Immune System Response to Quinoa

A recent study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, tested 15 different cultivars of Quinoa for both gluten and for any immune system response to the Quinoa in Celiac patients.  The results:

Fifteen quinoa cultivars were tested: 4 cultivars had quantifiable concentrations of celiac-toxic epitopes, but they were below the maximum permitted for a gluten-free food. Cultivars Ayacuchana and Pasankalla stimulated T cell lines at levels similar to those for gliadin and caused secretion of cytokines from cultured biopsy samples at levels comparable with those for gliadin.

What does that mean? Well, really not much.  4 of the cultivars had testable levels of gluten, meaning their test had results.  However, all of those that returned those results were below the 20ppm which is used as an acceptable level of gluten to be called gluten free.  Further, of the 4 that had testable levels of gluten, only two of them caused any sort of reaction at all in the patients.

They conclude by saying that more testing needs to be done.

Obviously, I don’t think the results of this study are anything to panic about.  Of the 15 cultivars tested, all had below 20ppm results.  I’m not sure if there’s a way to avoid the 2 cultivars that cause some reaction.  As the NFCA noted in their article (here) on the same study, it serves as a good reminder to check the labels of anything that you’re planning on eating to make sure that the ingredients are gluten free, and have had as few chances of cross-contamination as possible.

Another Chef Gets Gluten Wrong

This time, at least, it’s across the pond and has little chance of poisoning you while you’re in a restaurant in the U.S.A.  Well known U.K. chef, Anthony Demetre, while on a morning television show doing a demonstration Gluten Free recipe is asked what the reasoning was for the gluten free meal.  Here’s his response:

Direct Link to YouTube video should  the embedding not work for you.

Someone from the Celiac London group spoke to Phil Vickery, another U.K. Chef and an Ceoliac U.K. food advisory group and got the following response from him:

After seeing Saturday’s BBC’s Saturday Kitchen, and receiving emails I have to make the following comments.
It just goes to prove that this awful disease is still looked on as a joke and in a very flippant way in the certain areas of the cat…ering industry, that frankly, really should know better.
This sort of ill informed advice or statement coming from a well respected chef sends out the totally wrong message. It also magnifies, just how little is known and more worryingly how much these guys actually care about Coeliac disease in the restaurant environment.
It should be compulsory for all young chefs to undergo basic training in all areas regarding diseases and allergies, sadly until that happens, we are going to have to put up with the sort of moronic comment time and time again.

Phil Vickery
Coeliac UK National Food Ambassador
10th April 2011

I couldn’t agree more.  It’s one thing to poison people with Gluten maliciously, like we saw Damian Cardone do, but this just reeks of poor education on the subject.  Here, we have a chef, who is supposed to know more about food than most of us will ever hope to know, who seems to be unknowingly poisoning himself because he doesn’t know any better.  Sad really.  I hope that Phil Vickery or someone in the U.K. Ceoliac community has reached out to him and is going to help him and educate him on the subject.  For him, it’s a matter of life and death.  Not to mention all the people who watched that show or have spoken with him or his doctor on the subject.  Which brings up another subject.  That of doctor education.  I’m still surprised, almost daily, by the lack of knowledge of such a widespread disease by those in the medical community.

Education, education, education.  We need so much more of it.

Educating the Community

In light of the Damian Cardone fiasco, I thought it was time we revisit the education part of The Gluten Free Life.  One of the most important things that a newly diagnosed Celiac can do is to educate himself/herself on what that really means.  There’s a great deal to learn about what you can and cannot eat, and all the funny names that gluten can hide behind. But, no matter how much you educate yourself, it’s clear that you still have a lot to watch out for.  And, even then, you end up getting gluten’d by people like Damian Cardone.  Which is why your education efforts don’t end with yourself, or even your friends and family.  You’ve got to attempt to educate your entire community.

Let’s start at the beginning.  You’re planning on going out to eat at a local restaurant. Don’t wait until you get to the restaurant to find out if it will be safe for you.  If you can, do it days ahead of time. Not every trip will be scheduled that far in advance, but, try to give yourself at least an hour or two.

  • Start by looking online to see if they have a website.  If they do, see if you can find any information on allergy/dietary needs or (if you’re really lucky) a gluten free menu.
  • If they don’t have any info online, call ahead, before they’re busy and discuss your visit with the chef.  You’ll likely get some wonderful advice on what you can and can’t have while visiting the restaurant.  Avoiding discussing it at the table while everyone else is trying to order will help avoid any annoyance on the part of the wait staff, and the chef.
  • If you have days before the event, offer to stop in and visit with the Chef.  You may be surprised with how many times you’ll get taken up on the offer.

