There is so much unfounded information out there regarding what people should and should not eat that it can be hard to determine what’s right or wrong for your aging relative. One diet that there is a lot of confusion about is the gluten-free diet. Gluten has been blamed, sometimes wrongly, for all kinds of health problems. As a result, lots of people cut gluten from their diets even when it isn’t necessary. However, there are several legitimate reasons for older adults switching to a gluten-free diet, such as those listed below.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which eating gluten makes the person’s immune system attack the lining of the small intestine. This damages the intestine and eventually makes it unable to absorb nutrients the way it should. Other complications of the disease include:

  • Weakened bones.
  • Lactose intolerance.
  • Cancer.
  • Damage to the nervous system.

Celiac disease can be diagnosed at any age, include in older adults. Some symptoms that may indicate your older family member has celiac disease are:

  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Fatigue.
  • Weight loss.
  • Bloating.
  • Gas.
  • Constipation.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Anemia.
  • Joint pain.
  • Sores in the mouth.
  • Skin rash.

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity

Some people experience symptoms similar to those of celiac disease without the intestine being damaged. Because there is no intestinal damage, they do not have celiac disease. Instead, they have a gluten sensitivity. Symptoms of gluten sensitivity include:

  • Pain in the abdomen.
  • Bloating.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Constipation.
  • Brain fog.
  • Rash.
  • Headache.

Gluten Ataxia

Gluten ataxia is another kind of autoimmune disease. It harms some nerve tissues and results in problems with muscle control and movement.

Wheat Allergy

Some people are actually allergic to wheat. Since gluten is a protein found in wheat, switching to a gluten-free diet may be necessary. When a person is allergic to wheat, the body mistakes the gluten or another protein present in wheat for something that causes disease, like a virus or a bacterium. In response, the immune system develops an antibody to attack the protein. This results in allergic symptoms, such as congestion and trouble breathing.

If your aging relative’s doctor has recommended a gluten-free diet, home care can help them to stick to the diet. A home care provider can assist the older adult with grocery shopping, checking labels for them to avoid foods that might have hidden gluten. Home care providers can also cook meals for your older family member, ensuring their meals don’t contain gluten.

Sources
https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000813.htm
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/gluten-free-diet/art-20048530
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/celiac-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20352220

If you or an aging loved one is considering home care in Cape Elizabeth, ME, please contact the caring staff at CareTree Healthcare today. Call today! 207-899-0774.