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How to Live Gluten-Free - The Average North American Diet Makes it Difficult - Health - Diseases and Conditions

Today, if you suffer from celiac disease, it's much easier to live a gluten-free life. Still, it's an often frustrating, time-consuming challenge. You only have to visit most restaurants and grocery stores to know that your gluten-free options are often limited, and you have to dig deeper to know what dinner special to order or what snack brand to choose.

It is estimated that gluten-free shoppers spend an average of 45 to 90 minutes more in grocery stores than the average food shopper. And no wonder -- finding substitutes and reading labels eat up a lot of time.

Why so much gluten in our diets?

Our farming history is grain-based, which is why gluten is so common in our diets. Our ancestors survived and prospered because of grains grown on the rolling prairie seas. As a result, today the staples of the average North American diet contain a lot of products and ingredients that contain wheat, barley and rye -- ingredients you must avoid in a gluten-free diet. People with celiac disease experience a severe immune reaction to gluten -- the protein found in wheat, rye and barley that inflames the lining of the small intestine, interfering with the absorption of minerals and vitamins. When your body can't get the nutrients it needs, serious health complications can arise.

How to keep celiac disease under control

The only treatment for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet for life. (Even sneaking in a small amount of gluten from one beer can re-inflame the small intestine, which may take time to recover.) Living gluten-free means eliminating all foods and food ingredients that contain even a hint of wheat, rye and barley. (From the wheat family, for example, it means avoiding spelt, kamut, semolina, durum, einkorn, and faro.)

Gluten is hard to replace entirely

Gluten is everywhere. While the main sources of gluten are breads, cereals, pastas, crackers and other baked goods, it also lurks in other less obvious places such as luncheon meats, salad dressings, yogurt, malt vinegar, soy sauce, many flavorings, and gravy and sauces thickened with flour. Be wary of consuming gluten as a hidden ingredient in food products, medicines or vitamin supplements. Ingredients to avoid or question include graham flour, modified food starch, MSG, dextrin, caramel colour and natural flavorings.

Now for the good news

The good news is that many foods are naturally gluten-free: meats, fish, poultry, eggs, legumes milk products, fruits, vegetables and rice. And while wheat, rye and barley (and related grains) must be avoided, you still have a choice of other healthy, tasty substitutes including millet, amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa. As well, ground rice, flaxseed, almonds and legumes can be substituted for gluten flours.

Summary:

For people with celiac disease, or for those simply keen to cut back on their gluten, life is getting easier with a rapidly growing range of gluten-free products such as baked goods, rice snacks, pizza dough and pastas. Even restaurants and airlines are joining the bandwagon, offering more gluten-free substitutes. Soon perhaps you'll even find gluten-free snacks at baseball stadiums and hockey arenas.

Information and discussions on celiac disease, gluten-free living and riceworks Gourmet Brown Rice Crisps can be found at





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