Category Archives: gluten

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

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

Overcoming Social Isolation and dealing with Celiac Disease

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Today’s featured blog comes from Jennifer who is a foodfacts.com member who struggles from Celiac Disease….

“The phone rings…it’s my friend calling to see if I would like to come over to dinner. Little does she know that I have just been diagnosed with Celiac disease and I’m now nervous about eating at other people’s homes. I’m still learning what to eat and how to read labels. I feel my heart beat increase, and my palms start to sweat. “What is this weird feeling,” I ask myself. I feel like I’m going to panic…and all over a social invitation. “What’s wrong with me, this shouldn’t be a big deal. It never was before, I’ve always just done what I wanted.” Oh yeah, I remind myself, it’s because I don’t know if I will be able to eat if I go over. Maybe I just shouldn’t go. Maybe I should just stay home and eat the few foods I know are “safe.” But, I miss my friends. They are important to me. I really want to go. So, now what do I do?

Does this situation seem familiar to you? It does to me because I had this happen on numerous occassions, especially when newly diagnosed. Every once-in-a-while, it still happens, but I’m no longer afraid of it.

Let’s take the above scenario and layout an example conversation of what to say and do to overcome the social anxiety that has arisen.

First, take a deep breath. Maybe, take three…and try to clear your mind. Remember, a good friend will generally do their best to understand and help you out…as you would likely do the same for them.

Next, thank your friend for the invitation. Ask, if they have a moment, for you to explain your current situation. Then you can say something like this, “Remember when I told you I was having some tests done due to digestive issues.” Response, “Yes.” You, “Well, I got my results back and I found out that I have an autoimmune disease called Celiac. I had no idea what this was until my Dr. explained that it means my body cannot tolerate the protein gluten, which is found in wheat, rye and barley. There are significant health consequences that can occur if I continue to eat these foods, so I am having to change my entire diet and can’t eat the same foods I always have. So, while I would love to accept your invitation, I would need to have a bit more involvement in the dinner plan, or at least need to know if you are preparing something that I can’t eat, so that I can bring something with me and still come. Can we talk about what you will be serving for dinner? ”

Friend, “Sure…” possibly with some other questions and curiosity. “We were planning on having spaghetti. This is the sauce we are using and the spices we have.”

You, “Spaghetti will be fine. I can prepare my own noodles and bring them with me. I looked up the sauce you are using, and it will be fine, however the garlic seasoning that you have is not okay. Would it be okay if I brought over a substitute garlic salt that is on my safe list?”

Friend, “Sure, that will be great.”

You, “Also, since I am still learning myself, would it be okay with you if I helped out in the kitchen that day, just to help make sure that we keep gluten containing foods seperate from gluten free foods. It will be fun to cook together and you will be helping me learn how to eat. I can also bring over a couple of gluten free items so you can taste them too. It would be fun for me to share my new experiences with you.”

Friend, “Sounds good! I look forward to having dinner together.”

You, “Great! See you on Friday!”

Of course there may be more conversation about other parts of the dinner and the disease, but you get the gist. Once you start talking about it openly, you will be amazed at how receptive most people are. Don’t expect them to know or understand unless you tell them. Also, be patient with them, as they will have to learn just as you are having to learn. But, the most important thing to remember is, if you don’t face it and get out there. it will never get easier. Practice and communication are the key to empowering yourself and others to help you on your journey to a healthier, happier you.”

To read more of Jennifer’s blogs and to learn more about Celiac Disease please visit her website:

http://foodallergytherapist.com/blog/

LA Says No To Jaime Oliver

L.A. school district doesn’t bite at “Food Revolution” chef’s offer

English chef Jamie Oliver is bringing his reality show to L.A. but the district says it will keep working with its own nutrition experts and advocates to make school meals more healthful. Continue reading

Gluten Free Chocolates: A Guilt Free Confection

Gluten Free Chocolate | Foodfacts.com

Gluten Free Chocolate | Foodfacts.com

Foodfacts.com Blog readers well know that, for people with celiac disease, a digestive system disease, chocolates are not considered as feel-good treats. Foods such as chocolates contain a type of protein known as gluten which causes problems for people who are gluten-intolerant. Regular intake of gluten-rich food such as chocolates could gradually damage the villi found in the small intestine. Once the villi are damaged, the body would not be able to absorb the nutrients properly and this could result to other serious problems. This is what people with Celiac disease are trying to avoid that’s why they try to avoid eating chocolates. Continue reading

Baby Health: Facing The Facts Of Gluten Allergy

Gluten Free | Foodfacts.com

Gluten Free | Foodfacts.com

Foodfacts.com members know by now that food allergy remains one of the most persistent forms of allergic reaction. No one knows why people have certain allergic responses to different types of food. But it is a fact that once a person is exposed to the food allergen, the symptoms will surely follow. Continue reading