What is a gluten free diet?

A gluten free diet is a diet that is recommended for those suffering from Celiac’s Disease. Celiac’s Disease is an autoimmune disorder involving the small intestine. Individuals with this disease have an allergic reaction to the gluten that is naturally found in wheat, barley and rye products. A gluten free diet may also be needed for those suffering from a condition known as Dermatitis Herpetiformis in which the skin becomes irritated when gluten is consumed. A gluten free diet will help eliminate the symptoms of Celiac’s disease. One such symptom is chronic diarrhea. Fatigue and a failure to thrive in children are also common. Bowel inflammation is normally the cause of chronic diarreah.The use of a gluten free diet is essential and medically necessary for those who have been diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease.

Gluten Free DietGluten is found in many foods either naturally or added as a filler. To follow a gluten free diet, one must be very conscious of the ingredients in the food products they purchase. Gluten is found in almost all cereals, wheat breads, pasta and many ready-made products. Many individuals that have been diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease may choose to begin a vegetarian diet. This should not be done without speaking to a physician or nutritionist first.

Most physicians and nutritionists recommend avoiding all foods that contain gluten, including whole wheat pasta and other wheat products, rye, barley and often times oats as well. There is some disagreement as to whether oats are safe to use in a gluten free diet. There are currently a much wider range of foods available then in the past, for those following a gluten free diet. Specialty foods include bread mixes, cookies and snacks, cake mixes, pasta products and flour.

Many patients with Celiac’s Disease show an almost immediate response when changed to a gluten free diet. Symptoms usually lessen quite quickly and may reverse completely if the gluten free diet is continued on a regular basis. Most food items that are gluten free are low in protein so it is very important to speak with a dietician to make sure the individual is consuming an adequate amount of protein and other necessary vitamins and minerals. More protein can be added to a gluten free diet by including eggs, milk and cheese products. Protein is especially important for a child that has to be on a gluten free diet. Once diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease it is recommended that the individual stay on a gluten free diet for life. Since it is proven to almost always alleviate most of the worst symptoms of Celiac’s Disease, many people find it quite easy to change to a gluten free diet.

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