Gluten Free Diet—No Longer Nirvana
The moment the doctor puts forward the diagnosis of the celiac disease most people think that they’ve knocked on hell’s door. Celiac disease is no joke and very difficult to cope with for many people who suffer from bouts of frustration and helplessness when trying to eliminate gluten from their diets, but that doesn’t mean that one should lay their arms down and give up—unlike before, gluten can be easily excluded from one’s diet and the food pyramid no longer just revolves around wheat, barley and rye, the primary sources of gluten. The market is stocked with gluten free alternatives and products which, after some regular inspection, one can get used to and cope with the disease through a gluten free diet.
Gluten is primarily found in wheat, barley, rye, triticale, malt and their derivatives. However, cross contamination of otherwise naturally gluten-free grains or seeds is very common and so it’s advised that one never eats food products which are not explicitly stated as gluten-free. It is precisely why oats are a matter of controversy, because even though many scientists claim that oats do not contain gluten, oats have been seen to cause inflammation in the intestines of many celiac disease sufferers, either owing to their Avenin content (a substance very similar in structure to gluten) or cross contamination, as many fields, factories and plants are not designed to disconnect gluten and gluten-free products.
Even very small amounts of gluten, which may seem trivial to some, can be disastrous for one’s intestines, even if there are no detectable symptoms. Simple exposures like kissing someone who consumed a gluten meal or working in a kitchen where gluten products are not put away neatly can aggravate the condition. FDA is yet to regulate on what exactly gluten-free entails, though currently in the US gluten-free is put at 20 parts per million, as such as low amounts are deemed not to cause damage to the patients.
Obviously, it’s not easy to adapt to such a meticulous lifestyle, which is why it’s best to go for products which are clearly labelled gluten-free and to monitor your exposure to gluten in the most unexpected of ways—although there is no need to be paranoid! It is best that before going on a gluten-free diet, you have a discussion with your doctor as he would be able to better guide you on how to shift to a gluten-free lifestyle, especially keeping in mind practical considerations and nutritional needs. Current gluten-free products tend to be rather low in nutrients like vitamin B and vitamin D, iron, fibre, calcium while it is high in homocysteine, which is a risk factor for heart disease. Thus, many people on strict gluten-free diets may either become malnourished or overweight, which is why a gluten-free diet is not to be confused with a weight-loss diet, though cutting down traditional sources of starch is a centric rule of many weight-loss diets.
Whether you are suffering from celiac disease or you’re sensitive to gluten, a gluten free diet is not impossible to manoeuvre. Put faith in your doctor and local celiac disease support group and most importantly, yourself, and you’ll find yourself laughing on the face of gluten.