What does it mean to be Gluten Free?
A Gluten-Free Consumer
There are many reasons consumers now look for gluten-free options for their food. “Gluten free” has started to become a diet fad, with people mistakenly adhering to a gluten-free diet to lose weight. While ineffective for that purpose, it has helped to greatly widen the gluten-free product offerings on store shelves. But the main reason some consumers are moving to gluten-free options is because of a serious allergic reaction they experience to gluten (the protein composite found in wheat, and to a lesser extent, some other grains including Barley and Rye). Depending on the level of allergy, ingesting gluten can often lead to permanent damage within the intestines. People with Celiac disease experience the highest level of gluten intolerance, and by ingesting gluten, will severely damage the finger-like villi of the small intestine, leading to a greatly diminished ability for the body to absorb nutrients from the food. This leads to multiple health complications.
The Food and Drug Administration has not defined a minimum accepted level for parts per million (ppm) of gluten. The World Health Organization, however, has determined that 20 ppm (20mg/kg) of gluten is safe for people with Celiac disease to consume. But, since gluten-containing foods can cross-contaminate a gluten-free product, consumers must be very diligent in their search for food options.
Unfortunately, the gluten-free consumer faces a tough market for their food options. Even though millions of Americans suffer from gluten intolerance and Celiac disease (at least 18 million intolerant and at least 3 million with Celiac), the food industry has been slow to respond. And most that have responded have done so with poor quality, poor tasting food options. This is the reason Flùr has worked so hard to create such delicious pastry and dessert options. We intend to prove to the consumer market that it is possible to create gluten-free products that taste, look, and feel identical to “regular” gluten products.
Gluten intolerance affects at least 15% of the population, is linked to over 55 different diseases. People who experience gluten intolerance can experience a myriad of adverse physiological symptoms. These symptoms can include bloating, abdominal discomfort or pain, constipation and diarrhea, fatigue, and even muscular disturbances and bone or joint pain. Other more serious symptoms linked to gluten intolerance include neurological symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo, hormone imbalances, and in some cases it has been linked to autoimmune disorders.
If you have experienced one or more of these symptoms, contact your doctor to schedule a test for gluten intolerance. A simple blood test could provide a natural path to alleviating some of these symptoms.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that occurs in genetically predisposed individuals of all ages. It is a serious disorder and if left unchecked, has been shown to lead to complications such as intestinal cancers, bone density loss, sterility, and Refractory disease, which is a state of permanent damage to the intestinal tract. There is currently no medical treatment for Celiac, other than a strict, gluten-free diet. While it is genetically predisposed, sometimes the disease is triggered—or becomes active for the first time—after surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, viral infection, or severe emotional stress. Symptoms also vary depending on a person’s age and the degree of damage to the small intestine. Many adults have the disease for a decade or more before they are diagnosed. The longer a person goes undiagnosed and untreated, the greater the chance of developing long-term complications.
Recently, the general public has experienced a rapidly increasing awareness of gluten intolerance. Symptoms of gluten intolerance have been mis- and cross-diagnosed for years in the medical industry, due to a lack of broad knowledge about the disorder. But with an increase in media coverage, a growing overall awareness, and an ever-increasing consumer market of gluten-free foods, people are starting to properly associate certain symptoms with diet.
Please check out the Celiac Disease Foundation for further information.