Gryphon Myers

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  1. You may have caught my enthusiastic review of Attune Foods Erewhon Buckwheat & Hemp cereal from last year. Well, it's time I inform you that they've done it again: Attune Foods Erewhon Quinoa & Chia gluten-free cereal is a great way to add two superfoods to your diet, and makes a tasty corn flakes alternative. Like all their cereals, Attune Foods has done a great job of maximizing health benefits and keeping the ingredients list rich with wholesome ingredients, while still delivering a tasty product that isn't a pain to eat. This cereal is similar to corn flakes, but not quite as flaky: it's a little tougher and chewier, and holds up to milk better. Health reasons aside, I actually prefer it to corn flakes, as it doesn't turn into a mushy mess in 5 minutes! Attune Foods Erewhon Quinoa & Chia cereal is great for you, and should make a welcome addition to any gluten-free household's breakfast reserves. You can find it (exclusively) at Whole Foods. For more information, visit their website. Note: Articles that appear in the "Gluten-Free Food Reviews" section of this site are paid advertisements. For more information about this see our Advertising Page.
  2. Celiac.com 07/22/2013 - Celiac disease is known to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The genetic markers are fairly well established by now, but the environmental factors that are associated with celiac disease are still pretty foggy. A recent study suggests that antibiotic use might be one such factor. In a population-based case-control study analyzing Swedish population data, antibiotic use was compared against diagnosis of celiac disease. 2,933 people with celiac disease diagnoses were linked to the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register, in order to provide a history of antibiotic use. 2,118 people with inflammation (early celiac disease) and 620 people with normal mucosa but positive celiac disease blood test results were also compared. The control group consisted of 28,262 individuals matched for age and sex from the general population. The results of the study significantly suggest that antibiotic use is associated with celiac disease, at an odds ratio of 1.4 (1.27-1.53 confidence interval). Early celiac disease was also connected, with an odds ratio of 1.90 (1.72-2.10 confidence ratio), as well as positive celiac disease blood tests, at 1.58 odds ratio (1.30-1.92 confidence interval). Even when antibiotic use in the last year was ruled out, the results were very similar at 1.30 odds ratio (1.08-1.56 confidence interval). When ruling out patients with additional diseases, which could potentially be factors, the results were also very similar at 1.30 odds ratio (1.16-1.46 confidence interval). What does all that mean? A 1.4 odds ratio basically means that people who had a history of antibiotic use were 1.4 times as likely as those who had not taken antibiotics to develop celiac disease. The fact that inflammation associated with early celiac disease was also highly connected suggests that antibiotics' role in disrupting the biology of the GI tract could in some way cause celiac disease. There is still some question of causality, but it would seem that antibiotics could very likely be a culprit in the development of celiac disease, and should be avoided when possible. Source: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-230X/13/109/abstract
  3. Celiac.com 07/16/2013 - Gluten has a way of popping up in some very unexpected products. Peers (whether online or otherwise) are sometimes our best resource for information regarding these oft-overlooked gluten-containing products, but sometimes speculation gets passed along the grapevine as fact. This has led to some very believable, but ultimately questionable rumors. Alcohol in particular has some of the most persistent rumors regarding gluten content. This is likely because the processes involved with alcohol production are confusing and widely misunderstood. With this article, I hope to address and clear up a few of the most persistent gluten-free alcohol misunderstandings that you've certainly heard before. Misunderstanding #1: “Not all wine is gluten-free: some vintners age their wine in barrels that are sealed with a wheat paste. This paste contaminates the wine, making it dangerous for consumption by celiac disease sufferers.” This is a big one. Wine is naturally gluten-free, but the fact that some vintners use wheat paste to seal their barrels has led many to cut wine out of their diets as a precautionary measure. It's a plausible idea, as some vintners do in fact use wheat paste to seal their barrel heads. However, there are a few key points here that you should consider before cutting wine out of your diet entirely: Because the Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau currently disallows gluten-free labeling of alcoholic beverages if the producer used “storage materials that contained gluten,” any wine that is labeled gluten-free was aged using a barrel alternative and carries no risk of contamination. Wines that aren't labeled gluten-free might still be aged using barrel alternatives. Roughly speaking, the more expensive ($12+) Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots, Zinfandels and red blends are more likely to be aged in oak barrels (and for a longer period of time). The amount of wheat paste used to seal barrel heads is minimal. It is not the staves of the barrels that are sealed with a wheat flour paste, but