Gluten-free foods are trendy. As noted in a story I wrote last week, new gluten-free products are streaming into the marketplace. But if you do not have a gluten intolerance or celiac disease – or don’t know you have an issue digesting this sometimes pesky protein – why would you care about gluten-free products?
First, let’s take a look at the symptoms of celiac and define what celiac disease is. According to the Celiac Diease Foundation, celiac disease “is a serious autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. … Two and one-half million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications.”
Though some celiacs are asymptomatic, classic symptoms of celiac can include everything from fatigue and joint pain, to abdominal bloating and acid reflux. Headaches or a “foggy mind” can indicate a sensitivity to wheat and gluten even if no celiac has been diagnosed. And most of us have experienced brain fog at one time or another. And gluten can trigger inflammation which perhaps explains why the market research company, NDP Group, which has been polling adults about their gluten intake since 2009, recently recorded 30% of adults who said they want to cut down on or be free from gluten.
Gluten-free Foods are Getting Healthier
Many people who ditch gluten replace gluten-bearing foods with less nutritious alternatives. For example, whole wheat bread contains more fiber, vitamins and minerals than many gluten-free breads which contain little more than simple carbohydrates. New gluten-free products, however, recognize the nutrition deficit and are finding ways to build better nutrition into traditional gluten products. Explore Cuisine recently launched a line of pastas made from pulses and beans. Loaded with plant-based protein, Organic Chickpea Fusilli boasts 11 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and 15% of the daily requirement for iron. Not too shabby.
Trend of Healthy Convenience
Protein poppers are ready to make a splash as more consumers look for healthy – and gluten-free – convenience foods. A step beyond bars, poppers are often smaller than bars but also use nuts as their primary source of protein. Marifit recently launched a line of gluten-free energy bars and protein poppers that are loaded with nutritious ingredients such as freshly ground flax seed and gluten-free rolled oats. Marifit’s certified gluten-free Vegan Coconut Protein Poppers infused with Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) to help vegans optimize their protein intake.
No Need to Give Up Taste for Good Health
As more consumers seek healthful, convenient snacks, more companies are accommodating them with products that are not only suited to a snacking lifestyle but serve up a robust helping of nutrition. Celiac or not, the options for great-tasting, nutritious food are more available than ever. Celiacs and those seeking a gluten-free lifestyle no longer need to sacrifice taste for good health.
Are you celiac, gluten intolerant or have you been celebrating Celiac Awareness Month? What new products excite you?