Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Gluten Free Diet for the Carb Lover in You - Associated Content from Yahoo!

Each year, medical professionals discover more and more of their patients suffer from digestive conditions, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or constipation, due to sensitivity to gluten. People suffering from an

allergy to gluten are commonly affected by a disease known as celiac disease.

Celiac disease is a digestive disease that inhibits the absorption of certain food nutrients due to an allergic reaction to gluten, which is a protein derived from wheat, rye, and barley. People affected with celiac disease can experience damage to their small intestine and other parts of their digestive system, if their condition is left undiagnosed and they eat foods with gluten or wheat protein.

One problem with diagnosing celiac disease is the fact that its symptoms are similar to common ailments, such as gas or a common stomach ache. Other common symptoms of celiac disease include chronic diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal bloating or pain.

Celiac disease differs from gluten sensitivity, because with celiac disease the body usually produces antibodies to attack gluten. While a person may not have celiac disease, it does not mean that the person is not suffering from a gluten sensitivity, which is most cases carries the same symptoms of celiac disease less the intestinal damage.

Once diagnosed with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity a person can be left with a dilemma: "What am I going to eat that doesn't have wheat in it?" Although more restaurants and grocery stores have taken notice of celiac disease, few offer a wide range of alternative food options, other than typical Atkins-like dishes or pure vegetarian dishes, such as hamburgers without buns or salads without croutons.

These alternative dishes are certainly more healthy than the typical fast food takeout since removing bread often removes up to 200 calories from any dish, but they still

may leave a person craving carbohydrates. Fortunately, a person with celiac disease, a gluten sensitivity, or a person simply interested in a gluten free diet, can continue to eat many of their favorite foods, so long as they modify certain ingredients, and in many cases, prepare the food themselves.

Contrary to popular restaurant menu choices, a gluten free diet does not require the removal of all carbohydrates. Instead, people following a gluten free diet can enjoy their same favorite dishes by substituting alternative carbs using alternative flours, including brown rice flour, millet flour, or corn flour, to make breads and doughs.

Other sources of gluten free carbohydrates include sweet potatoes, rice, corn, quinoa, bananas, and a variety of foods modified to be gluten free, such as gluten-free pasta. To keep things simple, people with gluten free dietary restrictions should shop primarily in stores that cater to directly to their needs.

For example, BabyCakes, a popular vegan dessert chain located in New York and Los Angeles, creates a variety of gluten-free cupcakes and donuts using rice flours and other non-spelt flours. Spelt is a type of flour consisting of a variation of a wheat grain, which some people with celiac disease can tolerate, but others cannot.

Grocery stores, like Whole Foods, serve gluten free pizza made from special gluten free flour and other fresh ingredients in their hot food sections. In fact, health based grocery stores, including Whole Foods and Trader Joes, tend to offer the most extensive food options for people maintaining a gluten free diet.

These grocery stores carry products ranging from flour-less brownies, corn tortillas, gluten free bagels, gluten free pancakes, and rice milk. Easy access to gluten free foods makes it easier to shop for food, and decreases the risk that a person suffering from celiac disease will mistakenly buy a product with gluten.

Luckily, the awareness of celiac disease is increasing, and many local supermarkets are beginning to carry brands that recognize it. For example, General Mills Rice Chex is now gluten-free and in June 2011, Kellogg's plans to introduce gluten free Rice Krispies.

Additionally, people on a gluten free diet should beware of hidden sources of gluten. These sources can be found in certain alcoholic beverages, homeopathic remedies, cereals, granola bars, certain cheeses, vinegars,

soy sauces, moisturizers, and even some medications. Consult your doctor to prepare a list of basic foods and products to avoid.

While following a gluten free diet may involve special attention to food preparation, shopping habits, and most of all, carbs, many people continue to enjoy their favorite carb recipes by changing ingredients. In the long run, a gluten free diet can help people to become healthier and improve the overall function of their digestive system.

, Yahoo! Contributor Network