Celiac Disease, which is a chronic disease of the digestive system, prevents absorption of nutrients from food. Those who suffer from Celiac Disease are allergic to gluten, which is a protein contained in wheat, barley, rye and even oats in oatmeal. Damage to the lining of the intestinal walls can be caused by eating these foods, making it hard to digest food and absorb any nutrients. About millions of people, both men and women, have to suffer from this disease in this country.
The symptoms of Celiac Disease and Gluten-Intolerance are:
– cramps and gas
– weight loss or weight gain
– weakness and fatigue
– bone and joint pain
– tingling and numbness in hands and feet
– infertility and impotence
– dizziness or fainting
The main way to diagnose Celiac Disease is through a blood test that will measure the antibodies to gluten circulating in the blood. Unfortunately, many adults are misdiagnosed or are told they have irritable bowel syndrome which is far less serious but it is not treated with a gluten-free diet. It is so important to know if you do have Celiac Disease to prevent future damage to the intestinal wall.
People with Celiac Disease must stay on a gluten-free diet for the rest of their lives, however, many find they feel so much better, have more energy and can lose weight if obesity is a problem. Bloating goes away and many times pain disappears in the joints and muscles.
The Gluten-Free Diet means:
1. Avoid all wheat, rye, barley and oat products and look for breads, and other flour products made from rice. This is much easier to do nowadays as more health food stores carry an entire gluten-free product line.
2. Look for hidden glutens in vegetable proteins like soy, malt and modified food starches.
3. Read the labels on soy sauce and distilled vinegars and make sure they read “gluten-free.”
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4. Eat mini-meals every 3-4 hours that will help maintain energy levels throughout the day and is easier on your digestive system.
5. Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly which will let your digestive juices do their job – digest your food.
6. Avoid drinking liquids with your meals which will prevent your stomach acid from becoming diluted with water and allow it to do its job of digesting your food so you can absorb nutrients.
7. Eat smart when you eat out at restaurants and choose places that offer healthier choices. There are pizza places that offer gluten-free crust and healthy toppings, for example.
8. Keep track of what you eat – notice how you feel after a meal. You should feel energized and ready to take on the day or afternoon or evening.
It is my hope this article has given you a glimmer of hope in dealing with Celiac Disease and eating a gluten-free diet. It is not as hard as you might think and you should notice a huge difference in how you feel and look. You may find it helpful to meet with a Nutritionist or Registered Dietician who can give you sample menus and recipes for an easier transition to a gluten-free lifestyle. I wish you glowing good health – always!
Sherry L. Granader, ACE, AFAA, NETA, ACSM, BBU
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