A gluten free diet is recommended only for people suffering from or thought to have Celiac disease which is an often debilitating and painful auto-immune disorder.
In people with celiac disease Gluten; which is a protein found in grains, irritates and inflames the small intestine, which can lead to significant discomfort, poor nutrient absorption and a range of serious problematic symptoms.
Avoiding foods containing Gluten is the only treatment for this disease and will alleviate symptoms, prevent further complications and generally enhance the quality of life for sufferers.
We are however seeing a dramatic increase in people avoiding Gluten for a whole range of reasons other than the treatment of Celiac disease.
But what is Gluten and how can we avoid it, what is involved in developing a healthy gluten free diet plan?
Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, rye and barley, and these grains are commonly used in many everyday processed foods.
Avoiding Gluten may seem a daunting task at first, but thankfully more and more products are being produced to substitute traditional gluten containing foods such as bread, pasta and even beer!
A gluten free diet can closely resemble many ‘clean’ ‘raw’ or even ‘Paleo’ diets and eating styles that are currently so popular, as most grains require significant processing prior to consumption.
You will be relieved to know there are a long list of ‘common’ everyday foods that are perfectly safe for those avoiding gluten; all fruits and vegetables, meats including chicken and fish, eggs, seafood, nuts, seeds, beans and most dairy products are all gluten free unless processed or mixed in a way with grains (i.e. crumbed chicken Kiev, or a steak pie thickened with flour and cooked in pastry).
There are however many grains and starches that are naturally gluten free and while not traditionally used are becoming more popular and available in processed foods. For example rice flour, corn flour, corn meal and even banana flour can easily replace wheat barley or rye in certain foods.
Our supermarket shelves are increasingly becoming stocked with more gluten free options.
Most packaging clearly identifies whether or not a product contains gluten or indeed if it possibly may due to cross contamination at the manufacture stage.
Adhering to a gluten free diet plan need not be a tiresome burden as it may sound, by being aware of grain options available (Quinoa, hard to pronounce, but not just a ‘fashion statement!) a healthy enjoyable eating style can easily be incorporated into a busy lifestyle.
The health benefits of a gluten free diet are certainly worth the effort for those with celiac disease, it is however not recommended exclusively to people not suffering from the condition.
However there are a range of non-celiac gluten free sensitivities in which this diet plan is suitable for.
For further information or if you think you may be suffering from undiagnosed celiac disease you should contact your doctor, healthcare professional or local celiac support group here.