What is coeliac disease?
Coeliac disease (or gluten intolerance) is a disease that affects the small intestine and is caused by gluten. Gluten is a storage protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. Coeliac disease may develop at any time during an individual’s lifetime.
What is a gluten-free diet?
Adopting a gluten-free diet is up till now the only effective treatment for people suffering from coeliac disease, as it allows the small intestine to fully recover from the negative effects of gluten. Gluten-free diet is a strict diet, which includes foods that do not contain any gluten at all.
Which foods contain gluten?
Bread, breakfast cereals, pasta, crispbreads, toasts, crackers, bread sticks, pizza, cakes and biscuits are obvious sources of gluten. These foods are entirely excluded from a gluten-free diet. However, considering that gluten is used for the production of several other foods such as meat products, cured meats, cubes, soups and sauces, while following a gluten-free diet, special attention must be placed on food labels, so that it will be verified whether each food contains gluten or not. Consumption of products sold in bulk should be avoided.
Which products do not contain gluten?
Gluten-free foods by nature are meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, dairy products, pulses, potatoes, rice, corn, quinoa and buckwheat. These foods may be freely consumed by people suffering from coeliac disease. Currently special foods, prepared without gluten, whose variety has radically increased during the last few years, are available in the market.
NIKAS gives anyone who follows a gluten-free diet the chance to enjoy gluten-free cured meat products because ALL NIKAS products are GLUTEN FREE.
Cross-contamination of gluten-free products
It is possible for a product that is originally gluten-free at production, to be found to contain gluten. This is due to the fact that during food processing, or at home or in restaurants, different products often get into contact. This can lead to involuntary gluten intake. To avoid this, people on a gluten-free diet must be particularly cautious when preparing their meals, in order to avoid cross-contamination of gluten-free foods from other foods. For this reason, gluten-free foods must be prepared with different utensils than those used for ordinary products. Cutting boards, knives, toasters, plates, cutleries, etc. should be diligently cleaned before used for the preparation of gluten-free meals, or, even better, different utensils should be used. Also, in restaurants, people suffering from coeliac disease should stress that food separation guidelines should be followed by the people in charge, so that cross-contamination may be avoided.
The dietician’s role when following a gluten-free diet
Following a gluten-free diet may be particularly hard at first. A registered dietician, who is properly trained in managing this disease, will help you choose the proper foods for a tasty, balanced diet that suits your life style. Adopting a gluten-free diet without any professional help may lead you to a non-balanced and inadequate diet, which will cause nutrient deficiencies. There are also books containing the gluten-free products on the market, which you may purchase from the Greek Society for Coeliac Disease, so that you will know which products may be safely included in your diet.
I do not suffer from coeliac disease. Can I follow a gluten-free diet?
Gluten-free diet is safe for anyone wishing to follow it. Foods containing gluten are often rich in carbohydrates, sugar, and, therefore, calories; they burden the body, and contribute to weight increase. For this reason, a gluten-free diet can contribute towards a better, balanced diet, which may even lead to weight-loss, if such goal is set.