Gluten-Free questions, Uncategorized

To be or not to be Certified Gluten-Free. What does that mean? (That’s our question.)

So I don’t know about you, but I’ve been on this gluten-free lifestyle roller coaster for almost 15 years.  When I first got diagnosed finding food to buy was a nightmare!  I hated going grocery shopping and it usually took my new groom and myself an entire day if not weekend to do it.  It involved driving to other cities to find items/ingredients I was looking for, or giving up entirely.  I was loath to experiment too much because if something was not labeled correctly it meant I was stuck at home sick and in pain for usually around 3 days.  I was over the moon when the legislation went through that the top 5 allergies had to be listed on packaged foods!  It still took about a year until it started showing up on food, but when it did it was amazing!!! img_8393

Until I realized that not all “gluten-free” foods were created equal.  Anyone else discover this–the hard way?  Some food may be listed gluten free on the package but it could have been processed on equipment with gluten/wheat.  img_8407This opened up a whole new can of worms for me and it was hard to trust labels.  Enter the GF logo!

Certified Gluten Free-What EXACTLY does that mean?

When a product has been given the GF logo, it means that it has been Certified Gluten Free. img_8392

In order to earn this logo, the manufacturing of gluten-free goods must meet strict quality and purity guidelines. Their products are tested to ensure that they are free of gluten and cross-contamination within tolerance levels.

There have been multiple studies that prove even the people with the most severe cases of Celiac Disease or Dermatitis Herpetiformis can withstand a miniscule amount of gluten and all products must remain below this threshold (less than 10 parts per million (ppm)) to be certified gluten free. Within the United States we have such strict labeling laws that a product cannot be labeled gluten free unless it meets these standards.  When buying products from other countries, be sure to read all labels carefully and when in doubt contact the manufacturers. The Certified Gluten Free logo, though, has been a God-send and has been tremendously helpful in making grocery shopping just a bit easier!img_8391

A good recourse if you are looking for more information is at The Gluten-Free Certification Organization.

Gluten-Free questions, Uncategorized

Wheat or Gluten allergy, sensitivity, Dermatitis Herpetiformis or Celiac Disease?

There is a difference between Celiac disease, gluten allergy, and gluten intolerance or sensitivity.  It’s funny while preparing to write this, and the differences between these separate reactions to ingesting gluten, I realized I know several people who fall into each one of these categories.  Like so many things in life, people that eat gluten free cover a wide spectrum.  From those that choose the life style for personal reasons all the way up to those that have extremely severe reactions when the slightest cross-contamination occurs with gluten and their food.  

  • I have several friends that chose a gluten-free lifestyle not because of a medical diagnosis, but because of several seemingly unrelated symptoms they found eating gluten-free seemed to alleviate; such as, inflammation in their joints, continual fatigue, or even ADHD behavior and Autism.  There are a wide variety of symptoms that can be addressed by eating gluten-free.

 

  • Let’s move into actual allergic reactions.  They can be as mild as hives but can include people who have anaphylactic reactions to wheat.  Just like other allergies, it is individual and distinct for each person.

 

  • The same range exists within the group who suffer from Dermatitis Herpetiformis.  It resembles eczema, but in someone else may be misdiagnosed as herpes.  Similar to Celiac Disease, they can manage the symptoms by removing gluten from their diet.

 

  • The last group ranges from gluten or wheat-sensitive individuals to full-blown Celiac Disease.  It has always been believed that those with gluten or wheat sensitivity do not suffer damage to their small intestines.  In a July 2016 study however, researchers at Columbia University Medical Center released findings that, while inconclusive, showed gluten sensitive people may actually be damaging their small intestines in the same way as those with Celiac Disease, but to a lesser degree. Gluten sensitivities can manifest themselves in so many different symptoms that they may not even seem to be connected to your diet. If you have symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, or migraines after eating breads or pasta you would probably make the connection but if you become moody or your joints ache you might not.  These symptoms can all be related, making the correlation, though, takes some medical testing to know for sure. A way to be proactive would be to keep a food and symptom journal prior to seeing your doctor. You will need to continue to eat gluten until those tests though, otherwise your problems don’t show up in your blood work.

Whether you are trying out a gluten-free diet to see if it fits into your lifestyle, have allergies, sensitivities, Celiac Disease or Dermatitis Herpetiformis-no matter your reason for eating gluten-free, our hope is to show you that this lifestyle does not have to inhibit your life, but can become an adventure! 

Gluten-Free questions, Uncategorized

What is Celiac Disease?

“What’s Celiac Disease?”  If you have Celiac, you probably get asked this question often too!  Since I have been at this for a while, I’ll give you my spiel, then I’ll share the technical definition from Celiac.org, let’s see how close I get!  Here’s my response:

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects my small intestine when I ingest gluten.  Gluten is found in: wheat, rye, barley, some oats, and many things derived from them. (A hidden example would be modified food starch.) Inside your small intestine are villa (think ocean plankton or, typically I wave my fingers slowly to demonstrate) that help your body absorb nutrients and vitamins.  Since I have Celiac, when I eat something with gluten, I get very sick for several days, damage the villa, and basically make it harder for my body to absorb necessary nutrients and vitamins.

Ok so here is the definition found on the Celiac.org site:

Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide. Two and one-half million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications.

When people with celiac disease eat gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley), their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine. These attacks lead to damage on the villi, small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine, that promote nutrient absorption. When the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body.

Celiac disease is hereditary, meaning that it runs in families. People with a first-degree relative with celiac disease (parent, child, sibling) have a 1 in 10 risk of developing celiac disease.

Read more at Celiac.org

Ok-so I may not have been as technical-but I was pretty close! 😉 So hopefully that helps answer any questions you have.  Again if you have further questions I have found Celiac.org to be amazingly helpful!