Tag Archives: gluten

Wheat No More

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Nutritionists first suggested avoiding foods with gluten when it started to become known that they were harmful to people with Celiac disease. Indeed, medical researchers discovered that when glutens are ingested, this serious autoimmune disorder, affecting the small intestine, causes the body to mount an immune response that can trigger such side effects as unexplained iron-deficiency anemia, fatigue, bone or joint pain, arthritis, osteoporosis, depression or anxiety and migraines, to name a few.

From that dietary acorn a giant oak of abstinence has grown. For some, it’s due to the fact that non-Celiac disease sufferers have milder but still unpleasant reactions to glutens. Call them gluten-sensitive, if you will. However, a greater and greater number of people also don’t eat anything containing gluten and it has nothing to do with a medical condition. They claim that by avoiding this latest “don’t-eat-du jour,” pain, skin rashes, acne, anxiety and depression, are said to magically disappear. And in their place is increased weight loss and energy, even happiness. Continue reading

Demystifying Health Fads

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Here in Los Angeles alone, it feels like you can find a restaurant to accommodate any dietary needs or preferences. Restaurants that serve only cold-pressed juice, vegan items or traditional fare from countries you’ve never even heard of. Gluten-free Southern food sounds like a paradox, but people can try.

There is a lot of talk about what you should be eating more of and what you should be avoiding so we decided to review three of the biggest buzzwords in health and diet these days.

Gluten: 
Everyone’s going gluten free because it’s healthier, right? That’s right, right? Interestingly enough, gluten is only a problem for the approximately 1% of Americans diagnosed with Celiac’s disease who’s immune system actually damages the lining of the small intestine while trying to process it. The problem with everyone else avoiding gluten, according to some experts, is not with the ingredient so much as how easy it is to miss out on other vital nutrients like iron and fiber by avoiding foods like whole wheat. There are certainly grains without gluten but the key here is knowing that going gluten-free isn’t necessarily the key to a healthier lifestyle.

Kale:
Traditionally a winter crop, this hearty green that’s sneaking it’s way into salads everywhere is actually super good for you. It’s got a ton of Vitamins A, C and K. We’re talking 684% of your daily value of Vitamin K in just a cup. It’s low in calories and while it might be an acquired taste, it’s worth considering as a dietary staple. Something to note- Kale will be less thrilling if you are low on calcium or taking anticoagulants as it blocks calcium absorption and can mess with certain medications, so check with a doctor before you start eating it by the bucket loads.

Probiotics:
We spend a lot of money on cleaning products every year to get rid of bacteria from our homes, but so why are buy bacteria to put into our bodies? Made more well-known thanks to the family favorite, yogurt, Probiotics are good bacteria that, when added to your digestive system, can help ease bloating and get your body processing food like it should. Stress, sitting on planes for hours, eating like a maniac can wreck you, or more specifically, the living microbes in your body that break down and retrieve the nutrients you need. Probiotics are valuable to keeping your intestines in good shape otherwise. We’ve also learned that just having some yogurt here and there won’t be enough to set everything back in balance which is why many opt for a probiotic supplement like SCD Essential Probiotics as opposed to consuming more miso soup than you know what to do with.

Before you hop on the health fad popping up in your grocery stores, make sure you know what works best for you and your body. If it means cutting the gluten, by all means. If not, you’ve made a knowledgeable decision. The point is that you’re in the know.

So, maybe have a donut. Not too many donuts. And maybe wait for dessert ’til you’ve had a kale salad.

 

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The One Diet That Can Cure Most Disease: Part 1

Red, Yellow, GreenIf I told you there was one diet that could cure arthritis, fatigue, irritable bowel, reflux, chronic allergies, eczema, psoriasis, autoimmune disease, diabetes, heart disease, migraines, depression, attention deficit disorder, and occasionally even autism and that it could help you lose weight quickly and easily without cravings, suffering, or deprivation, you might wonder if Dr. Hyman had gone a bit crazy.

But it’s true. And the story goes like this.

Food is medicine. Bad food is bad medicine and will make us sick. Good food is good medicine that can prevent, reverse, and even cure disease. Take away the bad food, put in the good food and magic happens.

