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Food Banks are Becoming Aware of Gluten Free Foods

13 Nov

It’s not unusual for food banks to put out calls for donations, but now the  Calgary Food Bank is seeking out a product that’s become more common recently – gluten-free food.

Heather Anderson needs to eat gluten-free food because  she has celiac disease.  Her condition means if she consumes gluten – a protein  found in grains like wheat and barley – her body won’t be able to absorb  carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals.

“I hadn’t been well  and we were living on one income and I had to come to the food bank and my  husband, who’s pretty proud, he’s the one who came to pick up the hamper, came  home and I went through it and realized there was really nothing I could eat,”  she told Global News.

Heather  brought the issue to the Calgary Food Bank’s attention, and as a result, the  organization unofficially launched one of Canada’s first celiac hamper programs  about two years ago. In that time, it has been educating donors and volunteers  on the need for gluten-free options.  But the demand for these products  have risen, and now it wants people to be aware of the need for donations

Read it on Global News:  It’ s not unusual for food banks to put out calls for donations, but now the Calgary Food Bank is seeking out a product that’ s become more common recently – gluten-free food.

I think this level of awareness is a must. CD is a disease! This is not something patients should treat lightly. I don’t know if such a level of awareness has trickled down to the states. We need to organize and we need to do it fast!

Soldiers Face a Tough Battle with Gluten

1 Nov
IDF Logo

Kicking Ass AND Gluten Free

I came across a rather fascinating article in the Israeli newspaper: Haaretz Daily. For those that may not know, Israel has a requirement that all able bodied men AND women be drafted and serve a set period of time as soldiers within the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). I’m not quite aware of all the issues that would or could defer a young man or woman from serving–but it would make sense that it would be for such things as severe asthma, severe chronic diseases, etc. As I was going through the article, I find that a rather peculiar problem is now being encountered.

Combat units refuse to take celiac patients who volunteer for the Israel Defense Forces due to “logistic” problems supplying appropriate, gluten-free food – in direct contradiction of army directives forbidding rejection of soldiers who have the disease. IDF sources admit the problem exists and explain that they cannot guarantee suitable food in field conditions. However, a celiac patient serving in such conditions told Haaretz: “There’s no problem getting along with battle rations.” In the past, all celiac patients were exempted from army service, until 2008, when an effort was made to draft them. After a number of soldiers complained of unsuitable food, the policy was again altered and at present, the IDF drafts only celiac patients who express a will to volunteer.  At first, celiac patients were allowed to serve in combat units that guaranteed a supply of gluten-free food, but soon after, all combat units were informed that they could not reject celiac patients because of logistical difficulties in supplying the right food. However, Haaretz has learned that various combat units still refuse to supply proper food, thus, in effect, rejecting celiac patients…

So the issue is:

  1. Soldiers with Celiac Disease can volunteer but they will not be automatically drafted.
  2. The IDF is not able to logistically supply–ie, feed CD soldiers that do volunteer.

So the brave soldiers that do end up volunteering are probably spending more time in the bathroom than on the gun range! (Yes, I know that Celiac Disease manifests beyond just GI issues). Joking aside, this is indeed a serious problem. If a large organization such as a Tier I army is unable to properly provide stable GF rations to their soldiers–what hope is there for us mere mortals that spend time walking up and down the aisles of Trader Joe’s or Better Health? What hope do we have that smaller organizations such as schools or offices be able to provide proper gluten free meals when required?

The answer, sadly, at the moment is still: NONE.

It is important that the CD community work as a whole, so that we could and should be able to expect that kids, loved ones, and ourselves are eating food without the risk of complications. The idea for a nutritionally sound untainted meal should not be a mirage.

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HAARETZ.COM has a paywall. As such, I’ve posted the article below. All copyrights remain with the HAARETZ on the article below.

Contrary to orders, IDF combat units refuse to accept celiac patients
Celiac sufferers are exempt from service, but may volunteer. But combat units won’t take them.
By Gili Cohen | Oct.30, 2012 | 12:58 AM

Combat units refuse to take celiac patients who volunteer for the Israel Defense Forces due to “logistic” problems supplying appropriate, gluten-free food – in direct contradiction of army directives forbidding rejection of soldiers who have the disease.

