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.
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
SOURCE USA Rice Federation