The problem with current medical thinking is that it treats diseases individually, requiring specific diagnoses and labels: “you have migraines,” “you have depression,” “you have psoriasis.” And then you get the migraine pill, the antidepressant, and the immune suppressant.

What if you didn’t have to treat diseases specifically or even need to know their names? In fact, I often see patients—like one I saw yesterday—who came with 20 pages of analysis from a dozen doctors from the Mayo Clinic. Her “diagnoses” were “muscle pain, fatigue and insomnia,” and she had been given no recommendations for treatment. Not very helpful!

I recently saw a patient treated at Harvard by multiple specialists. She was on 42 pills a day for severe allergies, asthma, and hives. She even died twice and had to be resuscitated after anaphylactic shock. In just a few short weeks, simply by changing her diet, she got off all her medications, and her allergies, hives, and asthma were gone.

Another patient, who suffered for decades with reflux and irritable bowel and whose symptoms weren’t controlled with acid blockers and “gut relaxers,” got complete relief from his symptoms one week after changing his diet.

What if you could just treat the whole person with dietary changes, upgrading the information given every day to your body through food? Food is information carrying detailed instructions for every gene and every cell in your body, helping them to renew, repair, and heal or to be harmed and debilitated, depending on what you eat. What if you could send messages and instructions to heal your cells and turn on healing genes? And what if, by some simple changes in your diet, you could get rid of most of your chronic symptoms and diseases in just one week (or maybe two!)?

That is entirely possible. Some people call it detox, Some people call it an elimination diet. I call it the inclusion and abundance diet.

I call it UltraSimple!

The best part of this approach is that you don’t have to trust me or any “expert.” You simply have to trust your body. It will tell you very quickly what it likes and doesn’t like.

If you are constantly putting in information that is making your body toxic, sick, and fat—hyper-processed industrial junk food, sugar, flour, chemicals, additives, MSG, high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, artificial sweeteners, inflammatory foods, or what I call anti-nutrients—it acts like poison in the body. It inflames your gut and your cells leading to whole-body inflammation that you experience as pain, allergies, headaches, fatigue, and depression and that leads to weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease.

This one diet, The UltraSimple Diet—getting the junk out, getting inflammatory foods out, adding healing, detoxifying, anti-inflammatory foods—has the power to heal in a way that medication can’t and never will be able to.

I have used it for decades with tens of thousands of patients with remarkable results. We are beginning studies at Harvard that will look at how to tackle the toughest diseases with a simple change in diet.

This approach can work faster and better than any medication. The power of this simple diet change—getting rid of the bad stuff and putting in the good stuff—can often reverse the most difficult-to-treat medical problems and give people the experience of profound wellness, even if they don’t have a serious illness. It is something everyone should try just once. Most of my patients say, “Dr. Hyman, I didn’t know I was feeling so bad until I started feeling so good.”

Let me share a story, one that is very common in the world of functional medicine, which is the science of treating the roots causes of disease, the science of creating health.

One patient, a medical school professor and doctor, came to see me after struggling for years with psoriatic arthritis. He was crippled by pain and inflammation, despite taking powerful immune-suppressing drugs, including an ibuprofen-like drug, chemo drugs, and a drug called a TNF alpha-blocker that suppresses the immune response so much that its side effects include overwhelming infection, cancer, and death. Still, he wasn’t better, and at 56 years old, he was planning to quit. He couldn’t operate any longer and could barely walk up the stairs. He had psoriasis all over his skin, and it was destroying his joints. He also had reflux, depression, canker sores, constipation, and trouble with concentration. His liver function tests were abnormal, and he was overweight.

He had a horrible diet. He ate oatmeal with milk and sugar for breakfast, tuna with soup and cookies for lunch, and fish or meat with vegetables and potato or pasta for dinner. He snacked on cookies and protein bars. He avoided chocolate and fatty foods. He ate out more than five times per week and craved sweets and caffeine, consuming three to four cups of coffee and one diet soda per day. He drank about 12 alcoholic beverages per week, including wine and the occasional scotch.

So, I put him on The UltraSimple Diet, getting rid of industrial food, caffeine, alcohol, and sugar and adding whole, real foods. I also got rid of the most common food allergens and sensitivities.

