Gluten is a mucus-like substance that can adhere to the gut, intestines, lymphatics, sinuses, and joints. Consequently, it triggers inflammation, which produces pain, leading to several health problems such as arthritis, asthma, ADD, autoimmune dysfunction, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine, and even cancer. Thus, it is important to maintain a gluten-free diet if one suffers from any of these diseases.
To set oneself free from gluten, foods with wheat and other carbohydrates should be avoided. However, carbohydrates should not be completely eliminated from the nutritional plan since these biomolecules are essential in brain development. Individuals can get adequate amounts of nutrients from high quality animal protein or fat. Good quality fats from avocados and olive oil enhance proper brain functioning, thereby optimizing its efficiency. Meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables can also substitute gluten-containing carbohydrates.
Gluten is highly associated with celiac disease, a genetic disorder characterized by the body’s inability to tolerate gluten. Gluten is a type of protein found in foods containing wheat, barley, and rye. In pastries, it is used to maintain the elasticity of the dough, making it rise and keeping its shape. Its overall effect results to a chewy texture often experienced when eating bagels and pizza, which are rich in gluten. Bread and cake flours vary in their gluten content.
While maintaining a gluten-free diet sounds good for celiac patients, these individuals possess an altered intestinal flora, the good bacteria, which act against the harmful ones. Celiac patients do not have enough of these beneficial bacteria, which can allow the growth of the bad bacteria. To revive the population of beneficial bacteria, prebiotics or dietary fibers that support the growth of the intestinal flora should be taken in together with probiotics. Usually, these fibers are found in asparagus, chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, and leeks. Even wheat and barley, which are gluten-rich grains, have prebiotics.
How would individuals with celiac disease get enough doses of prebiotics? Since they must not eat any gluten-containing food, celiac patients can seek their doctor’s advice on an appropriate gluten-free prebiotic supplement that best suits their needs or they can consider eating other food choices. Along with fresh meat, fish, poultry, fruits and vegetables, beans, seeds, unprocessed nuts, fresh eggs, and most dairy products do not contain gluten. Some grains and starches including amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat, corn, flax, millet, rice, sorghum, soy, and tapioca are also free from gluten. Oats, when labelled gluten-free, may be included in the diet. However, it is usually contaminated with wheat during its growing and processing stages; hence, doctors generally exclude oats in a celiac patient’s nutritional plan.
Yet, having a diet free from gluten is a challenging task. Reading the product label or checking its list of ingredients is not enough to fully classify it as gluten-free. For instance, wheat may come in different forms such as bulgur, durum flour, farina, Graham flour, kamut, semolina, and spelt.
By strictly sticking with a gluten-free diet, individuals exhibiting symptoms of celiac disease experience relief and avoid the onset of other complications. In severe cases, when a gluten-free diet fails to work on celiac patients, doctors issue prescriptions that suppress the patient’s immune system. To completely prevent the condition from worsening, they must maintain this kind of diet for the rest of their lives.