What does it really mean to be Certified Gluten Free?
Today, the gluten-free craze is bigger than ever, reaching seemingly fad-like proportions. Some folks are gluten-free out of necessity; exposure to gluten with Celiac would be detrimental to their health. Others still are gluten-free by choice, deciding that it would be best for their individual wellness to avoid it. So what is gluten, and why does it affect certain people so much?
Here’s the 101:
Gluten is a protein. It exists in grains like barley, rye, oats, and most commonly in wheat. It acts like a glue in many different foods. In bread, it helps to give the dough elasticity and to build a structure so the dough can rise. It also provides a chewy texture. While most people can tolerate gluten, those with a gluten allergy or Celiac have adverse reactions.
Celiac disease is actually an autoimmune disease, meaning the immune systems that normally protect us, end up getting mixed signals and attacking the body instead. When someone with Celiac eats something with gluten in it, the immune system mistakenly flags it as “bad” and produces antibodies, acting as though it must fight off something harmful. Antibodies will cause numerous chain reactions in the body, leading to inflammation. Inflammation is very important when dealing with a pathogen invading the body, but when it is directed against the body’s own tissues it can be highly destructive. In the case of Celiac disease, it may cause the villi lining of the intestine (the part that absorbs nutrients) to become shorter and atrophied.
Most symptoms stem from the inflammatory reaction and the subsequent damage to the intestine preventing proper nutrient absorption. These symptoms can be relieved and damage may even be reversed if the individual with Celiac avoids gluten entirely.
The amount of gluten in food is measured in parts per million. A Gluten-Free Certification ensures that the product contains 20 parts per million or less. This is a low enough level that those with Celiac or a gluten allergy do not react. The certification involves strict separation of ingredients in storage, containment and sanitization procedures in the plant, and rigorous testing of food contact surfaces in the production plant.
Fruit is naturally gluten free (& delicious) but here at DeeBee’s Organics, we want to make sure that our products remain gluten-free throughout the entire production process for our friends with Celiac or gluten allergies.