Flaxseed and Celiac Disease

Posted on November 13, 2007. Filed under: Health Benefits, Recipes |

    What is Celiac Disease?  Celiac Disease is an inherited, autoimmune condition in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged by a substance called gluten.  Gluten is the name for proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley.  The only treatment for Celiac disease is a strict gluten-free diet for life.   

   The symptoms of Celiac disease include recurrent attacks of diarrhea, stomach cramps, weakness, osteoporosis, bone and joint pain, dry skin, eczema, brittle nails, mood changes and irritability.  Specific blood screening tests are available to help diagnose Celiac disease; however, the only definitive test is a small intestinal biopsy.   

   It is difficult to adhere to the strict gluten-free diet that is prescribed for the person diagnosed with Celiac disease.  Gluten is found in many different foods, such as breads, baked products, cereals, soups, snack foods, and prepared meats.  It is even found in some flavored coffees, teas, soy beverages, communion wafers and candy.  However, there are many gluten- free foods also.  Flaxseed is gluten free, as is plain meat, fish, vegetables, rice, and soy.  Flaxseed is an excellent choice for the person with Celiac disease, as it is not only gluten-free, but is an excellent source of vitamins, protein, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber.     

   For the individuals who are experiencing diarrhea as a symptom of their Celiac disease, it is advisable to wait until the diarrhea has diminished before adding any more fiber to the diet.  Once the diarrhea is stabilized, ground flax may be gradually added to the diet, starting with 1 tsp. per day.  When adding more fiber to the diet, it is important to drink at least 8 glasses of fluid (preferably water) per day.  Here are some tips to incorporate more ground flax into a gluten-free diet.    

*  Add 1 tsp to 3 tbsp to hot cereal, or to pancakes, waffles or crepes.  
*  Sprinkle on yogurt, frozen yogurt or ice cream.   
*  Add to your favorite breakfast fruit smoothie drinks.
*  Use ¼ cup in meatloaf, casseroles and rice dishes.
*  Add to salads and soups.
*  Use ground flax in muffins, bread, cookies and snack bars.

  Adhering to a Gluten-free diet is difficult, but not impossible.  The results are a healthy, symptom free lifestyle, and that is certainly worth the effort!    Enjoy the rest of your summer.  Take time for a picnic, a walk on the beach and the company of family and friends.     

To your good health,  
Esther Hylden RN  

References: The Essential Flax.  Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission.  Flaxseed and Celiac Disease, contributed by Shelley Case, registered professional dietitian. 

Diseases.  The Nurse’s Reference Library.


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