Gluten Intolerance: Often a Lifelong Condition

Ms. Nasim Ara    23-02-2016 Consult

Pasta, tortillas, bagels, whole-wheat bread: great sources of starches, other nutrients, and perhaps fibre. Yet, those with gluten intolerance need to build their healthful eating plan with other grain products.
Gluten Intolerance - also referred to as gluten sensitive enteropathy or celiac disease - is an intestinal disorder and not a true food intolerance. For those who have it, the body can't tolerate gluten (a form of protein) in wheat, rye, barley, and perhaps oats.
For people with gluten intolerance, consuming gluten damages the small intestine lining, and the damaged intestine can't absorb nutrients as well. For those with gluten intolerance, the risk for malnutrition, especially among children, is high. Other potential risks: premature osteoporosis, colon cancer, autoimmune disorders (including thyroid disease and type 1 diabetes), arthritis, miscarriage, and birth defects.

Who's at risk? As a genetic disorder, gluten intolerance is more common among people with European roots. The challenge is: Gluten intolerance is often misdiagnosed, and its varying symptoms often imitate other health problems. Often it goes undetected until triggered by other body stresses: perhaps surgery, a viral infection, or pregnancy.

Symptoms - They vary. Weakness, appetite loss, weight loss, chronic diarrhea, and abdominal cramps and bloating are common; some experience a painful rash, muscle cramps, or joint pain. Among women, gluten intolerance may interfere with the menstrual cycle. For children, gluten intolerance is especially risky. Unless well managed, gluten intolerance can affect a child's behavior and ability to grow and learn. Chronic irritability is a warning sign. For growth and development, a child's high energy and nutrient needs require adequate nourishment.
Gluten intolerance can occur at any age. Symptoms may appear first during infancy when cereal is started. Most cases are diagnosed in adulthood, often ten years after the first symptoms. Temporary lactose intolerance may accompany gluten intolerance, at least until the condition is under control and the small intestine heals. Healing may take months or years.

Treatment - Primary treatment for gluten intolerance is a lifelong, strict eating regimen; a gluten-free diet is a "must." Once gluten is eliminated, the small intestine can heal. Nutrient absorption then improves; symptoms disappear. Those with gluten intolerance can live a long, healthy life. If you think you have gluten intolerance, ask your physician for a diagnosis.

What foods to avoid for Gluten Intolerance? Gluten in wheat, rye, barley, and perhaps oats is damaging. To manage gluten intolerance, these four grains, and any food or food component made from them, must be avoided. Even trace amounts of gluten in the diet can damage the small intestine.
Avoiding wheat is probably the biggest challenge for people with gluten intolerance. That's because wheat is the main ingredient in so many foods: baked foods, bread, breakfast cereal, breaded foods, crackers, pretzels, and pasta, among others. Gluten containing ingredients show up as additives (thickeners, fillers, and stabilizers) in many other products, too, including batter-dipped vegetables, scalloped potatoes, canned soup, lunch meat, pudding, beer, salad dressing, canned tuna - and even some medications, toothpastes, and mouthwashes.
Gluten-containing ingredients may be hard to detect because they may appear under a different name or as part of another ingredient. Knowing how to identify gluten is important for using ingredients' information from food manufacturers. Technically, "gluten" describes the protein component of grain. Although rice and corn contain gluten, it's in a different form, so it's not harmful. Avoid gluten from barley, rye, wheat, and perhaps oats.

Eating Gluten-Free!
Coping with gluten intolerance requires a strict eating regimen. While it's hard to follow at first, this condition can be managed with food choices, not medication. If you - or someone you know - deals with gluten intolerance, these are some guidelines to follow:
  1. Consult a registered dietician who can help you learn how to live with gluten intolerance and enjoy eating! 
  2. Use grains and other starchy foods without gluten: amaranth, arrowroot, beans (legumes), buckwheat, corn, millet, nut flours, potato, quinoa, rice, sorghum, soy, and tapioca. Skip oats since they may be produced and harvested in equipment used for handling wheat. As a result, cross contamination may be a problem.
  3. Look for gluten-free grains, flour, and food products in stores. Today more gluten-free food products are available than ever before. Can't find them in your grocery store? Check specialty or health food stores. Mail-order outlets also can be a source of alternate flours for baking, as well as prepared foods, mixes, grains, and specialty ingredients.
  4. Read food labels carefully! Many commercially prepared foods - baked, frozen, and canned - have gluten-containing ingredients. These are among the many foods that may or may not be a problem: flavored and frozen yogurt, rice crackers, luncheon meats, egg substitutes, French fries (especially in restaurants), salad dressings, pudding mixes, canned soups, flavored teas, candies, seasoning mixes, tortilla chips, and Worcestershire sauce. Spotting ingredients and additives with gluten must become second nature.
  5. Know the origin, composition, and production of ingredients. For example, flavored chips may be dusted with an ingredient made with wheat. Since the amount is less than 2 percent by weight, the ingredient may not be listed on the label. Another example: vinegar, distilled from grain, are okay except for malt vinegar in the United States. Malt vinegar is a problem because malt by definition in the United States is barley; it may be added to or used as the starting mash to produce malt vinegar. Ingredients used in prepared foods, such as marinades and barbecue sauce, may have malt vinegar, too.
  6. Substitute gluten-free flour for wheat flour in food prep. Use corn, rice, soy, arrowroot, tapioca, or potato flours, or perhaps a mixture, instead of wheat flour. These flours are gluten-free. Because they give a different flavour and texture to baked foods, using these flours takes practice and experimentation. 
  7. Keep up-to-date with food products so you can choose gluten-free foods. Contact food manufacturers for their current ingredient lists. As you know, recipes for prepared foods change. You'll find the company name, address, and perhaps a toll-free consumer information service number on the food label.
  8. Eating away from home? Pack gluten-free foods. Read restaurant menus carefully, and ask questions. If you're a guest in someone's home, tell him or her about your special food needs ahead, and offer to bring food.
  9. Find local and national support groups to share information and recipes with others with the same condition. Many support groups publish lists of acceptable food products by brand name. That makes shopping and following a gluten-free diet easier. 

You can online  consult Diet & Nutrition Specialists at Doctor Insta. Video/Phone Consult the dieticians for good 30-40 minutes and get Gluten Free Diet Plans and other therapeutic diet advice.