Category Archives: Gluten Intolerance

An unwelcome ingredient in some gluten-free foods — arsenic

Arsenic in Gluten-Free FoodsFoodFacts.com has often been quite impressed by the distinct differences between the majority of gluten-free food products and their gluten-containing counterparts. Nutritional values appear to be much better and ingredient lists can be far superior. While gluten-free foods have been developed specifically for consumers with gluten sensitivities and celiac disease, we know that many have embraced these food products for other perceived health reasons. They may simply be reading the ingredient lists and realizing that there are gluten-free foods that are simply better products. We read something today, though, that might be of concern to all gluten-free food consumers.

Some gluten free foods have been found to boast worrying concentrations of arsenic, as revealed by the analyses of flour, cakes, bread, pasta and other foods made with rice.

With demand up, so is supply, and more gluten-free rice-based products are hitting the shelves. This is no doubt a boon for celiac disease sufferers, who now have a large variety of meal options. However, a new study published in the journal Food Additives & Contaminants says it’s also dangerous, as more of these products have been found to contain worrying levels of arsenic, a toxic and carcinogenic substance.

Arsenic is found naturally in the Earth’s crust, and it is often absorbed with water by rice plants.

These levels are low enough where they are not a threat to standard consumers, but study co-author Ángel Carbonell says that people who exclusively eat gluten-free products – namely celiac sufferers – might be slowly poisoning themselves.

“These figures show that we cannot exclude a risk to the health of people who consume these kinds of products,” Carbonell said in a statement.
He and his colleagues argue that current arsenic limits set by the US and European Union do not accommodate for celiac disease sufferers, as current limits assume the average citizen is eating less rice-product than these niche consumers.

“What is needed is for health agencies to legislate to limit the levels of arsenic that cannot be exceeded in rice-based foods intended for consumers who suffer from celiac disease,” Carbonell said.

The authors also call for clearer labeling, as the quality and even location of rice can affect its arsenic content.

While this information is especially important for those who are exclusively consuming gluten-free products due to sensitivities or celiac disease, it’s important for any consumer who has decided to embrace a gluten-free lifestyle. While these products can be substantially better in terms of nutrition facts and ingredients, we do think that the presence of a dangerous ingredient that will not appear on any list worth noting.

http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/9704/20141018/gluten-free-foods-contain-arsenic.htm#ixzz3GjsWepQv

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