Treatment of Gluten Sensitivity: A Gluten Free Diet
The treatment for gluten sensitivity or intolerance is simple: a gluten-free diet. There are no medications or surgeries that can cure the condition.
The gluten-free diet is a lifelong commitment for people with gluten sensitivity. Eating any amount of gluten, no matter how tiny, can cause damage to the villi of the small intestines and prevent patients from absorbing nutrients into the bloodstream.
A physician will typically recommend that a newly diagnosed gluten sensitive patient visit with a dietitian or nutritionist.These professionals can help in learning to read food labels and identify foods that are acceptable on the gluten-free diet.They can also help patients network with local support groups and find grocery stores that specialize in gluten-free food items.This will help a patient begin living with gluten sensitiviey in his or her daily life.
Most patients who strictly follow the gluten-free diet will experience relief of symptoms within a few weeks, although it will take up to six months for the small intestine to heal in children and up to two years to heal in adults.
Due to the harmful and sometimes prolonged effects of gluten exposure, those with gluten sensitivity may have severe nutrient malabsorption issues, and low levels of essential vitamins and minerals. These levels can gradually improve as you begin a gluten-free diet, but consulting a doctor or nutritionist during this critical restoration process is encouraged.
The goal is to stay gluten-free for life. Concentrate on what you CAN eat, and start simply! A first and simple step is to look for dishes that need very little customization, perhaps just the substitution of one gluten-free ingredient for one that is not gluten- free. For example, make macaroni and cheese or baked ziti with rice, corn, or lentil pasta, or prepare enchiladas with corn tortillas instead of the wheat flour variety.
Although single ingredient, fresh foods are a good way to start, choices are abundant in local stores. A surprising number of restaurants have gluten-free selections and even offer gluten-free menus. Food processors may change ingredients, so it is still important to read labels, visit websites and/or call manufacturers.
In order to maximize the health and nutritional benefits of a gluten-free diet, you should embrace a diet filled with a variety of naturally gluten-free items such as fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. Remember that while the growing number of gluten-free products available is both exciting and tasty, a balanced diet containing a variety of healthy foods is best!
Many gluten-free products lack the B vitamins, calcium, vitamin D, iron, zinc, magnesium, and fiber, essential to maintaining a healthy body. As a result, those on a gluten-free diet may continue to suffer from certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and become susceptible to complications resulting from obesity.
Gluten Free Diet 101
Sticking to a gluten-free diet can be difficult if you don’t know what foods contain gluten. If you have gluten sensitivity or intolerance, you must avoid all forms of wheat, barley and rye.
You’ll soon become an expert reading labels and inquiring about ingredients. It may take a little time, but with the right support system, you’ll be able to navigate the gluten-free diet with ease.
For more information on going gluten free or to consult with our nutrition educator, Kiara Oberhaensli – contact The Center for Natural & Integrative Medicien: (407) 355-9246