Have you ever been eating your cereal in the morning and look down at the box to see 3-4 letter symbols in colored circles? I have and wondered what those meant-only to look at the ingredient list to see they stand for certain ingredients either included in the product or free from the product. This includes Gluten the protein found in wheat, barley and rye that people with Celiac disease are allergic to. When I was researching Celiac Disease and Gluten, I came across many sites for “gluten free diets” and how to follow them. Some were from Celiac disease suffers and others were just people trying to make a buck on the latest get thin quick scheme. But what I also saw was several Celiac Disease suffers who were stating how difficult it is to truly live gluten free because of the lax rules surrounding this very label. So I did a little digging. According to the FDA website http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm265212.htm, they are opening up discussions about tightening the rules needed for manufactures to produce foods with this label (a discussion originally started 4 years ago in 2007). As it stands right now, it is up to the manufactures to decide if the product is gluten free or not.
Which means one food could have less than a 100 parts per million of gluten in it and be labeled gluten free (at this amount most Celiac suffers would have symptoms) verses another food that has less that 20 parts per million
of gluten (below this it becomes undetectable) which most Celiac disease suffers can tolerate.
Fine, you think, if it is that difficult, the sufferer can just avoid any product made with a grain. Not so easy as sometimes a product that seems gluten free may have gluten in it because it is manufactured in a plant that produces gluten laden products therefore there is cross-contamination. Although many foods contain gluten, it is not always included in ingredients lists. This lack of inclusion is because gluten is not used in the formulation of the product, but use in the manufacturing of the product. One example is the dusting of the conveyor belts in the production facilities with gluten products to prevent the foods from sticking during processing. "Natural
Flavoring" is also suspected to contain gluten. This type of gluten contamination may not be labeled; information confirming whether this form of gluten is present in a given product may only be available by contacting the
food manufacturer directly. One example of this was an independent study done on a chicken nugget sold by Wellshire Farms. In an investigation reported by the Chicago Tribune on November 21, 2008, Wellshire Farms chicken nuggets labeled "gluten-free" were purchased and samples were sent to a food allergy lab at the University of Nebraska. Results of the testing indicated gluten was present in levels exceeding 2,000 ppm. After the article was published, the products continued to be sold. However, after receiving customer inquiries, Whole Foods Market removed the product from their shelves over a month later. Wellshire Farms has since replaced the batter used in their chicken nuggets. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluten-free_diet).
Plenty of people without celiac disease have embraced these products, believing that avoiding gluten will help them lose weight, improve their mood, or increase their energy. Last year, sales of gluten-free products hit $1.2 billion; more than double the sales from 2005. If a person is not afflicted with celiac disease then avoiding gluten
will not help them. However, by avoiding gluten (cookies, cake, and breads) people may feel better and lose
weight because they are replacing them with fruits and vegetables which is a healthier diet.
If you are a Celiac Disease suffer, your task is that much harder. Hopefully the FDA regulations will soon be changing as they are currently being reviewed. Also, new medications are being developed to prevent those glutens that sneaking through your gut into the blood stream. We will be conducting a study starting in late January for a medication that helps to decrease the leaky gut that allows gluten to pass through the intestine into the blood, therefore hopefully eliminating those break-through attacks. Stay tuned to our website for details and contact us if you are interested in being a part of this study!