Celiac Disease is a genetic autoimmune disorder in which the ingestion of gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley and rye) causes an immune reaction resulting in the body attacking and damaging the small intestine. This reaction destroys the villi which are finger-like projections on the lining of the small intestine responsible for absorbing nutrients and will eventually lead to malnourishment.
In addition, Celiac Disease can lead to other long-term health conditions, such as iron deficiency and osteoporosis, as well as other autoimmune disorders.
Gluten is the term for a protein component of wheat, rye and barley and the derivatives of these grains. For some, oats can also be an issue. Gluten acts like a glue giving some foods their shape and texture. Common foods containing gluten include pastas, noodles, breads and cereals. However, gluten is also found in many unexpected foods as well, such as sauces, additives, medications, personal hygiene/beauty products and more.
For someone with Celiac Disease, avoiding gluten goes beyond the obvious things like bread and pasta. The ‘hidden’ ingredients and cross-contamination are a much bigger risk as even the smallest amount of gluten ingested can have a significant impact. It is important to always read the label of any food purchased even if “gluten free” is specified.
Although wheat, barely rye and their derivatives are not safe for someone with Celiac Disease, there are a variety of grain alternatives that can be safe. However, it is important to keep in mind that grains are often grown or manufactured near gluten containing foods causing cross contact, so always keep in mind looking for naturally gluten free grains. In addition, fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, fish, beans, legumes and most dairy in their natural state are gluten free.
There are many safe alternatives for gluten containing foods and products that someone with Celiac Disease can have. As mentioned in my bio, eliminating gluten from the diet does not mean you can’t eat satisfying and exciting foods, eat out or travel.