Posts Tagged With: Gluten-free diet

Be Cautious of Gluten-Free Labels

Be Cautious of Gluten-Free Labels

by Molly, selected from Experience Life

Think you can have your gluten-free cake and eat it, too? Not so  fast.  Despite the hundreds of products that sport gluten-free labels,  the FDA has no  official standards to regulate the claim. For those  striving to limit their  gluten intake, that lack of regulation can be  frustrating. But for those with  celiac disease, hypersensitivities to  cereal grains, or certain autoimmune  diseases like Hashimoto’s  thyroiditis (in which the body mistakenly attacks the  thyroid), a  “gluten-free” food with traces of gluten can pose a serious health   threat. Fortunately, new rules likely to be unveiled later this year  should  clear up the confusion.

As it stands now, the FDA only requires companies to state whether  common  allergens, such as wheat or nuts, are ingredients in a product.  Labeling  regulations are lax for products potentially cross-contaminated  with allergens  during the manufacturing process — something that  happens frequently in  facilities that process a wide variety of foods.  That means small quantities of  gluten can easily sneak into products  labeled “gluten-free.”

The FDA is currently evaluating the issue. Many experts anticipate  that if  the FDA does adopt new regulations, they will mirror those  governing product  labeling in several European countries, which allow  companies to label  their products gluten-free if they contain fewer than  20 parts per million  (ppm) of gluten. Many researchers assert that  those levels are tolerable even  for people with celiac disease, says  Danna Korn, founder of Raising Our Celiac  Kids and author of Living Gluten-Free for Dummies (Wiley, 2010).

In the meantime, you can eliminate the guesswork by avoiding  processed foods  whenever possible. “The best way to avoid gluten is to  eat products that aren’t  manufactured,” says Korn. “Most natural, non-grain whole foods, such as  vegetables, fruits, meats, legumes and fish,  are  inherently gluten-free.”

 

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Be Cautious of Gluten-Free Labels

Be Cautious of Gluten-Free Labels

 by Molly, selected from Experience Life

 

Think you can have your gluten-free cake and eat it, too? Not so  fast.  Despite the hundreds of products that sport gluten-free labels,  the FDA has no  official standards to regulate the claim. For those  striving to limit their  gluten intake, that lack of regulation can be  frustrating. But for those with  celiac disease, hypersensitivities to  cereal grains, or certain autoimmune  diseases like Hashimoto’s  thyroiditis (in which the body mistakenly attacks the  thyroid), a  “gluten-free” food with traces of gluten can pose a serious health   threat. Fortunately, new rules likely to be unveiled later this year  should  clear up the confusion.

As it stands now, the FDA only requires companies to state whether  common  allergens, such as wheat or nuts, are ingredients in a product.  Labeling  regulations are lax for products potentially cross-contaminated  with allergens  during the manufacturing process — something that  happens frequently in  facilities that process a wide variety of foods.  That means small quantities of  gluten can easily sneak into products  labeled “gluten-free.”

The FDA is currently evaluating the issue. Many experts anticipate  that if  the FDA does adopt new regulations, they will mirror those  governing product  labeling in several European countries, which allow  companies to label  their products gluten-free if they contain fewer than  20 parts per million  (ppm) of gluten. Many researchers assert that  those levels are tolerable even  for people with celiac disease, says  Danna Korn, founder of Raising Our Celiac  Kids and author of Living Gluten-Free for Dummies (Wiley, 2010).

In the meantime, you can eliminate the guesswork by avoiding  processed foods  whenever possible. “The best way to avoid gluten is to  eat products that aren’t  manufactured,” says Korn. “Most natural, non-grain whole foods, such as  vegetables, fruits, meats, legumes and fish,  are  inherently gluten-free.”

 

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Is Gluten Bad For You?

Is Gluten Bad For You?

Gluten-free diets are  being touted as the  solution to everything from digestive troubles to  excess fat. But before you  hop on the bandwagon, read this

By Karen Ansel, R.D., Women’s Health
Chelsea Clinton’s wedding got a lot of press play a few months ago for  the  gorgeous locale, the esteemed guests, and her beautiful dress. But  what also  took the cake in terms of media coverage was, well, the cake.  The gluten-free  cake.

