Tag Archives: news

Scientists say: schedule gluten, save babies.

Hey new moms and moms-to-be, great news! Scientists have pinpointed the precise moment in your baby’s life when it’s acceptable to introduce gluten to his or her diet.

As long as you administer just the right dose of gluten no earlier or later than 3:42:18 a.m. exactly 126 days after your baby is born, he/she can’t possibly get celiac disease. (We don’t know yet about gluten sensitivity, sorry.) On the other hand, if you jump the gun or miss your cue, Baby is almost guaranteed to develop an autoimmune response to gluten, so get it right.

Don't mess up, now. Photo © Donnie Ray Jones | Flickr

Don’t mess up, now.
Photo © Donnie Ray Jones | Flickr

Sure, feeding gluten at that time goes against the World Health Organization (WHO)’s suggestion to breastfeed exclusively for six months to protect against gastrointestinal infections, decrease your baby’s chances of becoming obese, increase your baby’s likelihood of school success, and reduce your own risk of ovarian and breast cancer. But WHO are they to tell you what to do? You need to look at the big picture, and introduce gluten while you still can!

Oh, and should you follow the WHO’s other recommendation to continue to breastfeed for up to two years, then you’ll really seal the deal: the study demonstrates that babies who still latch on at age one may also be more likely to come down with a case of the celiac. Bummer!

The point I’m making, ladies, is that it’s up to you to prevent the spread of this celiac epidemic. So whatever you do, don’t focus on what seems right for your child’s and your own individual well-being. Your son wants to gum on a crust before the precise moment when it’s acceptable for him to do so? Tell him no! It’s how kids learn. Your eleven-month-old daughter still thinks breast is best? Wean her fast! Keep in mind that mother knows best, except when science does.

It’s too late to avoid passing your child the celiac genes. But you can make it right by timing it right. When it comes to introducing gluten, you must delay, delay, delay, and then ACT FAST. Keep that bread box stocked, and don’t be caught sleeping at the appointed time. In fact, set your alarm now.

Don't let Baby be caught sleeping, either. Photo © Yoshihide Nomura | Flickr

Don’t let Baby be caught sleeping, either.
Photo © Yoshihide Nomura | Flickr

The fate of your child is in your hands (and breasts). Celiac disease prevalence is increasing, and it seems mothers are to blame. Don’t become part of the problem.

If today marks day 127 of Baby’s life, then sorry, you’ve already flubbed it. You can always try again on your next child; science is all about learning from mistakes. Then again, having a sib with celiac disease will pretty much doom any future offspring, too, so you’d better not worry about it too much. After all, when it comes to ruining Baby’s life, getting stressed out is another surefire way.

For more totally-not-overstated headlines about the latest too-small-sample-sized study of a possible celiac risk factor by not-even-completely-convinced-themselves researchers, check out:

I’m glad research on causes of celiac disease continues. Still, I think sometimes we get so excited that science is paying attention to us that we give studies more weight than they deserve (even more than the researchers tell us to give them).

Confusing, isn't it? Photo © Alpha | Flickr

Confusing, isn’t it?
Photo © Alpha | Flickr

This was the latest in a patchwork of conflicting, insufficient studies on celiac disease triggers (and on breastfeeding). Most of the articles do include cautions about study limitations and conflicting existing research. But the headlines are pure mommy (sorry, “parent”) guilt.

Don’t you just love journalism?

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Sprue News: What’s Funny About Your Honey

Photo © Ano Lobb | Flickr

Photo © Ano Lobb | Flickr

Do you buy local honey?

I don’t. I buy the cheap stuff, the kind that comes in an anonymous plastic bear. Every time I go to the store or farmer’s market to stock up, I go with the intention of upgrading this time around. And every time, the price differential meets me halfway and knocks me right back down to the generic bear priced juuust right.

Despite knowing I don’t buy it that often and that I can probably afford to pay a few extra bucks when I do, and despite the insistence of every locavore ever that the taste difference is worth it, I just can’t seem to make myself fork (spoon?) over the extra money for my honey.

But that might have to change.

Mark Bittman posted about “honey laundering” in his This Week in Food post last week. He linked to this summary of the issue on the Business Insider blog. Apparently, he and I are both a bit late to the party; this story has been unfolding for years. Back in August of 2011, the headline being picked up by every blog was “Asian Honey, Banned in Europe, Is Flooding U.S. Grocery Shelves.” (By the way, am I the only one who hears honey is “flooding” the shelves and immediately imagines a viscous tidal wave of honey verrrry sloooowly and stickily overtaking the grocery stores? Is that the whole point of the headline? I don’t know; it took me an embarrassingly long time to get the “honey laundering” joke, so maybe my pun-dar is on the fritz today.)

According to the Food Safety News article, “A third or more of all the honey consumed in the U.S. is likely to have been smuggled in from China and may be tainted with illegal antibiotics and heavy metals.” Yikes.

According to that same 2011 article, “Another favorite con among Chinese brokers was to mix sugar water, malt sweeteners, corn or rice syrup, jaggery, barley malt sweetener or other additives with a bit of actual honey. In recent years, many shippers have eliminated the honey completely and just use thickened, colored, natural or chemical sweeteners labeled as honey.” As of February of this year, sophisticated laser technology has confirmed that your “honey” bear may be another beast entirely.

Photo © brixton | Flickr

Photo © brixton | Flickr

Apparently much of the “Chinese” honey back in 2011 was actually from India, where it was known to be produced in such a way as to include these dangerous contaminants. Although the EU was firm in rejecting it (apparently they’re more grossed out by tainted honey than horsemeat), the FDA made excuses to welcome it in. Honey contamination is an issue made difficult to control by its international scope and all kinds of export and import regulations that I’m not qualified to explain (read the real news coverage).

If you search the United States Department of Justice archives for honey, you turn up stories about honey smuggling dating back to 2009 and earlier. (You also learn about such fascinating things as honey oil, which is apparently another name for hash oil, “a concentrated, honey-colored liquid” that is “produced by steeping cannabis in liquid butane” and was seized by police in a drug bust in 2005, along with “cheesecake, nut ball, 2 dozen chocolate chip cookies, cookie dough, and 10 pounds of butter”—enough munchies for the entire squad.) Now, finally, the Department of Justice is recognizing the issue and dealing out some charges.

And I’m finally thinking about making some changes to my personal honey consumption, too. Why? Is it because buying cheap honey supports an international smuggling operation? Not really. Is it because the cheap honey might contain antibiotics or lead?

No! It’s because it might contain GLUTEN!

Let me roll that one back for you: cheap honey may be largely composed of sugar water, malt sweeteners, corn or rice syrup, jaggery, barley malt sweetener or other additives. Barley malt? That has gluten! It’s why I can’t eat regular Rice Krispies (though I tried the brown rice ones recently and they’re fine by me).

Since I don’t know whether or not my container of honey includes barley, and this is clearly not a case where I can call the manufacturer directly (since the manufacturer could be in Thailand, or China, or India, or just about anywhere), I’m tossing that silly old bear from my cupboard and replacing it with a brand I can trust.

Is it totally backwards to care more about potential gluten contamination than potential lead poisoning? Maybe. But whatever gets you there, right?

Have you been following the honey controversy and have you ever had a problem with contaminated honey? Do you avoid generic brands and if so, what kind do you prefer to buy? Do your purchasing decisions in general take this kind of issue into account?

P.S. I focused on this particular news story today because it actually relates to the theme of my blog. I did want to note that I’ve been following the story of the explosions in the Boston Marathon and that, thankfully, none of my Bostonian friends and family were anywhere near there. If your loved ones were affected, know that my thoughts are very much with you.

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