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Gluten-free Snacks Gain Momentum During Allergy Awareness Month

St. Louis, MO (PRWEB) May 09, 2013

Craig Franblau takes gluten-free labels seriously and if he dines outs he makes sure the restaurant guarantees that the food it says is gluten-free actually is.

“I read every ingredient and always have a few gently asked questions to ask a human being before I purchase or put anything into my body,” he said.

Craig has celiac disease, an autoimmune digestive condition that causes damage to the small intestines and interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food. The disease is triggered by the consumption of gluten, which is 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. Foods that are gluten free are normally found in diets for celiac disease, but people with a gluten allergy, unrelated to celiac, should also avoid gluten.

These numbers, along with increased awareness, mean a growing demand for foods that are gluten-free. Gluten-free sales reached more than $2.6 billion by the end of 2010 and are now expected to exceed more than $5 billion by 2015.

Extend Nutrition, a healthy snack company that offers a patented line of snacks clinically proven to control blood sugar for up to 9 hours, recently confirmed that 16 of its flavors are gluten free.

“All Extend Nutrition snacks are made with gluten-free ingredients,” said Jonathan Lindberg, Extend Nutrition outreach manager. “We recommend 16 snacks for people with celiac disease. In our gluten-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 went on to explain that Extend Nutrition snacks are continually tested for gluten as part of their quality assurance program. Extend uses the anti-omega gliadin antibody developed by Skerritt and Hill for detection. This antibody, which detects both gliadins and glutenins, is the basis of the AOAC International Official Method for gluten detection.

The test used by Extend Nutrition has been validated and certified as a Performance Tested Method(sm) (#051101) by the AOAC Research Institute as an effective method for the detection of Gluten in a wide variety of foods and environmental surfaces.

This type of testing and quality assurance is important to people like Craig, who does not want to take any chances with his health. While he finds it positive that foods that are gluten free are increasing in popularity, his concern is that the foods are actually safe for those with celiac and not just the followers.

Restaurants, he notes in his blog, are a big concern because they do a poor job of separating gluten-free items in their kitchen yet still claim to have gluten-free items.

“Approximately 90 percent of restaurants are catering to the gluten-free lifestyle of customers who are merely interested in the ingredients, but not as much in the safety of cross contamination,” he wrote. “Do not put gluten-free on your menu if you can’t guarantee a celiac can eat there.”

Craig, who was diagnosed in 1997 with celiac disease, said he has been living 100 percent gluten-free for more than 16 years with no “accidents.”

There are no pharmaceutical cures for celiac disease. A 100-percent gluten-free diet is the only existing treatment for celiac today.

The snacks that Extend Nutrition labels as gluten-free are the 7 flavors of Extend bar – Peanut Butter Chocolate Delight, Peanut Delight, Chocolate Delight, Mixed Berry Delight, Apple Cinnamon Delight, Peanut Butter Crunch and Chocolate Crunch.

Two flavors of Extend Nutrition drizzles, four flavors of Crisps and three flavors of Shakes have also tested as gluten-free to less than 10 parts per million, Lindberg said.

The gluten-free snacks were created by Dr. Francine Kaufman, world-renowned endocrinologist and past president of the American Diabetes Association, in the 1990s. The key ingredient is uncooked cornstarch, a very complex carbohydrate that digests and converts to blood sugar slowly.

In addition to being a gluten-free food, the snacks are also used to help people with diabetes manage blood sugar, sustain energy, control hunger and lose weight.

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

“We recognize the need for healthy, gluten-free snacks and foods, and we have developed a line that is both gluten-free and healthy,” 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.”

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Invented by Dr. Francine Kaufman, world-renowned endocrinologist and former President of the American Diabetes Association, the patented line of Extend Nutrition Bars, Shakes, Crisps and Drizzles are delicious nutritional solutions clinically-proven to help control blood sugar for up to 9 hours. Blood sugar control is the key to both diabetes and weight management. Extend Nutrition snacks have been enthusiastically recommended by thousands of certified diabetes educators and registered dietitians around the world for over 10 years.

Extend Nutrition products are now available at more than 25,000 retailers nationwide, including your local Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Target, Kmart and other leading retailers where diabetes nutrition products are sold. Extend Nutrition strives to provide families with simple nutritional solutions that deliver peace of mind and confidence resulting in a healthier and happier lifestyle.

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