Category Archives: gluten

Celiac

The challenges of living with celiac disease

Living with celiac disease couldn’t possibly be a walk in the park. Despite having a month dedicated to its awareness, and the collective efforts of the medical community, advocates and celiacs themselves, many people are still in the dark as to what it really is. Or, quite simply, people just couldn’t comprehend the day-to-day struggles of those afflicted with the disease. FoodFacts.com shares a few of the the challenges that celiacs often face.

Cut-and-try testing

As previously mentioned, it takes six to eight years for celiac disease to be diagnosed correctly. Many people who manifest symptoms of the illness are, more often than not, diagnosed with other conditions, which may not at all be connected to celiac disease. For instance, a celiac could have vomiting symptoms whenever he or she ingests gluten, and then gets diagnosed with and treated for some form of eating disorder. In many cases, a person undergoes a number of other tests and gets misdiagnosed and treated incorrectly. The truth is, there are many people who do not have the resources to be passed on from specialist to specialist, let alone go through various expensive tests. Needless to say, this is an exhausting cycle for anyone to endure.

Being misunderstood

For unknowing celiacs, the scorn is on the “lapses” in their behavior. People who suffer with celiac disease may appear tired after having eaten a small piece of food that contains gluten. Others usually perceive the fatigue as laziness and lack of interest or commitment. And, in the example mentioned above, a celiac who throws up after his or her meal are frequently mistaken for being calorie-obsessed and figure-conscious.

Healing process

The suffering doesn’t end when celiacs are finally correctly diagnosed. It is never easy for anyone to give up their favorite foods, no matter how sick they get after eating them. Also, change doesn’t happen overnight. A newly diagnosed celiac may go gluten-free immediately, but it may take months or years for his or her body to fully heal.

Persistent challenges

There is a widely believed misconception that gluten-free diet actually means eating healthier. Unfortunately, the popularity of this food trend has inadvertently made celiac disease some sort of a joke. From late night shows to grocery stores and restaurants, many celiacs find themselves regarded as – and ridiculed for – being hypochondriacs riding on the gluten-free fad.

As with any health condition, celiac disease is not something one would hope to live with. However, it is a delight to see how many people who have this illness power through their everyday lives. As Celiac Disease Awareness Month comes to a close, bear in mind that gluten-free is not just a multi-million dollar trend with a 44-million-strong market. There’s actually a large number of that market who consume it as a health necessity.

Tip: It’s convenient to head over the grocery aisle that holds processed, ready-made gluten-free foods. However, these products may not necessarily be the healthy way to nourish your body, especially when it has suffered years of damage. It’s always best to seek out natural, gluten-free ingredients and prepare your meals yourself. Use the all my food facts app to find products that are safe for you to eat. 

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Recipe: Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal Muffins

Celiac disorder, like any other diseases that require dietary restrictions, can be challenging. However, this does not mean that people stricken with celiac disease are compelled to eat bland foods because of their sensitivity to gluten. FoodFacts.com is happy to dispel that perception and share this easy-to-make, healthy AND delicious gluten-free banana bread baked oatmeal muffins!

Time: 15 minutes

Serving: 12

Ingredients

  • 3 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 2 over-ripe medium-sized bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ⅓ cup raisins
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • Hershey’s Simply 5 Syrup, optional

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In one bowl, mix all the dry ingredients.
  3. In another bowl, mix all the wet ingredients.
  4. Add dry to wet and mix only until combined.
  5. Fold in the raisins.
  6. Spoon batter into lined or greased standard-sized muffin pans and silicone liners.
  7. Bake for about 11-14 minutes.
  8. Let muffins cool before drizzling Hershey’s Simply 5 Syrup, if using.

Note: Be sure to store muffin in an airtight container.

Tip: Turn this recipe vegan by replacing the eggs with flaxseed eggs and forgoing the Hershey’s syrup.