Taking steps to keep yourself safe, while doing it ahead of time, and in a respectful way, can help other celiac sufferers too.  The more positive experiences that chefs have with gluten free diners, the less likely it is that they will develop an attitude towards gluten free diners like that of Damian Cardone.  Another thing to keep in mind is that if the restaurant that you’ll be visiting is one that is local to you and that you will likely be revisiting again, the more important it is to develop a relationship with the chef and staff of that restaurant.  Putting in a little time here and there to help educate them can give you a safe haven dining spot where you know that, not only is the staff attempting to deliver food that is safe for you, but that, because of the education help they’ve received from you, they likely will deliver food that is safe for you.

Additionally, many of the gluten free and celiac organizations offer educational materials and classes to help educate people, and the staff of food service companies like restaurants.

Celiac learning is an offering by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.  They have great courses for both food service professionals and medical professionals.

The Gluten Intolerance Group of North America (GIG) also has a wealth of information on their website, including a training/education program specifically for restaurant workers.


Fitting Nuts into Your Diet

For all those on the look out for a healthy diet, a handful of nuts everyday can make the world of difference. Nuts have several benefits, and need to be consumed regularly for you to enjoy their goodness. They make a healthy snack that can be given to people of all ages, especially children. With the help of nuts you can make several 100 calorie snacks that will benefit your diet.

The benefits of nuts are –

1.They help to lower blood pressure
2.They help to regulate blood flow in the body
3.They can help fight heart diseases4.    They help increase the anti-aging elements in our body
5.They help make the bones stronger
6.They help increase the energy level in a person

Nuts are full of nutrients such as vitamin E and A, which are essential for strong bones. They have fiber in them, which help to ease bowel movements and reduce stomach problems. Nuts also have antioxidants, minerals, proteins, healthy monounsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids.

It is important to know that while nuts are high in calories, they are at the same time essential for a balanced diet. They are high in unsaturated fats, otherwise known as healthy fats. While they cannot be categorized as high calorie foodstuffs, a handful of nuts on a regular basis are sure to do wonders for your health. Since they are tasty and filling, you will stick to your diet for sure. Different nuts provide different benefits, so make sure you eat all these nuts in moderation because some of them can be relatively high in calories–

Pistachios –

Pistachios as many of us know have nutrients that benefit the heart. Some of the nutrients in pistachios include –

7.Vitamin C

They are one of the richest sources of iron and are hence are considered to be very healthy.

Walnuts –

Walnuts contain lots of omega-3 fatty acids which help to prevent irregular heart rhythms. They are also full of essential proteins that are necessary for the body. Omega-3 fatty acids can also be found in fish; hence if you are a vegetarian this is a good substitute for your daily omega-3 fatty acids intake. Recent research shows that they help prevent arthritis also.


Almonds are a good source of the following –

7.Vitamin E
8.Vitamin C

Since they are full of monounsaturated fats (healthy fats), they help in dealing with cardiovascular problems and to balance your cholesterol level. Walnuts and almonds are considered to be one of the best nuts for a healthy heart. Apart from these benefits, almonds are also good for the skin, as their oil is often applied to the face and body.

Cashew nut –

Although the cashew nut is actually a seed, it is considered to be a nut. They are high in protein as well as all essential minerals. They are also full of iron that benefit blood flow and also contains healthy monounsaturated fat, ideal for a healthy heart. They also happen to be a rich source of antioxidants that are essential to protect cells from any kind of damage, and help prevent cancer. Cashew nuts have the following –

1.Vitamin C

Other excellent nuts include pine nuts, Brazilian nuts, peanuts, pecan nuts, hazelnuts and macadamia nuts. All these provide a wonderful substitute to the regular snack such as cookies and chips, and the list of benefits that they provide are indeed endless.

For some more information on how many calories do I need on a daily visit, read ahead.

10 of the Best Weight Loss Tips

The words weight and loss together, trigger much debate and return pages of diet based search results.  It seems everyone these days is promising some sort of “lose weight fast” program, but losing weight is much like a marathon.

When it comes to losing weight, slow and steady commitment win the race.  Here are ten tips to not only help you lose weight, but also help you keep it off.

