Wednesday, April 30, 2008


People who have lived with untreated celiac disease are at an above-average risk for osteoporosis. So it is a good idea to have one's bone density tested subsequent to a positive diagnosis for celiac disease.

If the patient turns out to have osteoporosis, it is likely that therapies will be considered. The very good news is that patients seem to have a very good track record rebuilding at least some bone density through a well-rounded gluten-free diet, supplementation, and exercise. However, physicians may also suggest medicinal therapy involving bisphosphonates such as Fosamax and Reclast.

Before beginning a regimen of such drugs, it is a good idea to thoroughly discuss the risks and benefits with an informed specialist. With Fosamax, there has been some concern over stress fractures and slow healing after continuing use of the drug for more than five years; with a drug such as Reclast, it seems that patients should be vetted for possible osteonecrosis of the jaw. And just this January, the FDA issued a warning about severe bone, joint, and/or muscle pain due to such bisphosphonates.

Furthermore, recent studies now suggest that women on Fosamax and Reclast may also risk atrial fibrillation.

There still may be good rationales for treating osteoporosis with these medications; it just seems to be a good idea to weigh the pluses and minuses while keeping in mind that, for people newly diagnosed with celiac disease as well as osteoporosis, simply adopting a gluten-free diet and getting appropriate nutrition can yield very good results.

As a layperson, I also find that general screening for osteoporosis looks better and better to me. In many cases, the condition seems to be more improvable the sooner it is detected, so I don't see the harm in getting baseline diagnoses early (even in one's twenties) and perhaps every ten years after that to heighten the chance of nipping the condition in the bud and perhaps reversing it before it becomes more serious. The same goes for celiac disease, especially among people who display risk factors such as chronic fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, and/or having a first or second degree relative who has been conventionally diagnosed. In both cases, early detection can lead to early, relatively simple treatment that leads to greater success with fewer medications.

Monday, April 28, 2008


As you might have read elsewhere, General Mills is now producing its popular Rice Chex cereal gluten-free, replacing barley malt syrup with molasses (and possibly saving money by avoiding rising barley prices that might make gf beer prices look a lot more reasonable). General Mills, which is now a sponsor of the Celiac Disease Foundation (CDF), even has a web page with gluten-free Rice Chex recipes.

Some old boxes of Rice Chex might still be on sale, so make sure that your Rice Chex cereal comes in a box clearly labeled "Gluten Free" on the front.

One of the benefits of Rice Chex cereal—besides its tastiness and widespread availability—is its nutritional content. Unlike many gluten-free cold cereals(but not all—see Perky O's), Rice Chex contains many vitamins and minerals due to fortification. It does not, however, contain a significant level of dietary fiber. And a single serving includes only 2g of protein. So you might want to supplement Rice Chex cereal (and other cereals) with foods that can round out its nutritional content.

In a very brief survey of local markets, I found the price of Rice Chex cereal to be somewhat varied. Coupons can make the purchase easier to swallow.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Ranked as one of New York's top doctors, Philip Kazlow is a pediatric gastroenterologist whose knowledge of celiac disease stems in part from his affiliation with the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University (CDCCU).

Here is an interview with Dr. Kazlow from Chicago's Taped With Rabbi Doug. The discussion covers a range of subjects before settling on celiac disease late in the video, around the 25:20 mark.

Of special interest are Dr. Kazlow's remarks on symptoms and manifestations: He talks about twins who both have celiac disease even though only one had noticeable symptoms. He also recognizes gluten sensitivity as opposed to celiac disease, saying that people who test negative for celiac disease may still benefit from being on a gluten-free diet.

Source (29:20)

Thursday, April 24, 2008


The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)—a nonprofit scientific society with 22,000 members working in food science, food technology, and related professions in industry, academia, and government—continues to recognize gluten-free food products as increasingly significant factors in food marketing in the United States.

In a recent news release (see here for a previous example), the IFT advances the notion that the perceived need for certain foods—including gluten-free foods—based on sensitivities, intolerances, and allergies is disproportionate to the medical need. But in generalizing that more people believe they are food sensitive/intolerant/allergic than medicine would say would have such problems, the release does not acknowledge the recognized finding that the opposite holds true for people with celiac disease. As the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) puts it: "Celiac affects 2.2 million people -- one in 133 Americans. An overwhelming 97% of the affected population are currently undiagnosed or misdiagnosed." To put it yet another way: In the United States alone, about 2 million people who should be gluten-free diets do not perceive that they need to be on such diets.

The occasion for the news release is the publication of "The Top 10 Functional Food Trends" [PDF], an article by Liz Sloan in the April 2008 issue of the IFT publication Food Techonology. IFT describes Sloan as the Contributing Editor and President of Sloan Trends and Solutions, a trending and market predictions firm focusing on the food industry.