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Facts about celiac disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the digestive process of the small intestine. It affects about one percent of the population of the United States, occurring more often in women than in men. People with celiac disease have sensitivity to gluten, a type of protein found in grains such as rye and barley. Ingestion of gluten triggers an abnormal immune system response, which damages the small intestines and prevents absorption of necessary nutrients such as iron, folic acid, vitamin D and calcium.

The media does extensive coverage on celiac disease, especially in May as it is Celiac Disease Awareness Month. So much so that it has propelled the gluten-free foods trend, which somewhat deviated the focus from the disease itself. In fact, over a quarter of adults in the United States find gluten-free living appealing. The truth is, a large majority of that number do not require a gluten-free diet and should not be in it.

Since it is Celiac Disease Awareness Month, FoodFacts.com aids the medical community and other proponents in educating people with these quick facts about the disease.

Genetic disorder

Celiac disease is not simply a food allergy and/or intolerance that can be countered by an antihistamine. It is a serious, lifelong, genetically-determined disease. If a blood relative is diagnosed with celiac disease, get yourself screened immediately.

Invisible illness

Celiac disease is considered an invisible illness because it is hard to diagnose. The average time for celiac to be diagnosed correctly is between 6 and 10 years. In many cases, celiac does not even manifest itself through the most common symptoms, leaving the sufferer unaware that the illness is already destroying the small intestine.

Common symptoms

Some of the most common symptoms of celiac disease are, but not limited to:

Other health problems

Because celiac disease is difficult to diagnose, it is often untreated. When left untreated, the disease may lead to a variety of other medical maladies such as infertility, miscarriage, osteoporosis, anemia and lymphoma.

Higher risk of pneumonia

As reported in a recent article, researchers found that people with celiac disease are more susceptible to pneumonia if they have never received the pneumococcal vaccine. Doctors, therefore, urge diagnosed celiac patients to get the vaccine.

If you think you have celiac disease, call your doctor immediately and discuss a health management plan before switching to a gluten-free diet.

The all my foodfacts app can help you manage celiac disease. By selecting the types of food that you want to avoid, all my foodfacts will show you which products contain them. In this case, when you add “gluten” to your avoid list and run a search on grains, the app includes the products that contain grains which celiac patients are sensitive to in the results and indicates that you should avoid them.

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Find out if the products you are using are really gluten-free with the all my foodfacts app. Get it on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon!

A protein found in the gut may be the reason why some of us actually can’t stomach gluten

gluten freeThere’s been a lot of backlash out there in the media lately concerning those who choose to adhere to a gluten free diet for reasons other than celiac disease. “It’s a fad,” you’ll hear often. People with celiac disease are the only ones who need a gluten-free diet, anyone else is just being trendy and likes attention. Those are the general sentiments. Turns out that more and more information is being uncovered which serves as proof that others can, in fact, be sensitive to gluten without having celiac disease. It’s not a figment of anyone’s imagination. It’s not a cry for attention. It’s real. And, in fact, a protein found in the gut may be the reason why some of us actually can’t stomach gluten.

If you’ve found that you are sensitive to gluten — the stretchy protein that makes wheat bread fluffy and pie crusts crisp — perhaps you’ve had to bear the brunt of the gluten-free backlash.

Some 47 percent of American consumers say the gluten-free diet is a fad, according toMintel research. And that’s partly because there’s been scant proof of what causes non-celiac gluten sensitivity. As far as diagnosing it goes, there’s nothing akin to thegold standard tests that help diagnose the 1 percent of the population that has celiac disease.
But those who shun gluten (and don’t have celiac disease) may not be food faddists after all. Researchers are finally homing in on markers for gluten sensitivity in the body. A study from Giovanni Barbara and his team at the University of Bologna, Italy, suggests that gluten-sensitive individuals may harbor high levels of a molecule called zonulin that is linked to inflammation.

