What DOES gluten free mean?
The term, gluten free is thrown around quite a bit. What it doesn’t mean is that a food or product is completely free of all gluten. It is almost free of all gluten. Confusing isn’t it?
For some people though, a product must be near gluten free, because even trace amounts can be damaging to their bodies, causing pain for a few hours to a few days. Don’t have Celiac? Think you might be sensitive or have an allergy to gluten, but aren’t sure? The best way to know is to talk to your doctor about what is going on, what foods you are eating and the symptoms you are experiencing. Your doctor will most likely have you undergo screenings and blood tests. If your blood tests come back negative, but are not a diagnosis for Celiac, you do have other options. Genetic testing can determine and weed out problems that may or may not be a gluten sensitivity.
What is GLUTEN?
It is a protein and a sticky substance typically found in breads, pastas, pastries, cereals and flours. It makes bread light and airy (holes).
What does gluten do to people with Celiac Disease?
It can create serious damage to the intestines, causing severe pain, gastrointestinal issues like acid reflux, belching, diarrhea, fat in the stool, anemia, nausea, fatigue, iron deficiency, cramping, itching, lactose intolerance, rash and weight loss.
What is PPM? Parts per million. This means that a percentage of gluten is in a food or product. In 2013, the FDA allowed food manufacturers to place “gluten free” labels on foods that contain less than 20 ppm, but be aware that Canada considers 20 ppm as gluten free.
Did you know that everyone has a different sensitivity to gluten? Each person will have a different reaction to gluten. While some people may react at 20 ppm, others may react at 10 ppm or 3 ppm – which would be a very high sensitivity. Gluten tests cannot test down to zero, even though our bodies can detect less than 3 ppm. It’s not just how much gluten is in one serving, it’s how much or how many you eat that can affect you. You might eat one cup of a salty snack and have no reaction, or just a mild one; or you might have a far worse reaction if you ate several handfuls of that same snack.
Reduce your gluten intake on a daily basis if you feel you need to. Monitor how you feel for a full week or two. Most people who have sensitivites or allergies to gluten will feel noticeably better as soon as they reduce or eliminate their gluten intake. The bottom line is that if you feel better, continue on that path. If you don't notice a difference, but still feel there is something "off," consult your doctor for some definitive testing.