I confess to virtual total ignorance about the gluten-free eating going on. I only know that it is very trendy. Tufts did a nice job here on explaining it and I thought I would pass it on to you.
The gluten-free foods market has exploded in the past decade. It is important for people following or considering a gluten-free diet to know the facts.
Gluten Sensitivities: Gluten refers to a family of proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. Gluten proteins give dough its elasticity. For the approximately one percent of the population with celiac disease (a genetically-based autoimmune reaction to gluten) following a gluten-free diet is essential to health.
Data suggest that approximately ten percent of people feel they have sensitivity to wheat, even though they do not have celiac disease. “There is a condition known as non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS),” says John Leung, MD, an allergist, gastroenterologist, and director of the Center for Food Related Diseases at Tufts Medical Center. “Patients present with no evidence of celiac disease in blood tests or biopsies, but they report their gastrointestinal symptoms improve with avoidance of gluten.” However, a large review of studies surprisingly found that most people who follow a gluten-free diet for self-diagnosed NCGS do not actually develop any symptoms after eating gluten. “A recent study published in the journal Gastroenterology provides evidence that many people who think they have gluten sensitivity may actually be reacting to fructans, short-chain carbohydrates found in wheat, onions, and a number of other plant foods,” says Leung. Continue reading
I’m sure you have encountered friends and acquaintances who are going ‘gluten-free.’ I have observed, I don’t think imagined, a certain smugness about the announcement. Like they have elevated themselves above the masses. Well, It turns out maybe not.
People who eat a gluten-free diet may be at risk for increased exposure to arsenic and mercury – toxic metals that can lead to cardiovascular disease, cancer and neurological effects, according to a report in the journal Epidemiology.
Gluten-free diets have become popular in the U.S., although less than 1 percent of Americans have been diagnosed with celiac disease – an out-of-control immune response to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.
A gluten-free diet is recommended for people with celiac disease, but others often say they prefer eating gluten-free because it reduces inflammation – a claim that has not been scientifically proven. In 2015, one-quarter of Americans reported eating gluten-free, a 67 percent increase from 2013.
Gluten-free products often contain rice flour as a substitute for wheat. Rice is known to bioaccumulate certain toxic metals, including arsenic and mercury from fertilizers, soil, or water, but little is known about the health effects of diets high in rice content. (my emphasis)
According to a survey from market research company NPD Group, almost 30 percent of adults in the US claim to be reducing their gluten intake or cutting the protein out completely – a proportion that is much higher than the number of people who have celiac disease.
But there seems to be limited evidence that – outside of celiac disease – gluten is bad for our health. A 2011 study, conducted by Peter Gibson and colleagues from Monash University in Australia, claimed that NCGS may be a legitimate disorder, after finding participants that consumed gluten experienced increased bloating and fatigue.
Gluten and gluten free are hot topics these days. Check out the following posts if you want to learn more:
Gluten-free Food – Against the Grain
Sensitive to gluten? Traditional sourdough offers a unique solution to bread woes
Gluten-Free’ Now Means What It Says
Should You Try a Gluten-Free Diet?
Gluten Free Diets Don’t Equal Weight Loss Plans
Cooking with Kathy Man
Gwyneth Paltrow, Ryan Gosling and Jenny McCarthy are just some of the celebrities who have adopted a gluten-free diet – not necessarily because they have a gluten intolerance, but because they deem the diet to be healthier. As such, the diet seems to have become the latest “trend.” It is estimated that around 1.6 million people in the US follow a gluten-free diet without having been diagnosed with celiac disease – a severe gluten intolerance. But does this diet really benefit our health?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a combination of wheat and rye). It acts as a “glue” in foods such as cereal, bread and pasta, helping them hold their shape. Gluten can also be found in some cosmetic products, such as lip balm, and it is even present in that nasty tasting glue on the back of stamps and envelopes.
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“Our findings demonstrated that using glycemic index to select specific foods did not improve LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure or insulin resistance.”
