Celiac disease results in an immune reaction in the small intestines when gluten is eaten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. When a person with celiac disease eats gluten, they risk poor absorption of nutrients and damage to the small intestine, along with unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects. About 3 million people in America have celiac disease, and more have intolerance to gluten. There is no cure for celiac disease, so if you have it, you must manage it through your diet. The health benefits of whole grains are well established – they can support heart health and reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, including asthma and type 2 diabetes. You don’t need to give up whole grains entirely on a gluten-free diet. There are many delicious, healthful substitutes for wheat, from amaranth to teff.
Rice (Select brown rice for more fiber and nutrients)
Teff (A great source of calcium and iron)
Amaranth (A quarter cup, uncooked, contains 7 g of protein and lots of fiber)
Millet (A half-cup, uncooked, contains just 100 calories and 3 g of protein)
Sorghum (In taste, this is probably the closest gluten-free grain to wheat – may help lower cholesterol, and it’s also a good source of fiber)