Gluten-free diets seem to be the trend lately. People go on a gluten-free diet only to find how difficult it is and go off it.
If you suspect you need a gluten-free diet, do not start the diet before being screened or diagnosed. If you start treatment, the screening tests and biopsy become unreliable. If you do not have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, then following a gluten-free diet is not recommended. Gluten-free is not a healthier way to eat.
Celiac disease affects one person in 133 in the United States and is linked to various autoimmune diseases (such as Type 1 diabetes, autism, asthma, lupus and arthritis) according to the Internet site WebMD.
There is a significant difference between celiac disease, gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity.
Celiac disease is an inherited autoimmune disorder (affecting digestive process and resultant damage to small intestine); it is genetic. It does not just appear as a result of lifestyle.
Gluten sensitivity means one has a reaction after ingesting gluten products (be it celiac disease, wheat allergy or gluten sensitivity). If it is not an autoimmune disease (celiac sprue), then there is not the permanent destruction of the villi in the gut leading to cancer.
Symptoms of the disease and the sensitivity can vary and, making it even more difficult, some people with celiac disease have no symptoms at all.
People who follow the gluten-free diet are at risk for vitamin deficiencies, particularly iron, calcium, B vitamins, folate and fiber. Brown rice, whole corn and corn meal, and quinoa are three easy additions. Gluten-free products typically have lower fiber content as well as higher fat and sodium content. This can result in a product that is processed more rapidly by the body, affecting blood sugar as well as satiety.
I have come to realize that there has been significant improvement in the taste of numerous gluten-free products over the last few years.
The Nutrition Center at Colorado State University has been doing extensive research on various recipes, products and needs of the gluten-sensitive population as well as updating the Wheat Allergy Cookbook.
They identify various flours that provide different benefits. Recipes such as gluten-free pumpkin muffins, sandwich bread and English muffins (and bread sticks) are quite tasty.
Blanched almond flour makes an excellent pie crust, coating for meat and sandwich bread. Chick flour provides a delicate crumb and rich flavor; sorghum flour provides flavor close to wheat; oat flour provides a flavorful moist cake-like crumb. Tapioca flour encourages browning, while potato flour lightens the dough. Xanthene is helpful for elasticity while holding the product together.
For those of you who think the taste isnt worth it, there are samplings available online.
Bottom line: We each must enjoy what we eat, or we just wont eat it. There are truly a variety of tasty options to fulfill many needs.
email@example.com or 247-4355. Wendy Rice is family and consumer science agent for the La Plata County Extension Office.