How a Gluten-Free Diet Can Improve Seniors’ Quality of Life

Gluten-Free Diets for Elderly

Gluten-Free Diets Help Treat Celiac Patients

Gluten-free diets have taken the nutrition world by storm. Browse any supermarket and you’ll find a wide array of gluten-free products and diet options. But amidst all the trendiness of going gluten-free, there is a serious health concern that affects many Americans. It’s known as celiac disease. Among the elderly, celiac disease can cause digestive distress and may also create problems in getting adequate nutrition. But the good news is that making changes to daily diet can help manage celiac disease effectively.

Who Should Consider a Gluten-Free Diet?

While going gluten-free is a trendy choice, the only people who really need to eliminate all forms of gluten from their diets are those who have been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Celiac disease is a condition in which eating gluten from wheat, rye, or barley causes an immune reaction in the digestive tract, causing damage to the surfaces of the small intestine and inhibiting the absorption of nutrients. Gluten intolerance, a similar condition which also produces gastric distress, may require intervention as well. Many adults go undiagnosed, or they may be diagnosed with a general disorder like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). These people receive their first celiac diagnosis later in life, meaning they must make radical changes to their eating habits.

How is Celiac Disease Diagnosed in the Elderly?

The first step in diagnosing celiac disease is to perform a blood test. The blood test will screen patients for particular antibodies or genetic indications that celiac disease may be present. If the screening is positive, doctors may then perform an internal biopsy of the small intestine. Recent research indicates that celiac disease may develop even in those who have previously tested negative. For this reason, if the symptoms associated with the condition appear, it’s wise to ask a doctor for additional screening or tests.

Beginning a Gluten-Free Lifestyle

It’s never easy to make radical changes to the way you eat, but such changes may be even more difficult for an elderly person who has eaten gluten for much of his or her life. He or she will need the help of someone who is dedicated to preparing appropriate meals, providing healthy, gluten-free snacks, and assisting with grocery shopping. An in-home caregiver can assist with all of these things, giving family members peace of mind that their loved one is eating well. Gluten-free diets require careful planning in order to ensure that the person receives all needed vitamins and nutrients. In addition, gluten may sometimes be present even when people attempt to follow the prescribed diet. Routine screenings can help determine whether this is the case.

Elderly people who are just beginning a gluten-free lifestyle will need plenty of support from family, caregivers, and physicians. As they make the transition, however, they will begin to experience benefits in general wellness that make all the difference in their ability to enjoy life.

 

Photo by QuinnDombrowski

Originally posted 2014-11-20 10:30:30.