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Pro Perspective: What Every Parent Should Know About Gluten

In the movie This Is the End, Seth Rogen gave us the perfect pop culture definition of gluten:

“Whenever you feel sh---y, that’s because of gluten . . . Gluten is a vague term. It’s something that’s used to categorize things that are bad. Ya know? Calories: that’s a gluten. Fat: that’s a gluten.”

Here at The Family Thrive, we’re going to give you the perfect evidence-based definition of gluten, and explain what you as a parent need to know about it.

What is gluten?

Gluten (or “gliaden”) is a protein found in the germ of the grains of wheat, barley, and rye.

Why should parents care about gluten?

Up to 6% of the population in Western countries have a gluten-related disorder (GRD), which means that their bodies have some level of an abnormal response when they eat food with gluten.

By understanding what the symptoms of GRDs are and how best to respond to milder cases, parents can manage symptoms that are too mild to get a diagnosis of a serious GRD like celiac disease.

What are gluten-related disorders (GRDs) and how are they each different?

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) isn’t an allergy and can’t be diagnosed like other GRDs because there’s not detectable immune system response in the blood. You or your child could have some of the same gastrointestinal symptoms that a person with wheat allergy or celiac has, but damage doesn’t usually appear in the small intestine and blood tests come back negative.

Wheat allergy (WA) is the result of an immune reaction to proteins in wheat and can be diagnosed by finding antibodies in the blood called “Immunoglobin E (IgE).” There are 18 different proteins in wheat that can cause a problem, gluten being just one of them. An antibody tags the wheat as a foreign item so that the immune system can remember it, attack it, and ward off any future invasion. With Wheat Allergy, the body mistakenly thinks that the wheat protein is an invader that needs to be attacked. The reaction happens within minutes to hours after wheat protein is consumed.

Celiac disease (CD) is an inherited autoimmune disorder. This means that the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy tissues. The immune system attacks gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, but it also mistakenly attacks the body’s own healthy tissue in the gut. This involves a different part of the immune system than the antibody IgE related to wheat allergy. However, a person can have both Wheat Allergy and Celiac and actually test positive for both. This autoimmune reaction can cause harm to the otherwise healthy small intestine tissues anywhere from days to weeks after ingestion.

What are the signs and symptoms of a GRD?

For all three conditions, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, and constipation may be present. Joint pain can also be implicated in these disorders.

Additional symptoms:

  • NCGS: In addition to nausea, vomiting, and other GI complaints, fatigue, and mental cloudiness (including ADHD-like behavior) are often reported.
  • WA: Immediate reactions that range from mild (rashes, hives, itching, swelling, etc.) to severe (trouble breathing, wheezing, loss of consciousness, etc.) and can even be fatal.
  • CD: There are many body systems affected including the brain and nervous system (recurring headaches, decreased sensation in hands and feet, anxiety, panic attacks, depression), itchy skin rash, and arthritis may occur as well (FASANO, 2012).

How Are GRDs diagnosed?

  • NCGS: As of now, the best method available to determine this sensitivity is to withhold gluten products, with a monitored re-introduction to evaluate for return of symptoms.
  • WA: A food allergist may use skin prick tests to help diagnose. Usually, the skin on the back is pricked and a small amount of the protein is inserted. If redness and swelling happen at the site, they are measured for significance.
  • CD: As of now, the gold standard for diagnosing Celiac Disease is a small bowel biopsy where damage to the small intestine can be seen under a microscope. A newer proposed diagnosis includes genotyping as well.

What’s the chance that I or my kids have a GRD?

We know that gluten-related disorders have a global prevalence of about 5% of the population. We also know that all GRDs are on the rise. For example, researchers estimate that in the last 22 years, the rates for celiac disease have risen from 5.9 in 100,000 people to 19.1, close to tripling. Diagnosis is twice as high in females than in males, and it is hereditary; if a parent has it, their child has a 1 in 10 chance of getting it too.