IDF sources admit the problem exists and explain that they cannot guarantee suitable food in field conditions. However, a celiac patient serving in such conditions told Haaretz: “There’s no problem getting along with battle rations.”

In the past, all celiac patients were exempted from army service, until 2008, when an effort was made to draft them. After a number of soldiers complained of unsuitable food, the policy was again altered and at present, the IDF drafts only celiac patients who express a will to volunteer.

At first, celiac patients were allowed to serve in combat units that guaranteed a supply of gluten-free food, but soon after, all combat units were informed that they could not reject celiac patients because of logistical difficulties in supplying the right food.

However, Haaretz has learned that various combat units still refuse to supply proper food, thus, in effect, rejecting celiac patients.

One such soldier was told officially by the IDF that he cannot be accepted by the Givati Brigade due to logistical problems. The soldier insisted, and was then told that “the disease cannot be a reason for not being stationed in a particular unit. If they claim that it’s because you’re a celiac patient, it is in contradiction to proper conduct.”

IDF sources said a problem indeed exists, and that the soldier was refused because appropriate food could not be guaranteed. Still, another combat soldier suffering from the ailment told Haaretz: “I get along fine in field conditions. The battle rations include tuna and stuffed vine leaves, and I eat more of these, or concentrate on vegetables. Actually, It’s harder to find suitable food in the base than in field conditions.”

In September 2011, a celiac patient seeking to enroll in the Israel Air Force flight academy was refused, but after appealing the decision was accepted to the academy.

Celiac patients can choose between receiving a monthly allowance of NIS 500, or five gluten-free meals and two gluten-free loaves of bread per week. The IDF Spokesman said: “The issue is being examined and the problem does exist. Staff work is carried out at present with the intention of guaranteeing the supply of suitable food to all army units. Due to the partial details supplied by the journalist, we cannot comment on the specific case.”

Gluten Free Diet Making you Fat

30 Oct

News Roundup

Well, this was bound to happen: Mainstream media finally is starting to acknowledge one of the hurdles of a gluten free lifestyle–one that many CD patients have to experience and live with on a daily basis: some gluten free foods are heavy in calories and could cause that butt to get bigger! The challenge is, of course, to find gluten free foods that are low calorically but high in taste and satisfaction.

Whippet thin Victoria Beckham is said to maintain her trim figure by sticking to a strict gluten-free diet. Gwyneth Paltrow and Miley Cyrus are also fans of the wheat-free way which means no bread, pizza, pasta or cakes. But a new study shows that slimmers choosing gluten-free food could be filling up on fat instead.

Really? Celiac Disease Is Influenced by Season of Birth: One hypothesis is that the season in which a person is born may influence the development of this digestive disorder. Some researchers suspect that babies born in spring and summer are more susceptible to the disease, which is triggered by the gluten in wheat, barley and rye.

Babies usually begin eating foods containing gluten around 6 months of age, so those born in the warmer months would initially be exposed to gluten in the winter, when infections like cold and flu are common. Could early exposure to viral infections play a role in the autoimmune response to gluten?

For now that remains speculation. But at least three studies have backed the seasonal hypothesis. The most recent, published this month in The Journal of Pediatrics, looked at nearly 2,000 people with confirmed celiac disease. The researchers, at the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, concluded that more patients were born in the spring than in any other season.

A new gluten free beer!

In the past few years, though, a new process has been described that would use a specific enzyme to “denature” the proteins that produce glutens, during the brewing process. Two Brothers of Warrenville has been using this process to make their Prairie Path Golden Ale gluten-free for the past year. Now Omission is rolling out nationally with a GF lager and a pale ale.