Just 10 years ago, barely anyone knew what the word gluten meant, let  alone  gave any thought to avoiding it. But now gluten-free diet menus are all the  rage, and high-profile stars such as Gwyneth Paltrow,  Rachel Weisz, and  Victoria Beckham have been linked to the gluten-free  lifestyle, which is said  to contribute to increased energy, thinner  thighs, and reduced belly bloat.

What It Is, Exactly Gluten is a protein found in the  grains wheat, barley, and rye. Most of  us unknowingly love it, because gluten  gives our favorite foods that  special touch: It makes pizza dough stretchy,  gives bread its spongy  texture, and is used to thicken sauces and soups.

Gluten-free eating has a basis in science, and it does help a genuine  health  problem. To people with a chronic digestive disorder called  celiac disease,  gluten is truly evil: Their bodies regard even a tiny  crumb of it as a  malicious invader and mount an immune response, says  Alessio Fasano, M.D.,  medical director of the University of Maryland  Center for Celiac Research in  Baltimore. Problem is, this immune  reaction ends up damaging the small  intestine, which causes both great  gastrointestinal distress and nutritional  deficiencies. If untreated,  these responses can then lead to intestinal cancers  as well as  complications such as infertility and osteoporosis.

Experts once thought celiac disease was a rare disorder, believed to  affect  one in every 10,000 people. But an Archives of Internal Medicine  study in 2003  suggests that celiac disease is far more prevalent than  anyone had suspected,  affecting one in 133 Americans. With increased  testing and awareness, more  people realized why they felt sick after  eating a piece of bread, and food  companies discovered a new market.

Now another problem is emerging, and experts are referring to it as   nonceliac gluten sensitivity. Gluten sensitivity can lead to similar  celiac  symptoms such as stomach cramps, diarrhea, and bloating. But  unlike celiac,  sensitivity doesn’t damage the intestine. For years,  health professionals  didn’t believe nonceliac gluten sensitivity  existed, but experts are beginning  to acknowledge that it may affect as  many as 20 million Americans, says  Fasano.

The Health Hype Thanks to the increase in diagnosed  celiac and gluten sensitivity cases,  and the corresponding uptick in foods  marketed to sufferers,  “gluten-free diets have emerged from obscurity, and now  the pendulum has  swung completely in the other direction,” says Fasano. And  with this  popularity push, people have latched on to avoiding gluten as a  cure-all  for many conditions aside from celiac, including migraines,   fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome. While some have found  relief, that  doesn’t mean a gluten free diet will work in all cases.

And then there’s the idea that a gluten-free existence is the ticket to   speedy weight loss. But, says Mark DeMeo, M.D., director of  gastroenterology  and nutrition at the Adult Celiac Disease Program at  Rush University Medical  Center in Chicago, “there’s nothing magical  about a gluten-free diet that’s  going to help you lose weight.” What’s  really at work: Gluten-free dining can  seriously limit the number of  foods you can eat. With fewer choices, you’re a  lot less likely to  overeat, says Shelley Case, R.D., author of Gluten-Free  Diet: A  Comprehensive Resource Guide and a medical advisory board member  for the  Celiac Disease Foundation.

But it can backfire too, because gluten-free doesn’t mean fat-free or  calorie-free.

“Without gluten to bind food together, food manufacturers often use more  fat  and sugar to make the product more palatable,” says Case. Consider  pretzels: A  serving of regular pretzels has about 110 calories and just  one gram of fat.  Swap them for gluten-free pretzels and you could get  140 caloriesand six grams  of fat.

Should You Go Gluten-Free? If you have celiac disease or  gluten sensitivity, the answer is easy:  Yes, you have to. But  if you just want  to give the diet a spin, know this: It’s a giant pain  in the butt. Giving up  gluten may sound as basic as cutting out bread or  eating less pasta, but this  isn’t just another version of the low-carb  craze. Because gluten makes foods  thick and tasty, it is added to  everything from salad dressing to soy sauce to  seasonings.

Besides the hassle, you can end up with serious nutritional  deficiencies.  “Gluten-free doesn’t necessarily equal healthy, especially  when people yank  vitamin-enriched and wholegrain foods from their diets  and replace them with  gluten free brownies,” says Case. In fact,  research suggests that those who  forgo gluten may be more likely to miss  out on important nutrients such as  iron, B vitamins, and fiber.