Other risk factors for GRDs include the association between celiac disease and other autoimmune disorders including type 1 diabetes and thyroid conditions. About 25% of patients with autoimmune diseases have a tendency to develop additional autoimmune diseases. There is also a high association between the genetic variances HLADQ2 and HLADQ8 and the incidence of celiac.

What can we do about GRDs?

Right now, gluten avoidance is the only established method to treat any of the GRDs. Those with true celiac disease must be very strict about gluten avoidance including avoiding all forms of cross-contamination and lowering exposure all the way down to less than 20 parts per million.

Eating out

Allergy Eats and Celiac.org are helpful guides to dining out and social eating, and this app is a gluten-free restaurant locator. Today, any large restaurant chains have come up with dedicated gluten-free menus including PF Chang’s, BJ’s, Outback Steakhouse, and Bonefish Grill.

Grocery shopping

Thankfully, there are now entire aisles devoted to allergy-friendly foods in most grocery stores, along with third-party agencies who are providing their “stamp of approval” to protect consumers (see the Gluten-Free Certification Organization for examples of stamps).

In addition to the basic grocery stores that carry allergy-friendly manufacturers (like Sprouts, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe's), there is also an online grocery store called “Thrive Market” that seeks to fill the gap for the allergenic community and provide allergen-friendly brands at attractive prices.

Find what works for your situation

NCGS sufferers likely have a more individualized response and differ in their ability to handle different amounts of gluten, or even find that they can tolerate fermented gluten-containing products (such as a three-day fermented sourdough). Some varieties of wheat also have a much lower gluten protein content than others (such as ancient wheat hybrids like Emmer, Kamut, and Einkorn).

Healing the gut

GRDs can damage the small intestine, which can result in poor absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) and B Vitamins. Healing and repairing the gut with probiotics, fiber, and possibly L-glutamine or mucilaginous herbs is one tool to aid recovery from the damage caused by these disorders. Following a Fierce Foods eating pattern with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and high-quality protein and healthy fat is another important part of the healing process.

Making gluten-free delicious

The key to successfully avoiding gluten is finding delicious alternatives to gluten-containing kid-favorites. Check out these gluten-free recipes from The Family Thrive:

  • Instead of wheat crackers: Grain-Free Seed Granola Bars or Grain-Free Cheese Crackers
  • Instead of chips: Try cassava chips or cut veggies and use flavorful dips like Avocado Pepita Dip to add flavor
  • Instead of pasta: Cauliflower Mac'N’Cheese, Vegetable Zoodles in Pesto, or Zucchini Ravioli (or try Trader Joe's Cauliflower Gnocchi)
  • Instead of traditional cake: No-Bake Red Velvet Beet Cake Pops, or Energy Bites
  • Instead of traditional pancakes: Banana Pancakes or Lemon Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes (or try Autumn Gold or Purely Elizabeth grain-free baking mixes)
  • Instead of bread and tortillas: use apple slices (Apple Almond Butter Sandwiches) or lettuce wraps (Thai Beef Lettuce Wraps) (or try cassava or coconut fiber wraps)

Pro Perspective: What Every Parent Should Know About Gluten

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Pro Perspective: What Every Parent Should Know About Gluten

Family Thrive Expert Lexi Hall, RDN shares some facts about gluten, gluten-related disorders, and what parents can do about them

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Key takeaways

1

Parents should care about gluten because up to 6% of the population in Western countries have a gluten-related disorder

2

Learn about the signs and symptoms of gluten-related disorders and how they are diagnosed

3

The Family Thrive has some amazing gluten-free recipes (approved by Lexi) that your family can try!

Low hassle, high nutrition

Fierce Food: Easy

Fierce Food: Easy

50/50 mixes of powerful veggies and starchy favorites

Fierce Food: Balance

Fierce Food: Balance

Maximize nutrients, minimize sugar and starch

Fierce Food: Power

Fierce Food: Power

Ingredients

Kitchen Equipment

Ingredient Replacement

View replacement list (PDF)

Reading time:

7 minutes

In the movie This Is the End, Seth Rogen gave us the perfect pop culture definition of gluten:

“Whenever you feel sh---y, that’s because of gluten . . . Gluten is a vague term. It’s something that’s used to categorize things that are bad. Ya know? Calories: that’s a gluten. Fat: that’s a gluten.”

