For those suffering from celiac disease, dried plums can help close the nutritional gap in many ways by improving bone and digestive health and managing blood sugar levels. Delicious too, in Selena’s Gluten Free Dark Chocolate and Dried Plum Energy Bars!
About Selena De Vries, RD
- Selena is a Registered Dietitian living with celiac disease who helps individuals that struggle with digestion find food freedom. At Healthbean Nutrition, Selena understands that celiac disease not only effects our physical health but also effects our emotional health. As such, Selena uses an integrative approach in the management of digestive health conditions. She offers free group support for those with celiac disease/gluten sensitivity as well as offering nutrition coaching for digestive health conditions. Services are offered both online and in the beautiful Okanagan valley.
Food has the power to heal, prevent, fuel, discover and bring us together. Dried plums may not be the first thing to come to mind when you think about unlocking the potential of food, but they should definitely be on your radar. Specifically for those suffering from celiac disease, dried plums can help close the nutritional gap in many ways.
Improving Bone Health:
Those with celiac disease are at a higher risk for developing osteoporosis and/or osteopenia due to the malabsorption of bone health nutrients prior to diagnosis. Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue. Osteopenia is decreased bone density but not to the extent of osteoporosis.
We all know that calcium and Vitamin D play a role in bone health. But, did you know that Vitamin K and magnesium work with calcium and Vitamin D to promote healthy bones? Vitamin K promotes bone mineralization and magnesium promotes strong bones. In fact, a deficiency in either Vitamin K or magnesium may negatively alter calcium and/or Vitamin D status. So, it’s important to consider these other nutrients when looking at overall bone health.
California dried plums are a source of Vitamin K and rich in bone health vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, which may have bone protective effects.
Additionally, some of the latest research published in Osteoporosis International examined the effect of eating ~50 g (~5-6 dried plums) of dried plum daily for 6 months in older, osteopenic postmenopausal women. Results confirmed the ability of dried plums to prevent bone loss in this population, which may be due, in part, to the ability of dried plums to inhibit bone resorption.
Improving Digestive Health:
California dried plums help support digestive health as they are a source of fiber. It is very typical that fiber levels drop once a gluten free diet is initiated and this can result in ongoing digestive discomfort, such as constipation, bloating and/or cramping.
Fiber plays a large role in keeping our digestive system healthy and plays a tremendous role in healing the digestive system after diagnosis. There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, and dried plums contain almost equal parts of both types of fiber. Soluble fiber is a very gentle type of fiber (it is like a gel) and can be a good type of fiber to introduce and/or increase, especially if an individual is experiencing a significant amount of digestive pain as it is very easy to digest. Soluble fiber is also known to help reduce cholesterol levels in the body, which is another health problem that can coincide with celiac disease. Insoluble fiber is more roughage and provides bulk for stools so it is quite beneficial for constipation prone individuals.
Improving Energy Levels by Managing Blood Sugar Levels
Because fiber takes a long time for the body to break down, it leads to a nice, slow and steady increase in blood sugar without any significant increase or decrease, which, ultimately, leads to steady energy levels throughout the day. Foods that contain little to no fiber (such as many gluten free breads, cereals, and baked goods) are processed very quickly in the body leading to a sudden rise in blood sugar, followed by a sudden decrease in blood sugar. This results in peaks and valleys of blood sugar and energy drops throughout the day.
- More fiber in the diet = better blood sugar balance = better energy
- Less fiber in the diet = poor blood sugar balance = poor energy
Therefore, a high fiber diet is your first line of defense when combatting poor energy. Daily fiber goals range from 25-38g of fiber per day. Consuming just a small handful of California dried plums (~5-6) has about ~4g of fiber, meeting about ~15% of a women’s daily fiber need.
These amazing benefits of dried plums are why I have partnered with the California Dried Plum Board to bring you this blog post and provide ideas to get your daily dose of dried plums. All views are my own.
Simple Ideas to Eat California Dried Plums (Prunes):
- Instead of adding dried cranberries to salads, add diced prunes
- Top yogurt with chopped prunes, unsweetened coconut shreds and walnuts
- Make a trail mix with prunes, dark chocolate and pecans
- Add diced prunes to overnight oats or oatmeal
- Add into baked goods such as muffins, scones, or granola bars (see a recipe below)
Gluten Free Dark Chocolate and Dried Plum Energy Bars
- ⅔ cup dried plums (prunes)
- 1½ cups water
- ¾ cup coconut
- ¾ cup gluten free flour*
- 1 cup gluten free large flake oats
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup dark chocolate, cut into slivers (or chocolate chips)
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
- ¼ cup hemp hearts
- 1 banana, mashed
- 3 TBP maple syrup
*You can substitute regular flour if gluten free is not needed
- Preheat oven to 350. Grease a jelly roll pan (or cookie pan).
