gluten free diet

Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, rye, and barley. People with celiac disease must stick to a gluten-free diet, avoiding all gluten-containing foods. Celiac disease is a condition in which the immune system attacks the small intestine and damages it when gluten is present. This damage can make it more difficult to absorb nutrients from food, potentially leading to malnutrition. Even a tiny amount of gluten can produce intestinal damage and symptoms like stomach upset, rash, fatigue, and joint pain. People with non-celiac gluten sensitivity?symptoms similar to those of celiac disease, but that don?t involve inflammation in the intestines?will need to limit or stay away from gluten-containing foods, too.

Eating a gluten-free diet doesn?t have to be impossibly strict or hard to follow. People can still eat a well-balanced menu of foods. Fruits, vegetables, fish, rice, and unprocessed meats can all be included in a gluten-free diet. Even some foods that traditionally include grains aren?t off-limits. Many breads, pasta, and cookies made with alternative grains like bean flour, amaranth, corn flour, and millet are available. A gluten-free diet can incorporate other types of grains, too, including arrowroot, beans, buckwheat, flax, millet, nut flours, potato, quinoa, rice, sorghum, soy, and tapioca.

To stick with a gluten-free diet, people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity need to stay alert for gluten in all its forms. Reading food labels and asking questions when ordering in restaurants can prevent symptoms, as well as further intestinal damage. Many packaged products are labeled ?gluten-free.? The FDA requires that these foods contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten.

It?s important for people with celiac disease to also be vigilant about foods that might not seem like obvious sources of gluten. These include salad dressings, medications, beer, communion wafers, soups, marinades, imitation bacon and seafood, processed lunch meats, soy sauce, and thickeners.

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