Is It Gluten Free?
For so many people nowadays, this is a very important question. Gluten disrupts a lot of people’s lives and these people will try to keep gluten out of their diet every single day. However, it is hard to get away from as gluten is hidden in many different things, including pizza, bread, pasta, wraps, rolls, most processed foods. It is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut and oats and is very hard to completely cut them out of your diet.
Although these proteins can be bad for about 80% of the population as they lead to gut inflammation, they can lead to terrible health problems for people who suffer with celiac disease. This is an autoimmune disease which responds by attacking the small intestine, damaging the villi. The villi are there to promote nutrient absorption, meaning that people suffering with this disease don’t get the nutrients they need such as fat, calcium, iron and folate. Osteoporosis, miscarriage, infertility, growth problems, cancer of the intestine, birth defects and seizures are all major health problems that sufferers can develop if they consume too much gluten. The only way to treat celiac disease is to stop eating gluten. This usually eases the symptoms within a few days and eventually stops the condition. In most cases, the damaged villi will heal within 6 months.
People who suffer with celiac disease or any form of gluten sensitivity are not however the only people who avoid gluten. As mentioned earlier, around 80% of the population experience some form of reaction to gluten, and living a life without it has been found to actually be quite healthy. Many people are cutting gluten from their diets simply for the health benefits and it can be quite hard to spot sometimes. With the risk of unlabelled or improperly labelled packaging, cross-contamination in kitchens, buffets and parties, people who are trying to stay away from gluten find it very hard to enjoy a lot of foods.
However, this can soon be a thing of the past! With this new electronic gadget, people who want to avoid gluten can do so, even when they haven’t prepared the food themselves. ‘Nima’ is one of Time magazine’s 25 best inventions of 2015. It has been designed by 6SensorLabs and is a portable gluten sensor. You simply take a sample of your food, pop it into one of their capsules to grind up food where the mixture inside the capsule then reacts to the food present. You then put this capsule inside Nima and the mixture is released on to a test strip. The sensors inside then analyse the test strip and within two minutes either displays a smiley or frowny face depending on a positive or negative result for gluten.
Nima can test solids, liquids and anything in between for gluten. It tests for 99.5% accuracy at 20 parts per million (ppm). It was designed by a team from MIT, Stanford, Google and Nike and has been made to fit into your pocket or bag so you can take it anywhere. With the app community, you can also connect to other users and rate and review certain restaurants and foods, which is great for looking at a restaurant before sitting down and realising there is no food on the menu that you can eat. This pocket sized lab is already proven as beta units has already accurately tested over 3000 samples and are still testing foods every single day.
The only major downside of this gadget is the price. For the Nima device costs $199 (about £140) on pre-order, and a whopping $249 (about £175) as standard. If you added on a pack of 12 one-use capsules it would cost $247 (about £175) on pre-order and $297 (about £210) as standard. And as these are one-time use capsules, you will have to keep replacing these. They only come in 12 packs and you can either opt for a pay-as-you-go way to buy them and pay $59.95 (about 40), or choose a subscription and pay monthly. You can either order 24 each month which will cost $95.90 (about £70) per month, 12 each month which will cost $47.95 (about £35) per month or order 12 every two months which will cost $23.98 (about £15) per month.
This means that, if you are trying to avoid gluten for the rest of your life, this will be an extremely useful, but exceptionally expensive device to use as an ongoing thing. However, like most electronic gadgets it will likely drop in price as more and more people buy it, and as other similar devices are introduced (Nima is an already improved version of the EZ Gluten that takes 10 minutes to test something for gluten). So, let’s hope that Nima lowers in price, or something comes out that is just as good but also costs less.
The Nima is currently not available to pre-order anywhere but in the United States, but hopefully by the time it is sent out to buyers in mid-2016 or shortly after it will be available internationally. But we are very excited about the little portable lab and are hoping it will be coming to the UK soon after it gets its main launch!
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