the barrel heads. Furthermore, most wineries thoroughly pressure wash all barrels with boiling hot water before they are used. The last thing vintners want is a contaminated product. In order to lay this contamination issue to rest, Tricia Thompson tested a single winery's Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which she was told by the winery were their two wines that spent the most time in wheat-sealed oak barrels. She tested each wine four times: twice with the Sandwich R5 ELISA test, and twice with the competitive R5 ELISA test. The competitive R5 ELISA is the current standard for detecting hydrolyzed (broken down) gluten, while the sandwich R5 ELISA is the current standard for detecting non-hydrolyzed gluten (1). Combined, the tests can reliably test for any possible form of gluten contamination. Both extractions of both wines came back with the lowest possible results for both tests: Cabernet Sauvignon Sandwich R5 ELISA extraction 1: < 5 ppm gluten Sandwich R5 ELISA extraction 2: < 5 ppm gluten Competitive R5 ELISA extraction 1: < 10 ppm gluten Competitive R5 ELISA extraction 2: < 10 ppm gluten Merlot Sandwich R5 ELISA extraction 1: < 5 ppm gluten Sandwich R5 ELISA extraction 2: < 5 ppm gluten Competitive R5 ELISA extraction 1: < 10 ppm gluten Competitive R5 ELISA extraction 2: < 10 ppm gluten Conclusion: Wine that is aged in oak barrels contains less gluten than we are currently capable of testing for, whether hydrolyzed or not. At this point, a lot of people will begin to shake their heads: “If wine is gluten-free, then why do I get sick when I drink __________ wine?” The likely answer is that you are reacting to something else! Many winemakers use egg whites as a clarifying agent. The amount of egg used is far more substantial than any wheat paste that might have leaked into the wine, so if you know eggs are a problem, this is likely what you are reacting to. If you don't have a problem with eggs, you could also be reacting to sulfites. Many people have problems with them, and some winemakers use them as preservatives. Sometimes, it's best to go out and get information directly from the winemaker. They can tell you more about their aging process, and shed light on what may or may not be making you sick. Misunderstanding #2: “Distilled spirits that are derived from gluten-containing ingredients can be contaminated with gluten. Only distilled spirits made from non-gluten-containing ingredients, like potatoes, are safe for consumption by celiacs.” This idea was likely propagated due to a misunderstanding of the distillation process. Here, I will refer to Megan Tichy, Ph.D's highly informative and clearly written description of the distillation process (2). It is a great read for those who are unclear on the process, and makes it very evident why all distilled spirits are gluten-free by definition. To borrow Dr. Tichy's analogy, the distillation process is like boiling a kettle of water with sand at the bottom of it. Let's say you were to collect the water that boiled away as steam using a condensing tube. After boiling the entire kettle away, you would be left with a kettle with nothing but sand at the bottom of it, and a second container of pure distilled water. There is no way the distilled water could contain any sand, as sand doesn't evaporate. In the same way, gluten doesn't evaporate, and gets left at the bottom of the 'kettle' during distillation. The likelihood of distilled alcohol being contaminated with gluten is about the same as the likelihood of you getting sand in your new cup of perfectly clean water: it would almost have to be intentional! Also keep in mind that many spirits are double, or even triple distilled. Gluten contamination over the course of a single distillation is already highly unlikely, but after consecutive distillations, it is virtually impossible. To this, you might ask, “But what if they were to add other ingredients afterward? Those might contain gluten, right?” That's a perfectly valid concern, and yes, you should be concerned about any added ingredients. However, distilled spirits are almost always marketed based on their purity; this is why they go to all the trouble of double and triple distilling in the first place! Manufacturers of spirits want the most concentrated alcoholic product possible, so it is not exactly in their best interest (nor in common practice) to go adding more ingredients. Even so, you should always be mindful of ingredients lists, and cross check them against a reliable gluten-containing ingredients list (such as ours [3]). Despite the fact that distilled spirits derived from grains are necessarily gluten-free, some people still seem to have problems with them. I don't have a ready explanation for this, as scientifically, it doesn't make sense. Celiac disease is triggered by gluten, and distilled alcohol contains no gluten. Here is a quick checklist to help rule out reasons why you may or may not react to such drinks: [ ] Have you checked for cross contamination possibilities (glass, container, ice cubes, dish washing liquid, drying towel, etc.)