GLUTEN BA­SICS

Better Nutrition - - ASK THE NUTRITIONIST -

Peo­ple can react to gluten by de­vel­op­ing celiac dis­ease or non celiac gluten sen­si­tiv­ity. Celiac dis­ease is an au­toim­mune dis­ease in which the im­mune sys­tem at­tacks both gluten and the small in­tes­tine, lead­ing to the dam­age in the small in­tes­tine that char­ac­ter­izes the con­di­tion. Non celiac gluten sen­si­tiv­ity is a non au­toim­mune re­ac­tion to gluten that can cause symp­toms sim­i­lar to or iden­ti­cal to those ex­pe­ri­enced by peo­ple with celiac dis­ease; how­ever, it does not lead to the gut dam­age as­so­ci­ated with celiac dis­ease.

Symp­toms of celiac dis­ease or gluten sen­si­tiv­ity run the gamut from gas­troin­testi­nal is­sues to ane­mia, bone dis­ease, de­pres­sion, fa­tigue, and mi­graines.

“Gluten- Free” Foods

The most sur­pris­ing thing for many peo­ple is that vir­tu­ally all foods la­beled “gluten- free” aren’t com­pletely “free” of gluten: Most ad­here to the FDA’s la­bel­ing guide­lines, which means they con­tain less than ppm gluten, but those are still lev­els that may cause re­ac­tions in some peo­ple.

To err on the side of cau­tion, limit gluten- free la­beled pack­aged foods, and pick and choose the ones you buy care­fully. Look for foods that are cer­ti­fied by celiac or­ga­ni­za­tions such as the Na­tional Celiac As­so­ci­a­tion, the Gluten In­tol­er­ance Group ( which runs the Gluten- Free Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion or GFCO pro­gram), and the Al­ler­gen Con­trol Group/ Cana­dian Celiac As­so­ci­a­tion.

Avoid­ing Gluten

Es­pe­cially dur­ing the hol­i­days, but also year- round, em­pha­size fresh veg­eta­bles, fruits, and un­pro­cessed poul­try, fish, and meat. Us­ing as many of th­ese nat­u­rally gluten- free in­gre­di­ents as pos­si­ble— by mak­ing a veg­etable stuff­ing in­stead of a bread stuff­ing, for in­stance— is the most sure­fire way to both avoid gluten and eat a nu­tri­ent- rich diet that sup­ports over­all health.

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