Levels of zonulin in the blood have been shown to be high in celiacs already. In Barbara’s study, levels in gluten-sensitive individuals almost matched those of celiacs. Though the results are preliminary, they point in a hopeful direction for future tests to help diagnose this controversial condition.

About 6 percent of the global population may be sensitive to gluten, according togastroenterologist Alessio Fasano of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Symptoms can be similar to irritable bowel syndrome, with abdominal pain, bloating, alternating diarrhea or constipation. And there can be other symptoms, including “brain fog,” headache, fatigue and joint and muscle pain.

Enter zonulin, stage left. Zonulin is an inflammatory protein first discovered by Fasano and his team in 2000. It helps regulate leakiness in the gut by opening and closing the spaces or “junctions” between cells in the lining of the digestive tract. Zonulin is triggered by harmful bacteria, and offers important protection to the body: If you accidentally eat a food contaminated with salmonella, you rely on zonulin to help trigger diarrhea and flush out the bugs.

Once the pathogen is gone, zonulin levels drop and the junctions close.
So what does it have to do with gluten? It turns out that gluten is a strong trigger of zonulin in some individuals. “No human being completely digests gluten,” says Fasano. “And in a small percentage of us, that undigested gluten triggers the release of zonulin,” leading to high levels of it.

To test the theory, Giovanni Barbara and a team of researchers at the University of Bologna measured blood levels of zonulin in four groups of individuals: those with celiac disease, those with irritable bowel syndrome marked by diarrhea, those with self-diagnosed gluten sensitivity and healthy volunteers. Both celiacs and gluten-sensitives turned up with remarkably high levels of zonulin in their blood. Those with IBS had elevated levels but less than half the levels of celiacs or gluten-sensitive individuals. Healthy volunteers had negligible blood levels of zonulin.

The results were presented in October as an abstract at the 23rd United European Gastroenterology Week in Barcelona, Spain. “I was very surprised, but not only by the zonulin levels,” says Barbara. “In our study, gluten-sensitive individuals who responded to a gluten-free diet had a genetic predisposition to celiac disease. They had no evidence of celiac, but they did have the vulnerable genes that put a person at risk of celiac.”

Despite having found two potential biomarkers, Barbara cautions that it’s far too soon to recommend any kind of clinical testing. “We need more research to determine the clinical usefulness of these markers. … Other laboratories need to reproduce our data, and we need to repeat our own experiment with gluten-sensitive patients who have been identified by strict criteria in double-blind studies.” Barbara adds that his center only sees the most severe patients who have been unsuccessful finding treatment elsewhere, which may have influenced the results.

Fasano, who was not involved in Barbara’s study, says the discovery of zonulin is part of a larger, evolving picture. “This molecule is extremely important in a lot of illness,from Type 1 diabetes to other autoimmune diseases. Many illnesses link back to loss of barrier function in the gut.” Soon, a trial will begin to test whether it’s possible to shut down zonulin production in the gut for a few hours.

“It would be really great,” says Fasano, “if we had a safe medication that could keep this molecule at bay and offer help for celiac disease, gluten sensitivity and perhaps other conditions.”

FoodFacts.com is happy that this information is out and about and being circulated. We don’t like it when people point their fingers at others and assume that problems aren’t legitimate when they have no proof. People who are gluten sensitive actually are gluten sensitive. Maybe others can learn a little sensitivity too.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/12/09/459061317/a-protein-in-the-gut-may-explain-why-some-cant-stomach-gluten

The diet that was never meant to be … how gluten-free got out of control

gluten-intoleranceThe gluten-free craze was never supposed to be a craze at all. Just ask Dr. Alessio Fasano, a physician-researcher at Mass. General – the doctor that put gluten awareness on the map in the United States.  He also understands how gluten-free got out of control.

When Fasano came to the United States from his native Italy in the early 1990s, the prevailing view in medicine was that celiac was a problem primarily for European kids and basically didn’t exist here. His decade-long study proved otherwise, and brought relief to a small group of long-overlooked, long-suffering Americans. But when he began giving talks on his findings, celiac patients told him, essentially, “Enough with the science. What we really want from you are recipes for gluten-free bread that doesn’t take like cardboard.” Hardly anyone outside this select group even knew what gluten was.

