February 10, 2014

What to do if I have Gluten Allergy

Gluten is a specific type of protein, but one you won't find in meat or eggs. Instead gluten is found in wheat, rye, and barley. It is used as a food additive in the form of a flavoring, stabilizing, or thickening agent, often known as "dextrin".  A gluten-free diet is essential for most people with gluten allergies or celiac disease, a condition which causes intestinal damage when gluten is eaten. A gluten-free diet is the only medically accepted treatment for celiac disease, the related condition dermatitis herpetiformis, and wheat allergy

More number of people are getting non-celiac gluten intolerance (NCGI), or gluten sensitivity.

Symptoms of Gluten allergy
Severe stomach cramps and headaches.
Intestinal Damage
More severe form - Celiac disease
Abdominal pain
Bloating and diarrhoea

How much gluten is OK?
•People with celiac disease must commit to an absolutely gluten-free diet, as eating the protein can, over time, increase a person's risk of osteoporosis, infertility, anaemia and certain cancers, in addition to worsening short-term symptoms.
•If you are sensitive to gluten, but do not have celiac disease, you can have gluten without getting / feeling sick. 

Gluten-free doesn't equal healthy
If you suspect your body can't tolerate gluten, the first thing you should do is get tested for celiac disease. If the test comes back negative, try a gluten-free diet for a week to see if you feel better

Cutting out gluten is the most reliable way to determine if you are, in fact, sensitive to the protein -- and if you are sensitive, it's the only treatment.

Food to Avoid - 
•   Wheat, wheat gluten, barley, or rye
•   Malt (which is made from barley)

•  Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (it often contains wheat).  
•  Oats –though they do not contain gluten, they may increase         symptoms, including abdominal pain, bloating & diarrhoea
•  Soy sauce, white vinegar, salad dressing
• In frozen or canned fruits and vegetables, check for additives that might contain gluten. 

Food to help - 
Most of the food in India is gluten free – key is to find unprocessed foods, free from wheat, rye, barley or malt
Corn-based or rice-based products are recommended, but crucial to read labels carefully, as some may contain malt
Unpolished Rice
All Beans and Daals (lentils/pulses) are gluten free
All Millets eg Bajra, Ragi, Nachni, Maddua and Sorghum (Jowar) are gluten free.
All foods taken on fasting days like Amaranthus (Ramdana/Rajgir), Pure Buckwheat(Kotu), Sago(saboodana)
Several grains & starch sources are gluten-free. E.g. corn, potatoes, rice, tapioca (derived from cassava). 
Other sources considered gluten-free include amaranth, arrowroot, millet, montina, lupin, quinoa, taro, teff, chia seed & yam. 
Various types of bean, soybean, and nut flours are used in gluten-free products to add protein and dietary fiber.
Almond flour is a low-carbohydrate alternative to flour, which has a low glycemic index. 
Gram flour, derived from chickpeas, also is gluten-free (this is not the same as Graham flour made from wheat).

Key points to note – 
There is nothing inherently healthy about gluten-free food. Some products can be unhealthy, even though they might be gluten-free, as a lot of extra sugar and fat are added to simulate the texture and give the feeling of fullness (which is otherwise given by gluten)

Gluten-free products are less routinely fortified with iron and vitamins B and D than regular bread products. Eating gluten free food constantly can result in deficiencies of a few nutrients. They are low in fiber content, iron and calcium.

If you plan to go gluten free, select more fruits, vegetables, and lean meat, and more naturally gluten-free grains like brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat, rather than just buying prepackaged products labeled "gluten free" 

References

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