News & tips on health, fitness and nutrition

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Gluten-Free Diet

Italian pizzas and pastas, Chinese noodles, American beers, and burgers—going out to eat can be a gluttony of gluten. That means for the more than two million Americans who are intolerant to gluten (the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye), dining out is difficult.

Celiac disease, the most severe form of gluten intolerance, is a genetic autoimmune disorder that affects about 1 percent of Americans, a majority of who are not diagnosed. Celiac disease is basically an allergy to gluten — a protein that is seemingly everywhere. Gluten is commonly found in rye, barley and wheat — and wheat is an ingredient in many food products besides the obvious breads and pastas.

Celiac disease is a genetic disorder that damages the small intestine and can lead to malnutrition. Other complications of celiac disease can include reduced bone density, anemia, infertility and neurological problems.

There is no cure for celiac disease, so eliminating gluten from your diet is the only way to manage the disorder. But living gluten-free doesn’t have to mean a life of boring, tasteless meals.
Focus on the Positive
OK — wheat, barley and rye are off limits, but there’s still a world of great foods to choose from: fruits, vegetables, meats and most dairy products.
And no, you don’t have to give up breads and pastas — just make sure they’re made from grains that do not contain gluten. You have plenty to choose from: corn, buckwheat, millet, quinoa and oats, to name a few.
The beauty of a gluten-free diet is that you’ll consume a variety of tasty, nutrient-rich whole grains — foods that everybody should be eating more of because they provide fiber and B vitamins.

More than half of the world’s population lives on rice. An excellent source of carbohydrates and protein, it is gluten-free, so suitable for those with wheat allergies.

Foods to Enjoy
As you shop the grocery aisles, it’s important to read food labels thoroughly to make sure that the food contains no gluten. It’s equally important to keep in mind all the great foods you can still enjoy:
  • Meat products — unprocessed meat, fish, chicken, bacon, ham off the bone and meats that are frozen or canned (without sauces)
  • Dairy products — eggs, whole milk, lowfat milk, evaporated and condensed milk, fresh cream, processed or block cheese and some custards and soymilks
  • Fruits and vegetables — fresh, canned or frozen (without sauces); fruit juices; nuts and peanut butter
  • Cereal and baking products — corn flour, soya flour, rice flour, buckwheat, millet, corn- or rice-based breakfast cereals that contain no malt extract
  • Breads, cakes and biscuits — most rice crackers, corn cakes, rice crisp breads, corn tortillas and corn taco shells
  • Pasta and noodles — gluten-free pasta, rice noodles, rice or bean vermicelli
  • Condiments — tomato paste, tahini (ground sesame seeds), jams, honey, maple syrup, cocoa, vinegars (except malt), some sauces and salad dressings
  • Snacks — corn chips, popcorn and plain chocolate
  • Drinks — tea, coffee, mineral water, wine, spirits and liqueurs

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