Gluten-Free Products Filling Up Store Shelves

STUDIO CITY (KCAL 9) — The hunt for gluten-free products seems to be getting much easier for consumers who are demanding products free of this ingredient.

But how do you know if the diet is right for you?

Registered dietician, LeeAnn Weintraub, visited the KCAL 9 set to discuss the gluten-free craze.

For information on gluten-free snacks, visit KIND Healthy Snacks online.

  • Kit

    The dietitian featured in this segment was mistaken when she said buckwheat contains gluten. Buckwheat is not related to wheat, it isn’t even a grain. It’s a seed or pseudocereal related to rhubarb.

  • LeeAnn Weintraub mph, rd

    Hi Kit, Thank you for your comment. You are partially correct, but let me explain the full picture. Like quinoa and oats, buckwheat is naturally gluten-free. However, these products are very often contaminated with gluten-containing grains like wheat, barley, wheat germ, bran, and rye. The gluten-free grains like amaranth, quinoa, corn, and buckwheat must be labeled “gluten-free” to ensure that they are safe for those with gluten intolerance. I hope this clears up any misconceptions.

  • Pamela

    I can appreciate that she was likely nervous, but Ms. Weintraub misspoke when she said “Gluten is actually a protein that’s found in grain…so grain like wheat, barley, buckwheat and even oats contain gluten.” Wheat and barley do contain gluten. (As do kamut, spelt, rye, triticale and malt.) Buckwheat in pure form does not contain gluten, but sometimes commercial buckwheat products actually contain a blend of wheat flour and buckwheat flour so it’s important to read labels if you have Celiac disease. Oats are still under debate in the nutrition community. Some research indicates that oats are gluten free if carefully grown, harvested and processed separately from gluten containing grains, but other research is indicating that a protein in oats (avenin) is similar enough to gluten to cause negative reactions in a small percentage of Celiac disease sufferers (10% or about 1 in ever 1,300 people).

    Ms. Weintraub was also not quite on the mark when she said of Celiac sufferers that “They have to go on a special diet to cut out all grains.” Many grains (when properly grown, harvested, processed and prepared) are safe for Celiac patients. The lists the following grains as gluten free: amaranth, buckwheat, corn, millet, montina (Indian rice grass), quinoa, rice, sorghum, teff and wild rice. In addition to these grains, gluten free flours for baking are also made from starches such as potato and cassava, as well as nuts and beans. For an extensive list of gluten free grains and starches visit this page of ‡ is a reliable place to get information about the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of Celiac disease. Another source of good info: Scientific American ran a very informative article about Celiac Disease in August of 2009 (‘Surprises from Celiac Disease’).

    Celiac disease is a life-threatening condition which is treatable only through precise dietary measures. It should not be seen a trendy reason to buy a new snack cracker. Here’s what has to say: “Celiac Disease (CD) is unique in that a specific food component, gluten, has been identified as the trigger. When individuals with CD eat gluten, the villi (tiny hair-like projections in the small intestine that absorb nutrients from food) are damaged. This is due to an autoimmune reaction to gluten. Damaged villi do not effectively absorb basic nutrients – proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and, in some cases, water and bile salts. If CD is left untreated, damage to the small bowel can be chronic and life threatening, causing an increased risk of associated disorders – both nutritional and immune related.” (And one every 133 people have this disease! Most don’t even know it, and are being treated for secondary symptoms and disorders instead.)

    I hope that CBS News Los Angeles will run another report on gluten-free living that will provide the public with more comprehensive information, as the current segment did little more than act as a mini-commercial for four gluten free products and encourage general misunderstanding.

    In closing, I have to say that Ms. Weintraub was absolutely right about one thing–She emphasized the necessity of getting tested for Celiac disease if you suspect you may have it. Doing so can make a dramatic difference in the quality of your life.

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