An auto-immune disorder that is triggered by eating foods containing gluten, celiac disease is a digestive disorder that interferes with the absorption of nutrients in the small intestine. Gluten is a protein that is commonly found in wheat, barley and rye. In individuals with celiac disease, when gluten containing food reaches the small intestine, the body perceives the protein as toxin and generates antibodies to destroy the tissues of the intestine.
This can interfere with the functions of small intestine and in turn affect the absorption of nutrients leading to various nutritional disorders. The good news, however, is that the damage caused by celiac disease is reversible. By adhering to strict dietary guidelines and taking necessary precautions, you can successfully manage this chronic disorder.
Dietary Tips For Celiac Disease
Switching to a gluten-free diet is the important step towards managing celiac disease. Listed below are some useful tips that will minimize the adverse effects of this condition.
Include Meat and Fish
Fresh meats and fishes are gluten-free and hence considered safe for consumption. However, meat and fish with added ingredients must be exercised with caution as they may contain gluten. Deficiencies of nutrients like calcium, B-vitamins, iron, Vitamin D and fibre are common with people suffering from celiac disease.
Therefore, intake of meats and fishes that are rich in iron and calcium can help you meet the daily requirement of these minerals. Sardines, salmon and tuna can satisfy the daily vitamin D needs of your body.
Milk and Dairy Products
Like meats and fishes, all dairy products are considered safe for consumption. Milk, irrespective of whether it is toned, skimmed or regular is gluten-free. Milk and butter can provide fair amounts of the nutrients required by your body. C
heeses that are cut and re-packed may not be safe as there is a possibility of gluten cross-contamination. Yogurt (a probiotic) can strengthen the immune system and alleviate the damage caused to the villi. It can reduce the inflammation and protect the lining of the intestine.
Increase Vegetables and Fruits Intake
All fresh, canned and frozen fruits and vegetables are gluten-free and generally considered safe for consumption. You can include liberal amounts of vegetables and fruits in your diet. Vegetables and fruits can reduce the inflammation in the intestine and protect the mucosal lining.
They also ensure you meet the daily nutritional requirements. The fibre in the fruits and vegetables can reduce gastrointestinal complications and prevent constipation.
Processed vegetables and fruits are also safe to consume but it is advisable to check the label to avoid the possibility of gluten cross-contamination. Cut fruits that are sold in jars and sealed packages should also be checked for gluten ingredients. Include at least 5-6 portions of vegetables and 2-3 portions of fruits in your diet.
Cereals and Nuts
You can choose from a wide range of gluten-free cereals available in the market. Breakfast cereals made from rice, corn and potato flours can be used as an alternative to wheat. Gluten-free quinoa and oats are few other healthier options. Include snacks made of rice and corn instead of wheat or refined flour.
Fat malabsorption is a typical symptom of celiac disease. Including flax seeds in your diet can provide fair amounts of omega-3-fatty acids. Flax seed can also be used for making gluten-free baked products. Intake of a handful of nuts every day can provide the necessary amounts of essential fatty acids and fiber.
Read Food Labels
Apart from eliminating rye, wheat and barley from your diet, you need to avoid foods that can be hidden sources of gluten like puddings, sauces, French fries, etc. Therefore, it is prudent to read the labels of all the processed foods before purchase. It is advisable to carry a list of foods containing gluten while shopping to reduce the risk of picking wrong products.
The ingredients of the same brand product can vary from time to time. Therefore, it is wise to check the label even if you have been buying the product over and again.
Importance of a Balanced Diet
Malabsorption is one of the most prominent symptoms of celiac disease. It is, therefore, important to have a well-balanced diet to prevent nutritional disorders, boost immunity and reduce secondary complications. Apart from these, you might need to take vitamin and mineral supplement to correct nutritional deficiencies.
It is best to discuss with your physician before taking any dietary supplementation. It is also prudent to be aware of the comprehensive list of gluten-free foods and hidden sources of gluten. Adhering to simple guidelines and taking necessary measures to check for gluten-free foods can play a major role in managing celiac disease for the rest of your life.