‘What? Gluten intolerance? Wheat allergy? Not me!’ Gluten-Free has become a fad. Many doctors, dieticians, and nutritionists today may suspect and diagnose Celiac Disease, (CD), yet are mystified about what diet to recommend. Some doctors don’t know that wheat is allergy-related and gluten is intolerance, not an allergy. Many people are sensitive to both.
Some doctors tell gluten intolerant patients to avoid wheat, barley, and rye. Very few doctors and nutritionists know about cross-links that occur in many foods and especially in many gluten-free products, such as tapioca and corn.
Wheat allergy should not be confused with gluten intolerance. Celiac Disease, (Celiac Sprue), affects the small intestine, and is caused by an abnormal immune reaction to gluten. Usually diagnosed by a gastroenterologist, it is an auto-immune related digestive disease that causes serious complications such as malnutrition and intestinal damage if left untreated.
Wheat, a grain, contains four major proteins that can cause an allergy Gluten is found in wheat as well as barley, rye, and many other grains oats. Europeans in general are more informed about Celiac Disease than most North Americans. Italian children are tested for CD before they are allowed to go to school, and Celiacs receive a discount from the government for their special diets. It is interesting to know that Italians have the highest degree of CD on the planet. Approximately 20% of wheat-allergic children in the world also are allergic to other grains.
Friends and family commiserate, unaware they, too, may be afflicted with this silent and dangerous epidemic, as it is often hereditary. The Celiac Organization reports 1 in 133 people in the US are affected. CD can lead to more serious diseases such as cancer, arthritis, fibermyalgia, ADD, depression, and diabetes. It is a difficult disease to diagnose, and some people spend nine to twelve years running to doctors for a diagnosis. Tests for CD are not definitive at this time.
Humans have consumed wheat for only 10,000 years. Modern Man has a digestive system inherited from the Neanderthals, ninety thousand years ago. Machine made bread is no longer the original grain the Mesopotamian valley cultures developed that led to farming.
Europeans are much more informed about Celiac Disease than most North Americans. In Rome, I learned that all children before age seven are tested for this dangerous disease before they go to school, and Celiacs receive a discount from the government for their special diets. It is interesting to know that Italians have the highest degree of CD on the planet. Approximately 20% of wheat-allergic children in the world also are allergic to other grains.
Read all product labels carefully before you purchase any packaged or processed food. Ingredients change frequently. If you are still not sure whether it is gluten-free call the manufacturer. Take extra precaution when dining out and beware of cross contamination. If in doubt about any product or dish, don’t eat it until you have researched it.
Looking for a place to start? Try the following delicious gluten-free recipe!
Gluten-Free Asparagus Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce
1 16-oz bag rice short g-f pasta( penne or rigatonit)
2 tsp. grapeseed oil
1 lb. asparagus, stems snapped, and cut into 1-inch diagonal pieces
2 bunches scallions, trimmed and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup ricotta
2 tsp. freshly grated lemon rind
Sea salt and red pepper flakes to taste
½- cup fresh basil, torn into medium-size pieces
¼-cup parmesan cheese, grated
½ cup Italian parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Cook pasta according to instructions on package.
In a large sauté pan heat oil and sauté asparagus and scallions until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
Drain penne and return to cooking pot.
Add ricotta cheese, lemon rind, parsley, and olive oil to pot, and toss.
Add vegetables and stir.
Fold in seasonings, cheese, and basil.
Add a little pot water to make creamy