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Celiac Disease



Gluten-Free Labels Now Standardized for the First Time by the FDA

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just issued the first set of standards regarding the “gluten-free” labels on food products. Up until this point there were no regulations and anyone could essentially slap that label on their product.

gf bread

The new standard states that foods that are less than 20 parts per million of gluten can be considered gluten free. Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It is a very common ingredient in many foods on the grocery store shelf. To date, about three million Americans suffer from celiac disease, a disease that causes the digestive system all sorts of issues as it does not process or digest gluten. Gluten-free shopping used to be very difficult and almost done exclusively at specialty stores. That is no longer the case.
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The Great Gluten Debate: Should You Give It Up?

By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., TheBestLife.com lead nutritionist

I’m throwing a small dinner party for a friend this weekend. On the menu: pasta. That’s a big deal, because pasta has been food non grata for more than a year. It’s not an Atkins anti-carb thing—this time, it’s the anti-gluten movement.

It seems like everyone I know is foregoing wheat and other grains containing this protein. So why are so many people going gluten-free? None of them have celiac, a serious condition in which the immune system attacks the intestines after gluten is consumed (about one percent of Americans suffer from this condition). A few might have “gluten sensitivity,” a less harmful, but still uncomfortable condition that affects about five percent of the population. (For details on these conditions, check out What Everyone Needs to Know About Gluten.)

In fact, most people who tell me they’ve cut out gluten have no obvious problem with it. Some are going along for the ride because their spouse or child is off gluten, others think it might help them lose weight—simply cutting out bread can be quite effective for some people—and still others are convinced it’s simply healthier.
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One in 141 Americans Has Celiac Disease But Doesn’t Realize it

In having two friends over for dinner last night who are both gluten free, I realized two things: One, it can be extremely difficult to accommodate a gluten-free diet. And two, perhaps I’m slightly gluten intolerant myself as I’ve had similar symptoms to the ones they were listing off before changing their diet. 

And after seeing a report this morning from RTT News that most Americans have celiac disease but are unaware of it, I’m starting to wonder if I’m among the gluten intolerant after all.

A new survey from the Mayo Clinic found that about 1.8 million Americans have celiac disease, but approximately 1.4 million are unaware they have it. Or, 1 in 141 Americans is living with the condition without knowing it.

Researchers ran blood tests on 7,798 people over the age of six who’d previously participated in a nationwide survey from the CDC between 2009 and 2010. Findings revealed that 35 participants had celiac disease – 20 were women, 29 were Caucasian, and 29 were entirely unaware of their condition.
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Q&A with Leading Celiac Experts on Gluten Sensitivity, Schizophrenia, and Nutritional Deficiencies

By Kristin Voorhees, MA, and Brenda Flaherty for the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA)

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) kicked off this year’s Celiac Awareness Month by hosting the live webcast “State of the Union: A Live Chat with Experts on Gluten-Related Disorders” on May 3, 2012.

Alice Bast, Founder and President of NFCA, moderated the 60-minute event, which featured internationally renowned experts in the field of celiac disease research including Stefano Guandalini, MD of the University of Chicago, Alessio Fasano, MD of the University of Maryland, and Melinda Dennis, MS, RD, LDN of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

The event supplied patients and providers alike with the latest news in gluten-related disorders research free of charge. The panelists’ discussions were based on questions and concerns submitted to the NFCA team in the months leading up to the special webcast.

Dr. Guandalini kicked off the event by identifying the differences between celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity and explaining the important role guidelines play in diagnosing a gluten-related disorder. Next, the audience heard from Dr. Fasano, who touched on multiple research ventures in the field, including the timing of gluten introduction in infants. Finally, Melinda Dennis provided tips on how nutritional counseling can ensure that patients live a healthy gluten-free life.

Because there is never enough time to cover all of the celiac and gluten-free topics we’d like to discuss, NFCA asked the trio of experts to participate in this follow-up Q&A session. Here’s what they had to say!
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Gluten-Free Diet Awareness is a Blessing and a Curse

As the words celiac and gluten free are becoming a part of our daily jargon, it seemed important to clear up some misconceptions about this disease and food intolerance. While it seems this topic is just another diet fad, the truth is anything but a trend.

More than three million Americans live with celiac disease. Those with celiac experience something very different than those with sensitivity to gluten. Celiac is an auto-immune condition that causes damage to the small intestine and causes poor absorption of nutrients. The issues occur as the body’s reaction to gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley). USANA Health Sciences’ naturopathic physician Dr. Nancy Steely explains that those with celiac disease (CD) experience a wide range of symptoms that commonly include muscle cramping, diarrhea or constipation, fatigue, skin rashes, and joint pain.

Dr. Steely clarifies why CD symptoms vary by person. As with all auto-immune disorders, the body attacks its own cells and therefore symptoms appear differently for each person. Due to this, many go misdiagnosed. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness reports that people typically go 6-10 years before they receive a correct diagnosis of their symptoms.
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