“Fast forward to 2015,” Fasano told me. “We did such a good job that the monster went all out of control.”

Gluten-free is now a $23 billion a year market in this country. Food manufacturers have rushed to fill supermarket shelves with every imaginable product labeled “gluten-free” – many that never contained gluten to begin with. “The gluten-free diet,” Fasano said, “is the most popular diet that you can imagine.”

How did it happen? A pivotal moment came in 2008 when Oprah Winfrey announced that she was going on a cleanse and would cut gluten from her diet. Traditional bakers around the country probably gulped, or at least they should have. By the time other celebrities hopped on the bandwagon, gluten-free was well on its way to becoming a dietary juggernaut.

In stepped diet book peddlers and even a few outright hucksters. There’s a guy in North Carolina serving a nine- to 11-year prison sentence for fraud, after he was caught buying regular bread from Costco and other stores, repackaging it as gluten-free, and selling it for a huge markup.

Helping to propel this explosion has been the wide spectrum of gluten-avoiding people. About 0.3 percent of the US population has a wheat allergy – for them, eating even trace amounts of wheat can cause anaphylactic shock. About 1 percent of the population has celiac disease. Another 5 percent to 6 percent, according to Fasano’s estimates, have genuine gluten sensitivity. For this group, avoiding gluten is essential because the protein composite will often cause painful gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating and diarrhea, although those symptoms tend to be milder than what people with celiac disease suffer. More important, these symptoms produce no long-term damage. For celiacs, eating gluten slowly destroys the villi lining their small intestines and over time can hasten death – so for them, avoiding gluten is very serious business.

But Fasano says the vast majority of the contemporary gluten-free universe involves people who, in the Oprah tradition, avoid the stuff purely for lifestyle reasons, and not out of medical necessity.

Most celiacs say they have no problem with other people avoiding gluten because of dietary preference. After all, the vast expansion of the gluten-free ranks is the reason people with celiac disease have so many more choices these days at the supermarket and on restaurant menus. But what has so many of them furious is the explosion of people pretending to have a medical condition around gluten when, in fact, they just want special attention.

For celiacs, accommodations in restaurants and elsewhere have made it possible for them to venture out into the world like everyone else, without being paralyzed by fear that they will risk doing serious harm to themselves. Yet as the face of gluten-free increasingly morphs into a self-involved poser, celiacs worry that people will stop taking their disease seriously, and their hard-won accommodations will become casualties. While faddists can move on to another fad diet, celiacs must avoid gluten for life.

As Dr. Sheila Crowe, a physician-researcher at the University of California San Diego, told me, “For people with celiac disease, gluten is basically poison to their body.”

One of her patients told her recently about an experience dining out. When the patient told the server she needed to eat gluten-free, the server roll his eyes and said, “Oh, you’re one of those.”

The tension in restaurants may only increase in the short term, as portable meters come on to the market that will allow diners to test their meals, tableside, for the presence of gluten.

Crowe says that although the only current treatment for celiac disease is avoiding gluten, eventually effective medications will come. But when those meds come, she says, they are likely to be expensive. And insurers are going to balk at paying for them for patients who don’t actually need them. “We are going to need documentation,” she said.

Celiac is diagnosed through a combination of blood test and intestinal biopsies. Currently, there is no test for gluten sensitivity/intolerance, but that too will come.

For Mass. General’s Fasano, the biggest frustration with the market-fueled distortion of his research is that so many people are now diagnosing themselves with gluten intolerance without ever going to their doctor to be sure.

