If you’re familiar with governmental dietary recommendations, you’ve probably heard the phrase rainbow on your plate.
This means that different color groupings of foods generally represent different health benefits, meaning a colorful whole foods diet is a nutritious way to eat.
This is great advice for anyone following a gluten-free diet because it demonstrates a very easy method for balanced nutrition through daily diet.
Well, right. But, it’s a little bit more complicated on a gluten-free diet because there are common nutrients missing as a result of not eating certain foods.
These missing nutrients can actually be helpful because they give you a more specific focus in planning your diet from the start…
- B Vitamins: With many different names and numbers attached to them, B vitamins are essential to some of the most basic bodily functions. These vitamins cannot be emphasized enough. The benefits are diverse, covering metabolism, energy creation, heart function, fetal development, digestion, and muscle and nerve function. The best food sources are meats (lean meats in particular), asparagus, beans and dried peas, broccoli, eggs, milk, mushrooms, nuts, plain yogurt, pork chops, soy milk, squash, and tomato juice.
- Folic Acid: One of the B vitamins (also known as vitamin B9), folic acid is essential to proper development of the human body. It breaks down and converts food into energy and promotes the creation and maintenance of cells. It is found in leafy green vegetables, many kinds of beans, beets, and lentils. Why was this listed separately from B vitamins above? Because it’s slightly unique from the rest of them.
- Fiber: There are two different types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is available through foods like oatmeal, nuts, flaxseeds, and many types of fruits. It slows down digestion, which can help control weight. It also helps lower blood cholesterol levels. But insoluble fiber is the type that is difficult to get on the gluten-free diet, since the most common sources are wheat-based foods and other gluten-containing grains. Insoluble fiber regulates bowel function and prevents constipation, which is important because many undiagnosed and newly diagnosed celiacs suffer from constipation. The best gluten-free sources of insoluble fiber are seeds, nuts, brown rice, and many types of vegetables including zucchini, celery, broccoli, onions, and cabbage.
- Calcium: If you want to maintain strong bones, muscles, and nerves then you must get enough calcium in your diet. Calcium also ensures that blood vessels operate properly, which is essential to making sure enzymes break down food. Food sources are not limited to dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese; they also include leafy green vegetables and fish like sardines and salmon.
- Iron: Iron is necessary to carry oxygen from the lungs and store it in the muscles. Iron is also an important part of all digestive processes. Good food sources include clams, oysters, soybeans, seeds, white beans, molasses, lentils, greens, beef, sardines, tomatoes, and soy. If you take CeliAct, you’ll notice that it does not contain iron. This is because men and women require very different dosages. Ironically, celiac disease has also been linked to hemochromatosis, a genetic disease characterized by iron overload, but there is no proven correlation.
- Vitamin D: Essential to ensure proper calcium absorption, vitamin D is also a primary component of bone health. It additionally supports nerve and muscle function and is essential to the immune system. Food sources include fatty fish, egg yolks, cheese, mushrooms, milk, and soy.
So, How Do I Get Enough of These?
There are clear recommendations by the government and physicians for recommended daily intakes (RDIs) of all vitamins and minerals for people without nutrient deficiencies.
But, RDIs may not be appropriate for people with celiac disease due to common nutrient deficiencies.
The first step you must take to cover common nutrient deficiencies from celiac disease is by focusing on eating whole, nutritious foods. Think about the vitamins and minerals above, paint a rainbow on your plate, and you’ll be headed in the right direction.