The term gluten free refers to foodstuffs or culinary preparations lacking gluten, a protein commonly found in grains such as barley, wheat, rye and triticale, a cross of wheat and rye. Gluten free diets are the most common and often most important element in the treatment of celiac disease.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder for which affected people's digestive systems can't handle the introduction of gluten. Instead of processing the protein normally, the body launches an attack against it that can subsequently damage aspects of the small intestine called villi. When villi are compromised, the body is significantly less able to absorb nutrients from food.
To adopt gluten free diets, celiac sufferers are frequently oriented toward diets consisting of fresh meat, eggs, fruits and vegetables. Celiac sufferers can usually eat most dairy products and supplement their diets with unprocessed legumes, seeds and nuts. Safe sources of carbohydrates include buckwheat, corn and cornmeal, flax, rice and quinoa. These individuals can also eat millet, sorghum, soy, tapioca and arrowroot.
When shopping or dining out, celiac suffers must be vigilant in ensuring that foods usually considered safe, are not processed with potentially harmful grains and that restaurant preparations are constructed in separate, clean vessels. Many 21st century restaurant establishments, particularly chain organizations, try to offer self-contained gluten free menu options for celiac sufferers and train kitchen staff in related safe practices.