? [ ] Are you sure that you do not react to distilled alcoholic beverages that are not derived from grains (e.g. potato vodka)? (It could be a reaction to potent alcohol in general.) [ ] Did you pour the drink yourself? [ ] Are you sure you are not adding anything to the drink that could be cross contaminated or contain gluten? [ ] Have you checked the ingredients list against a reliable gluten-containing ingredients list? [ ] Have you considered any other allergies you have or might have? [ ] Have you contacted the manufacturer for their official response regarding gluten content? Oftentimes (especially soon after adopting GFD), the gut is still sensitive and cannot handle alcohol at high proof levels. If you had a bad experience with distilled spirits derived from grain early on in your GFD regimen, you might want to consider giving it another try after your villi have had a chance to heal. You really should not have a reaction once your gut is adjusted to the gluten-free diet. I know it is hard to trust a product derived from wheat, but distillation really, truly does remove all gluten, and it does so every single time. Misunderstanding # 3: “'Low gluten' or 'gluten-removed' beers are unsafe, as gluten tests underestimate gluten content in beer. This is because the brewing process breaks the gluten molecules down into pieces that are too small for gluten tests to detect, but are still harmful.” This is a point of fierce contention in the gluten-free community, and probably the most confusing argument to follow, as it all surrounds the validity of a variety of super scientific testing procedures. There isn't even a clear answer or 'winner' here, but I'm going to try and break all the information down for you, so you can make an informed decision about these products for yourself. The main beef that people seem to have with gluten-removed beers is that they are derived from gluten-containing ingredients, and the gluten removal process is oftentimes undisclosed. This is an offshoot of the same distrust people feel toward distilled spirits, though perhaps a little more warranted given the fact that distillation is a very well documented and 100% reliable form of gluten removal, whereas as far as we know, these brewers are removing gluten using magic and fairy dust. The reality is that these brewers (Widmer Brothers, Estrella Damm, Lammsbraeu, to name a few) are removing the gluten from their beer using one or the other, or perhaps a combination of two methods: filtration, and enzymes. Superfine filters can remove gluten particles from the beer, while added enzymes can target gluten particles, causing them to break down to a harmless state more quickly. Whatever their methods, these beers need to have their gluten content verified using scientific testing procedures in order to be considered safe for consumption by celiacs. This is where things start to get murky. As Tricia Thompson, MS, RD writes on her blog, Gluten-Free Dietitian, the current standard for testing gluten content in foods is a sandwich ELISA test (4). The R5 and omega-gliadin versions of the test are the most widely used, and both have been validated in collaborative trials. While sandwich ELISA tests are reliable for detecting gluten in heated and non-heated food items, they are notoriously unreliable for detecting hydrolyzed gluten. Many see this as reason not to trust gluten-removed beers: the fermentation process hydrolyzes gluten in beer, so sandwich ELISA tests cannot accurately quantify their gluten content. If the test is unreliable, we are back where we started, with a once-gluten-containing product that has supposedly been rendered gluten-free by unexplained and unverifiable means; it's a hard pill to swallow! However, the sandwich R5 ELISA's weaknesses are well documented and widely known. Most of these brewers are using an entirely different test that was specifically designed to detect partial gluten fragments (peptides) that may still be harmful to the gluten-sensitive. The competitive R5 ELISA is the standard test used to detect these peptides, and although it has not been validated yet, many published studies have found the competitive R5 ELISA to be a reliable indicator of hydrolyzed gluten (5) (6) (7). This would all seem well and good since many of these beers test well under the proposed FDA limit of 20ppm gluten content with the competitive R5 ELISA. (As an aside, studies have shown 20 ppm to be an adequately conservative standard for most celiacs [8]). Unfortunately, the discussion doesn't end there. A recent Australian study tested a broad range of both beers brewed from alternate grains (sorghum, millet, etc.), and gluten-removed beers, and found that most gluten-removed beers contained significant levels of barley gluten (hordein) fragments, while beers brewed with alternative grains did not (9). Many have inferred two things from this study: 1) gluten-removed beers are unsafe, and 2) R5 ELISA testing under-reports, or is incapable of testing for the barley gluten, hordein. I would posit that these are both hasty conclusions to make, as the study begs the following questions: How much gluten are we talking about? It isn't entirely clear from the study what 'significant' levels are, as it quantifies hordein levels on a relative scale, but not in terms of ppm. Yes, it is clear from the study that truly gluten-free beers contain less hordein than gluten-removed beers. It would also seem that some hordein families are just as present in gluten-removed beers as in standard beers whose brewers make no claims as to their gluten content. But this does not mean that any of the beers are over the 20ppm standard. The study actually states that the gluten-removed beers were tested to under 10 ppm, but then indirectly implies that they were not actually under that threshold. This is not necessarily true though! One recent study found that around 50% of standard beers on the market actually test to under 20 ppm gluten content (10). In other