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Gluten Free Shopping


Should you consider a gluten free diet?

Doctors are now readjusting their estimates of who could benefit from maintaining a gluten free diet. Once, the strict dietary change was only recommended for those who suffered from celiac disease; a genetic autoimmune disorder in which abnormal antibodies are triggered by the presence of gluten to attack the walls of the small intestine. But there is now clear evidence, if not a clear diagnosis, for a new kind of gluten intolerance known simply as gluten sensitivity. Although the process and results are similar, gluten sensitivity cannot be identified using existing testing methods. Bad news, when even the clearly defined celiac disease is severely under diagnosed. Only 10-15% of all the people suffering from celiac have actually been diagnosed in the United States, and we can only expect much higher numbers of people with undiagnosed gluten sensitivity. While only about 1% of Americans have celiac disease, it’s estimated that approximately one in ten have gluten sensitivity.

The symptoms for both of these problems frequently include gastrointestinal problems, skin problems, and fatigue, but one of the key reasons why these illnesses are so difficult to diagnose is their wide and varied range of symptoms and severity. Because the damage to the small intestine interferes with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, someone sensitive to gluten could end up deprived of any number of important vitamins and minerals, with problems including anemia, osteoporosis, unhealthy weight loss and fluid retention, easy bruising or excessive bleeding, muscle weakness, nerve damage, strange tingling sensations and infertility. In one case in particular, there were reports of “sinus infections, hair loss, and sensitive skin”, all improved within a week on a gluten free diet.

The protein gluten is found naturally in a number of common grains including the staples wheat, rye and barley, but a more extensive list includes all of the following:

·         Barley

·         Bulgur

·         Durham

·        Farina

·         Graham flour

·         Kamut

·         Matzo meal

·         Rye

·         Semolina

·         Spelt (a form of wheat)

·         Triticale

·         Wheat

Of course, no one sits down in the morning for a big bowl of wheat or matzo meal in the morning. The challenge of maintaining a gluten free diet is trying to avoid the vast multitude of foods that use or contain this normally harmless protein. Bread is a primary source; in fact, many of its most recognizable properties come from its gluten content. It rises because gluten acts as a binding agent and traps the air from fermentation; it’s elastic, chewy texture also comes from gluten, as does its ability to hold its shape once it’s baked and to soak up liquids. Gluten can be extracted from wheat flower, but never completely removed.

It may be hard enough avoiding all of the products that use these grains or their flours directly; breads, pastas, crackers, cookies, pastries, etcetera. But all of these properties also make gluten an ideal additive for a lot of products you wouldn’t normally associate with grains. Gluten is often used to make vegetarian, imitation meats and its binding properties are put to work as a stabilizing additive in foods like ice cream and ketchup. Finding out if something is gluten free becomes even more confusing the more processed and pre-packaged the food is, since foods don’t have to put the ingredients of their ingredients on the label. Even if you do manage to determine that a particular product never has gluten or gluten containing grains deliberately added to it at any stage, there is still the very real risk that it’s produced on the same conveyor belt used to create gluten containing products and risks contamination. For now, there is no law saying that foods must be labeled when they contain gluten, although some are voluntarily labeling gluten free products. However, some people diagnosed with celiac disease find that the only way to be certain that they’re receiving uncontaminated, gluten free products is to personally call their food manufacturers.

Through the power of the internet, we at Topline Foods have done all we can to make purchasing our gluten free products as simple, safe, and convenient as possible. Instead of scouring the aisles for a gluten free label, just click on the gluten free category in our store and quickly scroll through the many foods we personally guarantee will fit your healthy gluten free diet.

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