Here at The Family Thrive, we’re going to give you the perfect evidence-based definition of gluten, and explain what you as a parent need to know about it.

What is gluten?

Gluten (or “gliaden”) is a protein found in the germ of the grains of wheat, barley, and rye.

Why should parents care about gluten?

Up to 6% of the population in Western countries have a gluten-related disorder (GRD), which means that their bodies have some level of an abnormal response when they eat food with gluten.

By understanding what the symptoms of GRDs are and how best to respond to milder cases, parents can manage symptoms that are too mild to get a diagnosis of a serious GRD like celiac disease.

What are gluten-related disorders (GRDs) and how are they each different?

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) isn’t an allergy and can’t be diagnosed like other GRDs because there’s not detectable immune system response in the blood. You or your child could have some of the same gastrointestinal symptoms that a person with wheat allergy or celiac has, but damage doesn’t usually appear in the small intestine and blood tests come back negative.

Wheat allergy (WA) is the result of an immune reaction to proteins in wheat and can be diagnosed by finding antibodies in the blood called “Immunoglobin E (IgE).” There are 18 different proteins in wheat that can cause a problem, gluten being just one of them. An antibody tags the wheat as a foreign item so that the immune system can remember it, attack it, and ward off any future invasion. With Wheat Allergy, the body mistakenly thinks that the wheat protein is an invader that needs to be attacked. The reaction happens within minutes to hours after wheat protein is consumed.

Celiac disease (CD) is an inherited autoimmune disorder. This means that the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy tissues. The immune system attacks gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, but it also mistakenly attacks the body’s own healthy tissue in the gut. This involves a different part of the immune system than the antibody IgE related to wheat allergy. However, a person can have both Wheat Allergy and Celiac and actually test positive for both. This autoimmune reaction can cause harm to the otherwise healthy small intestine tissues anywhere from days to weeks after ingestion.

What are the signs and symptoms of a GRD?

For all three conditions, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, and constipation may be present. Joint pain can also be implicated in these disorders.

Additional symptoms:

  • NCGS: In addition to nausea, vomiting, and other GI complaints, fatigue, and mental cloudiness (including ADHD-like behavior) are often reported.
  • WA: Immediate reactions that range from mild (rashes, hives, itching, swelling, etc.) to severe (trouble breathing, wheezing, loss of consciousness, etc.) and can even be fatal.
  • CD: There are many body systems affected including the brain and nervous system (recurring headaches, decreased sensation in hands and feet, anxiety, panic attacks, depression), itchy skin rash, and arthritis may occur as well (FASANO, 2012).

How Are GRDs diagnosed?

  • NCGS: As of now, the best method available to determine this sensitivity is to withhold gluten products, with a monitored re-introduction to evaluate for return of symptoms.
  • WA: A food allergist may use skin prick tests to help diagnose. Usually, the skin on the back is pricked and a small amount of the protein is inserted. If redness and swelling happen at the site, they are measured for significance.
  • CD: As of now, the gold standard for diagnosing Celiac Disease is a small bowel biopsy where damage to the small intestine can be seen under a microscope. A newer proposed diagnosis includes genotyping as well.

What’s the chance that I or my kids have a GRD?

We know that gluten-related disorders have a global prevalence of about 5% of the population. We also know that all GRDs are on the rise. For example, researchers estimate that in the last 22 years, the rates for celiac disease have risen from 5.9 in 100,000 people to 19.1, close to tripling. Diagnosis is twice as high in females than in males, and it is hereditary; if a parent has it, their child has a 1 in 10 chance of getting it too.

Other risk factors for GRDs include the association between celiac disease and other autoimmune disorders including type 1 diabetes and thyroid conditions. About 25% of patients with autoimmune diseases have a tendency to develop additional autoimmune diseases. There is also a high association between the genetic variances HLADQ2 and HLADQ8 and the incidence of celiac.

What can we do about GRDs?

