Category Archives: gluten free

Here’s a new reason to consider a gluten-free diet

Gluten Free Diet May Help Prevent DiabetesEvery now and again a dietary trend captures the attention of the population. The gluten-free diet has certainly been such a trend. In fact, that trend continues to grow daily, as more and more consumers learn of the benefits so many have already experienced. Keeping in mind that the gluten-free diet’s main and original purpose is to accommodate the dietary needs of those with Celiacs disease or gluten sensitivity, the diet has now been embraced by those not suffering from these conditions.

Gluten-free eating has been credited with weight loss, improved general health and increased energy. While it may appear difficult to incorporate into an existing lifestyle, thousands have attested to the idea that it’s actually a lot easier than it initially appears, especially with the introduction of so many gluten-free food products on our grocery shelves. Now there’s a new reason to consider gluten-free.

New experiments on mice show, that mouse mothers can protect their pups from developing type 1 diabetes by eating a gluten-free diet. According to preliminary studies by researchers at the University of Copenhagen, the findings may apply to humans.

More than 1% of the Danish population has type 1 diabetes, one of the highest incidence rates in the world. New experiments on mice now show a correlation between the health of the pups and their mothers eating a gluten-free diet. Our hope is that the disease may be prevented through simple dietary changes, the researchers say.

“Preliminary tests show that a gluten-free diet in humans has a positive effect on children with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes. We therefore hope that a gluten-free diet during pregnancy and lactation may be enough to protect high-risk children from developing diabetes later in life,” says assistant professor Camilla Hartmann Friis Hansen from the Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences.

Findings from experiments on mice are not necessarily applicable to humans, but in this case we have grounds for optimism, says co-writer on the study professor Axel Kornerup from the Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences.

“Early intervention makes a lot of sense because type 1 diabetes develops early in life. We also know from existing experiments that a gluten-free diet has a beneficial effect on type 1 diabetes,” he says.

Experiments of this type have been going on since 1999, originally initiated by Professor Karsten Buschard from the Bartholin Institute at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, another co-writer on the study.

“This new study beautifully substantiates our research into a gluten-free diet as an effective weapon against type 1 diabetes,” Karsten Buschard explains.

The experiment showed that the diet changed the intestinal bacteria in both the mother and the pups. The intestinal flora plays an important role for the development of the immune system as well as the development of type 1 diabetes, and the study suggests that the protective effect of a gluten-free diet can be ascribed to certain intestinal bacteria. The advantage of the gluten-free diet is that the only side-effect seems to be the inconvenience of having to avoid gluten, but there is no certain evidence of the effect or side-effects.

“We have not been able to start a large-scale clinical test to either prove or disprove our hypothesis about the gluten-free diet,” says Karsten Buschard.

Assistant Professor Camilla Hartmann Friis Hansen is hoping that it will be possible to continue the work.

“If we find out how gluten or certain intestinal bacteria modify the immune system and the beta-cell physiology, this knowledge can be used to develop new treatments,” she says.

FoodFacts.com looks forward to more research on the health benefits of the gluten-free diet. We do think that as research continues, more will be discovered. After all, so many gluten-free consumers who state that they’re enjoying better health, more energy and healthy weight loss can’t simply be imagining their results. We think there’s more than meets the eye for a gluten-free lifestyle and we’re excited to learn more about its positive health effects.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140508095836.htm

Move over Samoas, there’s a new Girl Scout cookie in town and it’s gluten-free!

It’s that time of year again. Whether you have a Girl Scout in your family, or in a co-worker’s family, or you’re being visited by a Girl Scout at your front door, you may very well be ordering a box (or two or five) of your favorite Girl Scout cookies.

About this time last year, FoodFacts.com took a look at the ingredient lists for a few different Girl Scout cookie varieties. We weren’t very excited by what we discovered and shared the facts with our community. We felt as though products branded by the Girl Scouts should be more conscious than your average cookie brand of the ingredients they choose to include in their confections. You can read the ingredient lists for Samoas and Tagalongs on our site.

Back in 2011, a New York mom whose daughter was a Girl Scout, started a petition to convince the organization to offer a gluten-free cookie option. She collected more than 12,000 signatures after the companies that make the cookies told her there was not enough of a market for a gluten-free version.