words, the average gluten content of beer is lower than you might think. Just because gluten-removed beers may be closer to the average on the study's relative scale than might look safe, this does not mean they contain gluten at levels that would be harmful to the average celiac. Furthermore, the toxicity of hordein and hordein peptides for celiacs still hasn't been conclusively quantified (11). Is R5 ELISA really that unreliable? The study also makes some interesting claims about the limits of R5 ELISA testing procedures. Specifically, it claims that “The R5 antibody is unable to accurately detect and quantify barley gluten (hordeins) in beer.” This is a slightly misleading statement. It is true that the sandwich R5 ELISA can be inaccurate when detecting hordein levels, but it actually overestimates them, so long as they are not hydrolyzed. Furthermore, that is the sandwich ELISA; there is much evidence to suggest that the competitive R5 ELISA provides an accurate measurement of hordein peptides (6) (7) (12). Conversely, this study employed multiple reaction monitoring mass spectrometry, a testing procedure that has not been validated for gluten testing of foods or fermented alcoholic beverages. I would say that the competitive R5 ELISA has a more proven track record when it comes to testing for hydrolyzed gluten in beer. What does it all mean then? Should I drink gluten-removed beer or not? Well, that's up to you, of course. As I said before, this is a hotly debated and highly contentious issue in the gluten-free world right now, so I'm hesitant to take one side or the other. If you suffer from refractory sprue, or some other severe form of gluten intolerance, I would advise you to stay away, as the risk simply isn't worth it for you. For more mild sufferers of celiac disease or wheat sensitivity though, if you really miss the taste of beer and gluten-free beers just aren't doing it for you, there is no solid evidence to discredit the results of competitive R5 ELISA testing. Find a beer that is batch tested to under 20 ppm using this test (not sandwich R5 ELISA, though it wouldn't hurt if it was tested by both), try a few sips, and see if you react. I've tried to provide all the key information so you can make an informed decision about these beers for yourself, but it never hurts to do your own research! Just know that there are a lot of biased and outdated sources out there; the more recent and scientific the study, the better! References: (1) Thompson, Tricia, MS, RD. “Wine Aged in Oak Barrels Sealed with Wheat Paste: Test Results for Gluten Contamination.” GlutenFreeDietitian.com, 10 Oct. 2012. Web. 20 Dec. 2012. (2) Tichy, Megan, PhD. “Distilled Spirits (Grain Alcohols) and Vinegar: Are they Gluten-Free?” Celiac.com, 26 Aug. 2009. Web. 20 Dec. 2012. (3) Adams, Scott. “Unsafe Gluten-Free Food List (Unsafe Ingredients).” Celiac.com, 27 Nov. 2007. Web. 20 Dec. 2012. (4) Thompson, Tricia, MS, RD. “Standards for testing food for gluten: Issues that need addressing.” GlutenFreeDietitian.com, 6 Aug. 2012. Web. 20 Dec. 2012. (5) Thompson, Tricia, MS, RD. “Beer: Why it is so hard to assess fermented and hydrolyzed products for gluten.” GlutenFreeDietitian.com, 24 Jul. 2012. Web. 20 Dec. 2012. (6) Gessendorfer, Benedict, et al. “Preparation and characterization of enzymatically hydrolyzed prolamins from wheat, rye, and barley as references for the immunochemical quantitation of partially hydrolyzed gluten.” Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 395.6 (Nov. 2009): 1721-1728. Web. 20 Dec. 2012. (7) Haas-Lauterbach, S, et al.”Gluten fragment detection with a competitive ELISA.” Journal of AOAC International 95.2 (2012): 377-381. Web. 20 Dec. 2012. (8) Thompson, Tricia, MS, RD. “How much gluten is 20 parts per million?” GlutenFreeDietitian.com, n.d. Web. 20 Dec. 2012. (9) Colgrave, Michelle, et al. “What is in a Beer? Proteomic Characterization and Relative Quantification of Hordein (Gluten) in Beer.” Journal of Proteome Research 11.1 (2012): 386-396. Web. 20 Dec. 2012. (10) Cane, Sue. “Gluten-free beer 2011. How is it made? How is its gluten content tested? And is it really safe for coeliacs?” FoodsMatter.com, 2011. Web. 20 Dec. 2012. (11) Thompson, Tricia, MS, RD. “Barley enzymes in gluten-free products.” GlutenFreeDietitian.com, Jun. 2009 (updated 3 Feb. 2011). Web. 20 Dec. 2012. (12) Guerdrum, Lindsay, Bamforth, Charles. “Levels of gliadin in commercial beers.” Food Chemistry 129.4 (2011): 1783-1784. Web. 20 Dec. 2012.
  4. If you follow health food trends, chances are that you've heard of the superfood pseudograin, quinoa. It is nutrient-rich, packs a complete protein, is high in fiber, etc. etc. The bottom line is that you should probably be trying to come up with a way to integrate quinoa into your diet, whether gluten-free or not. Nuwi offers an easy solution with their gluten-free quinoa smoothie with banana, which is not only gluten-free, but lactose-free with no sugar added as well. These smoothies are a great way to take your quinoa on the go, and they actually retain that fresh-blended smoothie quality, even though they're totally shelf-stable. They're relatively light on sugar, and pack 3g of fiber and 3g of complete protein in one tiny 10 oz., 160 calorie bottle. They're worth a try, especially if you've been looking for a way to up your quinoa intake. For more information visit their site. Note: Articles that appear in the "Gluten-Free Food Reviews" section of this site are paid advertisements. For more information about this see our Advertising Page.
