By Diana Giraldo, Reporter
Clovis Roundup Newspaper
Gluten-free products are popping up more and more on local supermarket shelves. To some, it may appear to be a new diet craze like low-carb, but the gluten-free diet is actually essential for people who have an allergic reaction to the protein.
Gluten intolerance, formally known as celiac disease, affects an estimated 1 in 133 Americans according to the Celiac Disease Foundation.
Taban Bazrafshan, a dietician at Primary Care Consultant in Clovis, said celiac disease is a hereditary autoimmune disorder that causes the body to react inappropriately to the ingestion of gluten—a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
“People react to it because they have no means to process the gluten protein,” Bazrafshan said.
Rather than digest the protein properly, upon consumption the immune system’s reaction is to attack the small intestine lining, causing damage to the intestine that can lead to nutrient deficiencies.
Excessive diarrhea, bloating, fatigue and weight loss are some of the common symptoms experienced by those with gluten intolerance, Bazrafshan explained.
The diagnosis is reached through a screening and a small intestine biopsy, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation. First the patient will be screened for celiac disease anti-bodies through a blood test. Then a biopsy of the small bowel is taken and analyzed for any damage correlated to celiac disease.
“Once the doctor confirms you are allergic to that protein, then you have to go on the diet,” continued Bazrafshan. “You should not go gluten-free unless diagnosed by a medical practitioner.”
The only treatment known for gluten intolerance is to abide by a strict gluten-free diet. Even in small amounts gluten can trigger damage to the small intestine.
“Avoid anything that is made with wheat,” Bazrafshan said. “Instead get flour made of rice.”
P*DE*Q Bakery and Bistro has opted to use Tapioca flour and starch as a substation to regular flour. The Clovis gluten-free restaurant’s signature product is a Brazilian style cheese bread that is naturally gluten free but P*DE*Q also serves gluten-free cupcakes, cookies, pizza, bread, croutons and mixes.
“We know that it’s very important for people to continue eating the meals that they want to be eating and the food that they enjoy without the restrictions of having to worry about gluten-free items,” said Justin Kamimoto, the General Manager at P*DE*Q.
The restaurant’s goal is to provide supplemental foods for people with gluten intolerance and include the whole family in the experience, said Kamimoto.
But balancing a gluten-free diet may be tricky, said Bazrafshan. It’s not only important to eliminate gluten from ones diet but to also make sure to intake all essential nutrients.
“They can become deficient in many, many vitamins like calcium, vitamin D and B12,” Bazrafshan said. “It’s something I warn my patients about early on.”
Bazrafshan refers her patients to Amy’s diet plan, http://www.amys.com/health/diet-plan, a website which focus on healthy eating and has constructed a two-week diet plan which includes a shopping list and nutritional information.
“She tries to compensate for lack of gluten with other types of protein,” Bazrafshan said. “A well-balanced diet is everything.”