Nutrition Facts - Gluten Intolerance

Nutrition Facts - Gluten Intolerance

Understanding Gluten Intolerance

As many as one in 133 adults in the United States suffer from an intolerance to gluten. Sometimes referred to as nontropical sprue, celiac disease, celiac sprue, or gluten-sensitive enteropathy, this condition is often misdiagnosed and misunderstood.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other flours. Grains that contain gluten include wheat, barley, and rye. Ingredients in foods made from these grains also contain gluten-things like farina, graham flour, semolina, durum wheat, bulgur, Kamut, kasha, matzo meal, spelt, and triticale. Common foods that contain gluten include white or whole wheat bread, flour tortillas, pita bread, crackers, many cereals, pasta, cookies, gravies, and sauces.

What is gluten intolerance?

Gluten intolerance (or celiac disease) is a digestive condition triggered by eating gluten. When a person with gluten intolerance eats foods containing gluten, an immune reaction occurs in the small intestine. The result is damage to the villi on the surface of the small intestine and an inability to absorb nutrients from food.

What are the signs of gluten intolerance?

Signs of this condition can vary widely, which is one reason it is so difficult to diagnose. Most people have general complains like diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating that comes and goes. Symptoms may be similar to those of irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, gastric ulcers, parasitic infections, or anemia. Some people with celiac disease have no gastrointestinal symptoms.

What is the cause of celiac disease?

The exact cause of celiac disease is unknown. However, it can be inherited. If someone in your immediate family has it, you may have it as well. Celiac disease can occur at any age but sometimes emerges after some form of trauma such as pregnancy, surgery, or a physical injury.

How is celiac disease diagnosed?

Celiac disease can be identified by a blood test that detects antibodies that are present when a person with celiac disease has eaten gluten. This can be found by studying a sample of the intestine under a microscope.

How is celiac disease managed?

Celiac disease has no cure. It can be managed by completely removing gluten from the diet. Once you have done that the intestinal villi can heal completely.  To manage the disease and prevent complications, you must avoid foods that contain gluten for the rest of your life.  It is important to still have a well balanced diet while removing gluten and have a nutrition assessment done by a registered dietitian to make sure that you are getting all your nutrition needs met.

At Simply Nutrition, our registered dietitian can help you develop a healthy menu plan and go over eating out and label reading for individuals with gluten intolerance.  Contact Simply Nutrition today to discuss your unique situation.