Fast forward to 2014 and all that has changed as the Girl Scouts introduce the Chocolate Chip Shortbread cookie.

According to the website of ABC Bakers, a maker of Girl Scout Cookies, the Chocolate Chip Shortbread cookie will be making its debut in 20 test markets this year. The gluten-free snacks will be available in some parts of Maryland, California, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New York and Wisconsin, among a handful of other states.

“ABC will conduct research during and after the sale to determine whether to go national with this cookie in the future since ABC Bakers is all about staying on the cutting edge, and bringing people what they want in today’s world,” the company’s website reads.

FoodFacts.com did a little digging and discovered that the new gluten-free Girl Scout cookie also carries a better ingredient list than its relatives, Samoas and Tagalongs. The Chocolate Chip Shortbread cookie contains no partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup or artificial and natural flavorings.

This is undoubtedly great news for gluten-free Girl Scout cookie fans. But it’s also great news for all Girl Scout cookie aficionados who’d rather not consume the ingredients in some of the other, more popular options. When manufacturers (and organizations) listen to the voices of their consumer base, it usually results in better, healthier options for everyone. It makes their regular purchasers happy and it helps them acquire new customers as well. We all know the old saying, “the customer is always right.” Thanks for listening, Girl Scouts! Now you might want to get to work on some of the ingredient lists in the other cookie varieties everyone wants to love.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/29/girl-scouts-gluten-free-cookie_n_4690222.html

https://www.girlscouts.org/program/gs_cookies/meet_the_cookies.asp

 

 

 

New FDA rules standardize and define “gluten-free” food labeling

FoodFacts.com knows that many in our community suffer with celiac disease or are sensitive to gluten. Those members actively seek to avoid food products containing gluten and rely on both dietary restrictions and gluten-free food products to help them manage their difficulties. Whether living with Celiac Disease or sensitivity to gluten, maintaining a gluten-free diet is essential to the health and well-being of millions worldwide. And that’s why it’s so important that gluten-free food manufacturers take the utmost care in labeling their products for this consumer population.

Today we learned that the FDA has published a new regulation defining the term “gluten-free” for voluntary food labeling. The new rule provides a standard definition that will help to protect the health of Americans with Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivities.

New rule provides standard definition to protect the health of Americans with celiac disease

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today published a new regulation defining the term “gluten-free” for voluntary food labeling. This will provide a uniform standard definition to help the up to 3 million Americans who have Celiac disease, an autoimmune digestive condition that can be effectively managed only by eating a gluten free diet. The FDA commented that the new “gluten-free” definition will help people affected by consuming gluten make food choices with confidence and allow them to better manage their health.

This new federal definition standardizes the meaning of “gluten-free” claims across the food industry. It requires that, in order to use the term “gluten-free” on its label, a food must meet all of the requirements of the definition, including that the food must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. The rule also requires foods with the claims “no gluten,” “free of gluten,” and “without gluten” to meet the definition for “gluten-free.”
The FDA recognizes that many foods currently labeled as “gluten-free” may be able to meet the new federal definition already. Food manufacturers will have a year after the rule is published to bring their labels into compliance with the new requirements.

The term “gluten” refers to proteins that occur naturally in wheat, rye, barley and cross-bred hybrids of these grains. In people with Celiac disease, foods that contain gluten trigger production of antibodies that attack and damage the lining of the small intestine. Such damage limits the ability of Celiac disease patients to absorb nutrients and puts them at risk of other very serious health problems, including nutritional deficiencies, osteoporosis, growth retardation, infertility, miscarriages, short stature, and intestinal cancers.

FoodFacts.com is happy to see the FDA taking action to formalize the definition of “gluten-free”. We know this will help so many consumers make more educated food choices that comply with their dietary restrictions. We also believe that it will help manufacturers offer food products that are geared towards this important consumer group. Food labeling helps all consumers become more nutritionally aware. It’s an important tool that broadens our knowledge of food products and ultimately helps us all successfully manage our own nutritional requirements.

http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm363474.htm

Will a gluten-free diet improve your health?

