Are You Eating Hidden Gluten In Foods You Thought Were Gluten-Free?

 I like to think I'm pretty aware of many of the best gluten-free and allergen-free sites on the web. But while researching the internet for information on a blog post I'm working on, I came across a website I hadn't seen before -

GlutenZAP is a website and community for those following a gluten-free lifestyle and their goal is to share information with others that they have personally found helpful. 

GlutenZAP's Mission Statement: 

We want to achieve health with celiac disease by eliminating as much gluten as possible.
A negative blood test does not mean that you don't have any gluten in your diet: This article states: "two years after adopting a gluten free diet, about half those people diagnosed with celiac disease continued to have villous atrophy as severe as when they were first diagnosed. Only about one in five of those with severe intestinal damage (villous atrophy) on a gluten free diet had raised (abnormal) blood levels of transglutaminase antibody, meaning that standard blood tests to monitor disease activity were relatively ineffective."

We believe a possible reason these people might still be suffering villous atrophy is that they may still be eating hidden gluten. Here we share information about which “gluten free” foods may contain enough gluten to make us sick. We find this out by using home testing kits such as EZ-Gluten test strips, Glutentox and Neogen,  and by listening to our bodies. Many of us are highly symptomatic gluten canaries.

There are many good other sites for general information about celiac disease. Some of us do not respond well to the gluten free lists given on those sites. This site is for those “super sensitive” celiacs/gluten intolerants, although all are welcome.

By "super sensitive" celiacs/gluten intolerants, we mean those who are sensitive to very low levels of gluten.

And one of the contributers, Stephanie, had this to add about the site:

"I think that it is really terrible that the possible issues with 20 ppm gluten for some of us is kept so quiet. That is partly why GlutenZAP was started and quite a few of us are involved elsewhere to try to raise awareness about this issue. Most of us went on that standard gluten free diet and couldn't figure out what was going on when we were still experiencing symptoms. Just about everyone around us assured us that our food was completely gluten free and safe. We really need to get the word out for those of us for whom this isn't true. The goal isn't to scare people for whom 20 ppm foods are safe, but to prevent suffering for people for whom they are not. My son and I suffered a lot for many months before I figured it out."

GlutenZAP Community Forums

Since I found out about this site, I've spent hours just reading through the forums. So much of the information has confirmed and verified for me foods I had already begun to question whether or not they were good choices for me and my family. And it was comforting knowing so many others had the same issues to these foods. I realized that I wasn't crazy and these foods (some of which were advertised as being gluten-free) were causing me and my family to have a reaction.

And one thing I especially liked about the forum was its tone. No one in the community seemed to be telling you that you had to do things a certain way, absolutely only eat this and not that. It's more like they're helping by offering what works and doesn't work for them and then you can use that information and make your own choices based on your own needs and sensitivities. In my mind it's the way a forum should be - people helping one another and inspiring one another. And I think when it comes to food sensitivities, intolerances and allergies it has to be that way - every person is different and what I may react to might not be something that may cause you to have a reaction.

Private Forum for Hidden Gluten Testing Results

There's even a special, private forum (my favorite part of the site and how I stumbled upon it in the first place) where the gluten-free community posts the results from the home tests they have conducted on a wide array of foods and products to check gluten levels. And when I say wide array I mean it. It's a huge database of hundreds and hundreds of items. 

Mike, who founded the website almost 4 years ago because he was very sensitive to low levels of gluten, personally does much of the testing himself. A huge thank you to him for taking the time and expense for this undertaking. Many others have helped, too, and use the at home test kits to check foods and products for hidden sources of gluten to add to the database. A few items I had an inkling in the back of my head wondering, "I wonder if should be eating this or using this?", like paper towels and parchment paper some people had tested. Even water filters. That's one I never even thought to check. 

The database is broken down into several sections: whole grains, processed grains, cereals, flours and mixes, produce, prepared fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, meats, dairy and dairy substitutions, eggs, chocolate, sugar, desserts, condiments and sauces, ketchup and mustard, salad dressing, spices (a few here surprised me), extracts, drinks, mixes, soda, coffee, teas, alcoholic beverages and even pet food.

Are You Following a Gluten-Free Diet, but Still Not Feeling Your Best?

So if you've been following a gluten-free diet, but still aren't feeling your best it is possible you're ingesting or coming into contact with hidden gluten. Visit and read through the site and the forums and discover for yourself foods you may be ingesting and products you may be using that could contain hidden sources of gluten so you can avoid them and begin to improve your health and well being overall. 
Image credit: ©roxanabalint / 123RF Stock Photo

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