Gluten is the protein part found in wheat, barley, wheat products and some other related grains. Some people are unable to tolerate gluten when it reaches the small intestine. This health condition is known as celiac disease. A gluten free diet is recommended for those sufferers who are affected with celiac disease. People with autism, wheat allergy, and ADHD may also be recommended a gluten free diet.
In patients with celiac disease, gluten causes inflammation and injures the lining of the small intestine. Due to this injury the sufferer may experience weight loss, gas, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and/or mineral and vitamin deficiency. When the patient follows a gluten free diet, it helps him to heal the lining of the small intestine and controls the signs and symptoms of the disease and also prevents complications.
While observing a gluten free diet, you must avoid gluten containing ingredients such as barley, rye, semolina, triticale, malt, bulgar, couscous, kamut, spelt, durham, farina, graham flour, wheat, wheat bran, wheat germ, filler, cereal binding, einkorn, faro, emmer, wheat starch, matzo meal, etc. Observe the label carefully to find that foods are labeled as gluten free or they are made with soy, rice, corn or some other gluten free grain. You should also check that the food products you are buying have been processed in a facility that is free of wheat. These foods include beers, candies, cakes and pie, breads, crackers, cookies, cereals, gravies, croutons, salad dressing, pastas, processed luncheon meats, soups, seafood or imitation meats. Avoid oats unless they are labeled gluten free.
Some of the products that you eat or that come in contact with your mouth may contain gluten. You must be careful about products such as lipsticks and lip balms, food additives, toothpaste, vitamins and medications using gluten as a binding agent. You may also come in contact with gluten if you use the same utensils that are used by others, like a bread knife and condiment containers.
In a gluten free diet, the grains and starches allowed are: arrowroot, amaranth, cornmeal, polenta, hominy grits, gluten free flours, buckwheat, rice, tapioca, quinoa, pure corn tortillas. But check their labels carefully. Other foods you can eat are vegetables, potatoes, fruits, fresh meats, poultry and fish, wine, ciders and spirits and most dairy products.
A gluten free diet may cause vitamin and mineral deficiency for which your doctor may recommend some supplements.