October is Celiac Disease Awareness Month

Gluten-Free Food Solutions Are Increasing for Those with Celiac Disease

Oct 04, 2006, 01:00 ET from USA Rice Federation

    NEW YORK, Oct. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- A growing number of Americans may
 unknowingly suffer from celiac disease, a hard-to-diagnose disorder that is
 characterized by an inability to digest specific proteins called gluten
 that are found in wheat, barley, rye and oats. In fact, the National
 Institutes of Health estimates that celiac disease may affect as many as
 three million or about 1 in every 133 Americans.
     "Celiac disease is an inherited disorder and because it has such a wide
 variety of symptoms, it is often difficult to diagnose," says Jean Guest, a
 registered dietitian consultant to the Celiac Sprue Association, a
 non-profit organization dedicated to helping individuals with celiac
 disease. "It's important to diagnose celiac disease as soon as possible
 because if left untreated it can lead to serious health problems, such as
 anemia and osteoporosis, as well as related autoimmune diseases like
 rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes."
     Part of the difficulty in diagnosing celiac disease is that there are
 more than 20 different symptoms associated with the disorder. Some of the
 more typical symptoms are diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating and
 fatigue, painful joints, among others. Once diagnosed, the only treatment
 for celiac disease is to follow a life-long gluten-free diet, which means
 avoiding all wheat, barley, rye and oats and foods that contain them. This
 may sound difficult to do, since so many food items have their basis in
 grains, and a newly diagnosed celiac disease patient is often given a long
 list of foods to avoid.
     Gluten-Free Foods
     The good news, according to Guest, is that there are hundreds of foods
 that are naturally gluten-free and many others that are made from
 gluten-free grains that are now available commercially.
     "It used to be that if you had celiac disease, you had to avoid many
 foods that you might otherwise enjoy," says Guest. "Today, there are many
 gluten-free choices available to people with celiac disease. Rice, for
 instance, is naturally gluten-free, so it can be substituted for wheat,
 barley, rye and oats. Rice is enriched, so it's packed full of vitamins and
 minerals, contains B-vitamins, folate, iron, zinc and magnesium -- and
 brown rice contains selenium and is a good source of fiber. This is
 important because celiac disease often prevents the body from absorbing
 nutrients properly, so rice is a good staple food for a gluten-free diet to
 ensure that those with celiac disease are getting the nutrients they need."
 Rice also combines well with other foods that are naturally gluten-free,
 including fruits and vegetables, meats, poultry and fish.
     In addition, there are many products on the market today that are made
 with gluten-free flours and grains. In fact, many grocery stores are now
 beginning to carry gluten-free products and some even offer a "gluten-free"
 section in their stores.
     Gluten-Free Autumn Bounty
     Combine rice with a delicious bountiful harvest of plant-based foods
 including crunchy apples, savory pumpkin, cranberries and nutritious
 cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower
 to prepare a dish that has all the nutrition without any gluten.
     Try the gluten-free Cranberry Rice Salad. In medium bowl, combine 3
 cups cooked rice, 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries, 2 celery stalks,
 chopped, 1/2 cup salted cashews and 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar. Toss well,
 serve cold. Yield 10 servings.
     For more gluten-free rice recipes and nutrition information, visit
 www.usarice.com/consumer and for more information about celiac disease, Celiac
 disease awareness month and resources for gluten-free food products, log on to
     Barbara King                      Anne Banville
     Pollock Communications            USA Rice Federation
     212-941-1414                      703-236-1465
     bking@pollock-pr.com              abanville@usarice.com

SOURCE USA Rice Federation