Right now, gluten avoidance is the only established method to treat any of the GRDs. Those with true celiac disease must be very strict about gluten avoidance including avoiding all forms of cross-contamination and lowering exposure all the way down to less than 20 parts per million.

Eating out

Allergy Eats and Celiac.org are helpful guides to dining out and social eating, and this app is a gluten-free restaurant locator. Today, any large restaurant chains have come up with dedicated gluten-free menus including PF Chang’s, BJ’s, Outback Steakhouse, and Bonefish Grill.

Grocery shopping

Thankfully, there are now entire aisles devoted to allergy-friendly foods in most grocery stores, along with third-party agencies who are providing their “stamp of approval” to protect consumers (see the Gluten-Free Certification Organization for examples of stamps).

In addition to the basic grocery stores that carry allergy-friendly manufacturers (like Sprouts, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe's), there is also an online grocery store called “Thrive Market” that seeks to fill the gap for the allergenic community and provide allergen-friendly brands at attractive prices.

Find what works for your situation

NCGS sufferers likely have a more individualized response and differ in their ability to handle different amounts of gluten, or even find that they can tolerate fermented gluten-containing products (such as a three-day fermented sourdough). Some varieties of wheat also have a much lower gluten protein content than others (such as ancient wheat hybrids like Emmer, Kamut, and Einkorn).

Healing the gut

GRDs can damage the small intestine, which can result in poor absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) and B Vitamins. Healing and repairing the gut with probiotics, fiber, and possibly L-glutamine or mucilaginous herbs is one tool to aid recovery from the damage caused by these disorders. Following a Fierce Foods eating pattern with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and high-quality protein and healthy fat is another important part of the healing process.

Making gluten-free delicious

The key to successfully avoiding gluten is finding delicious alternatives to gluten-containing kid-favorites. Check out these gluten-free recipes from The Family Thrive:

  • Instead of wheat crackers: Grain-Free Seed Granola Bars or Grain-Free Cheese Crackers
  • Instead of chips: Try cassava chips or cut veggies and use flavorful dips like Avocado Pepita Dip to add flavor
  • Instead of pasta: Cauliflower Mac'N’Cheese, Vegetable Zoodles in Pesto, or Zucchini Ravioli (or try Trader Joe's Cauliflower Gnocchi)
  • Instead of traditional cake: No-Bake Red Velvet Beet Cake Pops, or Energy Bites
  • Instead of traditional pancakes: Banana Pancakes or Lemon Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes (or try Autumn Gold or Purely Elizabeth grain-free baking mixes)
  • Instead of bread and tortillas: use apple slices (Apple Almond Butter Sandwiches) or lettuce wraps (Thai Beef Lettuce Wraps) (or try cassava or coconut fiber wraps)

In the movie This Is the End, Seth Rogen gave us the perfect pop culture definition of gluten:

“Whenever you feel sh---y, that’s because of gluten . . . Gluten is a vague term. It’s something that’s used to categorize things that are bad. Ya know? Calories: that’s a gluten. Fat: that’s a gluten.”

Here at The Family Thrive, we’re going to give you the perfect evidence-based definition of gluten, and explain what you as a parent need to know about it.

What is gluten?

Gluten (or “gliaden”) is a protein found in the germ of the grains of wheat, barley, and rye.

Why should parents care about gluten?

Up to 6% of the population in Western countries have a gluten-related disorder (GRD), which means that their bodies have some level of an abnormal response when they eat food with gluten.

By understanding what the symptoms of GRDs are and how best to respond to milder cases, parents can manage symptoms that are too mild to get a diagnosis of a serious GRD like celiac disease.

What are gluten-related disorders (GRDs) and how are they each different?

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) isn’t an allergy and can’t be diagnosed like other GRDs because there’s not detectable immune system response in the blood. You or your child could have some of the same gastrointestinal symptoms that a person with wheat allergy or celiac has, but damage doesn’t usually appear in the small intestine and blood tests come back negative.

