With the current popularity of gluten-free diets, many people ask if eating gluten-free is healthier. For people with Celiac disease (about 1 in 100 Americans), maintaining a strict gluten-free diet is a must – it is, in fact, the only treatment. However for the rest of us the question still remains.
The FDA’s new rules governing the labeling of gluten-free foods and beverages was announced on August 2, 2013 and become fully effective tomorrow, August 5, 2014. According to the rule, when a manufacturer chooses to put “gluten-free” on food packaging, the item must comply with the new FDA definition of the term – less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. The purpose of the rule, according to the FDA, is to help consumers, especially those living with celiac disease, be confident that items labeled “gluten-free” meet a defined standard for gluten content. You can read more detail from the FDA here.
Since the new rules were published, there have been some questions about how exactly they will work and how they will affect gluten-free consumers, both celiac and those with gluten sensitivity. Below are 11 useful tips to help you navigate what it all means.
Gas, bloating, fatigue, brain fog and headaches are all common side effects of having a gluten intolerance. Even if you do not have a diagnosed gluten allergy or celiac disease, the symptoms that arise from accidentally ingesting gluten for those who are gluten intolerant can be uncomfortable, debilitating, and painful. Some people have a sensitivity to gluten and may not even know it, as symptoms can disguise themselves as other ailments aside from GI issues. If you feel any of the symptoms above after eating wheat, barley, spelt or rye, chances are your body is not digesting gluten properly and reacting in various ways.
There have been many theories about why food allergies and gluten intolerance has been on the rise in the past decade (read our post on it). Many blame gluten issues on changes in the way that wheat is grown in the US, namely that it has been bred, or hybridized, to increase yields for farmers. While these new American breeds of wheat may not necessarily contain more gluten, they may contain increased levels of reactive molecules that irritate our digestive systems.
In this article by Living Without’s Gluten Free & More, a new possibility for eating wheat again is presented in the form of an ancient Italian wheat called Caputo 00. Also known as Heritage or Heirloom flour, this wheat is commonly used to make pizza and is actually higher in gluten content than your typical run-of-the-mill (pun intended :)) species. But it hasn’t been cross-bred or messed with like our American wheat has been. Could this be a glimmer of hope for us gluten-intolerant out there???