- Put water and prunes in pot, over med-high heat. Bring to a boil. Take off and set aside for 10 minutes.
- Put the coconut in a dry pan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Set aside.
- Put the coconut, gluten free flour, gluten free oats, cranberries, chocolate, pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts in bowl. Stir. Stir in the mashed banana and maple syrup.
- Add the prunes and water to a food processor or magic bullet. Puree until smooth. This should make about ¾ cup prune paste. Add to the wet/dry mixture.
- Pour onto the pan and press down to pack. It should be about ¾ inch thick. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Take out and cut into 20 squares. Let cool completely before removing.
Living in the Okanagan or anywhere in British Columbia? View Selena’s services or book an appointment!
- “I contacted Selena when I still wasn’t feeling well a year after my celiac diagnosis. I’d read so much on the Internet I thought I knew everything I needed to know. I was wrong.
- Selena has important advice on how to do GF properly (it’s not as straightforward as I thought) and for regaining your health. She is organized, punctual, and professional. And she has celiac disease herself , so she gets it.
- I think a lot of us, by the time we’re diagnosed, have had more than our share of health care practitioners and may not want to bother with a dietitian.
- Selena played a crucial role in my recovery, and I would highly recommend her, whether you’re newly diagnosed or just trying to feel better.”
- ~ Charlene (long-distance celiac disease client)
- HEALTHBEAN NUTRITION specializes in digestive health. We deliver easy to digest, bite-size pieces of information so our clients can, finally, achieve the healthy & happy digestive system they’ve been striving for. Learn more ...
- HEALTHBEAN PHILOSOPHY– Selena employs elimination diets and/or a specific diets in accordance with her clients’ conditions, and only when deemed necessary. She reserves advice about the gluten-free diet for those who require it – not those choosing to follow the diet as a lifestyle choice. Expect clear, concise instructions on the appropriate diet for you and, maybe even some myth busting! Learn more …
Selena knows first-hand how her undiagnosed celiac disease affected her physical and emotional health. After telling her that, “Well, you have celiac disease,” her MD suggested she, “google the diet,” and out the door she went. Sound familiar?
That’s why Selena established Healthbean Nutrition. She is dedicating her education, personal insights and her own recovery to helping her fellow celiacs make this enormous lifestyle transition – and find joy in eating again! Learn more …
Selena’s Road to Diagnosis
- “When I was going through university, I was exhausted, ALL the time. I had to drag myself out to hang out with friends, and if I had it my way I would have spent most days in bed sleeping. It was not unknown for me to sleep 12-16 hours a day. Call me crazy, but I related it all to the busy-ness of school. I was even checked for anemia at one point (common with celiacs) and I was ‘fine.’
- The symptoms continued through school and the brain fog was undeniable. I distinctly remember during my dietetic internship (like a medical residency except everything is nutrition based) at Kelowna General Hospital sitting in the office, charting on a patient and, literally, feeling like my brain was so fuzzy that I could barely keep my eyes from nodding off. It was awful.
- Another thing I didn’t pay much attention to, was bowels. I was always constipated. Never the other way around. Never. And, I also remember mentioning this to my gastroenterologist just before the endoscopy and he said ‘oh, well with your very low antibody levels and constipation, there is a very low chance that you are actually celiac but we will proceed with the endoscopy since you’re prepped and ready to go.’
- The piece of paper I received after the endoscopy said to follow up with my GP. I did follow up with my GP and the report came back positive for celiac disease. My GP said “well, you’re celiac. But, you’re a dietitian, right, so this should be easy for you!”
- Perhaps I had a leg up in the nutrition part of it, but I think we all know that the gluten free diet is not a walk in the park. And, although, I am so appreciative of the medical care I received, it did open my eyes to the lack of knowledge within the medical community when it came to celiac disease and the lack of support offered to individuals with celiac disease.
That’s how Healthbean Nutrition was born!
- *Information and perspectives posted on The Celiac Scene are intended to provide general information, without independent verification on the part of The Celiac Scene for the accuracy of the information provided to it. The information is specifically not intended to be a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment by your physician or other health care professional. Always consult your own physician or other health care professionals about any medical questions, diagnosis, or treatment, especially before trying any diet. Healthbean Nutrition does not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on any content contained herein.