At his first follow-up visit, he arrived pain-free and said he hadn’t felt so good in years. He reported an 80% reduction in pain, could climb stairs more quickly, and was no longer limping. All his pain and stiffness were gone. His hands had been swollen and difficult to open, but now, the swelling was gone and he could operate again. And he had quit all his medications after the first visit (even though I told him not to). His reflux and migraines were gone. His mood had improved, and he was less irritable. He was no longer constipated. And he lost 15 pounds.

If there is one thing I could encourage everyone to do, it is to take just one week to see just how powerful a drug food can be. There is nothing to lose but your suffering. It doesn’t take months or years to see change. It happens in days or weeks.

In my next blog, I will explain exactly what this diet is, why it works, and how it heals your body. And I will show you how to get started.

Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below—but remember, I can’t offer personal medical advice online, so be sure to limit your comments to those about taking back our health!

 

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com.

The Bottom Line on Gluten – No Longer the “Staff of Life”?

Homemade Wheat BreadWhat’s the deal with Gluten?

With all the hype around “gluten-free” food, this is a question I often get. “What is the big deal?” the question goes. “People have been eating wheat for thousands of years.” They’re right, of course. Wheat is called the “staff of life” for a reason. It has been nourishing us since the dawn of civilization. Traced as far back as the ancient Egyptians, wheat has been a mainstay in the human diet. So, what happened that changed this nourishing grain into a toxin for many people?

The answer is that what we eat now is not the wheat our ancestors ate. It’s not even the wheat our grandparents ate. The wheat we grew in this country a scant 50 years ago does not even resemble the over processed, pesticide-laden, gluten packed stuff that is common throughout the western world. Most of the wheat in our current food supply is a dwarf variety that has been hybridized to have as much as 10 times the amount of gluten as its ancestors 100 years ago. This, plus the pesticides, fungicides, and over-processing over the last 50 years has made wheat almost unrecognizable from it’s original nutritious form.

In just 10 years, the numbers of reported gluten intolerance and celiac disease have seen a meteoric rise. One report found that while only 1 in 2500 people reported a gluten intolerance in 1990, the number is 1 in 133 today.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat and related grain species like spelt, rye, barley, and kamut. This grain is used as a “glue” for holding together most baked goods, as well as some candies. It is used as a thickening agent for soups, glazes, marinades and sauces. Gluten can also be found in processed deli meats, textured vegetable protein, lipstick and play-doh, among other unlikely places.

So, what’s the problem?

The problem is that gluten is difficult for many people to digest. Gluten intolerance occurs when the body reacts to gluten as it would to a virus or bacteria. It sees the protein as a foreign invader and attacks. This is called an immune response. This response creates inflammation, and inflammation causes anything from joint pain to headaches to eczema to inability to concentrate to fatigue, as well as the more commonly associated stomach pain and indigestion.

 What is the difference between a gluten intolerance and celiac disease?

A common misconception is that gluten intolerance and celiac disease are interchangeable terms. Gluten intolerance and celiac disease have a common culprit, but the way the body responds to it is different. Both conditions create an immune response in the body. The difference is that celiac disease also creates an auto-immune response, which means that the body not only attacks the foreign invader, but it also attacks itself. This results in the villi in the lining of the stomach being killed off by the body’s immune system. The villi absorb the nutrients from the food we eat, so most people with untreated celiac disease will also show signs of malnourishment.

Either way, gluten intolerance and celiac disease create major disruptions in the way your body digests food. Doctors and scientists are discovering many ways that gluten can impact your health. A newly recognized form of celiac is called behavioral celiac. This condition occurs when the symptoms tend more towards disruptive behavior, and inability to concentrate, than the more common signs of celiac, and is often misdiagnosed as ADHD.

How do I know if I’m intolerant?

Unlike celiac, there is no reliable test for gluten intolerance. The best way to find out if you are gluten intolerant is to take it out of your diet for a while and then put it back in and see how you react. A major problem is that the Standard American Diet is packed with gluten. It is in nearly all processed and fast foods because it is inexpensive and flexible. If you are intolerant, you can be having a chronic low level inflammatory response and not even know it. Maybe you are tired in the afternoon or tend to get headaches or feel bloated. Maybe you think that this is not a big deal. The fact is that this low level inflammation is the root cause of most diseases, and should be taken seriously.

