Gluten Free Fitness

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Contamination in Naturally Gluten Free Grains

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Contamination in Naturally Gluten Free Grains – but Don’t Panic

Previously, Aaron posted about the proposed FDA guidelines for labeling an item gluten free.  These guidelines would allow products with less than 20 ppm (parts per million) to be labeled gluten free.  My thoughts were that if you eat one item that contains 20 ppm of gluten, there may be no issue.  However, if you have multiple items, does that gluten have an additive effect?  It is like eating something with a considerably larger amount of gluten?

We don’t know.

My thoughts are to focus on naturally gluten free foods and eliminate the worry.  In the proposed rule, single ingredient foods that are considered inherently gluten free (think rice, millet, amaranth) can be considered misbranded if they are labeled gluten free.  They would have to be labeled gluten free and also state that all foods of that type are gluten free.  (Like labeling an apple low fat.  It would have to say-“all apples are low fat.”)

Or not.

Tricia Thompson, MS, RD, and well known in the celiac community, was recently involved in a research study that examined naturally gluten free grains, and tested them for gluten.    Their findings indicate that naturally gluten free grains can be, and are, contaminated with gluten.

So much for sticking to naturally gluten free foods to avoid the 20 ppm of gluten, eh?

Cross contamination with gluten?!? WAH!

Photo credit waggg

They tested 22 types of naturally gluten free grains that were not labeled gluten free.  7 of the 22 included a voluntary allergen statement for wheat.  (I’m assuming that this is the “processed in a facility which also processes wheat” statement.)  From Tricia’s write up on the study “products included white rice and flour, brown rice, corn meal, polenta, buckwheat and buckwheat flour, amaranth seed and flour, flax seed, millet grain and flour, sorghum flour, and soy flour.”

The results:

Let’s look first at the ones that had the allergy advisory for wheat.  Out of those 7, 4 tested had above 5 ppm (5 ppm was considered the threshold for gluten with the testing they used-this is less than the proposed FDA guideline) and 3 had less than 5 ppm.  Seems a bit of a crap shoot, doesn’t it?

For the remaining 15 that did not have the wheat allergen advisory, 5 items were over the 5 ppm of gluten.  10 were below.

The conclusion from Tricia’s write up:

Results of this study confirm that a certain percentage of inherently gluten-free grains, seeds, and flours are NOT gluten-free when they are purchased by consumers. Co-mingling of grain and seed can occur anywhere along the line from the field to the packaging plant.

Results also suggest that consumers can not rely on voluntary allergen advisory statements for wheat to make decisions about which products are more or less likely to be contaminated. Four of seven products containing greater than or equal to 20 ppm gluten did not contain an allergen statement for wheat while three of the products that contained below the limit of quantification for gluten did contain an allergen advisory statement.

While we can infer from this study that some degree of contamination exists in naturally gluten-free grains, seeds, and flours sampling was not large enough to make any assessment on the overall percentage of contaminated product.

Sampling also was not large enough to make any inferences on the specific grains, flours, and seeds more or less likely to be contaminated.”

  • To note: This study was funded in part by Schar USA, a manufacturer of prepared gluten-free foods.  It’s always good to look and see who funds any research you may be interested in.  In this particular case, I certainly don’t think that Schar framed the study by intentionally contaminating anything, and the testing procedures seem very cut and dry.  It does not appear that the funding would have had any impact on this study.

So what’s the take home from all this?

Well, don’t panic.  As noted above, the sample size (number of products and grains tested) was not large enough to make any sweeping conclusions.  It does certainly warrant additional testing, as well as continued tweaking to the proposed gluten free labeling guidelines.

For me, it reinforces what I  tend to do anyway-utilize white and sweet potato, rice, and gluten free oats for the majority of my carbohydrate sources.  There could still be contamination in the rice, but for now, that’s what I’m going to do.

After all, I could get hit by a bus tomorrow.  You just never know.

What are your thoughts?

FYI-I’ve added a new free downloadable “tips” PDF to Gluten Free and Fit 101-go check it out!

Addendum: Tricia has now added a Part 2

Leave comments below-are you going to change anything you currently eat based on this information?


Ignite Naturals Gel Review for the Gluten Free Endurance Athlete

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Gluten-Free endurance athlete

As a cyclist, I eat my fair share of portable, hopefully non-meltable food.

