Eastern Mediterranean University, Health Sciences Faculty, Nutrition and Dietetics Department Chair Prof. Dr. Halit Tanju Besler highlighted the importance of 9 May, Celiac Disease Awareness Day. In this regard, Prof. Dr. Besler stated that Celiac Disease (also known as Gluten Enteropathy) is a serious autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. According to Prof. Dr. Besler celiac disease is a problem some people have with foods that contain gluten, a type of protein found in the grains wheat, barley and rye and flour produced from these grains.
Prof. Dr. Besler went on to state that when a person who has celiac disease consumes foods containing gluten, his/her immune system reacts badly and the intestinal lining becomes damaged. In line with the recent developments, patients as such may be recommended to consume limited oat under close monitoring.
Prof. Dr. Besler also stated that:
The only recommended treatment for celiac disease is a strict gluten-free diet, excluding wheat, barley, rye and food items produced from them from the diet. Instead of food items containing gluten, patients are recommended to consume corn and rice and flour produced from them. However, it should always be kept in mind that each individual are recommended separate nutrition and dietary applications in diseases as such.
Foods to Avoid for Celiac Disease:
- All types of products containing wheat, barley and rye. (e.g. flour, cracked wheat, cracked wheat pilaf, semolina, macaroni, vermicelli, couscous, bread, cake, cookies, biscuits, pastry, buns, wafer, bagel, cracker, ice-cream cone, deserts with flour, tomato paste containing gluten, ketchup, soup containing flour, sauces, tarhana and cracked wheat).
- Meat products like chicken, fish and meat cooked with bread crumbs.
- Drinks containing malt, beer, malt drink, vodka, gin.
- Ready-made soups and seasoning items including gluten;
- Some items such as vinegar, chocolate, pudding, chewing gum, ketchup, mayonnaise, and ice-cream may contain gluten. Before consuming items as such, information on the ingredients of the product should be obtained.
Dried nuts with salt or sauces should also be avoided as they contain gluten. Gluten-free nuts are also available and can be consumed.
Important Recommendations for a Gluten-free Diet
Those with celiac disease should take time to go over the labels for items bought from supermarkets. Before consuming over the counter products, patients should inspect the nutrition information for each product and check whether the item contains gluten or not. While consuming food at schools or restaurants, gluten free meals should be selected. Food for children with celiac disease should be prepared separately by families. Finally, the most important recommendation for individuals with gluten enteropathy or celiac disease is to ensure close monitoring by a doctor or dietitian.