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Gluten Friendly: A New Approach to Gluten Consumption

The term “gluten free” has become widely recognized and used, often attributed to the increasing number of individuals diagnosed with celiac disease, gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity. However, a new term has emerged on the horizon of food labeling – “gluten friendly.” So, what exactly does “gluten friendly” mean, and how does it differ from gluten-free food?

Gluten Friendly vs. Gluten Free: The Basics

It’s essential to distinguish between “gluten free” and “gluten friendly” foods, especially for those with celiac disease or severe gluten intolerance, sensitivities and symptoms. While both terms appear welcoming for those wanting to eat gluten free, they differ significantly. 

In Damn Good Gluten Free my lifestyle  and recipe cookbook, I explain these facts; 

  1. If diagnosed with any digestive disorder such as Celiac disease, gluten intolerance or gluten sensitive, or a doctor has suggested due to testing to adhere to a gluten free diet, all circle back to one main fact; your body is unable to digest the particular protein found in glutenous grains. 
  2. The main difference is the symptom, how each person reacts: A person who is Celiac can end up in the hospital by eating a crumb of gluten. Someone who is gluten intolerant, like our entire family of 6, each one of us reacts differently: I bloat and get IBS, some get flu like symptoms, behavioral or mood disorders, migraines and or vomiting.  If sensitive, you might not feel anything, but the damage to your intestines are still happening… That is the most concerning of all…because the intolerant or sensitive and now gluten friendly are now misleading, confusing and inaccurate.
  3. The Bottom Line boils down to this: if you are diagnosed with an autoimmune or gluten disorder, gluten will greatly affect, even harm your digestive system, primarily your small intestines where we extract all our nutrients. Ultimately you are putting your health and your body at great risk. 
  4. The result becomes a domino effect.
    1. How your body reacts or doesn’t react when gluten is consumed
    2. Malabsorption happens because of the villi that close up in your small intestines.  Those important villi can no longer extract nor assimilate your nutrients. It’s a vicious cycle that over time your body will demand it to stop… dis-ease happens

Fact: When diagnosed with a gluten disorder, mortality does increase with a diagnosis. A person has a 70% increased risk for a degenerative disease as you age. Cancer, heart, all the autoimmune disorders: Crohns, Lupus, Hashimotos, Epstein Barr, Diabetes, to name a few… I shared with my family, because I lost both my parents to cancer, it becomes Russian Roulette for your body if you choose not to adhere to a gluten free diet. AND, in the same article, I love how the article states “Although a gluten-free diet will cure the problem and is the mainstay of treatment, in the long run, the short-term solution is the use of dapsone”, a drug. The answer is not a drug… There are side effects. Today Going Gluten Free is easy, delicious and has no side effects. 

In terms of gluten friendly or gluten-removed products that contain so many parts per million of gluten. Lets look at beer  for example, because these products are marketed as “gluten friendly”. Some breweries use a process to extract the gluten, and call it “gluten-removed”, however it still contains so many parts per million of gluten. 

People might think they are not getting gluten or don’t feel a reaction when the gluten has been extracted, however, my gut feeling is, telling me something else. Here’s my two-cents…Why would I take the chance to eat or drink something that has gluten of any amount? Especially when I don’t have to. I might not feel anything from the gluten extracted product, but I have no idea of what’s happening on the inside of my body.  Again, in the case of beer… There are numerous 100% gluten free beers on the market today! Mine and Tim’s personal fav is Redbridge, but that’s from someone, me mostly, who rarely drinks alcoholic beverages… Personally, I choose not to take that chance. There’s also some great bloggers within this article with some opinions you might prefer so do check their articles out. All in all, we get to make our choices. They are all personal. 

Gluten free breads and other labeled gluten free products ensure that they do not contain gluten or are below 20 parts per million of gluten, as supported by scientific evidence. These products are meant for individuals who need to completely avoid gluten, typically due to an autoimmune reaction in the small intestine.

In contrast, gluten friendly foods might still contain traces of gluten-containing grain, like wheat barley or barley rye. These products might be processed to remove gluten but could still contain residues. I still strongly believe they are not suitable for those even with a mild gluten intolerance or sensitivity, and definitely not recommended for those with celiac disease.

Understanding Food Labeling: Gluten Friendly and Gluten Free

With the influx of health and diet trends, food labeling has become more crucial than ever. One need to know what you’re consuming, especially if you have dietary restrictions or health conditions.

Gluten friendly foods are often products that, while not containing direct ingredients like wheat, barley or rye and the multiple varieties and names of wheat grains: spelt, farro, einkorn, kamut, spring wheat, wheat berries, red wheat, triticale, durum, semolina, couscous, bulgur), might have been processed in facilities where cross contamination could occur. In some instances, these foods might contain barley, rye or other gluten containing grains but are processed to remove the gluten to some extent. IMO they are not suitable for people with any gluten diagnosis. One must really weigh the consequences as well as understand the business that has developed over the years. It comes down to $$$. We are not being told the truth and its up to us to make conscious choices.

