Everything you need to know about being celiac. What to eat and what to give up and above all how to live it.
Celiac disease is a food intolerance towards gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, spelled, oats, kamut and rye. When an intolerant person ingests gluten, the body identifies it and treats it as a threat, activating the immune system. The activation of immune defenses in celiac disease generates problems in the intestine that is no longer able to assimilate the nutrients of food, as is normal.
The symptoms may be different, from the classic stomach ache to joint pain.
Celiacs have increased exponentially, and it is estimated that one person in 130 is currently suffering from this autoimmune disease. In this post, we want to cover all aspects of celiac disease together, from when it was born to how it is diagnosed, to what celiacs can eat and what they can’t eat!
How does Celiac disease manifest itself?
The causes that develop celiac disease are not yet fully known.
Research has shown that to be celiac you need to have a genetic predisposition. Nevertheless, it is estimated that 30% of the population has the typical genes of celiac disease. Yet, as we have seen, only one person in 130 is celiac. This leads to think that there is some other factor, which in some subjects causes autoimmune pathology to degenerate.
Another characteristic of this pathology is that it can arise at any age, most often it turns out to be celiac in old age. As already mentioned, the symptoms of this pathology can be multiple, thus making the diagnosis not always easy.
How to get to the diagnosis
To find out if you are celiac, you have two paths. First of all, blood tests are carried out to ascertain that the antibodies responsible for celiac disease are present. If the suspicions of celiac disease are confirmed by a blood test, we move on to intestinal biopsy. In practice, a very small piece of intestine is taken and analyzed to understand at what stage the pathology has arrived.
Once diagnosed with celiac disease, the cure is only one today: although research is moving a lot to counter this pathology, at the moment, the road to having no problems is not eating gluten.
What is possible to eat
When we talk about celiac disease, we immediately think of who knows what enormous privations. In reality the only thing to avoid is gluten, but you can eat everything else.
Fortunately, there are many foods that do not contain gluten. Let’s talk, for example, that you can eat, all types of fruit, all types of legumes and all types of vegetables and this already gives us plenty of room for maneuver. Indeed, like any good diet that respects itself, it is recommended to eat in quantity.
There are also cereals that do not contain gluten, such as buckwheat, rice, quinoa, corn and amaranth. No problem even with potatoes, milk and its derivatives such as yogurt and cheese. Meat, fish, oils and butter do not cause any discomfort to celiacs, as do carbonated drinks like coca cola, wines and spirits in general, with the exception of beer, unless you find the gluten free one.
Beyond the naturally gluten-free products, there are other products created by food companies, specifically for celiacs.
Pasta, bread and pizza, which are generally forbidden to celiacs, can be eaten if they are produced with gluten-free flour. There are stores specializing in gluten-free products, but also large-scale retailers have organized themselves to offer gluten-free products. It should be noted that, the Italian National Health System recognizes an exemption, within a certain amount, on the purchase of gluten-free products for all celiacs.
What you can’t eat
Bread, pasta and pizza, are foods that are not for celiacs, unless they were made with zero-gluten flour. Often, the food industry uses gluten even on products that, at first sight, would seem not to contain it. It is therefore necessary to pay close attention to the labels and ingredients described.
For example, although sugars are not forbidden to celiacs, it is easy for some spreads or some chocolate bars to contain gluten. The same goes for the cheeses: gluten may be present especially in the spreadable ones. Rice and potatoes, in the same way, are naturally gluten-free, but ready-made products often contain gluten. The same applies to cured meats: meat can easily enter the diet of a celiac, but some cured meats contain gluten due to the way they are processed.
Finally, a brief reference should also be made to the topic of gluten-free food contamination. By contamination we mean the simple contact of gluten-free foods with those that contain them. It is always good to keep the rooms where you cook with gluten and those where you cook gluten-free well separated. For example, when preparing pizza at home, if you also want to prepare a gluten-free pizza, you must first remove all traces of flour with gluten from the surfaces, even better if you use another environment directly to prepare the gluten-free dough. The same goes for pasta: never use the same water where normal pasta is cooked. Always use different pans and cutlery, you will solve the problem.