Celiacs Awareness Month

Happy May!  May gives us warm weather, Gemini and Taurus season, Celiacs Awareness Month! Celiacs Awareness Month promotes awareness and advocacy for the approximately 3 million people in the United States living with celiacs diseases. Celiacs disease is the only autoimmune disease with a known trigger being from the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, also known as gluten. Celiac Awareness Month is especially important to RollinGreens because we believe in accommodating a variety of special diets and allergens, because EVERYONE should be able to enjoy a delicious, comforting meal regardless of their condition.

When someone with Celiacs disease ingests gluten, they often experience a variety of uncomfortable symptoms like bloating, vomiting and general abdomen discomfort. Depending on the severity of their condition, they may experience more serious life-threatening symptoms.  Food allergies and intolerances were born when the transition from hunter and gathering to farming agricultural practices was in full swing, “The agricultural revolution of the Neolithic period generated a whole battery of food antigens previously unknown to man, including protein from cow, goat, and donkey milk, as well as birds’ eggs and cereals. Most individuals were able to adapt. Among those who could not, food intolerances appeared and celiac disease was born”(Cureceliacsdisease.org).  Thankfully technology advanced from the Neolithic period, but numerous people were still living with the agonizing discomfort of their undiagnosed allergy to gluten. Celiacs Disease was something the public was aware of and many suffered from, but still, the mystery remained unsolved as to what was causing Celiacs Disease.

In the 1920’s Sidney Haas, a medical professional founded what he thought was the medical breakthrough of the decade-the banana diet.  Haas had conducted a study with children with celiacs disease putting them on the banana diet. While we are not completely sure what the banana diet consisted of, we do know that it specifically eliminated complex carbohydrates like bread, crackers, potatoes, and cereals and probably included a decent amount of bananas since bananas barely contain any starch.  Haas confidently constituted these carbohydrates as the cause of Celiacs Disease, but Dutch pediatrician William Karbel Dicke wasn’t convinced. Dicke discovered the true culprit of celiacs disease when his country was suffering through the somber days of Nazi occupation in the Netherlands. During this time food was rationed and very scarce. Children were starving, families were grinding up tulip bulbs, desperate for anything kind of sustenance.   Because of the scarcity of staples like bread, biscuits, and other gluten-filled products, Dicke discovered that it wasn’t starch triggering celiacs disease, it was the wheat protein, gluten. Children he had been trying to treat before were starving, but they were in better condition than they were when they were eating glutenous foods. Dicke continued to study the relationship between wheat protein and celiacs. During the 1950s Dicke published his study and in 1962 Dicke was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his outstanding discovery of what truly caused Celiacs Disease.

Today, research suggests that those who suffer from celiacs disease have certain genes that make them allergic to wheat protein.  It is possible to trigger celiacs disease after procedures like surgery, childbirth, infections or even emotional stress. Luckily today, technology continues to advance and tools like allergy kits and DNA tests can help a someone determine if they celiacs disease.

Food allergies can be complicated.  Celiacs refer to the inability to digest the protein found in wheat.  Between wheat allergies, gluten intolerance and celiacs, these conditions can easily get grouped together and things can get confusing.

Wheat Vs Gluten

-Wheat and gluten are often terms that are used interchangeably, but their meanings are totally different.  Gluten is the protein found in wheat, so while all wheat products have gluten in them, not all gluten products come from wheat.  It is often assumed that if a product is gluten-free, it’s also wheat free which can be a dangerous assumption for anyone allergic to wheat, “Some gluten-free products contain ingredients that are originally derived from wheat from which gluten has been removed” meaning there are still traces of wheat in the food.  (Yumglutenfree.com) Barley and rye are both examples of gluten from non-wheat sources.

Gluten Sensitivity VS Celiacs

-Gluten Sensitivity of non-celiac can get tricky because of its ambiguous definition in the medical community.  There is no test or biomarker for gluten sensitivity and it is not considered an autoimmune reaction like celiacs or an allergic reaction, leaving a gray space that people must navigate themselves.  Luckily gluten sensitivity isn’t as alarming as celiacs. Someone with gluten sensitivity might feel some general discomfort or nausea after consuming gluten, much calmer than the symptoms of someone with celiacs would be if they ingest gluten.  With non-celiac gluten sensitivity, trial and error is the only true way to find a diet that accommodates this condition. Ruling out certain foods that are high in gluten or getting rid of gluten altogether is the best solution for someone who is non-celiac gluten sensitive.

