EXTENSION CONNECTION: Information on gluten-free foods

Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 04:03 PM.

The facts

•Food sensitivity is a catchall term for food allergies and intolerances.

•A food allergy is the immune system reacting to a specific protein. A reaction usually occurs within minutes, but could be hours later. Cow's milk, eggs, fish, peanuts, shellfish, tree nuts, soy or wheat trigger most food allergies.

•Food intolerance is more common than a true food allergy. It does not involve the immune system. Food intolerance is a metabolism problem in which the body cannot digest the food because of an enzyme deficiency.

Gluten mostly affects those with Celiac disease and wheat allergies. Celiac disease, the condition most often associated with gluten, is an inherited disease. Others may have wheat allergies or a gluten intolerance or sensitivity.

If you don't have specific gluten issues, you may want to know if you would be healthier without gluten. Limited research has shown improvements initially, but there are concerns about getting adequate nutrition on a gluten-free diet.

Knowing how to read a food label is crucial to finding and evaluating gluten-free foods. Look at the list of ingredients for wheat, rye, barley or a hybrid of these grains. The FDA proposed using the classification "gluten free" voluntarily in 2007.



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