Mississauga - February 2, 2012 - The gluten-free diet is not only for people with Celiac disease, but also for people looking to lose weight.
As many as 300,000 Canadians could have Celiac’s disease, however, many remain undiagnosed, said Health Canada.
The gluten-free diet is beneficial to everyone but is crucial for people with celiac disease.
“If you have celiac disease, staying strictly gluten-free is a necessity because even the smallest crumb of gluten-containing food causes harm to the intestinal tract,” said Desiree Nielson a registered dietitian for Choices Markets in B.C. “However, if you are avoiding gluten for other reasons, it is more of a personal choice. The more you can maintain a gluten-free diet, the better.”
Nielson promotes healthy eating and helps customers make nutritious choices. She has a degree in Food Nutrition and Health from the University of British Columbia.
“A gluten-free diet is a necessity for someone with celiac disease but for others, it's effectiveness or necessity is not proven,” said Nielson. “However, if someone has confirmed that they don't have celiac disease with their physician but still feel that eating gluten-free makes them feel better it can be a healthful option.”
Some people question the taste
of gluten-free products. They assume that it will be bland. But that is not always the case.
“Gluten-free food can be just as delicious as the original, gluten-containing counterparts - especially when made from whole grains and less-processed ingredients,” said Nielson. “These days, any food you can imagine can be found gluten-free.”
For people looking to incorporate gluten-free into their diet, it should be all or nothing, or there won’t be results.
“Gluten-free foods can be very easily incorporated into your diet. However, maintaining a strict gluten-free environment or finding gluten-free foods while dining out can be a little more difficult,” said Nielson.
“It is a fairly recent allergy that has become more and more common over the past five years. Carriers have an allergy to wheat and gluten, which also include, rye, barley and malt.”
Stephanie Burston was diagnosed with celiac disease in her early 20's. Her mother and her sister are celiacs as well.
“That is a really hard age to start a gluten free diet. No more pub food or beer. It was, and still is, impossible to eat out. Lot's of people don't understand how many products contain gluten,” said Burston. “Products such as, Clamato juice, cosmetics, lotions and medicines.”
There are different severities of the celiac disease, making some people more sensitive to wheat than others.
“Some are gluten-intolerant and can handle a little bit of gluten. Some people are very allergic and some people just choose a gluten free diet as a healthy lifestyle change,” said Burston. “In fact a gluten-free diet 'by choice' is very common, offering all natural products, products without preservatives.”
Celiac disease is genetic. It can be passed down from either first or second relative. It can be triggered by certain environmental, emotional or physical events in life. The only treatment for this disease is a gluten free diet.
“It is a fairly recent allergy that has become more and more common over the past five years, increasing more public awareness and accessibility,” said Burston. “Carriers have an allergy to wheat and gluten, which also include, rye, barley and malt.”
It is important for people to recognize this disease because it can lead to infections, disorders and complications for the body’s internal organs if it is not taken care of.
Burston was living in England at the time going to school. She was drinking a lot of beer and eating a lot of bread.
“My symptoms started very abruptly: vomiting, diarrhea, gas and bloating. I was very uncomfortable,” said Burston. “I had explained my symptoms to my mom, who knew exactly what it was because she had a relative who also had celiac disease.”
People with celiac disease have a hard time finding 100 per cent gluten-free choices at restaurants. It is really important that the meal is truly gluten-free.
“It is extremely difficult to eat out. Since I have been diagnosed there has been an increasing amount of new products and restaurants that offer gluten free options,” said Burston. “However, proper training needs to be implemented to allow all restaurants staff to completely understand the disease. I have eaten gluten free options at a few restaurants. Some have been great, but some still gave me painful symptoms.”
Burston is working on a blog that she hopes will help people with celiac disease, explaining the difficulties of living gluten-free and where to find quality products.
“I wanted to start a blog to help others because I know how difficult it is. I will keep track of everywhere I go and, the struggles I face and where the best locations to find gluten free options,” said Burston.
“Gluten-free food can be just as delicious as the original, gluten-containing counterparts. These days, any food you can imagine can be found gluten-free.”
Silver Hills, a local bakery in Abbotsford, B.C, has recently launched a new line of gluten-free breads. Gluten Free Chia Chia and Gluten Free Mack’s Flax, are now available across Canada.
“Our team has spent many hours researching healthy, organic, gluten-free ingredients and we’ve tested many recipes. We finally have found one that we are very proud of,” said Jodie Jacobsen, the marketing coordinator at Silver Hills Bakery.
“Our gluten free breads are made in a dedicated room,” said Jacobsen. “They have a short ingredient list consisting of whole foods, whole sorghum flour, whole chia flour, yeast, salt, water, cane sugar, and psyllium husks, along with a good dose of care and attention.”
When it comes to the baking process of gluten-free bread, it is much different then regular bread.
“It’s sticky and stiff, but yet very wet and it doesn’t recover volume like regular dough if it gets punched down. It is also very difficult to slice,” said Jacobsen.
The bread comes in two flavours, Gluten Free Chia Chia and Gluten Free Mack’s Flax and is becoming more and more popular with both people with celiac disease and people that just want to make a healthy choice.
“Many people are trying a gluten free diet out of interest and not particularly because of an allergy. Sort of a gluten-free cleanse you might say,” said Jacobsen. “The book Wheat Belly has many questioning the breads they are eating. We have found some are looking for a healthy, gluten-free alternative once they have read the book.”
The bread offers much more than just being gluten-free. It is an all around healthy alternative to other breads containing gluten.
“It’s one of if not the only 100 per cent organic, vegan, whole food gluten free breads,” said Jacobsen. “There are no refined starches, gums, stabilizers, eggs or dairy in our product. Just good whole food and packed with fiber.”