Celiac is an autoimmune disease. When people who suffer it eat gluten, the body goes to war, but mistakenly turns on itself, starting with the small intestine. The first step doctors use to diagnose it is to look for biomarkers in the blood, evidence that the body has girded for battle. But Fasano stresses that people who stop eating gluten without going for a medical consult will deprive the doctor of the key diagnostic tool if they ever do want a real diagnosis. Since those people stopped eating gluten, there will be no biomarkers.

In my original piece, Fasano tried to point out the folly of these self-diagnosers with a comparison to another disease. “You don’t say, ‘I’m drinking a lot and peeing a lot, so I must have diabetes,’ and then start injecting yourself with insulin.”

For celiacs, gluten-free is a therapeutic intervention. Fasano has a simple message for anyone who tells a waiter they’ve got a medical condition involving gluten, when in reality they’re just trying to cut carbs: “Shame on you.”

FoodFacts.com has certainly witnessed the proliferation of gluten-free everything in our grocery stores. The availability of products catering to the gluten-free diet has skyrocketed. For those with celiac’s or gluten sensitivity the mass appeal of the gluten-free diet has opened the doors to quality food products that fit their dietary restrictions. While we know there are those who have jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon as part of a health fad, we’re still happy that the strength of that consumer force has created healthy and plentiful choices for those with actual health conditions.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2015/10/27/how-made-gluten-into-monster/GYIZbgqfWtBmLOE88yr5EO/story.html

Thinking about a gluten-free diet? Some information to consider first …

gluten-free-banner1We hear about diet trends all the time. Low carb. No carb. Mediterranean. Low fat. No fat. It’s rare that a diet trend has any real staying power. A few decades back everyone was trying to avoid fat — all fat, in everything. People were avoiding egg yolks. Fat-free cheese, fat-free potato chips, fat-free cookies … the grocery store shelves were lined with fat-free products. Most of those products aren’t available today.

There is one diet trend, though, that certainly has had a longer life than others. There are countless people that swear by a gluten-free diet — not just for weight loss, but for overall health as well.

A recent study has suggested that although only 7% American need a gluten-free diet, more than 63% of Americans are conscious of gluten intake and try to avoid it. The most supported claim for this action is the belief that gluten would make them healthy and improve their mental capabilities. Among the most popular beliefs were how a gluten free diet would improve digestion, the immune and digestive systems, and memory as well as increase energy and reduce cholesterol levels.

AlessioFasano, M.D., director of the Center for Celiac Research at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston notes that there is very little research regarding the beneficial and harmful effects of gluten.

“Gluten free” is advertised by many brands now. Gluten is a protein that is present naturally in grains like wheat and barley and rye. This protein is beneficial for health. Through evidenced-based knowledge, gluten has positive effects on levels of carbohydrates and blood pressure and helps maintain a healthy intestinal flora and reduce inflammation.
However for those 6-7% who do require a gluten free diet, it is essentially a toxic substance that damages the intestines. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that is characterized by gluten-mediated-damage to the intestinal wall. Thus for these people, the avoidance of gluten is necessary.

For those who are not sensitive to gluten, though, researchers have found gluten free diets to actually be harmful.

Gluten free products tend to have more calories, be less nutritious, and have low levels of vitamins and other elements that are required by the body and may also be high in sodium content and carbohydrates.

Gluten free foods are generally rice products, since rice is well tolerated in patients with celiac disease. According to previous research, the highest levels of arsenic (a heavy metal poison) are found in rice. Since most products contain rice even when the label says they don’t, there is invariably some exposure to arsenic.

Weight gain is an issue when it comes to a gluten free diet. Celiac disease patients can gain weight because they are able to absorb more nutrients than when they were consuming gluten.

People who may have some other underlying condition may mistake it for gluten sensitivity and may end up exacerbating their disease.

Researchers suggest that the best way to stay healthy is by reducing carbohydrate intake and eating more fiber, since fiber promotes satiety and fruits and vegetables provide a boost to the immune system.