  5. There are countless 'health' food snack bars and protein bars on the market, many of which aren't as healthy as their makers would have you think. On the other side of the spectrum, you have snack bars that are loaded with various superfoods and are really quite nutritious, but taste like cardboard. The Peanut Butter Honey GoodOnYa bar is what I would call a perfect middle ground – it is rich and flavorful, but filled with highly nutritious organic ingredients. Even better, it's not only gluten-free, but completely soy-free, dairy-free and grain-free as well. When I need a quick snack on the go, I usually go for fruit and a container of yogurt, which I feel is enough of an indulgence. After trying this peanut butter GoodOnYa bar though, I am seriously considering adding it to my morning routine. I adore peanut butter, and in this context, I don't have to feel bad about eating it. These are high quality organic peanuts that are tested by a third party for mold and bacteria (peanuts have gotten bad press over these issues in the past). These peanuts though, are just a rock-solid source of protein and vitamin E. This is a truly fillerless bar. Rather than grains, soy or corn, they've included a collection of superfood seeds: organic sprouted flax seeds and organic raw sesame and hemp seeds. These are all low GI 'slow burners;' the end result is a bar that fills you up and gives you energy without a sugar crash. The people at GoodOnYa have crafted a snack/protein bar with real integrity. It's deliciously peanut-buttery, and full of things that your body will eventually thank you for. Highly recommended! For more information, visit their website. Note: Articles that appear in the "Gluten-Free Food Reviews" section of this site are paid advertisements. For more information about this see our Advertising Page.
  6. Crackers are usually thought of as crispy, baked things made out of flour (usually nutritionally-devoid refined white flour). Foods Alive's Organic Onion Garlic Flax Crackers are a whole different kind of snack, but they are way more nutritious, and also quite yummy! If asked to describe these crackers, I would say they’re like flat, crispy cakes of unprocessed flax seeds that have been compressed together. These are not the high glycemic rice, corn or potato flour/starch junk food crackers you’re used to – they’re 90% raw, USDA organic, and made almost entirely from a highly nutritious, unprocessed superfood that has shown some evidence of reducing heart disease, cancer, etc. etc.: flaxseed! All that might sound too nutritious to taste good, but these crackers are actually quite palatable. This onion and garlic variety is absolutely bursting with flavor. There's no weird consistency or anything like that going on either, as one might expect from eating, well, raw seeds (no, you don't have to be a bird to enjoy these)! Some gluten-free crackers that too closely try to emulate saltines or other 'conventional' crackers end up with a weird grainy texture that some find off-putting. There's nothing like that going on here: just seeds, and tasty stuff holding them together. For more information visit their website. Note: Articles that appear in the "Gluten-Free Food Reviews" section of this site are paid advertisements. For more information about this see our Advertising Page.
  7. It can be difficult for those trying to meet the requirements of multiple dietary restrictions. It becomes especially difficult for celiacs following a Kosher diet during Passover, as matzo traditionally contains gluten. Fortunately, Yehuda's gluten-free matzo not only fits the bill, but it tastes great! I might not be the most qualified person to evaluate the... well, let's say technical accuracy of this gluten-free version of matzo crackers. These are labeled Kosher for Passover and they're imported from Israel, but I am still not even entirely clear on the diet limitations of Kosher/Kosher for Passover, nor have I ever consumed matzo. However, I can say this: if my diet was restricted such that I could eat nothing but these crackers for a week, I really don't think I'd be that bothered by it! These honestly taste great – kind of like saltines, but I'd say I actually prefer these over saltines. They have a crispy texture, and a subtle wood-burned flavor that I quite enjoy. If you need gluten-free matzo for Passover, it's a no-brainer! Order these! Order them online at GlutenFreeMatzo.com. Note: Articles that appear in the "Gluten-Free Food Reviews" section of this site are paid advertisements. For more information about this see our Advertising Page.