Cutting out Gluten

-When talking about the population of people who don’t eat gluten, we have recognize the population of people who don’t have celiacs, or maybe any sensitivity to gluten at all, some gluten-free folks simply choose not to eat gluten.  Going gluten-free has become a bandwagon millions of people are jumping on, celebrities have embraced this diet making claims that it “changed their lives” and they’ve “never felt better about themselves” making this diet trend appear as a no-brainer.  In fact, there was not one single celebrity at the 2019 Grammy Awards that was not following a gluten-free diet. Many have found that reducing their gluten intake has lead to feeling more energized or relieved them of headaches and migraines, but just because Kim K and the Hadid sisters do it, doesn’t mean it’s the diet for you.  Generally speaking, healthy diets consist of a balance of different foods. Completely cutting out a food group like gluten when there’s no real reason to could lead to a lack of essential nutrients which could lead to serious health complications. For example, if you don’t have a gluten allergy but are depriving yourself of foods like whole wheat bread, your body is missing out on vitamin b, vitamin B9 or folate, niacin, riboflavin and fiber and many more.  The bottom line- everyone’s body is different and reacts to certain foods differently.

Back when Dicke and Haas were studying gluten, trying to eat gluten-free would have been a serious challenge. Today we are fortunate enough that so many companies and restaurants have acknowledged the millions of people reducing the gluten in their diets. Most pizza places now have gluten-free crusts, Italian restaurants often offer gluten-free pasta, grocery stores now stock their shelves with mac and cheese with noodles made from chickpeas along with gluten-free crackers, cookies and of course bread.  Mostly any dish you can think of, there’s a feasible way to make it gluten-free. Many of these gluten-free commodities are made with gluten replacements like rice flour, almond flour, coconut flour, and oat flour just to name a few.

Looking to reduce the gluten in your diet or go gluten-free all together?  Try these tips to make your transition from gluten to gluten gone a breeze

1)Ask Around-Since avoiding gluten is so common today, chances are you know someone who is already gluten-free or is trying to eat less of it.  Ask them where the best gluten-free deals are, what restaurants accommodate gluten-free diets, and what their favorite recipes are to get inspired!  The best advice always comes from experience.

2)You don’t need a “natural” grocery store to shop gluten free-A big assumption that comes with eating gluten free, is that gluten-free products are only found at natural grocery stores are can’t be found at big chain grocery stores, which tend to be cheaper than natural grocery stores.  Big chain grocery stores have adapted well to the ever-growing population of gluten-haters, many even have dedicated sections exclusively for gluten-free products!

3)Trial and Error-We know we mentioned this before but this is a huge part of living with any kind of food allergy or restriction. If you’re in the beginning stages of a gluten-free diet, you will probably try some foods that won’t be your favorite, and try foods that you never thought you’d like!  Gluten-free substitutes can have different textures and flavors that obviously aren’t identical to the original gluten product, but the only way to find out is to try them!

4)Look for the Gluten-Free Certified Label-Just like organic or kosher foods, products that claim to be gluten-free have to be certified before they can hit the shelves.  When a product earns the label of certified gluten-free, that means the product has been tested by a third party and was shown to contain less than a certain limited amount of gluten.

5)Watch out for Hidden Gluten-If you’re going gluten-free, some items like bread and cookies are clearly off limits, but gluten can hide where you very least expect it!  Gluten can be used as a filler or thickener making it crucial to read the label before assuming a product is gluten-free. Watch out for hidden gluten in products like

-Candy (especially chocolate)

-Condiments

-Salad dressing

-Lunch meats

-Beauty products

-Soups

Lastly, the greatest, wisest, most delicious tip we can offer you (that you probably already know), track down the closest store near you by clicking here and get yourself a box of Rollingreens Millet Tots.  Certified gluten-free, easy to digest, ready in minutes, oh and did we mention mouthwatering? There are so many outstanding companies and products taking initiative to make the lives of those adhering to special diets or food allures lives easier, and Rollingreens couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of this movement. Happy May and happy celiacs Awareness month to all!

CITATIONS

Cureceliacdisease.org. (2019). A Brief History of Celiacs Disease. [online] Available at: https://www.cureceliacdisease.org/wp-content/uploads/SU07CeliacCtr.News_.pdf [Accessed 2 May 2019].

Yumglutenfree.com.au. (2019). Wheat Free Vs Gluten Free | yum. Gluten Free. [online] Available at: https://yumglutenfree.com.au/news/health-updates/wheat-free-vs-gluten-free/ [Accessed 2 May 2019].