FoodFacts.com knows that there are many people in our own community who have experienced enormous benefits by avoiding gluten – people who have not been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. We ourselves have been impressed with the quality of many of the gluten-free food products becoming more and more popular in our grocery stores. There is value in other views, however, and every individual can have a different experience. Some food for thought …

http://www.esbtrib.com/2014/11/23/2502/secret-behind-gluten-free-diet-facts-need-know/

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

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

Celiac Disease- Why it may be on the rise.

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Foodfacts.com notices many of our followers struggle with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder which affects the small intestine after consuming gluten. We’ve come across on article that describes the possibly reasoning behind the rise of this disease. Check it out below!

(Yahoo Health) Nearly five times as many Americans have celiac disease today than in the 1950s, a recent study of 9,133 young adults at Warren Air Force Base found. Another recent report found that the rates of celiac disease have doubled every 15 years since 1974. The debilitating digestive disease is now estimated to afflict about 1 in 100 Americans. Why is exposure to gluten–a protein in found in barley, wheat, rye, and possibly oats, as well as other everyday products, including some brands of lipstick, vitamins and lip balms—making more people sick than ever before?

To find out more about celiac disease and the health effects of gluten-free diets, I talked to Christina Tennyson, MD of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University in New York City.

What is celiac disease? A debilitating digestive disorder, celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten. When people with the disease eat foods that contain gluten, a damaging reaction occurs in the lining of the small intestines, blocking its ability to absorb certain nutrients. This can lead to vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition, even if the person is eating a seemingly healthy diet.

What are the symptoms? One reason why this autoimmune disease often goes undiagnosed for as long as 10 years is that symptoms can vary from person to person. Among the more common warning signs of celiac disease are abdominal pain, bloating, gassiness, diarrhea, constipation, lactose intolerance, nausea and fatigue.
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How serious is it? Because celiac disease robs the body of vital nutrients, people who have it are at increased risk for anemia and osteoporosis. People who have celiac disease and don’t eat a gluten-free diet also face a higher threat of bowel cancer and intestinal lymphoma. The Air Force Base study found that during 45 years of follow-up, those with undiagnosed celiac disease were four times more likely to die.

What causes it? Although the cause isn’t fully understood, two genes are known to play a role, says Dr. Tennyson.
Why are rates rising? One theory is that today’s grain-based foods contain more gluten than they did in the past. Another is that kids are exposed to gluten at an earlier age, contributing to increased risk. A frequently proposed explanation is the “hygiene hypothesis,” the theory that we are too clean for our own good, resulting in weaker immune systems because we’re not exposed to as many diseases.
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Does a gluten-free diet help people lose weight? Many gluten-free foods are actually higher in calories than their gluten-containing counterparts and therefore lead to weight gain, reports Dr. Tennyson. “One of the pitfalls is that these foods are often highly processed and high in fat. Some ingredients that are used are low in fiber, such as white rice flour, tapioca and corn starch, causing constipation.” To avoid these problems, people with celiac disease should work with a nutritionist, she advises.

Does a gluten-free diet have any health benefits if you don’t have celiac disease? Possibly. In a randomized study in which neither the researchers nor the participants knew if the foods they were eating contained gluten or not, 68 percent of people who thought that a gluten-free diet improved their GI symptoms reported worsening of their symptoms when they were fed gluten-containing foods without their knowledge. However, the study only looked at 34 patients. Use of gluten-free diets for other conditions, such as autism, is highly controversial.

How trustworthy is gluten-free labeling? While products as diverse as lipstick brands to chocolate and many types of groceries carry gluten-free labeling, right now, there are no legal standards that have to be met in the US. In 27 other countries, food labeled as gluten-free food can’t have more than 20 parts of gluten per million. Nearly three years after the FDA’s deadline for a rule to define “gluten-free,” the agency is finally getting serious about tackling the dangerous risks people with celiac disease can face due to misleading labeling.

