One out of everyone 133 people in the USA suffers from celiac disease*. Some studies even suggest that as much as one third of our population may be suffering from gluten intolerance**. From the Celiac Disease Foundation (celiac.org), “When people with CD eat foods that contain gluten, it creates an immune-mediated toxic reaction that causes damage to the small intestine and does not allow food to be properly absorbed. Even small amounts of gluten in foods can affect those with CD and cause health problems. Damage can occur to the small bowel even when there are no symptoms present.” Symptoms can be all over the board from IBS type reactions to mind fog to joint aches. It’s important to talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing any symptoms you think may be related to the food you’re consuming.
What does this mean for the organic food eater? Well, your diet is going to become a bit more restrictive. People who suffer from celiac or gluten intolerance have to follow a strict elimination diet of all sources of gluten (wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats). You will have to completely renovate your diet for these new restrictions, but have faith! It’s not as complicated as it may sound to eat organically and gluten free.
The easiest way to eat gluten free and organic is to avoid “replacement” foods such as gluten free cookies, pastas, etc. While there are organic options in this realm, the pickings are slim and are generally a bit pricey. Switch yourself over to a whole foods diet if you aren’t already eating that way. Eat dishes that are rich in meats, dairy, vegetables, and fruits, which are all naturally gluten free. For whole grain substitutes, you can enjoy organic brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat. Despite having the name “wheat” in the title, buckwheat is actually gluten free and delicious rice substitute to liven up your meals. It’s actually a fruit and more closely related to rhubarb than wheat!
If you just can’t give up your organic cookies or pastas, there are options that are gluten free. Bob’s Red Mill is a major producer of gluten free grains, flour mixes, nuts, and starches that are also organic. You can find these products available in most local health food stores such as Whole Foods or online at Amazon.com. (I actually recommend buying from Amazon because you can buy in bulk and save!) Another major producer of gluten free substitute foods is Nature’s Path. They make quite a few gluten free cereals that are whole grain and organic such as their Organic Mesa Sunrise cereal, which you can also find in stores or in bulk on Amazon. Be careful to make sure that these substitutes are produced in facilities that use good manufacturing processes if they also process wheat. Cross contamination can harm you, even if no symptoms are present.
Stay strong and stick with it. Even within weeks, you’ll be feeling better than you’ve ever felt before. It may be a challenge at first, but with persistence and awareness, you can enjoy better health than ever before!
* Statistic courtesy of celiac.com
** According to Huffington Post article by Mark Hyman, MD