Many of us have seen the “Gluten Free” claim on many products, but what does it mean? Does it affect me? Should I buy Gluten Free products? These are several questions that you commonly hear in response to the Gluten Free logo on products. Here is the scoop:
First things first, the Gluten Free claim has its origins as a response to Celiac Disease. Celiac disease is a digestive disorder that occurs in reaction to gluten, a protein found in rye, barley, wheat and other foods made with these grains. According to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center this disease affects at least 3 million Americans.
The average length of time it takes for a symptomatic person to be diagnosed with celiac disease in the U.S. is four years, and unfortunately, this type of delay dramatically increases an individual’s risk of developing autoimmune disorders, neurological problems, osteoporosis, infertility, miscarriages and even cancer. Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest” — so let’s invest in our health, don’t you agree?
Now that we know what Celiac Disease is and the consequences of going undiagnosed, how do I know if I have Celiac Disease? Some of the symptoms in adults include, iron deficiency, bone or joint pain, depression or anxiety, arthritis, tingling numbness in hands and feet, seizures, erratic menstrual periods in women, dermatitis herpetiformis, mouth sores etc. If you have any or several of these symptoms consult with your healthcare provider. He or she can guide you through proper testing.
Let’s get back to the “Gluten Free” claim. On August 2, 2013, the FDA issued a final ruling defining “Gluten Free” for food labeling, which was intended to help consumers, especially those living with celiac disease. The FDA established a 20ppm (parts per million) standard for foods that carry the label “Gluten Free.”
However, there are other organizations such as the Gluten Free Certification Organization (http://www.gfco.org/) that launched in 2005 and developed a stringent industry program dedicated to providing certification to manufacturers of Gluten Free products. One important thing to highlight is that this organization goes beyond the FDA standard with its own standard of 10ppm or less. So, in order for a product to bear the GFCO Gluten Free logo, it must meet this rigorous standard. Additionally, all finished products containing this certification undergo an annual inspection and are required to submit finished product testing on a regular basis for review. Rest assured the GFCO does its due diligence on every product… we know it as a matter of fact!
Should I follow a Gluten Free Diet?
The Gluten Free diet is a treatment for Celiac Disease. Some people who don’t have Celiac Disease may also have symptoms when they eat gluten, however, this is called Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity.
People with Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity may benefit from a Gluten Free diet. But people with Celiac Disease must be Gluten Free to prevent symptoms and disease-related complications.
My preference is to always buy products that are GF certified, since I have Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. I feel better during the day, and it helps me out with my diet. However, it is always better to consult with your healthcare practitioner and a dietitian who can best answer your questions as well as provide some tips about how to avoid gluten and achieve a balanced diet. If you have any Gluten Free favorite products or recipes please tell us about it, we want to hear from you! Tag us on Facebook or any of our social media accounts.