With gluten sensitivity and gluten intolerance becoming an increasingly common condition, the development of methods and products to address this particular concern has also taken a pretty solid form lately. From gluten free recipes clogging food networks on the internet to 6SensorLabs’ new gluten testing device, the fuss about wheat has reached new heights.
What IS all the fuss about gluten?
Let’s start with what gluten is and where it is found.
Gluten is basically a hard-to-digest protein found in food like wheat, rye and barley. Oats also contain gluten unless exclusively labeled otherwise. Considering how almost all carbohydrate we consume at present like bread and pasta are made from wheat or wheat derivatives, gluten is more or less a staple in an average person’s diet. Not to mention, baked goods, soy sauce, french fries and soups are also very rich in gluten.
Now the fuss is because of the fact that a lot of Americans are gluten sensitive. The condition is not too common on our side of the world, but ofcourse, the internet tends to blow things out of proportion every time Americans are involved. Nevertheless, gluten intolerance is a real condition mostly seen as Celiac disease. Celiac disease is a very serious gastrointestinal condition causing people to suffer from abdominal pain, diarrhea, involuntary weight loss, fatigue, malnutrition, joint pain, mouth sores and infertility.
The Nima Sensor
6SensorLabs, a start-up in San Francisco, has developed a device that tests food for gluten in as little as 2 minutes and you don’t even have to leave your dining table. Shireen Yates, founder of 6SensorLabs conceived the idea back in 2012 at a wedding, while thinking of a way to know which foods she can eat without triggering her own gluten allergy as she’d forgotten her gluten free snacks at home.
The device works like a blood glucose monitor more or less. It is made of two parts – the sensor and a onetime use capsule. A small piece of the food to be tested is placed inside a capsule which is then closed and placed inside the sensor. After scanning the food, the sensor displays a blue smiley on its screen which indicates whether the food contains gluten or not. A happy face indicates that the food is safe to eat while a sad face indicates the opposite. It can detect as little as 20 parts per million, which is the standard measure for gluten-free labeling.
Although Nima is not the first gluten tester to grace the market, it is the first one to do it in less than 2 minutes. Existing tests take as long as 15-20 minutes to examine a sample. Nima will be available in stores towards mid 2016. The device has been announced to presale for between $179 and $199. After that it will retail for $249 with a monthly subscription for a dozen capsules running $47.95.