Celiac & Gluten Intolerance, Part Two
People with Celiac Disease/Gluten Sensitivity (CD/GS) have unique nutritional needs. Initially many people suffer from malabsorption and dysbiosis due to damage to the small intestine where most nutrient absorption occurs. The resulting nutritional deficiencies can cause additional health problems thereby complicating diagnosis and treatment. Eliminating gluten is the first step toward achieving wellness since healing will not occur otherwise. As healing progresses and nutritional status improves, our healing capacity increases.
However, the gluten-free (GF) diet can be bereft of nutrients. GF foods are "specialty" foods and therefore not fortified like their conventional counterparts. They may be high in refined flours, fat and calories while low in fiber, B vitamins, Vitamin D and minerals. On the bright side, fresh fruits and veggies are gluten-free and there are many nutritious GF grains. The key is to choose whole grains which are rich in minerals, B vitamins, healthy fats and fiber. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) contains all eight essential amino acids so it is an excellent source of protein. Choose brown or wild rice over white rice. Try amaranth, millet, teff and, of course, corn. Buckwheat (not related to wheat) has a low glycemic index making it a good choice for diabetics. Most of these can be purchased as whole grain and flour.
If you are looking for something quick but nutritious, try VEGA whole-food products. Formulated by an Ironman Triathlete to meet his personal needs, they are vegan, high in fiber, essential fatty acids and protein and come in several flavors. Each batch is third-party ELISA tested and certified to be gluten-free below 20 ppm. Nutrient rich MACROGREENS, MIRACLE REDS and GREEN VIBRANCE are organic super foods with probiotics and enzymes. Although they contain wheat and barley grasses they, too, are third-party certified to be gluten-free. (Gluten is found only in the seed; these grasses are harvested before seeds form.) All of the above come in powders and bars. And they taste good!
Take a high-potency multivitamin/mineral combination to help fill the void caused by impaired absorption and to support healing. Evergreen Nutrition sells many lines of gluten-free supplements, including our own EVERGREEN brand. For increased absorption, use whole-food supplements or those in sublingual, liquid or powdered form. Take them with a meal, preferably in divided doses throughout the day, and avoid time-release products. We have several choices including adult chewables.
In addition to a good multi, it may be necessary to increase your intake of some individual nutrients. CD/GS people are often deficient in B vitamins, especially B-6, B-12 and folic acid. B-complex vitamins are an important part of virtually all body structures and functions — they act as coenzymes in energy production, they are part of DNA/RNA synthesis and they are important for liver function. If we don't get enough Bs our cardiovascular and immune systems suffer, we can't make red blood cells and may become anemic. The B-complex nutrients are vital for digestion, helping to produce hydrochloric acid and absorb fats, proteins and other nutrients. Since the Bs work together, a B complex should be taken, even if supplementing with individual B vitamins. For enhanced absorption of B-6, B-12 and folic acid use the active forms: pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P-5-P), methylcobalamin and folinic acid respectively. Sublingual lozenges and sprays are also available.
Because of decreased absorption of fats, essential fatty acids and fat-soluble Vitamins A,D,E and K may need to be taken in higher doses. CD/GS is an inflammatory condition. Fatty acids from fish, flax, borage and evening primrose are anti-inflammatory, which facilitates healing and supports the immune system. New Chapter's SEA BUCKTHORN FORCE is rich in omega-7 which promotes regeneration of the mucous membranes of the digestive and urogential tracts and has been used with success to treat ulcers.
Minerals must also be taken in balanced amounts. CALCIUM, MAGNESIUM, IRON, SELENIUM and ZINC often need to be supplemented at higher levels for those with CD/GS. Choose more bioavailable forms like amino-acid chelate, citrate, aspartate, malate or gluconate. Selenomethionine is a good source of selenium and for an excellent iron supplement try liquid FLORADIX iron and herbs (yeast- and gluten-free). Take calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D together for better absorption. Zinc lozenges are also available.
A free-form AMINO ACID COMPLEX may be useful for those suffering from malabsorption since it directly enters the bloodstream without digestion. L-GLUTAMINE is an important amino acid that helps maintain a healthy digestive tract by nourishing the villi thereby increasing absorption. It is very healing to the mucous membranes. Glutamine is part of DNA/RNA synthesis, maintains pH balance, builds muscle and supports cerebral function. Illness and stress deplete it. It is available as powder or capsules. Take individual aminos on an empty stomach.
Other important supplements include FIBER, for repair and detoxification of the digestive tract, and PROBIOTICS, beneficial bacteria that are vital for digestion and immune function and are anti-inflammatory. Enzymes come in two categories: digestive and therapeutic (proteolyitc). DIGESTIVE ENZYMES break down food into simple nutrients which can be absorbed. In cases of malabsorption, it is very important to have that support. PROTEOLYTIC ENZYMES help decrease inflammation which is vital for healing. Celiacs are often deficient in CARNITINE; and men and vegetarians require more. Two soothing, healing herbs are ALOE VERA and SLIPPERY ELM (Thayer's lozenges are GF).
You may not need all of these additional nutrients and, depending upon your state of health, certain supplements may be contraindicated. The best course of action is to consult a qualified health professional to have your personal needs assessed.
What's best for everyone with Celiac Disease/Gluten Sensitivity is constant, strict avoidance of gluten. That's the only way to heal and be healthy. At Evergreen Nutrition we are ready to help you achieve that goal. Be diligent, be patient, be well!
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