May is Celiac Disease awareness month, so I thought a gluten-free living post would be timely. Approximately 1% of the population suffers from celiac disease, but that number may actually be higher because as many as 30% of people go undiagnosed. In fact, less than half of patients with celiac disease present with typical symptoms (such as diarrhea) so the diagnosis is often missed. And, there are also many people who do not have celiac disease, but are intolerant to gluten nonetheless.
In order to be diagnosed with celiac disease, your MD will need to order a blood test. If that test comes back positive, you will be referred for an intestinal biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.
Symptoms of celiac disease and/or gluten intolerance can include:
-diarrhea (sometimes constipation for people with intolerance to gluten)
-bloating and gas
So, where is gluten found, and how do you avoid it?
Gluten is found in wheat (semolina, spelt, kamut), barley, triticale and rye. Gluten-free flours include oats, buckwheat, rice, amaranth, arrowroot, quinoa, millet and teff. In the past, it was difficult to find gluten-free grains, let alone prepared gluten-free products such as breads and crackers. But, with the increased incidence of gluten sensitivity, these products are becoming much more easily found. A quick trip to the health food store, or health food section of your grocery store, and you will find crackers, breads, pasta and cereal. Keep in mind that many breads are frozen due to a shorter shelf life. And, don’t forget about Bulk Barn, which has long catered to the gluten-free community.
Here are a list of my favourite gluten-free websites:
Changing to a gluten-free diet can be daunting at the outset, but is very manageable in the long-term. Feel free to contact an ND if you need help managing symptoms, or making the change to a gluten-free diet.