Are you dealing with diarrhea, bloating, cramping, abdominal pain and constipation or “foggy mind,” depression and ADHD-like behavior or anemia, joint pain, osteoporosis, or leg numbness? Science is now realizing that for many people, these symptoms may point to gluten sensitivity. The only way to tell if you are sensitive is to go on a gluten free diet and eat only gluten free foods for a period of time to see if your symptoms improve. Doing this just got a lot easier. Starting this week, “gluten-free” labels on packaged foods have real meaning. Until now, the term “gluten-free” had not been regulated, and manufacturers made their own decisions about what it means. This new requirement is especially important for people who suffer from celiac disease and don’t absorb nutrients well. They can get sick from the gluten found in wheat and other cereal grains. Under a rule announced by the FDA a year ago, food manufacturers had until Tuesday of this week to ensure that anything labeled gluten-free contains less than 20 parts per million of gluten – ensuring that those products are technically free of wheat, rye and barley. That amount is generally recognized by the medical community to be low enough so that most people who have celiac disease won’t get sick if they eat it. Currently, wheat must be labeled on food packages but barley and rye are often hidden ingredients. The new standard ensures that companies can’t label products “gluten-free” if they are cross-contaminated from other products made in the same manufacturing facility. The rules don’t apply to restaurants, but the Food and Drug Administration is encouraging them to comply. Gluten-free foods have become big business in the last several years. Million of people are buying the foods because they say going without gluten makes them feel better even if they don’t have celiac disease. It has grown into a $4 Billion dollar industry that is still growing. And even though only 3 million people technically have celiac disease, some researchers believe that 50% of the US population or 1 in 2 Americans are suffering from gluten sensitivity and would benefit from a gluten free diet. But will this label really help people make better food choices? Yes, if they are searching to see if there is any gluten in a product. That, in itself, is extremely important. However, you still need to read the ingredients list as well as the nutritional label. Most gluten-free products contain more calories, are higher in saturated fats and sugars and even salt than products that are made from wheat, barley or rye. Most gluten-free products are lower in fiber too. So, while there are many products that boast being good for a gluten free diet, they aren’t good for maintaining health and the implementation of this new law won’t make the products any healthier either. As always, the best way to eat any grains or grain free alternatives such as millet and quinoa is to soak them overnight, and create your own recipes from them. Search for gluten free recipes on our website at www.myHDiet.com. The muffins I make are in there and with a little coconut butter or almond butter, are satisfying and truly nutritious! Oh and by the way, our BarleyMax is harvested from young, green leaves of barley before gluten forms. It has been certified as a gluten free food and is excellent for a gluten free diet.