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What It Means Gluten Free

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Who Is Living Gluten

What Does Gluten-Free Mean?

Anecdotally, the gluten-free diet benefits many people with various medical reasons to avoid gluten. More research is needed to best understand the relationship between certain conditions and the gluten-free diet.

Currently, people who are eating gluten-free include those living with:

  • Celiac disease, a serious genetic autoimmune disease that affects 1% of the US population or 3 million Americans.
  • Gluten sensitivity , which has been estimated to affect up to 18 million Americans. Other foods may play a role in gluten sensitivity.
  • Wheat allergies, which can range from a mild reaction , or a more serious reaction .

Who Really Has A Food Allergy

Although many people are self-diagnosing coeliac disease, a wheat allergy or gluten intolerance, experts think milder cases of coeliac disease often go undiagnosed.

If you’re experiencing symptoms, it’s important to rule out coeliac disease by being tested, especially if you have a family history of it.

According to the NHS, continuing to eat gluten can lead to serious complications for those with the disease, including osteoporosis, iron-deficiency anaemia, and vitamin B12- and folate-deficiency anaemia.

Less common and more serious complications include some types of cancers. Coeliac UK research finds the average time it takes to be diagnosed is 13 years.

Ppm = Parts Per Million

PPM stands for Parts Per Million, and is the unit used to measure how much gluten is in a food product. For example, 20 PPM means that there are 20 parts of gluten for every million parts of other ingredients. In practice, PPM is determined by weight, and translates to 20 milligrams per kilogram. In terms of percentages, if something contains 20 PPM of gluten, it means that .002% of the product is gluten. 10 PPM means that .001% of the product is gluten. 5 PPM means .0005% .

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Some Of The Recent Research On Gluten

  • Gluten Related Disorders: Celiac Disease, Gluten Sensitivity And Wheat Allergy-
  • Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity-All Problems With Wheat Are Not Due To Celiac-
  • Non-celiac Gluten And Wheat Sensitivity-
  • Gluten Contamination In Gluten Free Products In Italy-
  • Celiac Disease And The Gluten Free Diet Past, Present, Future-

How To Be Gluten

What Does It Mean to Be Gluten

More than 30% of Americans try to be gluten-free. That includes people without health conditions surrounding gluten. Itll be hard at first to eliminate gluten from your diet. However, its easy to find foods that are gluten-free. Common foods that are naturally gluten-free are:

This means that if you choose to be gluten-free, then you wont miss out on yummy beans and corn! If you have a health condition surrounding gluten, then being gluten-free may be the only option. However, anyone can be gluten-free.

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When Gluten Is A Problem

Whats not great about gluten is that it can cause serious side effects in certain individuals. Some people react differently to gluten, where the body senses it as a toxin, causing ones immune cells to overreact and attack it. If an unknowingly sensitive person continues to eat gluten, this creates a kind of battle ground resulting in inflammation. The side effects can range from mild to severe as seen in the autoimmune disorder celiac disease. Estimates suggest that 1 in 133 Americans has celiac disease, or about 1% of the population, but about 83% of them are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions. Research shows that people with celiac disease also have a slightly higher risk of osteoporosis and anemia infertility nerve disorders and in rare cases cancer. The good news is that removing gluten from the diet may reverse the damage. A gluten-free diet is the primary medical treatment for celiac disease. However, understanding and following a strict gluten-free diet can be challenging, possibly requiring the guidance of a registered dietitian to learn which foods contain gluten and to ensure that adequate nutrients are obtained from gluten-free alternatives. Other conditions that may require the reduction or elimination of gluten in the diet include:

Does gluten cause brain fog?

Gluten And Health Disorders

Gluten sensitivity will appear in very different ways. Most of the cases involve several symptoms like indigestion, headaches, lack of concentration and even overweight. Gluten intolerance is not a pathology that physicians take into account when it comes to making regular diagnoses.

Many people experience gluten sensitivity on a daily basis without being aware.

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If A Food Is Not Labeled Gluten

If a packaged food is not labeled gluten-free, yet the ingredients appear to be gluten-free, what are the chances it may contain gluten?