  8. Celiac.com 03/18/2013 - People are wary (for good reason) of products that are derived from gluten-containing ingredients, and few products have received quite as much heat as beer. Gluten-removed beers are almost always tested to under 20ppm gluten to allay the concerns of celiacs, but the reliability of such tests is often challenged. Can we really trust the results of gluten tests performed on beer? As Tricia Thompson, MS, RD writes on her blog, Gluten-Free Dietitian, the current standard for testing gluten content in foods is a sandwich ELISA test. The R5 and omega-gliadin versions of the test are the most widely used, and both have been validated in collaborative trials. While sandwich ELISA tests are reliable for detecting gluten in heated and non-heated food items, they are notoriously unreliable for detecting hydrolyzed gluten. Many see this as reason not to trust gluten-removed beers: the fermentation process hydrolyzes gluten in beer, so sandwich ELISA tests cannot accurately quantify their gluten content. If the test is unreliable, it's hard to believe that a once gluten-containing substance is safe for consumption by celiacs. However, the sandwich R5 ELISA's weaknesses are well documented and widely known. Most of these brewers are using an entirely different test that was specifically designed to detect partial gluten fragments (peptides) that may still be harmful to the gluten-sensitive. The competitive R5 ELISA is the standard test used to detect these peptides, and although it has not been validated yet, many published studies have found the competitive R5 ELISA to be a reliable indicator of hydrolyzed gluten. A recent article published on Medical Daily titled “Gluten-Free Beer? Common Gluten Detection Method is Inaccurate” addresses the issue of ELISA testing on beer, and claims that current testing procedures are inaccurate. This is only half true, and unfortunately, articles like these only serve to confuse the public about an already confusing issue. The article seems well-meaning enough; after all, there's nothing wrong with taking a precautionary stance when one's health is on the line. However, the cited study clearly states that they are using the sandwich R5 ELISA. It has already been established that the sandwich R5 ELISA is unreliable for testing beer, and for this reason, most companies do not use it when testing for hydrolyzed gluten. This makes the article's title highly misleading, as the inaccuracy of the sandwich R5 ELISA for detecting gluten in beer is, in most cases, irrelevant. Another point that the article fails to address is that it is not entirely clear just how toxic these gluten peptides are for gluten-sensitive individuals. The toxicity of the 33 mer peptide and numerous others have been demonstrated, but aside from that, it's possible that at least some of the peptides detected by the Competitive R5 ELISA are not toxic to celiacs. One should always err on the side of safety, but it is important to be as precise as possible with the scientific terminology to avoid needless (perhaps inadvertent) fear mongering, as that is one thing the celiac community does not need more of. Parts of this article appeared in “Common Misunderstandings of Gluten-Free Alcoholic Beverages,” from the Winter 2012 issue of The Journal of Gluten Sensitivity. Sources: http://www.glutenfreedietitian.com/newsletter/2012/08/06/standards-for-testing-food-for-gluten-issues-that-need-addressing/ http://www.glutenfreedietitian.com/newsletter/2012/07/24/beer-why-it-is-so-hard-to-assess-fermented-and-hydrolyzed-products-for-gluten/ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19763549 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22649922 http://www.medicaldaily.com/articles/14181/20130301/gluten-free-beer-common-detection-method-inaccurate.htm
  9. At this point, there are lots of gluten-free crackers on the market. While many of them taste great, a lot of them contain soy, corn starch and/or rice flour, which can be problematic for some people. Additionally, not all of them are Kosher. Absolutely Gluten-Free Toasted Onion Crackers not only taste great, but they're Kosher, gluten-, corn-, rice- and soy-free as well. Having these crackers around the office has been great. They remind me of water crackers: they have that light, airy, crispy texture that makes them just perfect for overeating. These crackers are more flavorful though, which I would partially attribute to them being made primarily from tapioca and potatoes. They also have a subtle stone-baked flavor that complements the toasted onion well. I have enjoyed these both out of the bag (eaten by the handful), and with soft cheese. They're a yummy, adaptable snack and I highly recommend them. Order them online at GlutenFreeMatzo.com. Note: Articles that appear in the "Gluten-Free Food Reviews" section of this site are paid advertisements. For more information about this see our Advertising Page.
  10. Celiac.com 02/18/2013 - Currently, there are two main diagnostic tools available to would-be celiacs: biopsy and serological (antibody) tests. For the past few decades, biopsy has been the only relatively reliable (and diagnostically accepted) path to diagnosis. The problem is, biopsies are expensive and highly invasive – antibody tests would be a cheap and painless alternative, but they haven't proven themselves to be accurate enough for conclusive diagnosis. However, a recent analysis shows that antibody tests have improved a great deal in recent years and when used to test for multiple antibodies concurrently, they can be almost as effective as biopsies for diagnosing celiac disease. The study's facilitators began their restrospective analysis by collecting serum samples from 268 patients at hospitals throughout Switzerland, Germany and Austria. All included patients suffered from celiac-like symptoms and underwent both biopsy and antibody testing within 2 months of serum collection. All included patients were on gluten-containing diets at the time of testing. 