Best Foods to Stock in Your Kitchen

by Val Vaartnou

food-potluckSo you’ve been diagnosed with Celiac Disease and you worry that there will be nothing to eat because “everything” contains gluten. Yes, gluten does lurk everywhere, but there are great foods that you can enjoy and get the added benefits of reducing your inflammation in the body while eating for your health.

Keeping it simple is one of the first recommendations that I make to anyone diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in as many colors as you can find and eating lots of lean meats is the best start. Your kitchen staples should include staples that are readily available to give you a varied diet.

Note: Grain, nuts, and seeds have the most risk of cross-contamination from gluten of all foods. In the field, during processing and packaging, the processes must be monitored to ensure gluten does not contaminate them. Ensure the manufacturer has marked grains, nuts, and seeds as gluten-free on the packaging.

Dairy products are fine unless you are also lactose intolerant. Aged cheeses and low sugar yogurts, especially greek yogurts are less problematic. Goat yogurts and cheeses are sometimes good alternatives.

Fresh fruits: In the winter, pomegranates, apples, pears, bananas, and in my freezer for smoothies, frozen berries (raspberries, blueberries, cherries and blackberries!). During the summer, visit the farmer’s market and enjoy the fresh fruits of the season.

Fresh herbs: like ginger, turmeric, chives, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, and basil. I cook with them and throw them in my salad, too. Cilantro and parsley are great as they help to detoxify the body.

Fresh veggies: Spinach, chard, kale, arugula, beets, broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts. radishes, jicama, scallions, and fennel for my salad. Again the farmer’s market is great to pick up fresh local vegetables.

Healthy fats: Avocado, olives, oils (avocado, coconut, olive), ghee (check out online recipes to make your own), seeds (chia, hemp, flax, pumpkin or sunflower seed), full-fat coconut milk.

Healthy grains: Quinoa and wild rice are my favorites. Try some different grains for variety, for example, millet, teff, and sorghum. If you are very strict on your gluten-free diet and still find your symptoms continue, you may find that the elimination of all grains is required. Eliminate them all for a few weeks and then reintroduce each grain, one at a time, eating it daily for a few days. Listen to your body and your symptoms. You may find you can tolerate some grains better than others.

Healthy proteins: Turkey, chicken, salmon, sardines, mung beans, adzuki beans, lentils (again marked gluten-free by the manufacturer), hummus (chickpeas).

Healthy snacks: Whole nuts and seeds, or nut butters (cashews, almonds, Brazil, macadamia, coconut, sunflower, walnut), nori (seaweed), 70% or higher dark chocolate.

Spices and condiments: Cinnamon, cumin, curry powder, coriander, turmeric,
ginger, black pepper, sea salt and dried herbs.

Pantry staples: canned beans (chickpeas, kidney, and black), canned tuna and salmon, gluten-free minimally-processed crackers (Mary’s Gone Crackers for example), artichoke hearts, sardines.

Gluten-free processed foods are fine for treats but should not be the foundation of your diet. Unfortunately, gluten-free foods are often high in fats, sugars, and salt so reading the nutritional label is always required, not just to ensure there is no gluten, but to ensure that you are not eating empty calories.

Strategies for Strengthening the Immune System

By Alana Battiston, RD, CYT

The role of the immune system is to determine what is a friend and what is a foe in order to keep you healthy. When we are exposed to a “foe”, it begins to fight the “invader” by producing warriors (cytokines, cytotoxins, and antibodies). Sometimes we may have an immune system that is out of balance, resulting in overactivation of the immune system
when it’s not supposed to, the inability to fight off certain invaders, or both. This imbalance manifests through inflammation in the form of swelling, heat, and pain.

70% of our immune system is located in the digestive system, specifically located in the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) and mucosal-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT). If GALT & MALT are structurally strong, the body will be able to fight off invaders and endure various stressors. If they are weakened, bacteria, food particles, and other unwanted molecules get into our blood and cause problems.

The immune system is comprised of multiple parts, two of which we will discuss here. The innate immune system is the 1st line of defense which responds quickly (in minutes or hours) to invaders that can make you sick. The adaptive immune system is the 2nd line of defense which is slower and undergoes a more vigilant inspection of the invader. It is
involved in allergic responses and food and environmental sensitivities.

The immune system works dynamically to regulate our state of health. Our immune function is optimal when we feel healthy, full of energy, and don’t have many infections. If we fatigue easily, have recurrent colds and infections, this is a strong indication that our immune system needs some help. In addition to avoiding things that suppress the immune system (infections, surgery, stress, many drugs, sugar, alcohol, chemicals, pesticides, and lack of sleep, exercise, and rest), the following strategies can be implemented to strengthen the immune system:

1. Eat the rainbow: Focus on whole foods, herbs, and spices. Polyphenols are anti-inflammatory phytochemicals that give the rainbow of colours to plant foods. Foods with the highest polyphenols are berries, dark fruits, red wine, cocoa powder, onions, leeks, cabbage, broccoli, beans, parsley, tomatoes.

2. Rest & relaxation: Having a daily practice of restorative yoga, meditation, qi gong, or tai chi has been shown to lower stress levels and increase lymph circulation (helps clear foreign cells and things we don’t want in our system)

3. Exercise: Moderate exercise has been shown to strengthen innate immunity as well as increase circulation of nutrients, blood, and energy throughout the body.

4. Probiotics: Add fermented foods to your diet everyday to build a healthy gut flora. This includes raw, unpasteurized cheese, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, yogurt, kombucha, gluten-free miso, pickles (in brine, not vinegar), apple cider vinegar.

5. Supplements: Nothing can replace the richness of a nutritious whole foods diet. However, the following supplements have been shown to support the immune system: Vitamins A, C, D, & E, zinc, & selenium.

Consult your dietitian/nutritionist for an individualized immune system strengthening protocol. You can find Alana at:

Dr. Barlow's conference audio now available

Dr. Brent Barlow spoke on naturopathy and celiac disease at the National CCA conference in Kelowna in May.  The complete audio of his presentation in now available at the link below.

Click Here To Download Audio MP3 – Canadian Celiac Association Presentation

Dr. Barlow is a Naturopathic Physician practicing at Kelowna Wellness Clinic  in downtown Kelowna.  Naturopathic Doctors are licensed in the province of British Columbia as primary care physicians, which means they are licensed to diagnose and treat medical conditions primarily with natural medicines. As of 2010, NDs have also been granted pharmaceutical prescription rights which Dr. Barlow uses as part of his integrative and holistic approach.

Click to read his full presentation notes (PDF).