A gluten-free diet is essential for those who suffer from Celiac Disease.
This means, they have to consume foods that do not contain the protein gluten, which is found in grains like wheat, barley, rye and triticale, a combination of wheat and rye.
In people who suffer from Celiac Disease, gluten causes inflammation in the small intestines and causes other symptoms that include digestive problems, anemia, seizures and muscle cramps and joint pains to name a few.
The challenges with following a gluten-free diet is that some foods and beverages, such as bread and beer, are obvious in that they contain gluten, more so than others. This is because wheat, rye and barley are often referred to as other things on the ingredients list on food packaging.
For example, products that are wheat-based that may not be obvious are bulgar, durum flour, farina, kamut, semolina, spelt and graham flour.
Common foods to avoid if you are following a gluten-free diet include beer, breads, cakes, cereals, French fries, imitation meat and crackers. Other foods to steer clear of include salad dressings, soups, pastas, sauces and potato chips.
However, there are many gluten-free products on the market today, including the common foods to avoid, and they are being made gluten-free by substituting the harmful ingredients with soy, corn, rice or gluten-free grain.
Much like those who suffer from allergies, those who follow a gluten-free diet have to be diligent in consuming foods that are gluten-free by learning to read labels and educating themselves on the alternative names that wheat, barley and rye are called. They also need to do this so they can ensure when they eat at a restaurant that they are eating safe, gluten-free options.
Also, be wary of food additives that may seem safe but contain gluten and medications and vitamins that use gluten as a binding agent. What is also important, and can be prove to be tricky, is being careful to avoid foods that could have been potentially cross-contaminated with foods that contain gluten. This could occur in the harvesting stage, manufacturing plant, in restaurants or at home on countertops, plates and utensils.