac disease can eat tri-tip steaks, pork chops, ribs, turkey roast with all the trimmings, grilled chicken, lobster, shrimp and fish sticks. Vegans can eat lentils, split peas, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, red beans, black beans, navy beans, almonds, cashew nuts, pistachio nuts, walnuts, pecans, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Have a look at our Gluten Free Vegan Recipes.

Processed meatless substitutes can contain gluten, so vegans need to make sure these products are gluten-free. In addition to legumes and nuts, vegetarians can eat dairy products. Certain brands of yogurt and processed cheese may contain additives that are not gluten-free. Once again, consumers need to make extra efforts to read all ingredients before purchasing and consuming doubtful food products.

People with celiac disease can eat all varieties of fruits and vegetables, white or brown rice, corn and potatoes. Healthy bread made from brown rice flour is available at health food stores, or individuals can learn how to bake their own gluten-free loaves of bread.

People can buy natural corn tortillas that do not contain any additives. Brown rice pasta is an excellent choice for the person who wants to eat guilt-free pasta that does not contain any gluten. Gluten-free multi-grain pasta is also available. Potatoes contain protein and vitamin C and offer delicious alternatives to pasta made from whole wheat flour or semolina flour. An individual who is on a gluten-free diet can eat bananas and avocados.

A person whose body is intolerant to gluten can take advantage of the many delicious gluten-free food products available in grocery stores and health food establishments. Another thing to bear in mind is that gluten is also found in certain prescription and over-the-counter medications. Study the excipients found in in aspirins and prescribed medicines to make sure they do not contain any gluten.

What foods do they have to avoid?

People with celiac disease can eat just about any type of food other than the grains that contain gluten. The only difference between a person with celiac disease and a person who does not have this autoimmune disorder is that the person with celiac disease needs to avoid eating food containing wheat, rye, barley, triticale, spelt and kamut.

In addition, some medical experts advise their patients to eat certified oats packaged with gluten-free labeling. The reason why certain doctors tell people to avoid eating normal oats is due to farming practices. Many farmers grow oats and wheat together in the same field, and some researchers feel that possible cross-contamination can affect people with celiac disease.

Notice any Negative Symptoms that Occur after Eating Oats

It is worth noting that only a relatively minor percentage of people with celiac disease experience any problems with oats. However, it is easy to find out whether a person is intolerant to regular oatmeal or oat bran cereal by observing any negative symptoms that occur a few days or weeks after consuming oats.

People with more serious cases of celiac disease may experience detrimental side-effects after eating regular oatmeal for breakfast, while individuals with less advanced cases may not experience any negative effects. Giving up oats altogether is not a good idea because oatmeal and oat bran are nature’s gifts to people who want to lower their cholesterol levels without taking prescription medicines.

Look for Gluten Found in Nutritional Supplements

If a can of protein powder contains hydrolyzed wheat protein, the product is not suitable for a person with celiac disease. Vitamin and mineral supplements can contain gluten. People should not assume that all nutritional supplements automatically state whether they contain gluten because manufacturers differ as to whether they advertise this fact on their packaging labels. Consumers who take active roles in tracking down gluten-free nutritional supplements can usually find healthy alternatives at their local health food stores or via online vendors.

People with Celiac Disease Need to Take Nutritional Supplements

Persons with celiac disease have difficulties absorbing vital nutrients, especially vitamins A, D, E, and K, so it is important for these individuals to find gluten-free vitamins and minerals. Whenever a person has a problem absorbing nutrients, vitamin supplements are highly recommended. Whether a person eats meat or is a vegetarian or vegan, finding an excellent, gluten-free formula is vital for maintaining good health. People who have trouble absorbing vitamin D and calcium may develop serious problems with their bones that can also include periodontal complications affecting the roots of the teeth.

Autistic Individuals and Schizophrenics May Benefit from Gluten-Free Food

Although controversial, some researchers believe that a change in diet can help a person who is autistic or schizophrenic. Given the negative effects caused by these disorders, going on a gluten-free diet is worth a try. Since gluten can cause anxiety and depression in certain individuals, going on a diet consisting of gluten-free food and gluten-free nutritional supplements may have a positive effect on some people with autism or schizophrenia.

Watch out for other Hidden Gluten Culprits in Food

From beer to soy sauce, a consumer who takes the time to read the label can usually tell whether a food product has a questionable ingredient. Even if the food itself does not contain any gluten, an additive might contain the substance. For example, a can of lentil soup may appear as a harmless food product, but if it contains modified food starch as an additive, this ingredient could pose a potential problem to a person who has celiac disease.

Unfortunately, modified food starch is derived from various products that can include those containing gluten. A consumer does not really know whether the modified food starch in a specific can of lentil soup contains gluten unless the product boasts a gluten-free label. For the person who experiences distress due to celiac disease, checking out the ingredients on labels is a habit worth cultivating.

When in Doubt, Contact the Manufacturer for More Information

Unless the label specifically states that a can of lentil soup is gluten-free, the only way to know for sure whether the soup contains gluten is to call the manufacturer. Any ingredient that sounds as though it may contain gluten poses a threat. It is best not to play guessing games with gluten. An additive that is not gluten-free can cause a negative reaction in a person who is intolerant to wheat, rye or barley. For instance, maltodextrin is a common food additive that may or may not derive from a grain containing gluten.

It is not always certain whether an additive contains gluten. For this reason, many consumers stick with food products that feature gluten-free labels. A gluten-free label on the package ensures the concerned consumer that the food does not contain gluten and removes detective work from the picture. Otherwise, a consumer may need to look up products online, chat with other persons who have celiac disease or contact food product manufacturers.

A conscientious consumer needs to read all the ingredients on food packaging labels unless the labels explicitly state that the products are certified 100 percent gluten-free. Even though it may take time to read all the ingredients, a symptom-free lifestyle is worth the effort. Of course, a person with celiac disease can always opt to eat as many whole foods as possible, thus eliminating the need to wonder if gluten exists.

Avoid Eating Whole Wheat Bread and Rye Bread

Even though whole grains are healthy for people who do not have celiac disease, the gluten-intolerant person needs to avoid eating these food products. Avoiding grains containing gluten may pose difficulties in the beginning, especially when eating out in restaurants, but practicing a gluten-free lifestyle soon becomes a natural habit that is no longer a chore. When dining in a restaurant, a person with celiac disease needs to refrain from eating dinner rolls or garlic bread, but ordering a gluten-free appetizer can offer a pleasant alternative.

At first glance, eating in an Italian restaurant may seem impossible, but a person can always order meatballs without the pasta and a hearty vegetable salad. Some Italian restaurants feature red roasted potatoes with garlic. Once a person gets used to eating gluten-free food, choosing the right food becomes a cultivated habit.

Mexican cuisine offers excellent choices to people with celiac disease. Instead of an enchilada or burrito wrapped in dough that contains wheat, a person can eat whole pinto beans and corn tortillas that do not contain any wheat. Pico de Gallo consisting of fresh, chopped onions, tomatoes and cilantro is an excellent dish that does not conflict with a gluten-free diet. Homemade guacamole containing avocados and tomatoes is a wonderful gluten-free food.

Once a person discovers that a previously undiagnosed case of celiac disease is the root cause of various medical conditions, all it takes is a simple decision to embark on the medically proven gluten-free diet. Title: Celiac Disease – The Symptoms and Treatments: Armed with a culinary arsenal of delectable food alternatives, a person with celiac disease can live a healthy lifestyle that includes delicious meals.

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