Slow and Steady. Once you’ve decided you’d like to change your lifestyle and lose weight many people are eager for results.  Slow down.  The people who lose weight slowly and consistently are the most likely to keep the weight off.  Flash diets, power cleanses, over exercising and other tricks to lose weight fast are not only dangerous to your health, but over time actually slow your metabolism.  Stick with slow and steady.  It will help make the battle easier over time.

Moderation. One of the biggest and best tips for weight loss is moderation.  Eat chocolate, candy bars, dessert, and your favorite snacks.  Denying yourself these pleasures results in whole day binges full of junk food or constant dissatisfaction and cravings.  Still treat yourself, but eat less of these favorite sweets and snacks and in moderation.  Also look for healthier alternatives to your favorites and experiment with them to see if they quench your cravings.

Hammer365: 159/206 Next Magic TrickEat Breakfast. One of the first things people do when they think about losing weight is cut meals.  This is a huge mistake because not eating means that your metabolism slows.  Eating breakfast not only starts the day off right, but it helps kick start your metabolism so that you can burn the maximum amount of calories throughout the day.

Some studies have shown that people who eat breakfast are more likely to eat fewer calories throughout the day because they have increased levels of leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite.  Be smart about your choices and keep in mind this morning meal is your fuel to start the day.  Choose whole grain cereals, oatmeal, fruit, toast and peanut butter or other high fiber low sugar meals.

Keep a Food Diary. A few times a day, jot down what you have just eaten and be sure to include how you are feeling, if you are hungry, and anything else you may want to write about.  The food diary does not have to be solely for recording your meals and snacks, it can also be a vehicle for helping you track ways to effectively reduce stress and anxiety.

Don’t stop at just recording your habits in your diary though.  Look back on your day or week and analyze what triggers you to eat certain foods.  Once you are aware of your eating patterns it becomes easier to tell yourself that you might not really need that second afternoon snack.

Your food diary shouldn’t be a point of dread where you count calories in total fear.  It’s more of an aid that can help you spot patterns and guide you toward a healthier lifestyle.

Eat Slowly. Many studies indicate that it takes 20 minutes for our brain to even register that our bodies are full.  Eating slower can help our brain catch up to our stomach and avoid overeating. Try also drinking a full glass of water with each meal, taking sips in between bites to slow yourself down.  Also do not wait until you are starving to eat, if you are too hungry you will want to eat much faster.

Eat Throughout the Day. Eating throughout the day may sound like a misleading weight loss tip, but studies have shown that five small meals throughout the day is a more healthy lifestyle than three larger meals.  Eating smaller meals helps to keep your metabolism working throughout the day and helps to maintain portion control so that you do not get so hungry in between meals that you binge when it is time to eat.

Exercise. Once you get past a healthy diet, one of the most important components to losing weight is to get active and stay there.  Most experts recommend that you participate in at least five 30 minute sessions per week.  The type of exercise can vary depending on your weight loss goals, but is important to be active and in ways that are not too overwhelming.

Creating a routine that you actually look forward to is important, not only because it will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle, but also because people who dread and stress out about their workout won’t reap the same benefits as those who look forward to their routines.  Running, hiking, playing sports, fast walking or jogging or even taking your pet for a long walk and mixing in weight routines help to vary the activities are all great ideas for exercise.

Use Weights – Exercise does not only have to be aerobic.  Mix some weight routines into your workout.  Aerobic exercise is great for burning fat, but incorporating weights will help build muscle to keep the fat off.  As a general rule of thumb, one pound of muscle burns more calories per day than one pound of fat.

Sleep. Many researchers note that lack of sleep leads people to overeat throughout the day.  Adults who get inadequate rest are more likely to wake up feeling hungry and dissatisfied.  A lot of people snack during the hours they stay awake.   Sleep however, is a double edged sword in that many people who are overweight or overeat due to stress and anxiety are more likely to also have insomnia which just perpetuates their inability to lose weight.  Most adults need around eight hours of uninterrupted sleep per night, not only to help lose weight but to stay healthy in both mind and body.

Find Some Support.  Losing weight and getting healthy is something so many people are working toward.  With new technology like the Nike+ and social networks, finding a group of people at your level can be es easy as going online.  Your family and friends can be great support groups as well.  Having a partner to push you that extra mile or help you make healthier eating choices will make all the difference.

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