Labeled gluten free products, however, adhere to strict guidelines, ensuring they’re safe for those who must eat gluten free. These standards include testing for parts per million of gluten and ensuring no cross contamination.

Is Gluten Friendly Right for You?

For the average individual who wants to reduce gluten intake but doesn’t have a diagnosed condition, gluten friendly foods can be a good starting point. These products often have less processed foods additives and can be a healthier choice than other available products. However, if you truly want to learn if gluten is your nemesis, that doing an elimination, anti-inflammatory RESET has been game changing for many. 

However, for those diagnosed with celiac disease, where even small amounts of gluten can cause harm to the small intestine, it’s crucial to stick to strictly a gluten free diet and avoid even gluten friendly labeled foods.

People with autoimmune, a gluten intolerance or sensitivity diagnosis, which causes small intestine damage when one eats gluten might reconsider eating gluten friendly foods. Adults and kids who have chronic physical emotional, and or behavioral symptoms and/or discomfort, might appear to tolerate gluten friendly foods, IMO, I would highly recommend you stay clear of these “gluten-friendly” market$ng tactics to sell more products.

Tips for Navigating Gluten Friendly Options

  1. Read Labels Carefully: Look for specifics on food labeling. Understand the difference between “free from wheat” and “gluten free.”
  2. Avoid Cross Contamination: If you must eat gluten free due to celiac disease, or have an intolerance or sensitivity, always be aware of the risks of cross contamination, even in gluten friendly environments. 
  3. Educate Yourself: The more you know about gluten containing grains and their effects, the better equipped you’ll be to make informed decisions.
  4. Consult a functional doctor or coach,  or a professional health care expert: If you’re unsure about your gluten intolerance or sensitivity or have been diagnosed with celiac disease or autoimmune, it’s good practice to get professional advice before incorporating gluten friendly foods.

Gluten Friendly: A Growing Trend

As the demand for gluten free and gluten friendly options grows, we can expect to see more advancements in food processing and labeling. More scientific evidence will undoubtedly emerge, guiding us on the best practices for gluten consumption.

Peg’s Bottom Line:

While gluten friendly options appear to be a welcome addition for those those wanting to reduce gluten, they are not a substitute for strictly gluten free diets for people with celiac disease, gluten intolerance or sensitivities. Always read labels, stay informed, and make conscious choices for your health and longevity!

Remember, whether you’re looking to eat gluten free or explore gluten friendly foods, always make choices that align with your health needs and dietary conditions.

FAQs on Being Gluten Friendly:

What exactly is gluten friendly?

Gluten friendly refers to foods that might still contain traces of gluten or are processed in environments where gluten is present, but they have been processed to reduce the gluten content. Gluten-friendly, the term has no standard definition nor is it government-regulated. It could literally mean anything. It could be gluten-free or there could be trace amounts of gluten in the food or beverage product. 

Can someone with celiac disease eat gluten friendly foods?

No, it’s not recommended. Those with celiac disease should only consume foods labeled gluten free to avoid harming their small intestine.

Are gluten friendly foods completely free from gluten?

No, gluten friendly foods might still contain traces of gluten and might be prone to cross-contamination.

Why would someone choose gluten friendly over gluten free?

People with mild gluten sensitivity or those trying to reduce gluten intake without a diagnosed condition might opt for gluten friendly options.

How can I ensure a product is genuinely gluten friendly or gluten free?

Always read food labeling carefully and look for certifications or standards that back up the claim.

Resources for Gluten Friendly Living:

  1. Need Help Going Gluten Free? In this article you’ll have clear step by step ways to help you navigate what it takes to successfully start your gluten free journey. Includes 8 manageable how to steps.
  2. Celiac Disease FoundationCDF’s Food Label reading guide. This guide helps people with celiac disease and those with an intolerance understand the differences in food labeling and what to look for to ensure safety when buying and eating packaged products.
  3. Verywell FitThe Differences Between Gluten-Free and Gluten-Friendly This article provides a clear distinction between the two terms and offers guidance on who should consume what.

Remember, whether you’re looking to eat gluten free or explore gluten friendly foods, always make choices that align with your health needs and dietary conditions.

Here at Curry Girls Kitchen, we are passionate about promoting healthy living and providing helpful tips, courses, cooking classes and supportive coaching programs for maintaining a delicious gluten-free lifestyle. We also have the best gluten free “how to road map” cookbook, Damn Good Gluten Free.  To learn more about our healthy living resources and get delicious gluten-free recipes, make sure to sign up for our Curry Girls Kitchen newsletter 

I hope you found this article helpful when it comes to understanding the difference between gluten friendly and gluten free products. If you have an opinion, an idea that will be helpful for a fellow gluten free friend, please comment below. We always appreciate your kind comments.


Pegs and Megs

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