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Gluten Free, Guilt Free?

Should you be gluten free?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye barley and other grains, as well as many processed foods, soups, salad dressings and sauces. Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive process of the small intestine when gluten is consumed. When gluten is consumed an individual’s immune system responds by attacking and inhibiting the absorption of important nutrients into the body according to the Mayo Clinic Staff. The only treatment for Celiac Disease is a 100% gluten-free diet.

This specific allergy is in the top eight most prevalent allergies in the world. Celiac disease currently affects the life of 1 in every 133 individuals. According to the Mayo Clinic, the intestinal damage can cause weight loss, bloating and sometimes diarrhea. Eventually, your brain, nervous system, bones, liver and other organs can be deprived of vital nourishment. There’s no cure for celiac disease — but following a strict gluten-free diet can help manage symptoms and promote intestinal healing (2013).

According to Emilio Vozzollo, founder of the website “Taste Up Foods,” until just a few years ago, many companies and major producers did not consider ‘gluten-free’ product lines a necessity. These same companies have now shifted their position. With 1 in 133 Americans estimated to have celiac disease (90% of which still haven’t been diagnosed), it is easy to see why this shift has occurred. In addition to celiac disease, many Americans are estimated to have a gluten intolerance that can be related to: IBS, headaches, bowel problems, osteoporosis and other medical conditions.

The FDA proposes to define the term “gluten-free” to mean that a food bearing this claim in its labeling does not contain any one of the following:
• An ingredient that is a prohibited grain.
• An ingredient that is derived from a prohibited grain and that has not been processed to remove gluten.
• An ingredient that is derived from a prohibited grain and that has been processed to remove gluten, if the use of that ingredient results in the presence of 20 parts per million (ppm) or more gluten in the food or 20 ppm or more gluten.

According to Mintel, a leading market research company, gluten-free menu items increased 280% from 2008 to 2011, and the gluten-free industry is exploding, growing 27% since 2009 and exceeding $6 billion in 2011.