Gluten can be accidentally introduced into a product through cross-contamination. This can occur during production, preparation, transportation, or storage of ingredients and food products. The gluten from cross-contamination may be enough to cause illness in someone with celiac disease, wheat allergy, or gluten sensitivity. But how often does this really happen? Can you rely on simply reading the ingredient list?

The FDA study analyzed whether consumers could rely on reading the ingredient list if the food was not labeled gluten-free.They evaluated 186 foods that appeared to have no gluten ingredients but were not labeled gluten-free. Unfortunately, they included products containing oats. It has long been known that oats, while inherently gluten-free, are frequently cross-contaminated with gluten. This is so well known, in fact, that many companies specialize in producing certified gluten-free oats that are specially grown, harvested, and packaged to prevent contact with gluten.

In the results, the FDA study states that 19.6% of unlabeled foods with no gluten in the ingredients contained unacceptable gluten levels. But when we take oats out of the equation, only 4% of these products contained gluten.

Take-home point: If the ingredients appeared gluten-free and did not contain oats, 4% of products contained gluten.

Foods That Contain Gluten

What Does Gluten Free Really Mean?

Gluten may be found in a variety of whole and processed foods, including:

  • Grains: whole wheat, wheat bran, barley, rye, triticale, spelt, kamut, couscous, farro, semolina, bulgur, farina, einkorn, durum, wheat germ, cracked wheat, matzo, mir
  • Processed grain-based products: crackers, bread, breadcrumbs, pasta, seitan, wheat-containing soba noodles, some veggie burgers, cookies, pastries
  • Other foodsand beverages: barley malt, malt vinegar, soy sauce, certain salad dressings, sauces or gravies thickened with flour, bouillon and some broths, certain spice blends, flavored chips, beer, certain kinds of wine

Because gluten is often used in food production as a thickener or stabilizer, its not always clear whether a particular food contains it.

Whats more, many commercial food operations share preparation equipment with gluten-containing foods. Thus, even if a food is inherently gluten-free, it could be contaminated with gluten during processing.

If you follow a strict gluten-free diet and are unsure about a particular foods gluten status, check the package for a gluten-free label or contact the manufacturer prior to purchasing it.

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What Exactly Is Gluten

Gluten is a word thrown around a lot. You probably know that its in foods and can make some people sick. Here are the specifics about what gluten actually is. Gluten is a substance found in grains. The three biggest grains that have gluten are wheat, barley, and rye. Wheat is the most commonly eaten grain. Also, there are other grains that have gluten in them as well. However, The Big 3 are more commonly eaten. Gluten makes dough sticky and feels like elastic. Also, gluten helps food to stay together. Its called the glue that holds food together. Theres a laundry list of foods that have gluten in them. The two main proteins in gluten are glutenin and gliadin. Gliadin is responsible for most of the negative health effects gluten has.

Types Of Rice You Should Never Eat

If your taste buds veer towards flavored versions then you are officially entering gluten turf. Flavored rice mixes contain wheat-based ingredients like thickeners and soy-sauce that can contaminate it with gluten.

Most manufacturers of rice who are diligent about protecting their products from cross-contamination add the gluten-free label as a USP and a feather to their collar.

Not only does this help clear the doubt in the minds of the discerning shopper, it also provides an added impetus to the sales.

Just because the product is rice based, that doesnt make it gluten-free as many packaged rice products contains ingredients like spices, and even sauces that sometimes contain gluten in extremely high amounts.

Keep a look out for products that are also labeled wheat-free, they too can, and quite often do contain gluten.

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What Can I Eat On A Gluten

If you have been diagnosed with sensitivity or perhaps even celiac disease, you do not have to bury your head in the sand right away. While just a few years ago it was extremely difficult to live with a gluten intolerance and to adapt your diet to it, there are already enough alternatives available today not to have to do without anything.

But just because you have a gluten intolerance does not mean that you have to give up cereals altogether. There are plenty of gluten-free cereals, such as buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth or millet. If you are affected, it is important to make sure that the products are really gluten-free when you buy them. Otherwise it is possible that the products have come into contact with other products containing gluten during processing. So you should pay close attention here!

What About In Restaurants

what does it mean when a product is marked as gluten free ...

Some restaurants use the term gluten-free in their menus. The gluten-free final rule applies to packaged foods, which may be sold in some retail and food-service establishments such as carry-out restaurants. Given the public health significance of gluten-free labeling, restaurants making a gluten-free claim on their menus should be consistent with FDAs definition.