Wheat allergy (WA) is the result of an immune reaction to proteins in wheat and can be diagnosed by finding antibodies in the blood called “Immunoglobin E (IgE).” There are 18 different proteins in wheat that can cause a problem, gluten being just one of them. An antibody tags the wheat as a foreign item so that the immune system can remember it, attack it, and ward off any future invasion. With Wheat Allergy, the body mistakenly thinks that the wheat protein is an invader that needs to be attacked. The reaction happens within minutes to hours after wheat protein is consumed.

Celiac disease (CD) is an inherited autoimmune disorder. This means that the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy tissues. The immune system attacks gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, but it also mistakenly attacks the body’s own healthy tissue in the gut. This involves a different part of the immune system than the antibody IgE related to wheat allergy. However, a person can have both Wheat Allergy and Celiac and actually test positive for both. This autoimmune reaction can cause harm to the otherwise healthy small intestine tissues anywhere from days to weeks after ingestion.

What are the signs and symptoms of a GRD?

For all three conditions, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, and constipation may be present. Joint pain can also be implicated in these disorders.

Additional symptoms:

  • NCGS: In addition to nausea, vomiting, and other GI complaints, fatigue, and mental cloudiness (including ADHD-like behavior) are often reported.
  • WA: Immediate reactions that range from mild (rashes, hives, itching, swelling, etc.) to severe (trouble breathing, wheezing, loss of consciousness, etc.) and can even be fatal.
  • CD: There are many body systems affected including the brain and nervous system (recurring headaches, decreased sensation in hands and feet, anxiety, panic attacks, depression), itchy skin rash, and arthritis may occur as well (FASANO, 2012).

How Are GRDs diagnosed?

  • NCGS: As of now, the best method available to determine this sensitivity is to withhold gluten products, with a monitored re-introduction to evaluate for return of symptoms.
  • WA: A food allergist may use skin prick tests to help diagnose. Usually, the skin on the back is pricked and a small amount of the protein is inserted. If redness and swelling happen at the site, they are measured for significance.
  • CD: As of now, the gold standard for diagnosing Celiac Disease is a small bowel biopsy where damage to the small intestine can be seen under a microscope. A newer proposed diagnosis includes genotyping as well.

What’s the chance that I or my kids have a GRD?

We know that gluten-related disorders have a global prevalence of about 5% of the population. We also know that all GRDs are on the rise. For example, researchers estimate that in the last 22 years, the rates for celiac disease have risen from 5.9 in 100,000 people to 19.1, close to tripling. Diagnosis is twice as high in females than in males, and it is hereditary; if a parent has it, their child has a 1 in 10 chance of getting it too.

Other risk factors for GRDs include the association between celiac disease and other autoimmune disorders including type 1 diabetes and thyroid conditions. About 25% of patients with autoimmune diseases have a tendency to develop additional autoimmune diseases. There is also a high association between the genetic variances HLADQ2 and HLADQ8 and the incidence of celiac.

What can we do about GRDs?

Right now, gluten avoidance is the only established method to treat any of the GRDs. Those with true celiac disease must be very strict about gluten avoidance including avoiding all forms of cross-contamination and lowering exposure all the way down to less than 20 parts per million.

Eating out

Allergy Eats and Celiac.org are helpful guides to dining out and social eating, and this app is a gluten-free restaurant locator. Today, any large restaurant chains have come up with dedicated gluten-free menus including PF Chang’s, BJ’s, Outback Steakhouse, and Bonefish Grill.

Grocery shopping

Thankfully, there are now entire aisles devoted to allergy-friendly foods in most grocery stores, along with third-party agencies who are providing their “stamp of approval” to protect consumers (see the Gluten-Free Certification Organization for examples of stamps).

In addition to the basic grocery stores that carry allergy-friendly manufacturers (like Sprouts, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe's), there is also an online grocery store called “Thrive Market” that seeks to fill the gap for the allergenic community and provide allergen-friendly brands at attractive prices.