The term "functional foods" refers to foods that may provide a health benefit beyond basic nutrition. The article, which describes the most promising trends in terms of food marketing, forecasts growth in the gluten-free market, notes significant shopper interest in gluten-free products, and notes that "gluten-free" is among the top 10 health claims found in U.S. menus.

References to the gluten-free food market come up under Trend 8: Sensitivity Training, a discussion of consumer concerns about food sensitivities. The discussion begins with an overview:
The number of adults who perceive that they, or their children, suffer from food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities continues to grow, creating lucrative markets, disproportionate to their true medical base. One in five (20%) of U.S. adults say they have a food "sensitivity;" 28% of parents report their child is afflicted (Mintel, 2007d).

With 70 million Americans suffering from digestive ailments, sensitive tummies represent an enormous functional food opportunity (NIDDK, 2007). Over one-third (37%) of consumers are very/extremely concerned about gastrointestinal (GI) issues, up 6% in the last two years (HealthFocus, 2007)....
Sloan goes on to portray gluten-free products as a growth industry and a significant concern among shoppers.
Gluten-free products are projected to grow from $870 million to $1.7 billion by 1010 (Packaged Facts, 2007b). In 2007, 16% of shoppers checked the label for gluten (FMI, 2007). Hain Celestial Group's new gluten-free line of frozen meals is fortified with the nutrients commonly deficient in gluten-free diets and has a prebiotic [sic] to aid digestion. Allergy Friend Foods LLC's Allergaroo entrees—free of all of the eight major allergens—come in shelf-stable microwaveable pouches in spaghetti, chili mac, and other flavors."
Regarding the menus, Sloan notes that "Vegetarian, vegan, low-carb, low-fat, gluten-free, light, organic, trans fat-free, natural, healthy, and low-calorie are the top 10 health claims on menus (Mintel Menu Insights, 2008)." As far as I can tell, that reflects a huge change over the past 5-10 years.

Also of interest: The article also states that "With almost 12 million men having low bone mass and 2 million with osteoporosis, a male bone-health market is fast approaching...." (Osteoporosis is common among men with undiagnosed celiac disease.)

And "Energy was the top reason consumers made a dietary change last year (Roper GfK, 2007)." (Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms among people with undiagnosed celiac disease.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Publisher's Weekly reports:
The View cohost Elisabeth Hasselbeck has signed a deal for The G-Free Diet, an all-inclusive survival guide to living gluten free; Sarah Sper at Center Street preempted world English rights in a major deal with Andrea Barzvi at ICM. The book is based on Hasselbeck's research as well as her own experience living with celiac disease. Pub date is May 2009.
Hasselbeck was on Survivor before she was on The View, so maybe that helps to explain the "all-inclusive survival guide" line.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


With Pope Benedict XVI visiting New York City, you might wonder what he has to do with gluten. Well, back when the Pope was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he issued statements in response to questions related to gluten and alcohol in the celebration of Mass.

As you (and I) may know, traditional Mass involves eating consecrated wheat hosts (i.e. wafers) and drinking consecrated wine. Questions seem to arise regularly with regard to whether non-wheat hosts or non-alcoholic liquids can be substituted for medical reasons. A recent example occurred in Spain. Here's a case that's closer to home.

Cardinal Ratzinger's position regarding the host—also the current church position—is that communion wafers, or altar bread, must be made of wheat and contain at least some gluten. (The position is spelled out in Q&A form here.) People wishing to take communion but concerned about wheat or gluten may choose to drink the wine only or use a special low-gluten wafer. (Makers of low-gluten altar bread include the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.) People who do not wish to ingest the bread and drink wine with at least a little bit of alcohol in it are advised to make a "spiritual communion."

Among the Catholics who have been concerned with this issue is Chris Spreitzer of the Catholic Celiac Society. Chris and her husband Mike also lead the Westchester Celiac Sprue Support Group.

Friday, April 18, 2008


You've seen Doctors of Tomorrow taking on celiac disease. Now you can see Nurses of Tomorrow (the Canadian version) taking on the same vital subject!

Source (1:53)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


The Gluten-Free NYC Boutique has goodies for the mamas...

...and goodies for the papas!

And here's a goodie from The Mamas and the Papas!!

Source (2:51)

Monday, April 14, 2008


See this?

Here's a close-up.

And look over here!

I took the above shots on Friday at the ShopRite of Morton Village in Plainview, Long Island. Weeks ago I found many gluten-free Kosher for Passover products at the very same location, but on this return visit I found even more gluten-free goodies. Many of the above products are gluten-free—and they're just a sampling of the supermarket's current gluten-free stock.

The bait that drew me back to the store: gluten-free frozen mini-eclairs that my mother had spotted. I tend to be skeptical about the quality of Kosher gluten-free foods...and the cream in the mini-eclairs wasn't really cream...but those frozen eclairs—from Frank's Gourmet Bakery—were good enough to win me over (especially when still unthawed) and pique my interest about what else I might find there.

