May is Celiac Awareness Month
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an auto-immune response, typically in the small intestine, triggered by eating gluten. When the body senses gluten in someone with celiac disease, it see's gluten as a toxin and the body wages war on itself, causing the immune cells to attack the body resulting in inflammation. This reaction can damage the intestinal lining and prevent the absorption of certain nutrients over time. If you have celiac disease, as long as you continue to eat food containing gluten, your body will have an immune reaction and continue to cause damage.
Approximately 1.0% of the population in both Canada and the United States are diagnosed with celiac disease (approx. 1 in 114 people). An estimated 90% of celiac disease cases remain undiagnosed. Although there is no cure for celiac disease, following a strict gluten-free diet can help decrease symptoms dramatically. Always speak to a medical doctor or registered dietician before starting a gluten-free diet.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley & triticale. Gluten is a glue-like binder that adds a stretchy like quality to foods and helps them hold their shape. There are many gluten-containing foods and ingredients, such as malt, coucous, spelt, graham, durum, semolina, farro, and some flavourings.
Gluten is commonly found in breads, pasta, cereal, cookies, beer and baked goods. Gluten can also be found in more surprising foods like salad dressings, sauces, soups, food colouring, candy, lunch meat, soy sauce, imitation fish, non-dairy creamer, even toothpaste and medications can contain a gluten derivative.
What many people don't talk about is cross-contamination. Some foods that don't contain gluten, like most oats, are typically processed in a facility that processes wheat, resulting in cross-contamination. Cross-contamination is a crucial issue that can be overlooked. Food manufacturers and restaurants need to have proper sanitation procedures to ensure a gluten-free product is safe for celiac' s and those with gluten sensitivity.
Homemade foods can easily become cross-contaminated. A cutting board that previously had bread on it, butter that contains bread crumbs, utensils, the toaster, fryers and grills are all common points of cross-contamination. A few crumbs on a baking tray or specks of wheat flour on a kitchen counter could be harmful to those with celiac disease.
If you're preparing a gluten-free food, it's always important to remember to make gluten-free foods first, on a clean surface with clean tools and store the finished products separately from anything that may contain gluten.
Piccola Cucina - A Gluten-Free, Almond First Bakery
At Piccola Cucina, we believe delicious and healthy foods shouldn't be hard to find. We also understand the importance of providing safe, allergy-friendly foods. All of our sourced ingredients are gluten-free through allergy declarations, statements of guarantee, or testing requirements from our suppliers. Our bakery is a dedicated gluten-free and dairy-free facility testing negative under 15 PPM (parts per million) for gluten. We use limited, high-quality ingredients to create our gluten-free almond-based Macaroon Cookies, Pie Crust Shells, Flour & Wraps, ensuring our gluten-free customers have access to healthy and safe foods.
Want to learn more? Celiac.ca is a fantastic resource for those newly diagnosed or family & friends looking to learn more about the disease or to safely cook and bake for someone with celiac disease and gluten intolerance.
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