Find what works for your situation

NCGS sufferers likely have a more individualized response and differ in their ability to handle different amounts of gluten, or even find that they can tolerate fermented gluten-containing products (such as a three-day fermented sourdough). Some varieties of wheat also have a much lower gluten protein content than others (such as ancient wheat hybrids like Emmer, Kamut, and Einkorn).

Healing the gut

GRDs can damage the small intestine, which can result in poor absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) and B Vitamins. Healing and repairing the gut with probiotics, fiber, and possibly L-glutamine or mucilaginous herbs is one tool to aid recovery from the damage caused by these disorders. Following a Fierce Foods eating pattern with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and high-quality protein and healthy fat is another important part of the healing process.

Making gluten-free delicious

The key to successfully avoiding gluten is finding delicious alternatives to gluten-containing kid-favorites. Check out these gluten-free recipes from The Family Thrive:

  • Instead of wheat crackers: Grain-Free Seed Granola Bars or Grain-Free Cheese Crackers
  • Instead of chips: Try cassava chips or cut veggies and use flavorful dips like Avocado Pepita Dip to add flavor
  • Instead of pasta: Cauliflower Mac'N’Cheese, Vegetable Zoodles in Pesto, or Zucchini Ravioli (or try Trader Joe's Cauliflower Gnocchi)
  • Instead of traditional cake: No-Bake Red Velvet Beet Cake Pops, or Energy Bites
  • Instead of traditional pancakes: Banana Pancakes or Lemon Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes (or try Autumn Gold or Purely Elizabeth grain-free baking mixes)
  • Instead of bread and tortillas: use apple slices (Apple Almond Butter Sandwiches) or lettuce wraps (Thai Beef Lettuce Wraps) (or try cassava or coconut fiber wraps)

In the movie This Is the End, Seth Rogen gave us the perfect pop culture definition of gluten:

“Whenever you feel sh---y, that’s because of gluten . . . Gluten is a vague term. It’s something that’s used to categorize things that are bad. Ya know? Calories: that’s a gluten. Fat: that’s a gluten.”

Here at The Family Thrive, we’re going to give you the perfect evidence-based definition of gluten, and explain what you as a parent need to know about it.

What is gluten?

Gluten (or “gliaden”) is a protein found in the germ of the grains of wheat, barley, and rye.

Why should parents care about gluten?

Up to 6% of the population in Western countries have a gluten-related disorder (GRD), which means that their bodies have some level of an abnormal response when they eat food with gluten.

By understanding what the symptoms of GRDs are and how best to respond to milder cases, parents can manage symptoms that are too mild to get a diagnosis of a serious GRD like celiac disease.

What are gluten-related disorders (GRDs) and how are they each different?

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) isn’t an allergy and can’t be diagnosed like other GRDs because there’s not detectable immune system response in the blood. You or your child could have some of the same gastrointestinal symptoms that a person with wheat allergy or celiac has, but damage doesn’t usually appear in the small intestine and blood tests come back negative.

Wheat allergy (WA) is the result of an immune reaction to proteins in wheat and can be diagnosed by finding antibodies in the blood called “Immunoglobin E (IgE).” There are 18 different proteins in wheat that can cause a problem, gluten being just one of them. An antibody tags the wheat as a foreign item so that the immune system can remember it, attack it, and ward off any future invasion. With Wheat Allergy, the body mistakenly thinks that the wheat protein is an invader that needs to be attacked. The reaction happens within minutes to hours after wheat protein is consumed.

Celiac disease (CD) is an inherited autoimmune disorder. This means that the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy tissues. The immune system attacks gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, but it also mistakenly attacks the body’s own healthy tissue in the gut. This involves a different part of the immune system than the antibody IgE related to wheat allergy. However, a person can have both Wheat Allergy and Celiac and actually test positive for both. This autoimmune reaction can cause harm to the otherwise healthy small intestine tissues anywhere from days to weeks after ingestion.

What are the signs and symptoms of a GRD?

For all three conditions, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, and constipation may be present. Joint pain can also be implicated in these disorders.

