You may have heard the phrase ‘I’m gluten intolerant’, but do you really know what that statement means? According to Telma Rabelo de Natale, nutritionist at Sapore, “gluten intolerance is the inability or difficulty in digesting gluten, which is a vegetable protein present in some cereals such as wheat, rye, barley and oats”.
In such cases, the individual is considered celiac. “It is a disease of systemic autoimmune and genetic disorder that affects the mucosa of the small intestine causing its atrophy and, consequently, hindering the absorption of nutrients. It is a permanent (lifelong) disease,” he explains.
The first symptoms appear in childhood, especially in the first three years of life, when cereals are introduced into the diet.
“There are some factors that identify that the patient will become a celiac person. The first of these is genetic inheritance. The incidence in first-degree relatives is 30%, and the pathology has an incidence twice as high in women as in men”, comments the nutritionist.
9 symptoms that indicate celiac disease
As with any disease, symptoms vary from person to person. However, there are some indications that can serve as a warning to look for a gastroenterologist specialist. Are they:
- Frequent diarrhea: 3 to 4 times a day, with large volume of stools; or chronic diarrhea (lasting more than 30 days). “The celiac patient may present the typical symptom, which is chronic diarrhea (about 70% of diagnosed cases) where the stools are pale, watery, bulky and fetid due to poor absorption of fat”, says the nutritionist.
- Persistent vomiting;
- Altered mood: irritability or discouragement;
- loss of appetite;
- Weight loss for no apparent reason;
- Abdominal pain;
- Abdominal distention (swollen belly);
- Iron deficiency anemia;
- Decreased muscle mass.
Short stature, anemia, chronic constipation and osteoporosis are other symptoms that may indicate gluten intolerance. It is worth remembering that only the doctor can diagnose the disease.
“In addition to the incidence of symptoms, there are tests that more accurately reveal the disease, such as genetic testing; serological test for gluten done through blood test and intestinal biopsy”, indicates Telma. These diagnoses will help the nutritionist to assess whether there is a need to exclude gluten for a certain time to see if the symptoms still persist.
Allowed foods X forbidden foods
Looking for a nutritionist is essential for the elaboration of an adequate diet that supplies all the nutrients and vitamins that the human body needs. “Even if you have all the symptoms of celiac disease, you should not start a gluten-free diet on your own. Before starting the diet, the diagnosis must be confirmed through appropriate tests. After confirmation, the patient must be very strict and disciplined for life, following the diet indicated by the nutritionist. Adherence to a gluten-free diet prematurely may make diagnosis difficult in the future”, warns the nutritionist.
According to Telma, gluten can be replaced by corn, corn flour, cornmeal, corn starch, potatoes, potato starch, cassava, cassava flour and starch. “By removing gluten from the diet, the remission of symptoms can disappear in a few days or weeks”, says Telma.
Avoiding the ingestion of products in closed packages and outside the home is a good strategy to fight the disease. Choose foods of known origin and try to eat simple vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, eggs and rice. And if for some reason, the ingestion of packaged is unavoidable, it is recommended to read the ingredients that make up the product to be consumed.
“Not sure? Do not eat. There are many products whose packaging says ‘gluten free’ or ‘gluten free’”. Always read food labels. If there is no mention of the presence of gluten, contact the manufacturer and ask for information about it”, warns Telma.
As for liquids, celiacs can safely drink: water, milk, tea, natural juices and soft drinks. “Beware of chocolate drinks, as most contain gluten (read the label to be sure). As for alcoholic beverages, you can drink: wine (made from grapes), sugar cane brandy (as the name says: it is made from sugar cane), rum (distilled from molasses), vermouth and cognac (derived from wine) and quentao (made with brandy, ginger, cloves and cinnamon)”, guides Telma.
The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only. They do not replace the advice and follow-up of doctors, nutritionists, psychologists, physical education professionals and other specialists.
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