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Foodfacts.com is looking into gluten free diets. Sarah Cooper was a new mom in her mid-20s, busily juggling her family and a career as an electrical engineer, when everything came to a halt. She lost all her energy. She developed acne. And she began experiencing gastrointestinal problems: bloating, diarrhea, cramping, constipation. Her doctors, thinking something must be missing from her diet, put her on various vitamins, none of which helped.
“It was all I could do to go to work,” she says.
After years of failed treatments, Cooper’s luck changed. She saw a doctor who suspected she might have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that can appear at any age and is caused by an intolerance to gluten.
A protein found in wheat, barley, and rye (and countless food products — like bread and pasta — that contain those grains), gluten gradually damages the intestines of people with celiac disease, preventing the absorption of vitamins and minerals and setting off a slew of related health problems, which can include fatigue and bad skin.

Cooper tested negative for celiac disease, but the doctor advised her to try a gluten-free diet anyway.
“Within a week of eliminating [gluten], I started to feel markedly better,” says Cooper, now 36, from Melbourne, Australia. “It wasn’t a gradual feeling better; it was almost a crossing-the-street kind of thing.”
That was 10 years ago. The general practitioner who treated Cooper was ahead of his time, as most doctors are only now starting to realize that some people who don’t have celiac disease may benefit from diets free of (or low in) gluten.
In fact, experts now believe that celiac disease represents just one extreme of a broad spectrum of gluten intolerance that includes millions of people like Cooper with less severe — but nevertheless problematic — reactions to the protein.
While celiac disease affects about 1 percent of the U.S. population, experts estimate that as many as 10 percent have a related and poorly understood condition known as non-celiac gluten intolerance (NCGI), or gluten sensitivity.

“This is something that we’re just beginning to get our heads around,” says Daniel Leffler, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a gastroenterologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in Boston. “There is a tight definition of celiac disease, but gluten intolerance has been a moving target.”

Growing awareness of gluten sensitivity has led some people who struggle with gut problems but have tested negative for celiac disease to take matters into their own hands and try a gluten-free diet, even though it’s an extremely difficult diet to follow.
Sales of gluten-free products increased 16 percent in 2010, according to the Nielsen Company.
“Gluten is fairly indigestable in all people,” Leffler says. “There’s probably some kind of gluten intolerance in all of us.”

The spectrum of gluten intolerance

Experts now think of gluten intolerance as a spectrum of conditions, with celiac disease on one end and, on the other, what’s been called a “no man’s land” of gluten-related gastrointestinal problems that may or may not overlap.
Leffler estimates, for instance, that half of the approximately 60 million people in the U.S. who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are probably sensitive to gluten. (Gluten allergies, which are similar to other food allergies, also fall on the spectrum but affect only about 0.1 percent of the population.)

Gluten intolerance of any kind — including celiac disease — is often underdiagnosed (or misdiagnosed) because it manifests itself in many and murky ways that can baffle doctors.
People with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity usually have stomachaches, gas, and diarrhea — as do people with IBS.

Celiac patients can also develop headaches, tingling, fatigue, muscle pain, skin rashes, joint pain, and other symptoms, because the autoimmune attack at the root of the disease gradually erodes the wall of the intestine, leading to poor absorption of iron, folate, and other nutrients that affect everything from energy to brain function.
People with gluten sensitivity sometimes experience these far-reaching symptoms as well, though it’s less clear why.
Gluten intolerance “starts in the intestines as a process, but doesn’t necessarily stay in the intestines. It may affect other organs,” says Alessio Fasano, M.D., medical director of the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research, in Baltimore.
Celiac disease can be definitively diagnosed using a two-step process: Doctors test the patient’s blood for the presence of intestine-attacking antibodies activated by gluten, and, if those tests come back positive, they order a biopsy (or series of biopsies) to look for intestinal damage, any evidence of which confirms the diagnosis.

Gluten sensitivity, on the other hand, is a gray area that “lacks any defining medical tests,” Leffler says. People who fall into this group exhibit the classic symptoms of celiac disease yet have no detectable intestinal damage, and test negative for certain key antibodies (though in some cases they may have elevated levels of others).
Gluten sensitivity is a kind of “non-diagnosis,” in other words — a diagnosis by default for those who don’t have celiac disease but feel better on a gluten-free diet.
A recent study by Fasano and his colleagues offers some clues about what gluten sensitivity is, and how it differs from celiac disease. Although they show no signs of erosion or other damage, the study found, the intestines of gluten-sensitive patients contain proteins that contribute to a harmful immune response, one that resembles — but is distinct from — the process underlying celiac disease.
Blood tests that can diagnose gluten sensitivity by measuring these and other proteins are in the works, but they are still a ways off.
“The reason we don’t have tests yet is mainly because we don’t have a clear definition of [gluten sensitivity],” Fasano explains.

