Published May 30, 2012 10:49
What is a gluten-free diet?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, triticale, oats and derivatives of these products (e.g. malt). A gluten-free diet avoids all foods that contain gluten.
Who needs to follow a gluten-free diet?
Celiac disease is a medical condition of a permanent intolerance to gluten in the diet. It is a lifelong condition and a gluten free diet is the only recognized treatment for celiac disease. With celiac disease, your immune system attacks the gluten and harms your small intestine when you eat these kinds of foods. This makes it hard for your body to absorb nutrients that keep you healthy. It's important to treat with the proper diet, as celiac disease can lead to iron deficiency anemia, osteoporosis and also may raise your risk of lymphoma. Celiac disease can slow growth and weaken bones in children. If it is not treated, a child can get very sick.
There is no advantage in avoiding gluten if you do not have celiac disease or a related medical condition. Any athlete dietary regime that unnecessarily restricts food groups can cause nutritional deficiencies, complications with travelling and hinder performance.
Despite the restrictions, a person with celiac disease can still enjoy a wide and varied diet. Corn (maize), rice, soy, potato, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, lentils and amaranth are all gluten free. It is important to read the labels of all packaged or prepared foods. The gluten free foods that people with celiac disease can enjoy include:
• Meat products and alternatives - unprocessed meat, fish, chicken, bacon, ham off the bone and meats that are frozen or canned but with no sauce. Nuts, peanut butter, almond butter, legumes and lentils are all gluten free.
• Dairy products - eggs, full cream milk, low fat milk, evaporated milk, condensed milk, fresh cream, processed or block cheese and some custards and soymilks.
• Fruits and vegetables - fresh, canned or frozen but not sauced; fruit juices, Cereal and baking products - corn (maize) flour, soya flour, lentil flour, rice (all types), rice flour, rice bran, potato flour, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, quinoa, breakfast cereals made from corn and rice without malt extract, polenta and sago.
• Bread, cakes and biscuits - most rice crackers, corn cakes, rice crispbreads, corn tortillas and corn taco shells.
• Pasta and noodles - gluten free pasta, rice noodles, rice or bean vermicelli and 100 per cent buckwheat noodles.
• Condiments - tomato paste, tahini, jam, honey, maple syrup, cocoa, all kinds of vinegars (except malt), some sauces and some salad dressings.
• Snacks - plain chips and corn chips, popcorn, rice crackers, meringue and plain chocolate.
• Drinks - tea, coffee, mineral water, wine, spirits and liqueurs.
• Miscellaneous - vinegar, honey, jam, sugar, maple syrup, gluten free salad dressings, tomato sauce.
Thanks to Susie Parker Simmons, MS, RD, MED
Sports Dietician and Physiologist
WTA Sports Nutrition Advisor
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