Additional symptoms:

  • NCGS: In addition to nausea, vomiting, and other GI complaints, fatigue, and mental cloudiness (including ADHD-like behavior) are often reported.
  • WA: Immediate reactions that range from mild (rashes, hives, itching, swelling, etc.) to severe (trouble breathing, wheezing, loss of consciousness, etc.) and can even be fatal.
  • CD: There are many body systems affected including the brain and nervous system (recurring headaches, decreased sensation in hands and feet, anxiety, panic attacks, depression), itchy skin rash, and arthritis may occur as well (FASANO, 2012).

How Are GRDs diagnosed?

  • NCGS: As of now, the best method available to determine this sensitivity is to withhold gluten products, with a monitored re-introduction to evaluate for return of symptoms.
  • WA: A food allergist may use skin prick tests to help diagnose. Usually, the skin on the back is pricked and a small amount of the protein is inserted. If redness and swelling happen at the site, they are measured for significance.
  • CD: As of now, the gold standard for diagnosing Celiac Disease is a small bowel biopsy where damage to the small intestine can be seen under a microscope. A newer proposed diagnosis includes genotyping as well.

What’s the chance that I or my kids have a GRD?

We know that gluten-related disorders have a global prevalence of about 5% of the population. We also know that all GRDs are on the rise. For example, researchers estimate that in the last 22 years, the rates for celiac disease have risen from 5.9 in 100,000 people to 19.1, close to tripling. Diagnosis is twice as high in females than in males, and it is hereditary; if a parent has it, their child has a 1 in 10 chance of getting it too.

Other risk factors for GRDs include the association between celiac disease and other autoimmune disorders including type 1 diabetes and thyroid conditions. About 25% of patients with autoimmune diseases have a tendency to develop additional autoimmune diseases. There is also a high association between the genetic variances HLADQ2 and HLADQ8 and the incidence of celiac.

What can we do about GRDs?

Right now, gluten avoidance is the only established method to treat any of the GRDs. Those with true celiac disease must be very strict about gluten avoidance including avoiding all forms of cross-contamination and lowering exposure all the way down to less than 20 parts per million.

Eating out

Allergy Eats and Celiac.org are helpful guides to dining out and social eating, and this app is a gluten-free restaurant locator. Today, any large restaurant chains have come up with dedicated gluten-free menus including PF Chang’s, BJ’s, Outback Steakhouse, and Bonefish Grill.

Grocery shopping

Thankfully, there are now entire aisles devoted to allergy-friendly foods in most grocery stores, along with third-party agencies who are providing their “stamp of approval” to protect consumers (see the Gluten-Free Certification Organization for examples of stamps).

In addition to the basic grocery stores that carry allergy-friendly manufacturers (like Sprouts, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe's), there is also an online grocery store called “Thrive Market” that seeks to fill the gap for the allergenic community and provide allergen-friendly brands at attractive prices.

Find what works for your situation

NCGS sufferers likely have a more individualized response and differ in their ability to handle different amounts of gluten, or even find that they can tolerate fermented gluten-containing products (such as a three-day fermented sourdough). Some varieties of wheat also have a much lower gluten protein content than others (such as ancient wheat hybrids like Emmer, Kamut, and Einkorn).

Healing the gut

GRDs can damage the small intestine, which can result in poor absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) and B Vitamins. Healing and repairing the gut with probiotics, fiber, and possibly L-glutamine or mucilaginous herbs is one tool to aid recovery from the damage caused by these disorders. Following a Fierce Foods eating pattern with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and high-quality protein and healthy fat is another important part of the healing process.

Making gluten-free delicious

The key to successfully avoiding gluten is finding delicious alternatives to gluten-containing kid-favorites. Check out these gluten-free recipes from The Family Thrive:

  • Instead of wheat crackers: Grain-Free Seed Granola Bars or Grain-Free Cheese Crackers
  • Instead of chips: Try cassava chips or cut veggies and use flavorful dips like Avocado Pepita Dip to add flavor
  • Instead of pasta: Cauliflower Mac'N’Cheese, Vegetable Zoodles in Pesto, or Zucchini Ravioli (or try Trader Joe's Cauliflower Gnocchi)
  • Instead of traditional cake: No-Bake Red Velvet Beet Cake Pops, or Energy Bites
  • Instead of traditional pancakes: Banana Pancakes or Lemon Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes (or try Autumn Gold or Purely Elizabeth grain-free baking mixes)
  • Instead of bread and tortillas: use apple slices (Apple Almond Butter Sandwiches) or lettuce wraps (Thai Beef Lettuce Wraps) (or try cassava or coconut fiber wraps)

Enjoying this? Subscribe to The Family Thrive for more healthy recipes, video classes, and more.

