Monthly Archives: January 2009

Down Syndrome and Celiac Disease

People with celiac disease are more likely to have other diseases in which the autoimmune system attacks the body’s healthy cells and tissues. There are also some conditions that make people much more likely to have celiac disease. One is European ancestry. Also, if a close relative (parent, sibling, child) has it, there’s a 1 in 22 chance that you do too. The least obvious predictor is Down Syndrome. Up to 16% of people with Down Syndrome also have celiac disease. Celiac disease can show few to no symptoms in children with Down Syndrome, but if left undiagnosed and untreated, malnutrition, stunting, or lymphoma can result. Doctors, however, are divided about the best age for CD screening (some says 2 to 3 years) and whether it is cost-effective.

All you need to know? If your child has Down Syndrome, you might want to make sure they don’t have Celiac disease also by taking them in for a blood test. The blood test determines if you should check further for celiac disease with the more expensive and difficult biopsy of the small bowel.

Celebrities with Celiac Disease

fried fishSome celebrities, we know, stick to a gluten-free diet as a fad way to lose weight. Other are genuinely gluten-free. Prying into the lives of people we don’t know is a fun international pastime, so let’s check in on some celebrities with Celiac disease:

  • Keith Olbermann, host of MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann, held a charity auction through his show on ebay in May 2005 to raise money for the Celiac Sprue Association. He had this to say on the air: “This was a chance for us to bring a little attention to a disease that probably affects 1 out of every 100 of us, Celiac disease, wheat intolerance and the Celiac Sprue Association.  I‘ve got it, in fact, a marginal case, but enough of one that I‘ve eliminated wheat from my diet.  Kids who have it often wind up are unable to assimilate nutrients from all foods, which means they really cannot grow.” Thanks for raising awareness, Keith!
  • Air America radio host Thom Hartmann eats lunch every day at an 100% gluten-free fish-fry joint in Portland, Oregon, according to the Associated Press.
  • Comedienne and author Sarah Vowell, who says she has a “wheat allergy” is obsessed with the magaine “Living Without,” which she says “has the most downbeat name of any magazine since ‘Downbeat.’” She wonders why “the publishers don’t come clean and call it “Loser?” She also admits that the “corny” and “reassuring” magazine makes her feel less alone because her friends have “an underwhleming grasp of the pros and cons of various brands of soy flour.” Her hilarious segment on This American Life about living without wheat is worth a listen (it starts at about 17:35).
  • Elizabeth Hasselbeck, a member of the popular talk show The View, signed a deal this April to write a book about her experiences living gluten-free. The book, titled The G-Free Diet, will come out May 2009. Elizabeth has spoken on the show about the ins and outs of Celiac disease. Thank you Elizabeth!
  • Jane Swift, the youngest women ever elected to the Massachusetts State Senate who later became the first female Governor of Massachusetts, underwent many medical examinations before being diagnosed with Celiac disease. When she goes to a political function, her staff calls ahead to tell the food servers about gluten-free options. Unfortunately, Swift often finds that people think she’s being difficult.

There are of course several more celebrities who avoid gluten. Kyle Eslick of Celiac-disease.com keeps a running list of celebrities with Celiac Disease.

Update on Wellshire Farms

Here’s the original article indicating that some Wellshire Farms’ products exceeded 1,000 parts per million in independent gluten testing.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/lifestyle/health/chi-081120-allergens-tribune-investigation,0,506031.story?page=1

And a follow up article indicating that Whole Foods has pulled Wellshire Farms’ products from its shelves:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-whole_foodsdec31,0,4055580.story

Gluten Free List Update from Campbell's

From Susan Baranowsky, Director of Consumer Affairs:

“I would like to clear up any confusion that may have resulted from Campbell’s recent review of the gluten-free status of our Prego and Pace products. After FDA issued its proposed regulation about gluten-free food labeling, Campbell temporarily removed some products from our “Gluten-Free” List so that we could review and update our checking and validation processes. We did this to ensure that we could provide consumers with the most accurate and up-to-date information. We re-checked each and every ingredient in each of the products on our list, and, as a further safeguard, we analyzed each product to assure that even incidental levels of gluten were not present. A product could not go back into our “Gluten-Free” List until each of these steps had been completed successfully. The Swanson Stock and Broth products that appear on our list successfully completed this process in June. Very shortly, we will complete the same process, including the analysis, on our Prego line. Our updated “Gluten Free” List, including many of your favorite Prego products, will be available in early January to consumers who call us at 1-800-44-BROTH or 1-888-FOR-PREGO. Products in the Pace and Swanson Canned Poultry brands have been removed because they are currently being scheduled for the same rigorous review. Sorry for the length of my reply but I wanted to answer all your concerns. Please share this information with other concerned consumers. Thanks for listening. “