In my post on fueling the gluten free endurance athlete, I outlined some options that I have tried myself.  I have a new gel that I’ve used since, and also a DIY energy gel recipe that you can use to refill a flask and save yourself some $$.

First, Ignite Naturals Reload Energy Gel.

I had wanted to try the Reload gels as they are made from “real food” ingredients.  The main ingredient is fig paste.  Yup, the stuff that is the inside of a Fig Newton.  The gels come in 3 different fruit flavors (which honestly all tasted very similar to me, but I am not focusing on any flavor complexities when I’m shoving gel in my mouth with one hand on the handlebars and trying to breathe.)

Each gel is about 100 calories and provides 25 grams of carbohydrate.  I found the packaging fairly easy to open with my teeth.  The gel itself is a bit thicker than I would prefer, I felt like I almost had to chew it.  When I reach for an energy gel, I do not necessarily want to chew.  It still went down fairly easily, with a swig of water to wash it all down. Overall, a great option and one I will continue to use.

Ignite Naturals also has a few other products that I am looking into, one I am particularly interested in in their Adrenal ReBoot.  As an endurance athlete training 8-15 hours a week, and with a history of autoimmune disease and hormonal imbalance, I am especially concerned with adrenal support.  Ignite Naturals is a company I will be doing additional work with in the future, as I am especially impressed with their dedication to natural ingredients and their company philosophy.

Now it’s my turn…

Here is my recipe for a DIY energy gel.

Live purely: I am a purely elizabeth Ambassador

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Purely Elizabeth Ambassador

That’s right, kids… I am a Purely Elizabeth Ambassador

Way back in 2009, the year I started GFF, I reviewed a muffin mix from a new company called purely elizabeth.  At that time, purely was brand new to the scene, the gluten free food “trend” was just starting to take off, and there were very few companies that were attempting to use whole grains that were gluten free and also had some sort of nutritional value.  It was all starches, all the time.  Elizabeth was doing something groundbreaking by offering better for you muffin and pancake mixes.  I had the pleasure of meeting Elizabeth at a gluten free expo here in South Florida in March of 2010.  She is truly a special lady with a huge heart.  She and I definitely have the “generally healthy eater with weakness for baked goods” thing in common too.

Fast forward to 2012, and purely elizabeth has grown immensely.  They have expanded their product offerings, and are now available in Whole Foods (!) but all the while have maintained the dedication to good taste, good ingredients, and good nutrition.

The products are certified gluten free and vegan, non-GMO, and the cookie mixes are certified organic.  The ingredients are all top notch, and ones I would use if I were baking from scratch.

It’s not just about the food, though.  Purely elizabeth also promotes living purely, which we all may define differently.  For me, it’s moving my body, fueling it well, resting adequately, and choosing the positive perspective whenever possible.  And living purely also incorporates some tasty, nutritious treats of chocolate chip cookies after a long bike ride.

Purely elizabeth is a company whose products and values align very well with my own.  I am honored and pleased to have been chosen as an ambassador.  

If you’ve not checked out purely elizabeth yet, go to their website and read about how awesome they are.  Then, go to Whole Foods (they’re on sale!) and get you some.  OR, you can always order online.

Aside from awesome baking mixes and granola, if you need some more info for generally eating a healthier gluten free menu, check out Gluten Free and Fit 101 for lots of articles to get you started.

Fueling options for the gluten free endurance athlete

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Fueling options for the gluten free endurance athlete

As many of you know, I’ve gone back to my endurance athlete ways.

I played around with being a figure athlete for a while, when I wasn’t “allowed” to ride due to the complexity and fragility of the surgical repairs to my knees, but when I was cleared by my orthopedist to return to road cycling last fall, I jumped back in.

Since then, I’ve progressed significantly and am learning to get my head and preconceived notions out of the way of what my body is capable of.  

Training for endurance athletics versus training for aesthetics and strength require very different types of fueling, specifically during exercise.  I definitely run well on carbohydrate (yes, I know it’s not “necessary” to life, and some people do fine on low carb diets, even endurance athletes, but I am not one of them.  Trial and error and experience have taught me that I do just fine with carbs.)  In general, when training for strength and aesthetics, your actual exercise time is not very long, usually less than an hour.  There’s no real need for “during exercise” fueling.  On the other hand, I can easily be out for 2-4 hours training on the bike, on a generally 5 day per week basis.  That requires some fuel.