D’Lima suggests that consumers who are concerned about gluten-free claims in restaurants ask the following questions when ordering foods described as gluten-free.

  • What does the restaurant mean by the term gluten-free?
  • What ingredients are used in this item?
  • How is the item prepared?

State and local governments play an important role in oversight of restaurants. The FDA will continue to work with partners in state and local governments to encourage appropriate gluten-free labeling in restaurants.

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Reporting Adverse Reactions And Labeling Concerns

If you think that you or a family member has had a reaction or injury that might be associated with having eaten a gluten-free labeled food product, discuss this with your healthcare provider. If a product has unclear labeling or you believe is mislabeled as gluten-free, the FDA would like to know. Keep any food packages because they may contain important information. You may want to contact the manufacturer about the problem. Also, report the problem to the FDA in either of these ways:

Consumers and manufacturers can submit reports detailing product reactions or labeling concerns to an FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator for the state where the food was purchased. You can also call FDA at 1-888-SAFEFOOD.

For more information, see Gluten-Free Labeling of Foods.

Sneaky Sources Of Gluten

“Gluten is lurking in so many different foods because there are so many ways companies can use gluten,” says Begun. So you’re going to get used to playing food detective. While food companies are required to list allergens on the label , they are not required to do this with gluten. So while you can look for “gluten-free” on the front of the package, you should also flip it over and read the ingredients label. Reading labels and checking for cross-contamination is a must for people with celiac disease.

Related:14-Day Gluten-Free Meal Plan

Here’s what you’re looking for, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation: wheat, barley, rye, malt, brewer’s yeast and oats. Oats are often contaminated with gluten, so they have to specifically be certified gluten-free oats. Gluten-free flours, such as millet or amaranth, should also be bought certified gluten-free, says Begun. If the label lists an ingredient you’re not familiar with, “wait to eat it until you can confirm that it’s safe,” she says.

You probably know that a whole-wheat bagel is not gluten-free, but you might be surprised that some of your other favorite foods aren’t either.

Watch out for flavored nuts and chips , energy bars , creamy soups , candy, salad dressings, marinades and soy sauce. If you’re vegetarian, you might eat a lot of fake meats , but know that these are often made with seitan, which is wheat gluten.

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Are Foods Labeled Gluten

If a product has a gluten-free label, is it truly gluten-free? Few studies address this question. A study published in the journal Food Chemistry looked to answer this question.

The FDA evaluated 275 different foods labeled gluten-free. Their results were encouraging. Only three out of 275 products contained more than 20 ppm of gluten . Based on these numbers, it appears that manufacturers are doing an excellent job of ensuring their gluten-free foods are actually gluten-free. Three products measured contained more than 20 ppm gluten. I hope that the FDA follows up with those companies to correct the issue.

Take-home point: Manufacturers are doing an outstanding job of ensuring products labeled gluten-free are actually gluten-free.

What We Know About Gluten

What Gluten-Free Really Means
  • People with gluten intolerance are not usually reacting to wheat gluten, but rather other parts of the wheat that are sugars called FODMAPS Related Article Here: FODMAPS And The Gluten-Free Diet.
  • Many diets are also gluten-free *Keto, Paleo, Autoimmune Protocol Diet , Whole 30, Grain-free/Lectin-free. Many help with digestive problems. Related Article Here: Which Diet Is Best To Heal Your Gut?
  • Choosing whole foods is always the best way to eat gluten-free.
  • Gluten-free labels can be tricky, but progress is being made. More about this below

*not all versions of the keto diet are gluten-free. If purchasing products labeled keto, please read labels.

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What Does Certified Gluten

It is encouraging, and potentially confusing, to see tons of gluten-free pasta on grocery store shelves. Some of the brands are simply gluten-free, some are Certified Gluten-Free, and some are fully grain-free. So, if you just want to make some easy-to-digest fusilli and chill out at home, whats your best bet? How do you distinguish between these highly credentialed pastas?

Theres no single right answer, because it all depends on how your body reacts to gluten. That said, we can help you interpret each label and what it might mean for different types of eaters. You still might have some trial and error, but the info below will be a helpful head start.

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