Celiac disease is an auto-immune condition that affects an estimated 1 in 133 Americans, or about 1% of the population. And it can occur at any time in a person's life.
When people with celiac disease eat products containing even a trace of gluten - a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut, and oats that helps dough keep its shape when it rises - their small intestines become inflamed and unable to absorb nutrients. The only real treatment is to remove gluten from the diet altogether.
Many people have gluten sensitivities, yet don't test positive for Celiac disease. These individuals can have a myriad of health issues ranging from bloating to headaches, to fatigue.
To find out if you have a sensitivity to gluten ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do you experience frequent bloating or gas?
2. Have you ever been diagnosed with IBS or acid reflux?
3. Do you have daily diarrhea or chronic constipation?
4. Do you experience frequent migraines or headaches?
5. Do you experience joint pain?
6. Do you have problems concentrating or staying focused?
7. Have you dealt with depression and anxiety?
8. Do you often feel fatigued?
9. Do you suffer from chronic eczema or acne?
If you answered yes to four or more of these questions, you may have gluten sensitivity and should probably see your doctor. He/she will most likely have you eliminate gluten from your diet for a period of 2 to 4 weeks to determine if your symptoms subside. If you answered yes to only one or two of these questions, it might still be worth your while to eliminate gluten from your diet to see if those symptoms go away.
Eliminating gluten from your diet isn't as hard as it sounds. You may even lose a couple of pounds while you're testing your body's reaction to a gluten-free diet. It is true that gluten is typical in such foods as pizza, pasta, bread, wraps, rolls, and many processed foods. But there are many foods that naturally do not contain gluten. Whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and rice do not contain gluten. Quinoa is also gluten-free.
Whether you're a vegan or a vegetarian, you are most likely already used to giving some extra thought to what you put on your plate. And this is no different. You can quickly learn what foods to avoid if you have a sensitivity to gluten. Many people find that cutting out most (though not all) gluten from their diet is sufficient in aiding the majority of their symptoms.
To learn how to substitute gluten-free flour for regular wheat-flour in your recipes and ours, click here.