As an endurance athlete with celiac disease, I have to be very aware and careful with what fuel I choose.  I always carry enough food to sustain me, as I do not like to be dependent upon finding appropriate food while at a ride or race.  (The only exception is a banana-I feel very safe peeling one of those myself and eating it, and pretty much every convenience store/gas station has bananas these days.)

As always when it comes to specific brands and foods, if it is a packaged/labeled/manufactured item, always check labels and double check with the companies if you are not sure.  Although these items were safe and gluten free at the time this was written, formulations and ingredients change and it is always better to be careful.

There are quite a few options out there, so I’m just going to focus on the ones I’ve personally tried.  Let’s split it up into fluids, gels, and real food (aka food that requires chewing.)  Just for grins.  Let’s remember that sugars are OK when you’re exercising for a long period of time, and for the sake of this discussion that means > 90 minutes of a moderate intensity.

Fluids

  • Good old water.  If your training session is 90 minutes or less of moderate or easy intensity, you’re good with just water or perhaps a low calorie electrolyte providing beverage, such as…
  • ZYM. I like ZYM Catapult because it has a little caffeine (a performance enhancer) but not too much, and I like the Berry flavor.  It has a little fizz to it but it goes away quickly.  I’ve also tried the lemon lime flavor which was quite good as well.  The flavoring is subtle.  These are handy because you can toss the tube into your pocket and take it with you, which saves me having to use Gatorade on the road to refill out of desperation.  (The osmolality in Gatorade is not my friend, tummy discomfort galore.)  I’ve heard Nuun tabs are similar, but I’ve not tried those.
  • Generation UCAN.  This is technically a pre-training drink, but it is a fluid, so here you go.  I did extensive testing and reviews of Gen UCAN, and still use it.  I alternate UCAN with a mixture of honey and coconut oil as my pre-ride fuel.  (I ride very early in the morning.)  UCAN is a carbohydrate and electrolyte drink, designed for use pre-workout.  Read my reviews here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
  • First Endurance Electrolyte Fuel System Drink Mix.  This is my drink of choice for providing carbohydrate and electrolytes in fluid form while training.  I’ve tried another brand (Hammer’s HEED) which I did not like the taste of and did not have as good of an electrolyte profile as the EFS does.  I like the Fruit Punch flavor.

 Gels (’cause when I’m riding hard, ain’t no way I’m chewing.)

  •  Honey Stinger Energy Gel.  This is my current favorite.  The packets are easy to open, and the consistency of the honey is slightly watered down so it is easy to swallow.  I like the chocolate and Ginsting (which is a regular honey flavor with a little caffeine) flavors.  I especially appreciate the limited ingredient list.  Honey is a really good carbohydrate source for athletes, by the way.  Check it out.  The research was funded by the Honey Board, but still.  It’s also good for lots of other stuff.  (As an aside, that is why on the days I do not use Gen UCAN as my pre training drink, I use a mix of coconut oil or coconut butter and honey.  The medium chain triglycerides in the coconut oil get used for fuel, and the honey is a great carb source.  I started using this on the suggestion of Kelli Jennings at Apex Nutrition.  As Kelli says “These are fast-acting, quick-metabolizing energy foods.  The honey provides moderately fast carbs that act similarly to maltodextrin (moderately fast and longer lasting than glucose), natural enzymes to improve digestion, and antioxidants.  The organic coconut oil provides fast-acting medium chain triglycerides which are used directly by the mitochondria of cells (energy producers) without the need for bile or slow digestion.”  I am working on a DIY energy gel using these and salt, but haven’t got it yet.) The packaging for these gels is easy to open, yet is sturdy enough for a full packet to make it through the washing machine without breaking open.  I speak with first hand knowledge.  Got to check those jersey pockets.
  • Chocolate #9.  Like Honey Stinger Gels, these have a lovely ingredient list.    These were VERY chocolatey, and had a considerably thicker texture than the Honey Stinger.  They were like brownie batter, which would be lovely under different circumstances, but trying to swallow it as quickly as possible lessened my enjoyment.  Plus, it made it harder to get out of the package with your teeth.  (Keep in mind, this is while I’m riding, so teeth and one hand.)  These have less carbohydrate than the Honey Stingers as well.  These were good, but for my purposes and taste I prefer the Honey Stinger gels.

Real Food aka you have to chew it.

(For me, these are used for a ride > 2.5 hours.)