The above shots show the displays that greeted me as I entered the store. Many (but not all) of the items were gluten-free (labeled as such or as "non-gebrokts"); many (but not all) of the latter were from Shabtai Gourmet. When I last covered Shabtai, I mentioned "a very decadent almond pasty marble cakey treat that I'm having trouble identifying" that I now know is the French Chocolate Coffee Cake. I have now also had my first experience with Shabtai's very sweet and moist Krakofsky Cookies, made with almonds and honey.

Moving deeper into the ShopRite, I found another zone of interest: the central freezer section. Making several passes through this area, I found the frozen mini-eclairs and Kedem non-gebrokts gefilte fish (not frozen) as well as a trove of other products including gluten-free Spring Valley Cheese Blintzes made by the MilMar Food Group of Goshen, New York.

The Spring Valley Cheese Blintzes were near these products (many of which were gluten-free).

It was around this point that my basket overflowed...

...and I had to get a shopping cart to hold all the gluten-free booty. I figured I had to seize the moment because the products might only be there for Passover.

So yeah: Keep an eye out for gluten-free foods that might only be available for the next couple of weeks or so. Your best bets will probably be stores that specialize in Kosher food or at least temporarily stock up with foods that are Kosher for Passover. Be open-minded about trying out the foods—don't expect them to uniformly excellent or especially nutritious. And keep in mind that many of the foods might be frozen, so that you might have to find a way to keep them from melting after you buy them.

And remember: Look for the labels "gluten-free" and "non-gebrokts." The label "Kosher for Passover" is not sufficient, as it might well be applied to a product made with traditional matzoh or matzoh meal, which contains gluten.

And if you are thinking about going to this particular ShopRite, keep in mind that there are even more gluten-free goodies elsewhere in Plainview, where Dr. B. Well Naturally, Get Healthy America, and Fairway can be found along Manetto Hill Road. And there's even a Trader Joe's nearby!

Photos: David Marc Fischer

Saturday, April 12, 2008


See Shereen, Maxine, and Christine make a pizza using Gluten-Free Celebrations by Carol Fenster of Savory Palate. Silly!

Source (7:21)

Thursday, April 10, 2008


The well-liked GFRAP restaurant Bistango is currently closed, as noted yesterday on the New York City Celiac Disease Meetup Group (NYCCDMG) message board.

Signs on the front indicate that the restaurant is undergoing renovations.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Starbucks started off as a well-loved local coffeehouse in Seattle and went on to become an international java behemoth, but I think there's still a lovable inner Starbucks somewhere in there—and I think that lovable inner Starbucks wants to do something to please the gluten-free masses.

As you might recall, Starbucks test-marketed a gluten-free brownie in New York City a year ago, and then, in October, seemed sincerely interested in offering gluten-free food.

Now Starbucks is again showing interest in offering gluten-free food. The company is soliciting input at its My Starbucks Idea website. So far there have been 130 comments on the subject, including this cue from a Starbucks Idea Partner:
Hi Gluten-Free Enthusiasts!

I am a Starbucks Idea Partner in Seattle and work on a team dedicated to bringing decicious[sic], healthy food and beverages to Starbucks.

Thank you for all of your comments - we hear you loud and clear!

To dive a little deeper...

What KINDS of foods would you most like to see? NOT brand names, just types of foods....

What kind of LUNCH ITEMS?
What kind of SNACKS?
What kind of BAKED ITEMS?

Looking forward to your responses!
So if you've got a suggestion, let Starbucks know! This could result in your being able to eat safely in more than 15,000 Starbucks stores in more than 40 countries!

Thanks to Celiac Chick Kelly for the lead.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


Congratulations to Sambuca, which is currently celebrating its 20th Anniversary!

Sambuca, which serves Italian food family-style, remains the only restaurant on Manhattan's Upper West Side to participate in the Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program (GFRAP). As part of the restaurant's anniversary celebration, it is offering 20% off of its wine list throughout April 2008.

Sambuca is located near Central Park at 20 West 72nd Street. Ravioli is one of the more recent additions to its gluten-free menu.

Friday, April 04, 2008


If you're looking for a place to be mid-October, you could do a lot worse than picking Melbourne, Australia—site of the third annual Irresistible Gluten Free Food Show.

To paraphrase Paul Hogan in Crocodile Dundee: "That's a gluten free food show!" Or at least that's how it seems on this video!

Source (6:26)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


For the record: The intro for David Letterman on April 1, 2008 called him "wheat and gluten-free."

Back in '06 Letterman made a similar reference.

Hard to tell if Letterman's serious...but he has seemed edgy around bread in the past. And around Martha Stewart, too.

Source (1:34)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008