Gluten-Free Foods Only Cure for Celiac Disease, Gluten Allergies

It’s been 16 years since Craig Franzblau was diagnosed with celiac disease, but he still remembers very well the “pain and discomfort” leading up to the diagnosis.

Gluten Free Snacks“Specifically, there were a few brutal moments where I was in such incredible GI discomfort that my family found me in my bedroom curled up in a ball on the floor under my desk in violent pain. I was unable to stand up without the encouragement and help of my parents,” he said. “That’s when they knew this was much more serious than my previous lactose intolerance diagnosis.”

Franzblau is among the one percent of the U.S. population diagnosed with celiac disease.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune digestive disease of the small intestine that interferes with the absorption of nutrients. The condition is triggered by the consumption of a protein called gluten, found in wheat, barley and rye.

Research estimates that 83 percent of Americans who have celiac disease are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions and that 18 million Americans have non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

There are three types of people who benefit from a gluten-free diet: those like Franzblau who have celiac disease, those who have a wheat allergy and those who are gluten intolerant. Symptoms, in response to gluten consumption, of all three types include bloating, abdominal discomfort or pain, diarrhea, muscular disturbances and bone or joint pain.

What Foods Are Gluten Free?

Extend Nutrition, a healthy snack company, offers 17 gluten-free flavors, including a gluten free protein bar, that are helpful for all three types of people who avoid gluten. In addition to being gluten free, Extend Nutrition snacks are clinically proven to help control blood sugar.

“We recognize the need for healthy, gluten-free snacks and foods, and have a line that is both gluten-free and healthy,” said Jonathan Lindberg, Extend Nutrition outreach manager. The snacks, created by Dr. Francine Kaufman, are continually tested for gluten as part of their quality assurance program.

The company recently confirmed that all 17 flavors are gluten free: seven flavors of a gluten free protein bar (Extend Bars), five flavors of baked soy crisps (Extend Crisps), two flavors of baked soy crisps with a low glycemic drizzle topping (Extend Drizzles) and three flavors of protein shake pouches (Extend Shakes).

How Does Extend Determine What Foods are Gluten Free?

Benefits of Gluten Free Snacks“In our gluten-free testing, we go one step further than the FDA recommended guideline (20 parts per million) and use a test that can detect gluten levels as low as 10 parts per million,” Lindberg said.

“Our tests confirm the safety of our snacks for celiac patients and people with a wheat allergy who follow a strict diet of foods avoiding gluten.”

This type of testing and quality assurance is important because there are no pharmaceutical cures for celiac disease or gluten intolerance. A 100-percent gluten-free diet is the only existing treatment for celiac today.

Franzblau said his own road to recovery has called for a “comprehensive food education of gluten-free living.” He is used to reading labels, asking questions and being his own best advocate.

His advice to others with celiac disease/gluten intolerance is to do the same. He recommends self-education to determine what foods are gluten free.

“Take classes on food history and food ingredients because the learning curve must be fast,” he said. “Also include your family and close friends in this process because chances are they are not eating healthy in general, no offense.”

Franzblau practices what he preaches. He says he has had no “accidents’ in the 16 years since his diagnosis.

“It is important to live free though,” he said, noting that people diagnosed with celiac disease get a “second chance” at life. “Even out your Yin and Yang with your newfound food education and get regular exercise.”

Updated: 7/19/2013