Thursday, June 10, 2010

Increasing Celiac Awareness

As you can see in some of the articles I've posted, Celiac Disease / Gluten Intolerance is still often misunderstood.  One post from "Ask The Teen" (Celiac Questions) Marina Keegan, 17 How to Respond to Hilarious Celiac Questions highlighted some funny questions that the average Celiac might hear.  Twenty + years ago, you heard very little about it in the general public.  The medical community was aware of it after a fashion but so many things were still misunderstood.  One of the first physicians to give a modern day description of Celiac disease, Dr. Samuel Gee (1839 - 1911)brought a lot of attention to the disease and many of the symptoms afflicting sufferers.  He was not the first however, to bring Celiac to the forefront.  As early as the first century AD, the Greek physician Aretaeus of Cappadocia wrote about "The Coeliac Affection".  Talk about someone who was a pioneer!

With the increased awareness of today, there are many people who either have Celiac Disease, or know someone who does, be it a family member or friend.  Thankfully with the advances made in food production, distribution and delivery, vendors are swiftly coming forward to meet the needs of the consumer. 

Read this article from the NY Daily News.

As more cases of celiac disease are diagnosed, the market for gluten-free foods is booming
BY Rosemary Black
Tuesday, May 11th 2010, 2:35 PM

Olsen/Getty images
Those with celiac disease can raise a toast to gluten-free beer:
Redbridge, unlike traditional beer, does not contain gluten.

Pizza and pasta, "everything" bagels, cake mixes, waffles, even beer, gum and pet food. The insatiable national appetite for gluten-free products is fueling a robust market for foods and drinks made without gluten.

Sales of gluten-free products increased 74 percent from 2004 to 2009, according to the Nielson Company, and are projected to grow from 15 to 25 percent a year. The gluten-free market is expected to reach some $2.6 billion in sales by 2012.

As Celiac Disease Awareness Month gets underway in May, that’s good news for the three million Americans who have celiac disease. Also called gluten intolerance, celiac disease is actually a genetic disorder that causes a constellation of symptoms like weight loss, stomach ailments and even malnutrition. The treatment is to eliminate all gluten from the diet, which means not just giving up foods made with flour, but also all the other products that contain gluten - beer, soy sauce and most cereals, for instance.

In addition to flour, celiac sufferers aren’t supposed to eat other gluten-containing grains either such as barley, rye, oats and triticale. Food additives like MSG are off the list, too.

"The prevalence of celiac is on the rise, and there are many theories as to why," says Carol M. Shilson, executive director of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. "An important one is the hygiene theory. We’re getting so clean that our immune systems aren’t as strong as they were and we are more open to autoimmune diseases like celiac disease. In less developed areas of the world, celiac is much less prevalent."

Also, she says, though this has never been proven, many people think that gluten-free foods are healthier than foods containing gluten, so they’ve jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon.

The Celiac Center at Columbia University calls celiac disease "one of the most common and most underdiagnosed auto-immune conditions in this country today."

Underdiagnosed, perhaps, but celiac sufferers are also a rich market for food manufacturers. Once only available through the mail or relegated to a dusty shelf in a health food store, gluten-free foods have gone mainstream, and there’s more for celiac sufferers to eat than ever before.

The supermarket cereal aisle has gluten-free "Chex" cereal, which was reformulated to remove the barley malt from the ingredients. The baking aisle is stocked with Duncan Hines gluten-free cake mixes, and in the meat case, Jones Dairy has a variety of gluten-free sausage products. Van’s now makes gluten-free French toast sticks and several varieties of gluten-free waffles, and Bob’s Red Mill and King Arthur Flour have gluten-free flours and baking mixes.

Redbridge, a gluten-free beer, was introduced by Anheuser-Busch, and Trader Joe’s carries an organic, gluten-free whole grain drink that Shauna James Ahern, author of "Gluten Free Girl," calls "fantastic."

For those following a gluten-free diet, eating out has also gotten a lot more interesting than it once was, with restaurants like Pala on the Lower East Side offering terrific gluten-free pizzas, Nizza in midtown featuring a large gluten-free menu, and Risotteria in the Village - which bills itself as the city’s only gluten-free restaurant - is still going strong after more than a decade.

Not only does Risotteria serve salad and risotto, but two foods that celiac sufferers could once only dream about - pizza and panini.

I enjoyed this article and from my experience, the food producers and vendors seem to be filling the gaps, although maybe not as quickly as we wish!  What have been some of your diet related / grocery shopping treasure hunts?  Did you feel like you were searching for the lost city of Atlantis?

Lets hear some of your stories.....................

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