This is where careful meal planning comes in, which may explain why some   people feel so good when they go G-free: They’re eating real food  instead of  ultraprocessed packaged fare. “If you skip the gluten-free  goodies and focus on  fruits, vegetables, lean protein, dairy, and gluten  free grains like amaranth  and quinoa, this can be a very healthy way of  eating,” says Marlisa Brown,  R.D., author of Gluten-Free, Hassle Free. “But you can’t just wing  it.”

Six Signs of Gluten Sensitivity More than 2.5 million  people may have celiac disease, yet only an  estimated 150,000 have been  diagnosed. That’s because people can be  asymptomatic for years, and the  symptoms of celiac disease can also  overlap with other medical problems, so it  often confuses both patients  and doctors alike. That said, if you think you  might have a problem,  don’t ax gluten from your diet before being screened by a  specialist. If  you go off gluten entirely before having a test done, your  results may  come back negative even if you have the disease.

Celiac disease has hundreds of recognized symptoms, according to the  Celiac  Sprue Association, a nonprofit for those with the disease. Here  are some common  problems:

• Chronic diarrhea or constipation
• Abdominal pain and bloating
• Unexplained weight loss
• Anemia
• Fatigue
• Infertility

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6 Reasons to Go Wheat-Free (At Least For a Bit)

6 Reasons to Go Wheat-Free (At Least For a Bit)

By Sara Novak, Planet Green

Food trends come and go. One moment we’re shunning fats and the next we’re drinking flax oil down by the spoonful. One moment carbs are low fat and the next we’re removing the bun from our burger. It’s rather hard to keep up. But then there are some diets that seem to have a little more traction, and more importantly, have motivations beyond just weight loss.

Just today a Facebook friend proclaimed that she had gone wheat-free for a month and had never felt better. Last week in a yoga class the girl one mat over explained that since giving up gluten she felt the weight of depression lift. While there have yet to be enough studies to back up such claims, holistic practitioners say it’s a diet that’s working in a big way.

Why are we giving up wheat? What are the benefits?

1. Celiac Disease

This is by far the most studied reaction to wheat. Wheat has gluten in it and those with Celiac Disease have a severe intolerance to gluten. Much of the early popularity stemmed from doctors beginning to diagnose Celiac Disease, an illness that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents the absorption of nutrients in the body. Celiac Disease affects 1 out of 133 people and even still 97 percent of people with Celiac Disease go undiagnosed, according to Eco Salon.

2. Tiredness or Feeling Groggy

Many people give up wheat because they think it makes them feel tired. Many alternative health practitioners believe that wheat can create an imbalance in the minerals of the body which can create a deficiency of magnesium that results in tiredness.

3. Cave Men Didn’t Eat It

We didn’t always have wheat and that may point to why intolerance is so widespread.

“You have to remember that Stone Age man didn’t eat wheat,” Dr Nick Avery, a former GP who now runs the Centre for the Study of Complementary Medicine and is the consultant for Boots on homeopathy told The Independent. “It was introduced only 10,000 years ago with the cultivation of crops. Which is relatively recent compared to the diet of millions of years ago, for which our bodies are better adapted – nuts, berries, fruits. We overdose on wheat and end up eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner – toast, sandwiches, a pizza. It’s too much.”

4. Weight Loss

You knew I would include this one and I’ll tell you why. Wheat can cause fluid retention in the body which results in weight gain. By giving up wheat, you’re able to reduce puffiness and lose a few pounds, nothing too drastic. Other weight loss may come from having a smaller range of foods that you can eat.

5. Avoid Bleach and Preservatives

If it’s processed, often times wheat is refined with bleach, preservatives, conditioners, and a host of other additives. Even when wheat says that it’s “whole” it’s often processed, with many nutrients and fiber especially, stripped away.

6. Depression

Depression can be triggered by wheat intolerance. Lucretius said, “One man’s food is another man’s poison.” Mark Hyman, MD of the UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts, said this to Elle Magazine:

The culprit and cure for most psychiatric disorders lies in the gut, Hyman says. Allergies and toxins in food, the environment, and drugs damage it, causing it to become inflamed and to “leak,” allowing undigested food and bacteria to slip into our bloodstreams. This leads to autoimmune disorders, malnutrition, and brain damage. To heal, he recommends taking supplements, discontinuing nonessential drugs, and embarking on an abstemious diet often called the gluten-free, casein-free diet (or GFCF), which eliminates all foods containing wheat or dairy

Maybe going wheat-free isn’t for you but making dietary changes can have a big impact on the way you feel from day to day.

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