Celiac Disease is something you may or not have heard of with the recent boom in “gluten-free” products, benefits, and individuals testifying they feel better when they don’t eat sources of gluten. Others are able to eat gluten with no side effects, and in the proper whole grain form, whole grain wheat, barley, and rye (preferably organically sourced) are natural whole foods that provide substantial heart, mood, and gut-health benefits.
However, those with Celiac Disease can’t have any amounts of gluten—even in small amounts—without getting very sick to the point that it can be life-threatening. This is because the autoimmune condition attacks the cells of the inner lining of the digestive tract and causes a wide array of issues when a person eats gluten This is *not* the same as being slightly uncomfortable when we eat high-fiber gluten-containing foods or processed foods with gluten (like bread), which may or not be due to the gluten but due to the processing or other ingredients (gums, emulsifiers, refined oils, yeasts, processed sugars, etc.). Therefore, it’s incredibly important to be aware of some essential things to know if you or a loved one at any time develops a confirmed case of Celiac Disease so you can be sure you’re able to fully live your best life possible or help them do so.
So for Celiac Disease Awareness Week in October, we wanted to take the time to share some important things to know. Gut health can change over the course of our lifespan, and many people realize early or later on in life that they can’t tolerate any gluten-containing grains. This may leave you (or them) confused and down about what to do, eat, and how to live healthfully without getting sick. Here are some important things to know if you or a loved one develops Celiac Disease and how to still live a vibrant, healthy life!
1. Celiac Disease is irreversible and is an autoimmune disease located in the digestive tract that prevents anyone with Celiac Disease from being able to eat any gluten-containing grains (or foods containing traces of them) including wheat, barley, rye, triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye), spelt wheat, Kamut wheat, freekeh (wheat) Einkorn wheat, farro, and other relatives of these grains. It affects roughly 1% of the human population, or every 1 out of 100 people. It is not caused by anything a person did, nor is it the fault of anyone who develops the disease. Celiac.org states that it is a genetically pre-disposed condition that can even be passed down from third-generation relatives if one’s parents don’t have the disease.
2. Buying Certified Gluten-Free Whole Grains is the safest choice when it comes to buying foods containing grains or traces of grains, which are important for overall human health. Grains that are naturally gluten-free and that don’t contain gluten but that can be contaminated during growing and processing are oats, corn, rice, millet, quinoa, amaranth, teff, and buckwheat, among others. These foods provide essential amino acids (protein), iron, B vitamins, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and other important nutrients along with prebiotic fiber to feed good bacteria in the gut, reduce cholesterol, and more. Look for packages that state “Gluten-Free” or “Certified Gluten-Free” on the label, which can not claim that if it has not been tested to be gluten-free. If you’re unsure, check out a brand’s website or contact them to find out about their testing methods. Most websites of various brands will state their stance on gluten and so will the packaging on the front or back of the product.
3. Eating anti-inflammatory, mostly whole unprocessed fruits and vegetables is key for those with Celiac Disease to ensure enough micronutrients are consumed to prevent malnutrition and combat inflammation in the body and digestive tract. These foods also feed good bacteria in the gut that help repopulate the digestive tract along with act as preventative foods for a host of other health issues. They also help keep you full!
4. Regularly consuming gluten-free fermented foods helps reestablish good bacteria in the gut to combat gut inflammation and helps with healing, even though it will not reverse the disease. Foods like Lifeway kefir, probiotic yogurt, miso, sauerkraut and kimchi (vegetable sources), kombucha tea, and others are examples of fermented foods. Choose the ones that work for you best and look for packages that state the packages are gluten-free. Lifeway Oat is a dairy-free choice for oat milk lovers made with 100% gluten-free organic oats, which also offer probiotics and prebiotics.
5. Celiac is not contagious in any way and you can not spread it; it is a genetically pre-disposed issue, that may or may not affect future generations. It is important to remember that celiac disease is not the same as having a gluten intolerance. It must be confirmed through a lab test which any doctor can arrange for you by request. If you are confirmed to have celiac disease know you can still have a wonderful, healthy life with careful choices. Love your guts and nourish your body with real, whole foods. If your loved one has CD, be sure to offer as much support and understanding as you can to help them live their best life!
Below are some of our favorite recipes to inspire you or your loved one on their gluten-free journey. All of these recipes are gluten-free and some of our favorite gut-loving options!
Most no one will turn down a pretty pink smoothie bowl, especially when it’s powered with nutrient-dense fruits like berries, a great source of fiber and antioxidants to combat inflammation. We also use Lifeway kefir here to give you a probiotic boost with a delicious creamy texture that will nourish and calm from the inside out. Or, just use Lifeway Oat here if you’re dairy-free!
Rice cakes are a gluten-free snack loved by many and brown rice is naturally gluten-free. Most rice cakes sold on the market are certified gluten-free, but look on each package to be safe. We use other naturally gluten-free foods in this recipe, including Lifeway Farmer Cheese, a great source of probiotics with a rich and creamy texture. It’s also packed with protein!
Made with rolled oats (look for certified gluten-free oats), Lifeway Oat, bananas, strawberries, and real chocolate, this powerhouse breakfast can even double as a dessert with no refined sugar! It contains prebiotics and probiotics all in one recipe to give you the most nutrient-dense option for a gut-loving recipe!
Butternut squash offers vitamin A, fiber, and vitamin C to provide anti-inflammatory, skin, and immune-health benefits along with gut health benefits. Dates are a naturally sweet fruit that easily replaces sugar in recipes and is also an alkaline fruit, which means it combats over acidity. Pumpkin seeds provide protein, along with magnesium and iron while bananas are a well-known naturally sweet fruit full of prebiotic fiber, potassium, B vitamins, and magnesium. Nutrient-dense smoothies like these are great for celiac disease patients and others looking to add more nutrient-dense ingredients into their diets.
Made with kimchi, a gut-health powerhouse made of fermented cabbage, carrots, and other veggies and spices, rice noodles to replace wheat noodles, and Lifeway Kefir, this healthy meal will fill you up and nourish your guts at the same time. Broccoli is also a wonderful source of fiber and anti-inflammatory compounds. It can even help detox the liver from harmful substances we encounter daily thanks to its high sulforaphane content.
To learn more about Celiac Disease and for more vital resources, visit Celiac.org or BeyondCeliac.org, two wonderful sites that are a wealth of information and resources to keep you healthy and inform you of all things celiac disease, past, present, and new. Cheers to your health, we here at Lifeway are here for you the whole way and will continue to strive to make our products the healthiest for everyone’s guts out there. Visit us on Instagram to stay up to date or just say hi!