Gluten and Nutristart Products
Can Celiacs Use Nutristart Products?
When NutriStart is asked by those with celiac disease if they can safely consume our products, we have to answer that our products are not processed in a “dedicated” plant. A dedicated plant is one that never processes any gluten containing substances and, in Canada at least, it is only products manufactured in such a plant that can be legally referred to as a “gluten free” product. Yet, I would like to point out that by law, in Canada, all machinery must be washed down with (non-grain based) alcohol between product runs, ensuring very little potential for cross contamination.
Can a Celiac Tolerate Some Gluten?
If we assume the worst case scenario, and some gluten molecules migrate through the processing plant to contaminate a product, we have to ask exactly how dangerous is that for a true celiac (since some people are simply sensitive to gluten, this miniscule amount would not be an issue for them.)
A study involving 83 celiacs found that consuming up to 80mg of gluten per day was not linked to negative long term changes in the mucosa of the small intestine. A critical overview of such studies suggest that total protection for even the most sensitive celiac would be a standard set at a maximum of 20ppm of gluten in any given products consumed. This would provide about 6mg of gluten daily and current research indicates that this level of gluten would not cause mucosal abnormalities in the majority of people with celiac disease, even the most sensitive. (Article)
Do Oats Contain Gluten?
At NutriStart we most often get the question about gluten with regards to the Provide Smoothie, because of the oat fiber that it contains. Celiac disease is usually associated exclusively with ingesting gluten, a group of proteins called “prolamines”. While oats do not naturally contain gluten they do contain a similar substance called “avenin”, which is also a prolamine and can trigger reactions in celiac, (as well as those sensitive to avenin). Different varieties of oats have different levels of avenin and not all celiac have a problem digesting it, so some species of oats will have no ill effects on celiacs.
The real problem is that oats are generally processed in production houses that also process wheat, barley and other gluten containing grains, and they can be cross contaminated by exposure to these grains. As a result oats are officially listed as a gluten containing crop but if they are sold as “gluten free” they have been processed in a dedicated plant and there is no chance of contamination. It has been noted that oats grown in Scotland and Ireland are less likely to be contaminated because very little wheat is grown in these countries. It should also be pointed out that the production houses that process supplements, such as those used by NutriStart, do not process food, and so the possibility of there being any high-gluten substances even present in the plant are remote.
Do Cereal Grasses Contain Gluten?
I will also point out that products like Provide Smoothie which contain cereal grasses should generally not be an issue for celiac. This is because when barley or wheat are in the grass phase they have no gluten in them; the gluten, which is the protein component of the plant, only occurs when the grain has formed.
Are There Supplements That Can Help Celiacs?
Finally, I will point out that certain supplements can be of help even in this serious condition. There is a link between low vitamin D levels and celiac disease though it is debated as to whether or not the low vitamin D is a cause or result of the condition. (Article)
I believe both may occur: that because vitamin D is involved in building mucosal membranes and the fine hairs (villi in the lungs and cilia in the intestinal tract), the generational chronic lack of vitamin D may have predisposed some people to celiac disease, while the damage to the lining of the gut also reduces the ability to absorb fat based nutrients through the gut lining.
Along with vitamin D, vitamin A is also critical to building and maintaining mucosal lining, and is also a common deficiency due to us no longer consuming liver. Vitamin A deficiency usually manifests as a tendency to squint in the sunlight. Also required to maintain mucosal lining are vitamin B-12 (in sublingual form) and iodine.