Celiac disease is a chronic disease of the small intestine. By intolerance to gluten, a gluten protein contained in cereals shrink the small intestinal protuberances. Fats, sugars, proteins, vitamins, minerals and even water can no longer be absorbed properly into the body. The only treatment so far is the complete, lifetime waiver of gluten-containing foods. Only then can the small intestinal mucous membrane recover and regain its function. However, even the smallest amounts of gluten damage and complaints occur again.
Occurrence of gluten
Gluten is mainly found in cereals wheat, spelled, rye, barley, greens and oats. Those affected must refrain from all foods and medicines that contain these cereals in any form.
These include, above all, conventional baked goods and pasta, for example bread, rolls, cakes, pasta and pizza, but also beer, malt beer and grain schnapps. In the food trade since November 2005 all products containing gluten must be marked accordingly.
The cereals rice, corn, millet, buckwheat, amaranth and quinoa are suitable for those who eat them. There are now a large number of manufacturers of gluten-free products with a wide range for every taste, for some years gluten-free products with a growing product range can be found in most major supermarket chains. A number of manufacturers specialize in the production of gluten-free bread and baked goods. These are made, for example, from rice, corn, potato or chestnut flour.
Many dietary gluten-free foods are recognizable to consumers by a special seal, a crossed-out ear; Consumer-friendly supermarkets also feature shelves with gluten-free products in addition to product labeling. However, to be legally insured, many manufacturers also note on the packaging that the product may contain traces of gluten even though it does not actually contain gluten or is below the specified limits.
Every year, the German Celiac Society (DZG) draws up detailed lists for its members, who inform them which foods are gluten-free; Links to the manufacturers can be found on the DZG website. Since November 2007, a food with a maximum of 20 ppm (two milligrams / 100 grams) of gluten is considered gluten-free. Wheat-starch-containing products with a maximum gluten content of 20 ppm may also be declared gluten-free if the use of wheat starch is listed in the list of ingredients.
Gluten-free diet is expensive
A gluten-free diet is still expensive - dietetic finished products without gluten cost about 30 to 50 percent more than comparable other foods. That is why gluten-free diets are subsidized in many European countries. In Germany, only welfare recipients receive a lump-sum allowance of just under 70 euros. All other victims may at most be able to file a case of hardship in their tax return, but must specify the degree of disability (20 percent for celiac disease) and submit a certificate.
With celiac disease in restaurants and traveling
The catering industry is increasingly adapting to the very different needs of its customers. Many restaurants have recognized that a gluten-free diet appeals to a large audience and adjusts their menus accordingly. Even hotels and restaurants are becoming more and more flexible regarding special wishes of their customers. In many countries, celiac sufferers can now travel "carefree".
If you want to take gluten-free foods to other countries, ie introduce them, a medical certificate is recommended. Many airlines now offer gluten-free meals on intercontinental flights - information can usually be found on the airlines' websites.
A strict gluten-free diet is the only treatment option, but not an easy task. Many "normal" foods contain gluten and this can not always be seen in the list of ingredients in semi-finished and finished products. It is particularly difficult to travel to other countries.
Affected people have no choice but to deal intensively with the diet and to determine which foods are allowed and which are not. Specialist societies, nutrition experts and various guidebooks / cookbooks as well as numerous sources of information on the Internet provide assistance.