Eating “gluten-free” is a trend these days. Most see it as a way of losing weight or avoiding carbs. But many people suffer severe health issues as a result of consuming gluten. For example, when people with Celiac disease eat gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley), their immune system responds by attacking the small intestine making it difficult for nutrients to be properly absorbed properly into the body.
Symptoms of celiac disease vary and are difficult to diagnose. The most common symptoms are related to digestive problems, including but not limited to: regular bloating, diarrhea, constipation. Some people, myself included experience less commonly known symptoms including anemia, migraines, chronic fatigue, brain fogginess, irritability, anxiety, depression, weight loss or gain, eczema and skin rashes.
If celiac disease is left untreated it can lead to infertility and cancer, particularly lymphoma and intestinal cancers. Alleviating these symptoms first requires a proper diagnosis from a doctor typically done through a blood test and colonoscopy/endoscopy.
After my diagnosis eight years ago, I felt both relieved and scared. How could I change my entire diet and completely cut out all my favorite foods like bread and pasta (I'm Italian)!? It seemed impossible but what I learned was that it didn’t have to be scary or hard. If you are severely gluten intolerant, allergic or diagnosed with celiac disease, keep in mind these tips to stay safe AND healthy:
- Don’t worry, you can still eat carbs: potatoes, carrots, and other starchy vegetables, gluten-free grains such as rice, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, corn, amaranth, tapioca, and sorghum. Oats should be designated gluten-free. These types of grains can also be used as flours for baking some of your favorite sweets! You can find a wide-range on Mint Basil Market.
- Beware of contamination: Even if something is “technically” gluten-free like oats or french fries, you still need to be cautious. Unless oats are certified gluten-free, they are usually milled with wheat that causes high levels of contamination. Check to make sure french fries are not fried in the same oil as other products covered in flour.
- Read All Ingredients: Especially in packaged food, hidden ingredients may seem fine but are not. This list includes Malt (made with barley), Dextrose (often made with barley unless otherwise specified), Starch (typically made of wheat), and Brewer’s yeast. The best way to avoid hidden ingredients is to eat only designated and certified gluten-free products.
- Not all gluten-free products are healthy: People are often shocked to learn that some packaged and processed gluten-free products are often loaded with more sugar than their gluten-full counterparts. While it’s still “safe” to eat, eating heavily processed gluten-free products isn’t the best option for your health. Opt for more natural alternatives, with limited preservatives and no refined sugar. You can find a wide-range on Mint Basil Market. My personal go-to favorites are the thyme crackers from Bites of Delight.
- Gluten-free Pasta Tastes Great! You can still enjoy your pasta. I was so grateful. Mint Basil Market has tons of tasty options from Nabat. Recipes coming soon!
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