  • Bananas.  Self explanatory.  Really, any fruit, but none have the comic potential that bananas do.  Cyclists are a funny group.  Bananas are one of the few chew-requiring foods that I can eat on the bike.
  • Jovial Fig Fruit Filled Gluten Free Organic Cookies .  Fig Newtons are kind of a staple in the endurance world.  I was feeling nostalgic, so went looking for a gluten free alternative and came across these.  They are handily packaged in 2’s, which is perfect for tossing in a jersey pocket.  Tasty, too.
  • Raisins or any dried fruit.
  • LÄRABAR .  I like the Cherry Pie, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and Carrot Cake flavors.  You may be different.  A friend of mine bought the Peanut Butter Cookie and hated it, while I like it.  The combo of nuts and dried fruit gives a little bit of faster carb and the longer lasting fat fuel.
  • Coconutz Fuel Energy Balls.  Check out my review of the awesome balls here.
  • Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews.  These are nice because they don’t require too much chewing, in a pinch you can even just swallow them.  My only gripe is that they leave your fingers sticky, so try to shoot them into your mouth from the package.
  • Sweet potatoes.  Kelli Jennings of Apex Nutrition gives some awesome recipes here.  I’ve not tried these yet but they sound great, although potentially messy.
  • Potato wedges with sea salt
  • Fig and Honey Rice Cakes from The Feed Zone Cookbook (great book, very gluten free friendly.)

More ideas

My friends Kim at Gluten Free is Life and Pete at No Gluten, No Problem are endurance runners.  Check out their blogs for some more ideas.  Also, Pete was co-author with my sister from another mother Melissa, the genius behind Gluten Free for Good of the eagerly anticipated book, The Gluten-Free Edge: A Nutrition and Training Guide for Peak Athletic Performance and an Active Gluten-Free Life. It will be released on July 3rd, so go pre-order it.  It’s going to be awesome.  And that’s not even because I was one of the gluten free athletes interviewed for the book, I promise.

Hopefully this gives all you endurance athletes some ideas!  Like I said, this is by no means an all inclusive list, these are just the items I’ve tried and used.  Please leave a comment if there is something else you use and like!

If you need some more info for generally eating a healthier gluten free menu, not just for sports nutrition, check out Gluten Free and Fit 101 for lots of articles to get you started.

How to get your husband to eat more veggies

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How to get your husband to eat more veggies

I have waxed philosophic about how awesome my husband is on multiple occasions.

He is truly an incredible individual and the perfect partner for me.  Now, neither of us are perfect, but we are perfect partners.

Having said that, he does not eat nearly enough vegetables.  Recently, a colleague of his was telling him that he started juicing.  He offered Jeff a glass of juice, which he actually drank.  When I heard about this, I jumped on it.

“You mean you’ll actually drink that?!?!”  Never in a million years had I thought he would consider drinking a green smoothie or juice.  Bingo, I thought.  I can fit a whole day’s worth of veggies in a smoothie.  Plus, I’d been itching for an excuse to buy a Blendtec for a year.

I had been looking over the high powered blenders, the Vitamixes, the Blendtec, OmniBlend etc, and had decided a while back that I wanted a Blendtec.  (Lexie’s Kitchen has posted a great overview and comparison, if you need a place to start.)  The online shopping fest began, and I was actually very fortunate to find a new one for a very reasonable price on ebay.

Can you see all the nutrients in there?

We’re doing a green smoothie every weekday now.  Sometimes on weekends, but not nearly as consistently.  I’ve also used the Blendtec to make cookie, muffin, and quick bread batters, protein shakes, all kinds of stuff.  It really is versatile and super easy to clean.  I’m happy with the purchase for sure.  More happy, though, that I am finally able to get the nutrition from veggies into my husband on a regular basis.  I like him and I’d like to keep him around for a while 😉

I could have tried to make the smoothie look all nice, in a glass, with a garnish or something but let’s be honest.  You’re not here for the food photography.  This is how we roll in the GFF household.  BlenderBottle for the win. Those things are genius.

Check out the green smoothie recipe here.

All in all, I’m really happy with the Blendtec.  It fits well under my cabinets on the countertop, is super easy to clean, is no louder than my cheap blender was, and gets my husband to ingest vegetable matter.  Truly a win.

If you’d like some more gluten free stuff, go check out Gluten Free and Fit 101.  Lots of info there to read while you sip on your smoothie.