Dunkin' Donuts, which has been pilot-testing new gluten-free donuts in several locations since December, has decided to roll them out nationwide.
Beginning later this year, the chain will sell gluten-free cinnamon-sugar donuts and blueberry muffins at most of its 7,000 U.S. locations. The donuts and muffins reportedly will be individually wrapped to avoid gluten cross-contamination.
Dunkin' Donuts also reports that its coffee drinks are gluten-free. This combination of safe coffee drinks and gluten-free pastries could prove to be real competition for Starbucks, which doesn't carry gluten-free pastries (in this country, at least) and which won't say which (if any) of its Starbucks coffee drinks are gluten-free.
Kudos to Dunkin' Donuts for deciding to offer some yummy pastries to the gluten-free community.
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Here's another reason to eat your vegetables: new research indicates that people with celiac disease consume too little of six important nutrients, including several B vitamins, folic acid and iron.
The study was conducted in Germany, and so it might not be completely applicable to those in the U.S. and other countries ... but it's probably not that far off the mark, nonetheless.
In addition, although the study looked only at those diagnosed with celiac disease, those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity and others eating gluten-free likely have similar nutritional intake issues.
The researchers, writing in the medical journal Digestion, collected a week's worth of food diaries from 88 people with celiac disease and computed the levels of vitamins and minerals in that week's worth of food. They then compared those levels to averages from a national survey in Germany and to recommended levels.
The group of celiacs fell well short of the national average on six specific vitamins and minerals: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B6, folic acid, magnesium and iron. This doesn't come as a surprise: gluten-containing products such as conventional bread and cereal often are fortified with these vitamins and minerals ... so if you're not eating gluten, you're getting less of these.
The study recommended regular laboratory monitoring of vitamin levels in people with celiac. But to help combat any dietary nutritional deficiencies on your own, you might want to be particularly mindful of these six nutrients, and work to choose more foods that contain them.
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If you polled people with celiac disease about what celiac symptoms they thought would indicate the worst intestinal damage, it's likely that bad diarrhea would lead the list. But your poll would be wrong: a new study shows that celiacs with anemia, not diarrhea, have worse celiac-related damage to their intestines at diagnosis.
The study, published in the medical journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, looked at the degree of villous atrophy, plus celiac blood test results and bone mass density, in 727 people newly diagnosed with celiac at Columbia University's Celiac Disease Center between 1990 and 2011.
More than three-quarters of the group had diarrhea, while 23% had anemia as their primary symptom. However, people with anemia were more than twice as likely to have severe villous atrophy and low bone mass density at the time they were diagnosed as those whose primary symptom was diarrhea.
In addition, anemia as a primary symptom was associated with lower levels of total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol (the so-called "good" cholesterol), but only in women. Anemia also was associated with higher levels of the celiac-related antibody tTG-IgA (detected through blood tests) in both men and women.
The bottom line: people who have anemia as their primary celiac disease symptom at diagnosis appear to have more severe celiac-related damage than those who have diarrhea.
Photo Courtesy of the National Institutes of Health
What I found was pretty interesting.
Yes, plain coffee ought to be gluten-free (although your digestive system may rebel against it for other reasons). But flavored coffees may be an issue, especially if you're fairly sensitive to trace gluten. And it's possible to introduce gluten cross-contamination into your coffee cup in several different ways.
The bottom line: you can get a decent, gluten-free cup of coffee. But you may need to make some changes in your coffee habit to do so. I provide the details in my new coffee article: Is Coffee Gluten-Free, or Does It Contain Gluten?
If you drink coffee, this should help you stay safe. And if you've been forced to cut it out, you might find some tips that will allow you to enjoy it again.
Also, if you like to stop at Starbucks, you might want to check out my Gluten-Free Starbucks Guide. It's also possible to find gluten-free brownies at Starbucks ... but sadly, only in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe.
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Summer is the time for salads, with all the wonderful fresh vegetables you can purchase at any farmers' market. But what should you use to top that salad?
As it turns out, the majority of salad dressings on the market today are considered gluten-free to less than 20 parts per million, so you'll have many choices.
It gets a little trickier if you're more sensitive to trace gluten, and trickier still if you react (as I do) to vinegar derived from gluten grains -- in that case, your choices in commercially-made dressings are pretty limited (although they're not zero by any means).
I provide all the details, including trace gluten levels and vinegar sources, in this list:
Combined with the right dressing, a fresh salad is delicious, nutritious and just about perfectly gluten-free.
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June is the traditional month for weddings, and many of us have nuptial invitations in hand. But how in the world will you eat at the reception if you follow the gluten-free diet?
This question has arisen for me more than once, and so I thought it might be helpful to share how I've gone about getting safe food for these events -- I've used different approaches in different situations.
The goal, of course, is to enjoy yourself without worrying about the food ... and as with most things gluten-free, that takes some advance planning. Here are the details:
Okay, what if it's your own wedding -- should you make that gluten-free?
