This month, an article I wrote was published in Gluten Free Living magazine. The piece delves into the increased risk of heart problems in patients with celiac disease and how this is being fueled by unhealthy foods hiding behind gluten free labels. Step One Foods was created to solve this exact problem. EVERY ingredient in EVERY Step One Foods product was chosen specifically for its health benefits. The fact that the products are naturally gluten free is just one of the many benefits of our foods.
Now, on to celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder linked to gluten ingestion. Gluten is the protein found in certain grains, especially wheat, barley and rye. When a person with celiac disease ingests gluten, they end up with small intestine damage leading to poor nutrient absorption. This is a very serious health condition that affects about 1 in 100 people.
In addition to the 1% with celiac disease, about 6% of people are gluten-sensitive. Meaning, they do not have classic celiac disease, but feel much better when they eliminate gluten from their diets. On top of those, there is an even larger group of individuals who believe avoiding gluten is simply better for you.
Food manufacturers have seized on this great economic opportunity and large numbers of gluten free products have been popping up on store shelves everywhere. Unfortunately, this has created more of a dietary trap than a path to eating better. Fat is gluten free. Sugar is gluten free. And the next thing you know, that White Chocolate Iced Mocha Latte gets stamped with a gluten free label - all 500 calories of it.
This may be one of the reasons why people with celiac disease face a doubling of heart disease risk. Celiac is associated with high levels of inflammation – and that in and of itself predisposes to heart disease because inflammation is also a central component of plaque formation. But if you just substitute inflammation from gluten with inflammation from unhealthy foods, you’re no further ahead in terms of preventing heart disease.
Eating healthfully while eating gluten free can therefore be a tricky business – and you really need to go far beyond gluten free. Because unless you’re really conscientious about your diet, you could end up deficient in the 4 critical nutrients for heart disease prevention – whole food fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants and plant sterols.
But getting enough of these nutrients can be hard - even if you don’t have celiac disease!
And that’s why I created Step One Foods. It is our mission to make heart healthy eating easy and delicious. You don’t have to measure, you don’t have to count points. You don’t even need to know how to cook! Just substitute two of our products for something you were eating before. That’s it! It's all you need to do to make sure you get clinically meaningful levels of those essential nutrients.
All Step One Foods products are certified gluten-free and have helped many people lower their LDL (bad) cholesterol by as much as 39 points in just 30 days. That’s as impactful as medications and proof that proper nutrition works in powerful ways.
Individuals dealing with celiac disease or any health issue that creates an increased risk for heart disease should make proper nutrition a top priority. Step One Foods is a great starting place for anyone ready to take the first step toward eating for a healthier heart.
You can read the full article in the May/June issue of Gluten Free Living.