The Craig Fahle Show

Gluten Free

Wednesday August 8, 2012

gluten free

Ten years ago few people had heard of the term “Gluten Free”… but now it’s everywhere. Friends, acquaintances and celebrities talk about going gluten free but what exactly is it?
WDET’s Martina Guzman has more.

Bell rings as customer walks through front door ---- I’d like six cookies please….three macaroons and three pecan sandies.

Brian Hack is one of the owners of Sugar Kisses Bakery. But unlike traditional bakeries…his doesn’t use wheat flour.

"It’s not that you can’t use flour…you can’t use wheat flour or other flours that happen to be glutenous, so there are plenty of grains out there that can be milled into a flour like rice, tapioca, corn and potato can all be turned into flour to bake with."

Hack started the business with wife Lisa Turkawski…a pastry chef. They wanted their businesses to stand out in a saturated market so they began catering to the growing number of people who have dietary restrictions…people who are going “gluten free.”

"When we started nine years ago the diagnosis rate for celiac disease alone was 1 in 300 people give or take and within the first five years the current number is one in 133 people."

Hack’s customers range from people who gave up gluten because they heard about it through a family member or a friend….Kelly Hay found out about it when she tried an elimination diet.

"I basically went on this diet called the 17 day diet …and so I went more than two weeks without gluten in my system and once it was out of my system I realized how much more energy I had and how much better I felt."

But it’s not always as simple as a diet by choice…some people become extremely ill if they eat anything with gluten in it. Jim Fox is one such person…he was diagnosed with Celiacs disease 5 years ago.

"I thought I was on the death diet…Your body can’t absorb the nutrients… I was down to 140 pounds and I’m 6’1."

The relationship between a gluten free diet and Celiac’s disease can be a bit confusing so I went to the Detroit Medical Center and spoke to Doctor Elizabeth May. She’s a Gastroenterologist at Harper University Hospital and expert in Celiac disease. I wanted to know what exactly gluten is… and why it causes problems for certain people.

"Gluten is a protein found in certain wheat’s…certain grains…wheat, barley and rye can be and that protein stimulates the small intestine which is the tube that connects your stomach to the colon and causes it to be inflamed, reddened and damaged so that you don’t absorb your food well."

May says being gluten intolerant… also known as SPRU …can be an immune problem.

"In most people it is thought to be an auto immune problem, which is similar to people who have troubles with thyroid dysfunction or Vitiligo which is the whitening of the skin."

She also says that people now have answers to conditions that for years were misdiagnosed.

"A lot of problems that people want answers for, have been associated with SPRU such as infertility, such as recurrent migraines, osteoporosis may be a possible associated problem, Iron deficiency – anemia."

But why the boom in people going gluten free?

"I think it is unstoppable the internet will encourage a lot more interest on this subject."

The gluten free movement so widespread web sites informing people on what where to get gluten free beer, gluten free pasta …and there is even information on cruise ships that only serve gluten free food.

I’m Martina Guzman WDET News