Online Shopping, Gluten-Free

Gluten Free Live Logo Thanks to My Celiac Blog, I learned that there is an entire online shopping area, partnered with Amazon, where you can buy exclusively gluten-free items. This site, Gluten Free Live, is a place where cross-contamination is so contained that you can’t even link to a description of a gluten-containing product. Where you can’t even read the word “gluten” without immediately reading “free.” What I’m talking about, my friends, is a place where you can be yourself, a place where you can go on a GF Shopping BONANZA. They carry bread, bread mix, cereal, cookies, crackers, energy bars, flour, fruit bars, meals, pancake mix, pretzels, pizza, vegetarian, casein-free, books, bread machines, and rice makers (my #1 favorite!). So what are you still reading this blog for? You’re so thin. You need some meat on your bones. Go shop already!

Gluten-Free Pantries

pantryI very much enjoyed reading NYTimes food writer Mark Bittman’s suggestions for how to stock your pantry. All but a few items on his list were gluten-free. I’m going to follow some of his suggestions, especially the substitution of sherry vinegar for balsamic and dried beans for canned.

His list also reminded me of Gluten Free Mom’s description of her pantry. I found that very interesting and it informed my own pantry when I next went shopping. Unlike Bittman, she lists mostly products and suggests certain brands. She also notes that all her food is “kid-approved.” This is where she and I should part ways: even when I was a kid I didn’t like much of the food other kids craved. However it seems that she feeds her kids decent stuff that I as both child and adult would be pretty happy to eat.

How do you stock your shelves?

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Extravaganza

Molten Lava CakeWhile surfin’ the gluten-free Web, I started to notice a pattern. A trend. A movement, even. I am speaking of the collective yearning of the gluten-free community for the ultimate chocolate cake recipe. I mean the kind of chocolate cake that thrills you to the tips of your toes and satisfies you so thoroughly that you feel (temporarily) that you’ll never need chocolate again.

Celiac chocolate lovers have always had a friend in the standard kosher-for-Passover flourless chocolate cake, and I include a recipe here. But what other magical chocolatifications have GF bloggers devised? Wonder no more, I have compiled a cake compendium for you here.

Gluten Free Search Engine

Gluten Free FoxGoogle Insights reports that gluten-free internet searching is up 150% since 2004. Perhaps that’s why Kristen Campbell of Naturally Dah’ling (previously reviewed on this blog) and Taylor Brown, an internet marketing manager, have united to create the world’s first gluten-free search engine. Gluten Free Fox, as it’s known, is still very new. You should not yet expect it to immediately meet your every single GF searching need, but what it can do already is very promising. As soon as you enter the site you are greeted with several interesting articles on gluten-free living. It’s easy to browse recipes; I have several unused sweet potatoes at home so I typed in “sweet potatoes” and immediately got several results for both recipes and products. Celiac.com, Gluten Free Mommy, and Karina’s Kitchen notably popped up several times. When I input “itchy skin” I received three informative articles from Allergy Gluten Show and pages more from other sources. But I know I’m easily impressed, so as a last test I typed in “persnickety” and I received two pages of articles (most from Gluten Free Girl)! That just shows what a wide-ranging and powerful search engine this is. Try it out for yourself, and enjoy.

Strong Link Between Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease

DNAA startling study has just been published that confirms a strong genetic link between celiac disease and type 1 diabetes. In both diseases, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells. In diabetics the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas are the target, while in celiacs the small intestine is attacked and inflamed. While scientists have known before that people with type 1 diabetes are much more likely to have celiac disease and vice versa, the new study shows that the diseases share a genetic link of at least “seven chromosomal regions.” This information brings scientists closer to understanding the triggers and underlying causes of both diseases. All you need to know? If you suffer from celiac disease or type 1 diabetics, it would be wise to be fully aware of the symptoms and treatments of the other disease.

For more information on this study, check out the Scientific American article here and the Web MD article here.

Blogger of the Month #4: Celiac Chicks

celiac chicks Kim and KellyKelly and Kim, the Celiac Chicks, met at work in NYC. Kelly had been eating gluten-free for 10 years and was doing great, while Kim didn’t feel so good. She tried Kelly’s diet for a while and as she put it, hello sunshine! These energetic women wanted a fun celiac community of their own, and Celiac Chicks was born. It really is a community. Readers are welcome to post entries about their experience with restaurants, and the Celiac Chicks focus on what others in the gluten-free community are doing. They review books, ask for feedback, post their own cooking experiments, draw attention to news important to the community, and even write about gluten-free living on non-celiac blogs (check out Kelly’s tips on Navigating Celebrations). They have a fantastic set of links, a newsletter, gorgeous photos, their own line of clothing, and a well-organized website. Their most unexpected articles concern Finland, Land of Gluten-free Paradise. Check out their “hip and healthy” site, although be forewarned: many of the so-called healthy recipes seem to be dessert! Not that I mind.