Gluten is a composite protein found in grains-wheat, barley, rye, and triticale (cross between wheat & rye). Oats are sometimes contaminated by the addition of small amounts of gluten.
Why is gluten so commonly found in foods?
Gluten gives elasticity to dough in breads, lots of baked goods, crackers, pasta. It allows food to maintain its shape.
What foods typically are gluten-free?
Fresh eggs, fresh meat/fish/poultry (minus breading, batter, or marinade), fruits and vegetables and most dairy to name the most common. Note of Caution: additives and preservatives in processed food may include gluten-containing grain.
How is gluten-intolerance identified?
Classic first symptoms are abdominal pain and diarrhea.
What needs to occur for a clear diagnosis of the disease, Celiac Disease?
Typically a positive blood test result shows antibodies for the disease. Further confirmation is made by a gastroenterologist following a colonoscopy.
Is there a difference between gluten-intolerance and gluten-sensitivity?
Those diagnosed as gluten-intolerant have an immune response where the lining of the small intestine, the “work horse” of our digestion, is damaged. Those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity would not test positive for celiac disease based on blood testing, nor do they have the same type of intestinal damage found in individuals with celiac disease. Some may experience minimal intestinal damage which goes away with a gluten-free diet.
How many Americans are negatively affected by gluten?
A Wall Street Journal article put the figure at 2-3 million Americans, less than 1% of the population. However, National Foundation for Celiac Awareness estimates that another 18 million have gluten sensitivity, experiencing discomfort and the possibility of intestinal damage.
What do I need to be aware of if I change to a gluten-free diet?
Most physicians suggest consulting a dietitian because eliminating the grains from your diet may mean vitamins and nutrients and fiber are also reduced. While gluten has no nutritional value, the whole grains containing gluten do, particularly B vitamins and iron.
Can I lose weight on a gluten-free diet?
Scientific evidence doesn’t support that although you may “feel” better.
Who monitors labels indicating foods are gluten-free?
In August 2013 the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) ruled that gluten-free labeling means packaged food products have less than 20 parts per million (ppm). In August 2014 food companies were expected to comply. According to medical experts, 20 ppm is a scientifically determined level of gluten that has been shown to be tolerated by those with Celiac Disease. It is also in line with standards used in other countries. The quantity is about 1/8 teaspoon of flour. As reported on CNN in August, the FDA has indicated it will work with partners at state and local government levels on gluten-free labeling in restaurants.
The good news about this condition is that awareness has steadily increased in the last 10 years and more gluten-free products are available now than ever before.Major supermarkets devote significant shelf space to these products, the FDA has established labeling guidelines for packaged gluten free food products, and the National Restaurant Association survey identified requests for gluten free food among the top 10 industry food trends.
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