Omission was developed at Widmer Brothers brewery in Portland, Oregon, now a part of Craft Brew Alliance with Red Hook.** CBA’s Account manager, Paul Mott, told people at the FatPour event that their interest in a GF beer was more than professional, since their CEO had been diagnosed with celiac disease twelve years ago, and the wife of brewmaster Joe Casey learned she had it six years ago…Omission beer is certified to meet the standard of less than 20 parts per million of gluten peptides. Each bottle’s date code can be looked up at omissiontest.com to see the independent testing results for that particular batch.

The news items link out to external sources. And, like always, none of these are a substitute to your own health-care provider’s advice.

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity less common than celiac disease

25 Oct

Incidence of non-celiac gluten sensitivity is approximately half that of celiac disease, according to data presented at the 2012 American College of Gastroenterology Annual Scientific Meeting. “A growing number of patients are being found to have non-celiac gluten sensitivity,” Daniel V. DiGiacomo, MPH, research assistant at Columbia University, told Healio.com. “Unfortunately, there is not much clinical data, nor published studies, on non-celiac gluten sensitivity. We thought this would be the perfect opportunity to take an epidemiologic approach and study non-celiac gluten sensitivity on a national level.” From Healio GI

Prezzo and Pizza Hut add gluten-free options, is the industry doing enough? With Prezzo and Pizza Hut the latest branded national operators to up their gluten-free offerings, the rest of the industry needs to ‘get up to speed’ when it comes to catering for customers suffering with coeliac disease. From Big Hospitality

A link between gluten and the immune system has literally been visualized in new research published today in a leading scientific journal, Immunity. The discovery is the collaborative work of research groups in Australia, the Netherlands and ImmusanT Inc. based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, led by Professor Jamie Rossjohn and Dr. Hugh Reid at Monash University,Dr. Bob Anderson of ImmusanT and Professor Frits Koning at the University of Leiden. The use of x-ray crystallography enabled the researchers to visually determine how T cells interact with gluten that causes celiac disease in patients who have the DQ8 susceptibility gene, thereby providing insight into how celiac disease pathology is triggered. About half the population is genetically susceptible to celiac disease because they carry the immune response genes HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8. At least one in 20 people who carry HLA-DQ2 and about one in 150 who have HLA-DQ8 develop celiac disease, but people with other versions of the HLA-DQ genes are protected.  This has led researchers to question how the immune system senses gluten. From ImmusanT.com

The news items link out to external sources. And, like always, none of these are a substitute to your own health-care provider’s advice.

Women with Celiac Disease and Fertility

25 Oct

Cruising with Celiac Disease: What to Know Before You GoRecently one of our readers, emailed us about a lackluster experience she had when she booked a Carnival Cruise to the Caribbean Islands in the fall.   Her sole apprehension upon reservation was whether they could accommodate her gluten-free diet due to her Celiac Disease.  Once assured that she would be satisfied with the service she happily booked her trip.  However, upon embarkation, she was surprised with the specific procedures that took place due to her dietary specifications, such as having to pre-order meals one day in advance.  Lack of communication between passengers and kitchen staff left her dissatisfied with the voyage. From Peter Greenberg. 10/23/2012

Women with celiac disease had significantly more problems related to fertility and pregnancy than a control group of women who did not have the condition, investigators reported here.Patients with celiac disease had increased difficulty conceiving compared with controls (41.2% versus 36.5%, P=0.03), as well as more consultations with fertility specialists and higher rates of spontaneous abortion, preterm delivery, and cesarean section. Women with celiac disease also tended to have a shorter duration of fertility, marked by later onset of menarche and younger age at menopause, Stephanie M. Moleski, MD, said at the American College of Gastroenterology meeting… From Medpage Today 10/23/2012

Who needs wheat anyway? The market for gluten-free foods and beverages is booming, with double digit growth over the last four years as more consumers find themselves diagnosed with celiac disease and food allergies. The market for products without the gluten protein is valued at $4.2 billion, according to a report from Packaged Facts. Since 2008, it has grown at a compound annual rate of 28% each year and is expected to exceed $6.6 billion by 2017.  From the LA Times 10/23/2012

I’ll be using this area to highlight news articles that I find of value. They will link out to external sources. And, like always, none of these are a substitute to your own health-care provider’s advice.