I believe you should (no matter what anyone else says). I won't allow any gluten-y food at my daughter's birthday parties (how mean would that be, to have food she couldn't eat at her own party?), and I can't see any difference for a wedding. Here are my suggestions for handling it:
Whatever you do, just don't decide to skip attending a wedding reception or other milestone event because of the food. Yes, the gluten-free diet can be a pain to follow (believe me, I know!), but we can't let it keep us from celebrating important occasions with people who are important to us. Go, and raise a glass of champagne to the happy couple (champagne, of course, is quite safe on the diet).
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Today marks the first day of Men's Health Week (it ends on Father's Day), held annually to spotlight preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment among men and boys. In honor of this awareness week, I thought I'd share some information on celiac disease symptoms and diagnosis in men.
There's no doubt that men are less likely than women to get celiac disease. However, men who actually have celiac disease also are less likely to get diagnosed than women.
Meanwhile, men are more likely to have severe, classic symptoms when they're finally diagnosed ... in some cases because they don't tend to seek medical help for nagging health problems until it's an emergency.
So you see, celiac isn't as common in men, but many more men who have it don't know they have it.
Men also tend to have different symptoms of celiac disease than women, and some can be pretty subtle -- I provide the details in this article: Celiac Disease Symptoms in Men.
Do you know a man whose symptoms might match? If so, encourage him to get tested -- he might be surprised at how much better he feels once he starts eating gluten-free.
Of course, most of us realize celiac (and non-celiac gluten sensitivity) can affect far more than just your digestive tract. Here's a sampling of men's health issues known to be linked to the condition:
- Celiac Disease and Male Infertility
- Dermatitis Herpetiformis
- Gluten and Joint Pain
- How Celiac Can Impact Your Sexuality
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People with biopsy-proven celiac disease but with no neurological symptoms nonetheless show changes in their brains involving the areas responsible for muscle control, sensory perception, memory, learning and speech, according to a new study.
The study, published in the journal Neurological Sciences, looked at 17 people with celiac disease, using neurological evaluations and MRIs to determine the size and structure of their brains.
The researchers found that the 17 people with celiac had smaller volumes of cells in the brain's grey matter and the brain's caudate nucleus. The longer the person had been diagnosed with celiac, the smaller the volume of cells in the affected regions, according to the study.
People with celiac disease also had a significantly higher proportion of what are called "white matter hyperintensities," or bright white "spots" on brain MRIs. These spots have been associated in previous studies with an increased risk of stroke, dementia and death.
It's not clear what these changes in brain cell volume mean: the 17 people studied had no neurological symptoms, but the research still indicated neurological differences in them when compared to people without celiac disease. Obviously, the potential health risks associated with celiac disease range far beyond the often-cited gastrointestinal symptoms.
More on potential neurological complications:
Although no studies have looked yet at whether a super-strict gluten-free diet -- one that eliminates all grain products and all processed foods in an effort to get exposure to trace gluten as low as possible -- can stabilize and even improve neurological symptoms of celiac disease. However, I'm seeing more and more anecdotal evidence that this type of diet can help, and it will be interesting to see what future research shows.
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I awakened this morning to the news that Tropical Storm Andrea is marching up the Atlantic coast, and I realized it's time to update and augment my gluten-free emergency supply kit.
Andrea likely won't bring much more than heavy rain and some gusty wind here (although years of living on this coast have taught me never to risk underestimating these storms). But she certainly can serve as a reminder that natural disasters occur with all too much regularity, and often with only a little warning.
Those of us who follow the gluten-free diet need to be better prepared than most, since local stores may not stock all the foods we'll need for a prolonged power outage. In addition, if the situation becomes dire and we're forced to evacuate, we'll be on our own, food-wise -- emergency shelters will have food, but we most likely won't be able to eat it.
Therefore, I urge anyone who lives in a place that's prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, flooding, earthquakes or any other form of natural disaster (and that includes just about everyone!) to consider what they would need and take steps to gather it ahead of time. Here are some guidelines and lists that can help you do this:
In all likelihood, Tropical Storm Andrea will just turn tomorrow into a rainy, windy day here, and I won't need any of my supplies. But it definitely doesn't hurt to be prepared.
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We've come a long way over the past few years: these days, at least, people with obvious symptoms of celiac disease are reasonably likely to get tested for the condition. But a new study shows we still have a long way to go, too.
The study, conducted in central England and published late last month in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, set out to determine how frequently people with celiac disease are initially misdiagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome. It found such misdiagnoses are (still) far too common.
A total of 16% of people ultimately diagnosed with celiac disease had previously been handed a diagnosis of IBS, compared to just 4.9% of people serving as control subjects -- a three-fold difference.
The results got even worse when the study authors considered typical treatments for IBS rather than official diagnoses: some 28% of those ultimately found to be celiac were treated for IBS symptoms first, compared to 9% of the control subjects. Many of the diagnoses of IBS occurred within the year prior to the person's celiac diagnosis.
The authors concluded that "in contemporary UK practice, it is likely that at least some patients with celiac disease spend many years being treated as having IBS. Following guidelines to test serologically for celiac disease will minimize this problem."
Now, if we can only get all the doctors to follow these guidelines ...
More on celiac disease and gluten sensitivity vs. IBS:
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