149 of the patients were ultimately diagnosed with celiac disease; the other 119 showed normal intestinal mucosa and were considered celiac-free. These patients were the control group. Usually, potential celiac patients are tested for IgA anti- tTG or EMA. If the test is positive, then diagnosis is then confirmed with biopsy. However, there is still a chance that the test will throw a false positive, meaning many people are put through unnecessary biopsies. The goal of the present study was to develop a method for reducing the number of these unnecessary biopsies. It was found that when two antibody tests are used, the reliability of the tests increased substantially, weeding out a great many false positives, as well as picking up some false negatives. When three tests were used, the numbers became even more accurate – when used concurrently and all three show a positive result, the IgA anti-dpgli, igG anti-dpgli and IgA anti-tTG achieved an 87% positive likelihood and .01% negative likelihood (compared to a positive likelihood of only 7% and negative likelihood of 0.04% with just the IgA anti-tTG). Using these three tests together, only one test subject came through as a false positive, and only two came through as false negatives (compared to 16 false positives and 5 false negatives with the IgA anti-tTG only). 60 came through with discordant results (meaning at least one of the tests came back negative – in these cases, biopsy is necessary). When considering that biopsy really only has a real-world diagnostic accuracy rate of about 90%, the three test combination utilized in this study achieves strong enough numbers that biopsies are starting to look unnecessary. Biopsy still might be the surest way of detecting celiac disease, but this study shows that it is not necessary in all cases, and patients seeking celiac diagnosis have a few more tests they can ask their doctors for. Source: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-230X/13/19
  11. Gluten-free food companies are really starting to figure this pasta thing out, but there still aren't many fresh, gourmet-oriented options on the market. Cappello's provides a formidable entry with their almond flour-based gluten-free fettuccine. It's lower on the glycemic index than corn- or rice-based options, and it tastes fantastic. Fettuccine alfredo really has to be one of the top five comfort foods of all time. It's delicious (for obvious reason), but really only done right with fresh pasta and a homemade sauce; if you're going to splurge on calories, make them count! It's notoriously hard to get the gluten-free thing right, but Cappello's nailed it. The texture and consistency of their fettuccine are both spot on, and it tastes just like fresh wheat-based pasta, but with a subtle almond flavor. Long story short, Cappello's gluten-free fettuccine is much better than any gluten-free pasta I've tried, and it's some of the best fettuccine I've tasted, gluten-free or otherwise. For more information, visit their website. Note: Articles that appear in the "Gluten-Free Food Reviews" section of this site are paid advertisements. For more information about this see our Advertising Page.
  12. Pure Market Express makes some of the most delicious gluten-free, dairy-free desserts around. Earlier this year, I wrote a rave review of their gluten-free lemon tart; not surprisingly, their apple crisp is every bit as yummy. What I love about Pure Market Express is that they avoid trying to emulate wheat-containing products. Their apple crisp doesn't contain any of the standard wheat flour alternatives that you might expect to find in a gluten-free apple crisp (sorghum flour, tapioca flour, corn flour, etc.) Instead, they include gluten-free oat groats, pecans and almonds. Personally, this keeps me from feeling like something is missing, as I'm having a completely different gustatory experience from what I am used to. In other words, I am allowed to enjoy the product for what it is, and not what I think it should be. While it isn't exactly the 'crispiest' apple crisp I've ever eaten, it is oh-so-flavorful. The apples are particularly tart, and they use some of the highest quality, lowest sugar content organic agave nectar available. It is a perfect balance of tartness and sweetness. Definitely worth a try! For more information, visit their website. Note: Articles that appear in the "Gluten-Free Food Reviews" section of this site are paid advertisements. For more information about this see our Advertising Page.
  13. Usually, SOYJOY bars are all about the taste of fruit. The baked soy makes a great gluten-free base and complements each flavor well, but the fruit is almost always the centerpiece. The new dark chocolate cherry SOYJOY has a new centerpiece: dark chocolate. At first, I was taken aback by the overpowering chocolaty taste. I’m usually more of a milk chocolate kind of guy, but I can enjoy dark chocolate in certain situations. A few bites in, and I realized this was one such situation. In fact, I think the bar would have suffered if they had used milk chocolate instead, as the cherries are sweet enough that too much sweetness from the chocolate would be overkill. The bar is very rich, but it still retains the light, slightly moist texture of the other SOYJOY bars. This keeps you from feeling like you just ate a brick of sugar, but still satisfies your chocolate cravings. Nutrition-wise, it actually has less sugar and more protein than some other SOYJOY flavors. It is also low glycemic, low sodium and free of trans fats and overly processed ingredients like high fructose corn syrup. Oh, and it’s 100% gluten-free, of course. Each bar comes in at only 140 calories, but they’re packed with flavor so you’ll feel like you’ve eaten more than that (without the guilt). If you’re looking for a snack bar that’s rich with the flavor of dark chocolate but isn’t dense or overly sugary like many chocolate snack bars, the dark chocolate cherry SOYJOY is definitely worth a try. For more information, visit their website. Note: Articles that appear in the "Gluten-Free Food Reviews" section of this site are paid advertisements. For more information about this see our Advertising Page.
