If you walk down any grocery store isle, you're likely to see the label gluten free. Before celiac disease, this probably seemed like nothing more than a marketing gimmick. However, now that you've been diagnosed, gluten free is something that should take on an entirely new meaning. Here is what you need to know.
What Gluten Is
You want to begin your efforts by learning exactly what gluten is; however, in order to do that, you first want to understand that the word gluten is somewhat of a generic term. It is instead a label given to certain types of proteins, including barley, wheat, and rye. In addition to being a nutritional source, these proteins also work as somewhat of an adhesive that helps keep food together and can be found in everything from salad dressings and sauces to breads and food coloring.
What The Problem With Gluten Is
Now that you have an understanding of what gluten is, the next step is to learn exactly why it can be problematic. When someone without celiac disease consumes gluten, their body absorbs it with ease. However, for someone with this disease, the consumption of gluten causes the immune system to work against the body.
As you consume these foods, your immune system will start attacking your small intestine. One of the reasons this reaction is so dangerous is that the small intestine is primarily responsible for absorbing the nutrients from the food you eat, providing fuel for your body. The more the small intestine is attacked, the less it's able to do its job, increasing your risk for malabsorption, which can open the door to a number of additional health concerns.
What You Can Do
When it comes to what you can do to ease your transition, start by cutting all forms of gluten from your diet. As long as you continue to consume these things you will also continue to experience the harsh symptoms and only further damage your intestine.
Even in small doses, gluten is problematic so elimination is important. It's also helpful for you to become a label expert. Until you have a better idea what foods you can or cannot eat, you should be reviewing all nutritional information, so ensure you have plenty of time to shop.
When you remove these items, your body will immediately begin on the path to healing.
If you've been newly diagnosed, don't feel overwhelmed. Yes, this diagnosis does require significant lifestyle changes, but take everything in stride and try not to stress yourself out. Your physician can help you with the transition.