How much gluten is OK?

People with celiac disease must commit to an absolutely gluten-free diet, as eating the protein can, over time, increase a person’s risk of osteoporosis, infertility, and certain cancers, in addition to worsening short-term symptoms.
“You’re going to be on this diet for life, and it has to be extremely strict. Even crumbs can turn on the autoimmune process typical of celiac disease,” Fasano says. “If you make a mistake with celiac disease, you pay the price on the spot, but there can be a cumulative price, too.”
Recommendations for people with gluten sensitivity aren’t as clear-cut. Unlike celiac disease, gluten sensitivity hasn’t been linked to intestine damage and long-term health problems, so some experts say that people on the less severe end of the spectrum should feel comfortable eating as much gluten as they can handle without feeling sick.
“Some people can be exquisitely sensitive and have to be as strict as people with celiac disease, while others can eat a pizza,” Fasano says.

The impact that gluten can have on those without celiac disease was illustrated by a recent study in Australia.
When gluten-sensitive people were asked to eat bread and muffins every day that, unbeknownst to them, had been laced with gluten, 68 percent saw all their old symptoms come back rapidly, compared with 40 percent in a similar group that ate only gluten-free products.
“People complained that they felt like they were pregnant, had gut pain…and tiredness increased,” says the lead researcher, Jessica Biesiekierski, a Ph.D. candidate at Monash University Department of Medicine and Gastroenterology.
Sarah Cooper participated in the study and felt like she had been “hit by a bus” after the first day of gluten snacks. Her symptoms got so bad that she had to drop out halfway through the six-week study.
People with gluten sensitivity who don’t respond this way aren’t necessarily in the clear, however. Experts like Marlisa Brown, a registered dietitian in private practice in Long Island, N.Y., and the author of “Gluten-Free, Hassle-Free,” worry that gluten could have long-term negative consequences that just haven’t been identified yet.
Even if you feel better, “definitely don’t try to add it back in,” she urges. Brown counts herself among the gluten sensitive.
After enduring sinus infections, hair loss, sensitive skin, and fatigue since she was a little girl, and despite a negative celiac-disease test in her 20s (which she thinks may not have been thorough enough), Brown finally cut out gluten in her late 40s.
“I felt better in a week,” she says.

Gluten-free doesn’t equal healthy

If you suspect your body can’t tolerate gluten, the first thing you should do is get tested for celiac disease. If the test comes back negative, try a gluten-free diet for a week to see if you feel better, Leffler says.
Cutting out gluten is the most reliable way to determine if you are, in fact, sensitive to the protein — and if you are sensitive, it’s the only treatment.
However, Leffler stresses that you should get help from a dietitian to make sure that you avoid hidden sources of gluten (like soy sauce and salad dressing), and that you don’t miss out on the vitamins that wheat products provide.
Even though celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Gwyneth Paltrow have reportedly cut out gluten to “detox,” there’s nothing inherently healthier about a gluten-free diet.
“It can be very healthy, or it can be junk food,” says Dee Sandquist, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Some of the many gluten-free products on the market can be unhealthy, Fasano says, because manufacturers add extra sugar and fat to simulate the texture and satisfying fluffiness that gluten imparts.
Another potential pitfall is that gluten-free products are less routinely fortified with iron and vitamins B and D than regular bread products, Sandquist says.
“Vitamins B and D are the ones particularly at risk of being deficient in [gluten-sensitive] people.”
If you plan to go gluten free, select more fruits, vegetables, and lean meat, and more naturally gluten-free grains like brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat, rather than just buying prepackaged products labeled “gluten free,” Sandquist says.
She adds, however, that gluten-free products are “evolving” and may become healthier overall as manufacturers develop ways to fortify them.

Article provided by Carina Storrs