  14. Cute, decorated sugar cookies are practically synonymous with Christmas; no Christmas party is complete without a plate of them at the refreshment table. Beautiful Sweets offers a decorated set of Christmas cookies that are not only cute, Christmassy, chewy, sweet and delicious, but gluten-free as well. The first thing any person would notice looking at these cookies is that they are... well, Christmas cookies! They fit right in with the spirit of the season, looking every bit like the sugar cookies we've all grown to expect at this time of year. The best thing about these cookies though is that they really do taste as good as they look. I am not on a gluten-free diet, and even I loved them! They're, sweet, flavorful and slightly chewy, even after being shipped across state lines. I highly recommend them if you're in the market for this sort of thing, as I seriously wouldn't have been able to tell they were gluten-free if I hadn't known. Visit their site for more info: www.beautifulsweets.com. Note: Articles that appear in the "Gluten-Free Food Reviews" section of this site are paid advertisements. For more information about this see our Advertising Page.
  15. Celiac.com 11/15/2012 - While nobody can argue with the fact that the gluten-free diet is healthier for the gluten intolerant, some people claim that it has health benefits for everyone. There's no conclusive evidence to suggest that it does, but it's also probably not as 'dangerous' as some skeptics might have you think. As the gluten-free diet grows in popularity, more and more celebrities are coming out to promote its health benefits. Some, like a Jennifer Esposito and Miley Cyrus, suffer from celiac disease or non-celiac gluten intolerance. Others, like Kim Kardashian and Lady Gaga, don't have any kind of wheat intolerance, but still tout the diet's health benefits (often weight loss). The problem is that while Kim Kardashian, et al. may be finding success with the diet, there is little scientific evidence to support any health benefits for cutting gluten if you aren't sensitive to it. Everyone should consider the role wheat plays in their diet, but it is a bit premature to be declaring the gluten-free diet a cure-all. Lately, a growing number of dietitians seem to have noticed this trend, and are advising people to refrain from going off gluten unnecessarily. Dr. Stefanno Guandalini, medical director at the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center says that “for everyone else, embracing this diet makes no sense” while dietitian Susan Watson advises “So what if so-and-so has found all these health benefits – their health concerns are not necessarily the same as the individual that's reading it or seeing it on TV.” In a segment on ABC Nightline, Dr. Peter Green of Columbia University's Celiac Disease Center warned that switching to a gluten-free diet could cause vitamin B and/or calcium deficiencies. The main argument against a gluten-free diet (and in some instances, a valid one) is that gluten-free foods often contain carbohydrate-rich wheat flour alternatives like rice flour or potato starch. Even Dr. William Davis, author of Wheat Belly: Lost the Wheat, Lose the Weight and Find Your Path Back to Health acknowledges that gluten-free alternatives aren't always healthier, reasoning that they can “send your blood sugar and insulin sky-high, even more so than wheat.” However, it is fallacious to conclude that this means the gluten tolerant would gain no health benefits from switching to a gluten-free diet. Yes, junk food should be consumed sparingly, but there is just as much (if not more) wheat-based junk food around, and many people already base their diets around it. Dietitians who are skeptical of the gluten-free diet seem to be giving advice on the 'if it isn't broken, don't fix it' model of thinking, but the average American's diet is broken, as evidenced by our sky-high obesity rates. Dr. Green is correct: people should be worried about vitamin deficiencies, but a wheat- and sugar-centric diet is likely littered with them. Dietitians should be advising people to more closely monitor their diets, whether they are gluten intolerant or not, and consider whether some staples in their diet could be replaced with more nutritious alternatives. Wheat is delicious (which is why we eat so much of it), but nutritionally, it pales in comparison to alternatives like buckwheat, quinoa, breadfruit, amaranth and millet. At the very least, whole wheat is vastly more nutritious than refined wheat. As Susan Watson points out: “if you avoided white bread and white rice, and switched it with whole-grain bread and whole-grain rice, you're getting a way better health benefit than cutting out all wheat.” Dr. Davis disagrees with that last clause though, and advises against consuming any form of wheat. He cites its high glycemic index, as well as the way it is broken down, which yields a morphine-like substance that, according to him, makes people crave more wheat. The bottom line is that dietitians are correct: people should not switch over to a gluten-free diet blindly and assume it will make them healthier. They should, however, consider whether wheat is really necessary as the main staple of their diet when there are many healthy alternatives. Sources: http://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2012/10/02/does-gluten-deserve-to-be-on-the-public-health-enemies-list/2/ http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/gluten_free_diet/should_you_go_gluten_free_if_you_dont_have_celiac_disease?utm_source=HuffingtonPost_Michelle_Hasselbeck_050312 http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2012/10/05/f-anti-wheat-diet.html http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57381966-10391704/gluten-free-diets-not-always-necessary-study-suggests/ http://celiacdisease.about.com/b/2010/11/05/is-cutting-gluten-from-your-diet-dangerous-if-you-dont-have-celiac.htm