Holistic pharmacist describes the four dietary and health concerns that she’s identified from her personal experience with gluten intolerance

A few years ago, it’s fair to say that few people had even heard of gluten. Now, it is estimated that one in 100 people have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, an auto-immune condition characterized by inflammation in their digestive system. Many others choose to go gluten-free because they feel better without eating gluten. Following a gluten-free diet has become easier than ever before, with a plethora of gluten-free products available. But the diet often falls short of nutrients.

Holistic pharmacist Sherry Torkos knows a lot about these dietary challenges. “A lot of gluten-free products are high glycemic, high in calories, low in minerals and fiber, and are not fortified with vitamins. As someone whose body cannot tolerate gluten, I have learned how to adjust my diet, and how to compensate for nutrients that might otherwise be missing.”

Torkos says that the four typical gluten-free dietary concerns are:
1. B vitamins: “B vitamins, which you need for energy and to support your nervous system, are typically not present in gluten-free products. So you will want to seek supplemental support. Look for a B-vitamin supplement that contains B1, B2, B3, B6, B12 and folic acid. These nutrients are also present in multi-vitamins. Read the label carefully to be sure that the product does not contain any gluten-based fibers.
2. Iron: “People with gluten intolerance are typically anemic. But many people are reluctant to take iron supplements because they don’t want to go from a state where they’ve had chronic diarrhea to iron supplements that constipate. If you fall into this category, look for an ingredient called SunActive Iron, which is easily absorbed by the body and is non-constipating.”
3. Fiber: “Most common dietary fiber sources contain gluten. Breads in traditional grocery stores, for example, contain wheat, rye, oats and other gluten ingredients. Many gluten-free breads are made with rice and tapioca flour, and they are low in fiber. So it becomes very important to read labels. Look for breads made with garbanzo bean flour, almond or pecan flour, quinoa flour and/or chia seed that provide three grams of fiber per serving. Other ways to boost your fiber include eating more vegetables, nuts and beans, adding flax or chia seeds to yogurt, and nibbling on pumpkin seeds and popcorn. Because it’s tough to get enough fiber day in/day out, consider a natural fiber supplement. Again, read the labels! One that I recommend is Sunfiber. It is gluten-free and easily added to just about any beverage. Other fiber supplements may say “gluten-free” but may actually contain trace amounts.”
4. High glycemic foods: “Foods such as potatoes, rice and rice pasta are high glycemic. Even brown rice is moderate to high on the glycemic index. Instead choose quinoa pasta, which is naturally higher in protein and fiber, which help to lower the food’s glycemic index value.”

Torkos adds that gluten sensitivities also may wreak havoc on your intestines by creating an imbalance in your microflora. This can further compromise your digestive health. “The two-fold recommendation is to eat probiotic yogurt daily to replenish the good microflora, and to take advantage of Sunfiber’s prebiotic properties to help nourish and encourage their growth.”

Sunfiber and SunActive are available through www.TomorrowsNutrition.com.