Learn About Gluten-Free Foods and Celiac Disease

Ashley Bradley is a guest blogger that wants to share information about gluten-free foods and celiac disease. Check out her advice below!

Gluten-free food and gluten-free food options are becoming more and more popular. You may have noticed more places on campus indicating they have gluten-free food options. There is even a new restaurant on campus, Glow, that only serves gluten-free/top 8 allergen-friendly foods. So, why are we seeing such an increase in these foods?

For people living with food allergies, food intolerances and other autoimmune diseases, special dietary restrictions are necessary. Celiac disease is one such autoimmune disorder which requires strict adherence to dietary restrictions. When a person with celiac disease consumes gluten, it triggers the body to attack their small intestines.1

For people with celiac disease, following a strict gluten-free diet is the only way to live a happy healthy life free of symptoms. There are no cheat days, and you must try your hardest to avoid any accidental exposure to even the smallest amount of gluten every day. As little as 20 parts per million of gluten could cause a person with celiac disease to experience any of the over 200 symptoms2 associated with celiac disease.

Common Symptoms of Celiac Disease1-3
Unexplained iron-deficiency anemia

Fatigue

Bone or joint pain

Arthritis

Osteoporosis or osteopenia

Depression or anxiety

Tingling, numbness or pain in the hands and feet

Seizures or migraines

Itchy skin rash

Weight loss

Missed menstrual periods

Infertility or recurrent miscarriage

Canker sores inside the mouth

Bloating and gas

Constipation

Irritability

Nausea/vomiting

Chronic diarrhea

Loss of enamel/tooth discoloration

So, what is gluten and where is it found?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Gluten helps hold foods together. For example, gluten helps give bread it’s the nice soft chewy texture. Gluten can be found in many food products including breads, pastas, soups, salad dressings, candy bars, alcohol and more.

People living with celiac disease are just one of the many populations of people on campus benefiting from the new and growing gluten-free options on campus. Keeping these foods packaged and separated away from gluten-containing foods helps keep students with celiac disease, food allergies and food intolerances to be gluten safe.

Should you eat gluten-free if you don’t have a medical diagnosis that requires it?

The fast answer is NO. Removing gluten from your diet will not provide you with the health benefits it provides someone with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance. It is likely that by choosing to follow a gluten-free diet with no medical need or guidance will cause overall dietary inadequacy of macro and micro nutrients.4 If you are looking for ways to stay healthy rather than taking away whole grains such as wheat, barley and rye, expand your diet by adding fruits and vegetables.

Being healthy and building a healthy plate is important for everyone. Adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet is always a good place to start. Fruits and vegetables are a good source of fiber and contain many vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. By eating a variety of different colored fruits and vegetables, you are able to get more phytochemicals and antioxidants in your diet. Phytochemicals are best known for their protective benefits (reducing inflammation, preventing infection and more).5 The colors of your fruits and vegetables are determined by the phytochemicals they contain. This makes it very important to eat a variety of colors to get the most benefit. For those with celiac disease, adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet can help you avoid macronutrient deficiency that may be possible due to the removal of gluten.6

References:

  1. The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. cureceliacdisease.org. Accessed Oct 5, 2018
  2. Beyond Celiac beyondceliac.org. Accessed Oct 5, 2018
  3. Celiac Disease Foundation celiac.org. Accessed Oct 5, 2018
  4. Khoury DE, Balfour-Ducharme S, Joye IJ. A Review on the Gluten-Free Diet: Technological and Nutritional Challenges. Nutrients. 2018;10(10):1410.doi:10.3390/nu10101410.
  5. About the Buzz: Phytochemicals are too complex and confusing? https://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/phytochemicals-are-too-complex-and-confusing. Accessed Oct 5, 2018
  6. Saturni L, Ferretti G, Bacchetti T. The Gluten-Free Diet: Safety and Nutritional Quality. Nutrients. 2010;2(1):16-34.doi:10.3390/nu2010016.

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