What’s the treatment? Although there’s no cure, symptoms can be effectively controlled through dietary changes to avoid all foods with gluten. However, if you think you might have celiac disease, don’t start a gluten-free diet until you’ve been tested for the condition, since eliminating gluten can cause misleading test results, cautions Dr. Tennyson. Because the disease can also spark vitamin and mineral deficiencies, patients may also need supplements. For people with severe small intestine inflammation, doctors sometimes prescribe steroids.

One in Twelve U.S. Children May suffer from Food Allergies

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Foodfacts.com realizes that more and more children are now suffering from food allergies. Nearly 6 million U.S. children or about one in 12 kids are allergic to at least one food, with peanuts, milk and shellfish topping the list of the most common allergens, a new study finds.

Researchers conducted a nationally representative survey of the parents of more than 40,000 children. About 8 percent reported having a child who had a food allergy. Of those, about 30 percent said their child was allergic to multiple foods.

Among kids with food allergies, 25 percent were allergic to peanuts, 21 percent were allergic to milk and 17 percent had an allergy to shellfish. Those were followed by tree nuts (13 percent), eggs (nearly 10 percent), finned fish (6 percent), strawberries (5 percent), wheat (5 percent), and soy (just under 5 percent).

While the study was a snapshot of the prevalence of food allergies in America and did not track change over time, researchers said anecdotal evidence — including reports from schools and the numbers of patients coming in to allergists’ offices — suggests that the rate is rising.

“Eight percent is a pretty significant amount of kids,” said lead study author Dr. Ruchi Gupta, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University and a pediatrician at Children’s Memorial Hospital, both in Chicago. “We are seeing a lot more cases. We are seeing a lot more in schools than we used to see. It does seem that food allergy is on the rise.”

The study is published in the July issue of Pediatrics.

Allergic reactions to foods can range from mild to severe. In the survey, about 61 percent of food allergic children had a mild to moderate reaction, including swelling of the lips and face, hives, itching, flushing or an eczema flare.

The remaining 39 percent had a severe or even potentially life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis — wheezing and trouble breathing, vomiting, swelling, persistent coughing that indicates airway swelling and a dangerous drop in blood pressure.

The foods most commonly associated with a severe reaction included tree nuts and peanuts, shellfish, soy and finned fish.eatingpeanutsduringpregnancymayincreasechildrensriskoffoodallergies_2248_800211243_0_0_7052658_300

“Especially for kids with multiple food allergies, it complicates their lives and makes it really tough on these kids to avoid multiple foods to stay healthy and stay alive,” Gupta said.

Parents of children with food allergies should always carry antihistamine and an epinephrine shot (i.e., an EpiPen) with them, Gupta said. Even with those close at hand, witnessing a child having a serious food reaction can be terrifying for parents, who don’t know how bad it’s going to get and need to decide within moments whether to administer the shot and call 911.

Often, reactions happen when parents least expect them — while they’re at a family gathering or some other social event, and the child accidentally ingests something.

Dr. Susan Schuval, a pediatric allergist at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., agreed that food allergies seem to be getting more common.

“We are seeing tons and tons of food allergies. There also seems to be an increase from what we’ve seen in the past,” Schuval said.

Right now, the only treatment available to most food allergic kids is avoidance. For parents and children, that means paying close attention to labels, taking precautions when eating out, bringing along their own food when they travel or go to social events such as birthday parties. It also means educating teachers, caregivers and other parents who may have their kids over to play about using an epinephrine shot and the seriousness of the allergy.

“They need to maintain their full alertness out of the home, in the schools and in restaurants,” Schuval said.

For some children, food allergies get better over time. Previous research has found many kids outgrow allergies to milk, egg, soy and wheat. Fewer outgrow peanut, tree nut, fish and shellfish allergies.

A wheat allergy is different from celiac disease, in which wheat cannot be digested properly and, over time, damages the lining of the intestines.

For more information on food allergies and how to avoid them check out blog.foodfacts.com.

Information provided by: MSN News