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New Research: One science-backed trick for parents to build stronger muscles

By

The Family Thrive Expert Team

New Research: Parent intimacy may reduce adolescent depression

Podcast

New Research: Parent intimacy may reduce adolescent depression

By

The Family Thrive Expert Team

New Research: High-carb meals activate brain areas associated with addiction and hunger

Podcast

New Research: High-carb meals activate brain areas associated with addiction and hunger

By

The Family Thrive Expert Team

New Research Tuesday: One More Reason to Avoid Pop Tarts, Cheez-Its, and Other Processed Snacks

Podcast

New Research Tuesday: One More Reason to Avoid Pop Tarts, Cheez-Its, and Other Processed Snacks

By

The Family Thrive Expert Team

New Research: Micronutrients in colorful fruits & vegetables linked to improved brain health

Podcast

New Research: Micronutrients in colorful fruits & vegetables linked to improved brain health

By

The Family Thrive Expert Team

New Research: Probiotics improve body weight, body fat, and heart health in adults

Podcast

New Research: Probiotics improve body weight, body fat, and heart health in adults

By

The Family Thrive Expert Team

Ask the Experts: Should my Teen Have a Cellphone?

Podcast

Ask the Experts: Should my Teen Have a Cellphone?

By

The Family Thrive Expert Team

Preparing to thrive before the baby arrives: Three steps to support new moms’ mental and emotional health

Pro Perspective

Preparing to thrive before the baby arrives: Three steps to support new moms’ mental and emotional health

By

Bridget Cross, LCSW, PMH-C

Podcast Ep. 21: Thriving Through the Teen Years with Jena Curtis, EdD, and Vanessa Baker, Parent-Teen Relationship Coach

Podcasts

Podcast Ep. 21: Thriving Through the Teen Years with Jena Curtis, EdD, and Vanessa Baker, Parent-Teen Relationship Coach

By

The Family Thrive Podcast

Parenting Is the Spiritual Practice the World Needs Right Now

Pro Perspective

Parenting Is the Spiritual Practice the World Needs Right Now

By

Justin Wilford, PhD

New Research: One science-backed trick for parents to build stronger muscles

New Research Tuesday

New Research: One science-backed trick for parents to build stronger muscles

By

The Family Thrive Expert Team

New Research: Parent intimacy may reduce adolescent depression

New Research Tuesday

New Research: Parent intimacy may reduce adolescent depression

By

The Family Thrive Expert Team

New Research: High-carb meals activate brain areas associated with addiction and hunger

New Research Tuesday

New Research: High-carb meals activate brain areas associated with addiction and hunger

By

The Family Thrive Expert Team

New Research Tuesday: One More Reason to Avoid Pop Tarts, Cheez-Its, and Other Processed Snacks

New Research Tuesday

New Research Tuesday: One More Reason to Avoid Pop Tarts, Cheez-Its, and Other Processed Snacks

By

The Family Thrive Expert Team

New Research: Micronutrients in colorful fruits & vegetables linked to improved brain health

New Research Tuesday

New Research: Micronutrients in colorful fruits & vegetables linked to improved brain health

By

The Family Thrive Expert Team

New Research: Probiotics improve body weight, body fat, and heart health in adults

New Research Tuesday

New Research: Probiotics improve body weight, body fat, and heart health in adults

By

The Family Thrive Expert Team

Ask the Experts: Should my Teen Have a Cellphone?

Pro Perspective

Ask the Experts: Should my Teen Have a Cellphone?

By

The Family Thrive Expert Team

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