Cooking with Kathy Man
Nutrition experts are continually debating the nutritional value of carbohydrate-containing foods and whether some are healthier than others. High carbohydrate foods are classified by how much they increase blood sugar; known as glycemic index. In new findings led by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston and Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in Baltimore, researchers looked at glycemic index’ effect on cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes and found that low glycemic diets did not improve insulin sensitivity or cardiovascular risk factors. These findings are published in JAMA on December 17, 2014.
“The study results were very surprising. We hypothesized that a low glycemic index would cause modest, though potentially important improvements in insulin sensitivity and CVD risk factors,” explained Frank M. Sacks, MD, a physician and researcher in BWH’s Channing Division of Network Medicine BWH and lead author of this study. “Our findings demonstrated that using glycemic index to…
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… according to a survey by Kantar, a research firm, only 22% of people who buy gluten-free food say they do so for non-medical reasons. This could be one foodie trend that turns out to be much more than a fad.
Cooking with Kathy Man
A growing desire to avoid gluten is changing the food industry.
McDonald’s is by no means the most accommodating of fast-food chains to people with special dietary requirements. Many of its restaurants in America and Britain do not even serve a meat-free burger for vegetarians. But in a week-long trial ending on October 21st, the chain’s British outlets offered a new burger whose fillings did not contain gluten, an allergen commonly found in wheat, with a view to making the new product a permanent addition to its menu.
At first, that may seem to be an odd decision. Vegetarians outnumber those who avoid gluten. But the food industry is finding that there is no longer much money to be made in making meat-free products. Sales of alternatives to meat have flattened in America in real terms since 2008; in Britain they have plunged by a third.
Consumer demand for products…
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Before the rule there were no federal standards or definitions for the food industry to use in labeling products “gluten-free.” An estimated 5 percent of foods formerly labeled “gluten-free” contained 20 ppm or more of gluten.
I have posted on the gluten issue previously. Check out:What is Gluten-Free – FDA Has an Answer, Should you try a Gluten-Free Diet? Gluten-Free Diets Don’t Equal Weight Loss Plans.
Cooking with Kathy Man
In August 2013, the Food and Drug Administration issued a final rule that defined what characteristics a food has to have to bear a label that proclaims it “gluten-free.” The rule also holds foods labeled “without gluten,” “free of gluten,” and “no gluten” to the same standard.
Manufacturers had one year to bring their labels into compliance. As of August 5, 2014, any food product bearing a gluten-free claim labeled on or after this date must meet the rule’s requirements.
This rule was welcomed by advocates for people with celiac disease, who face potentially life-threatening illnesses if they eat the gluten found in breads, cakes, cereals, pastas and many other foods.
Andrea Levario, executive director of the American Celiac Disease Alliance, notes that there is no cure for celiac disease and the only way to manage the disease is dietary—not eating gluten. Without a standardized definition of “gluten-free,” these consumers…
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Before the rule there were no federal standards or definitions for the food industry to use in labeling products “gluten-free.” An estimated 5 percent of foods currently labeled “gluten-free” contain 20 ppm or more of gluten.
Less than two percent of us has celiac disease. Not everyone belongs on a gluten-free diet. Be sure to read Should you try a gluten-free diet?
Cooking with Kathy Man
People with celiac disease can now have confidence in the meaning of a “gluten-free” label on foods.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a final rule that defines what characteristics a food has to have to bear a label that proclaims it “gluten- free.” The rule also holds foods labeled “without gluten,” “free of gluten,” and “no gluten” to the same standard.
This rule has been eagerly awaited by advocates for people with celiac disease, who face potentially life-threatening illnesses if they eat the gluten found in breads, cakes, cereals, pastas and many other foods.
As one of the criteria for using the claim “gluten-free,” FDA is setting a gluten limit of less than 20 ppm (parts per million) in foods that carry this label. This is the lowest level that can be consistently detected in foods using valid scientific analytical tools. Also, most people with celiac disease…
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