The Bottom Line on Gluten

Everybody’s body is different. If you’re interested in a gluten-free diet, the very best thing to do is try it out for yourself. You may be one of the many people who discovers it improves their health, mood, and overall wellness.

I strongly recommend trying a 7-day elimination diet. Eat absolutely no gluten for 7 days, and monitor your energy level, mood, and mental clarity. On the 8th day eat a bagel (which is like eating a brick of gluten) for breakfast and see how you feel for the next 24 hours. If you find that you get that familiar headache, stomach ache, or feel sluggish, then you might have an issue with gluten and should remove it from your diet.

Need help figuring out how to go gluten-free? Take a look at my list of gluten-free diet substitutes.

If you’re interested experimenting with GF recipes, try my delicious gluten-free banana chocolate chip muffins!

photo by: Emily Carlin

Gluten Intolerance: A Real Health Risk or Just a Fad?

Imagine suffering from painful bloating and digestive problems your whole life, to the point where you can’t go out with friends, have sleepovers growing up, or get through a romantic weekend away without frequent, awkward runs to the bathroom—and have no idea why. This is life for Shauna Sampson, who, due to an autoimmune disorder called celiac disease, can’t process wheat and other common grains. The worst part? For the first twenty-five years of her life, she didn’t realize she had it.

“The crazy thing is, no one had heard of it back then,” she says. “Now, everyone’s talking about being gluten-intolerant.”

Sampson is right—from segments on the Today show to entire Whole Foods aisles dedicated to gluten-free goods, this food sensitivity seems to be on the rise across the United States. (Heck, Chelsea Clinton even had a gluten-free wedding cake.)

For around 1 percent of the U.S. population, gluten (the protein found in wheat, rye, barley, bulgur, matzo meal, semolina, spelt, and a handful of other grains) harms sufferers’ ability to absorb nutrients—often resulting in severe pain and discomfort.

Then there’s the newer contingent of gluten avoiders. Rose Copperman, a twenty-four-year-old teacher, cut gluten out of her diet just a little over a year ago, at the advice of a trainer helping her lose weight.

Right away, I started dropping pounds,” she says. “I cut the cake lying around the office, downing beers with coworkers, and chowing down on bread with my meals.” Though it was challenging at first, Copperman says her diet still resembles her previous one, just with healthier carbohydrates. She can find gluten-free bread, cereal, and even cookies at most markets.

All the buzz brings up a number of questions: Is gluten intolerance really on the rise? Or are more people, like Copperman, just giving the lifestyle a try? And how practical, really, is leading a gluten-free life?

The Symptoms
“‘Celiac disease,’ ‘wheat allergy,’ and ‘gluten intolerance’ are often used interchangeably,” says Suzanne Girard Eberle, a certified sports dietician and nutrition therapist in Portland, Oregon. “However, there is a difference between these three medical issues.”

Celiac disease, though highly damaging to the system, can silently wreak havoc on those who have it—since many lack noticeable or unique symptoms. Those who do have perceptible signs suffer from persistent diarrhea, bloating, and stomach discomfort after eating wheat (and other gluten-containing products)—issues that are easily attributed to a number of other ailments. “This is a lifelong condition—there is no cure,” says Eberle. “The treatment is to avoid all gluten.”

The autoimmune condition means more than just an upset stomach and awkward bathroom situations. With celiac disease, the body’s immune system actually attacks normal tissue, including the small intestine’s hairlike projections, called villi, which absorb vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. As villi are slowly destroyed, the body absorbs fewer nutrients, leaving sufferers with a range of malnutrition-related health problems, like iron deficiency, anemia, and osteoporosis.

What about people who don’t have celiac disease but whose bodies indicate gluten intolerance? Another possibility is a wheat allergy, in which the body undergoes an allergic reaction in the skin, mouth, lungs, and even the digestive tract. Symptoms include a rash, wheezing, lip swelling, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, says Eberle.

Sensitivity to gluten is yet another thing. It happens when someone experiences intolerance—sort of like people who are lactose-intolerant do when they eat ice cream. “GI symptoms with wheat or gluten intolerance may include gassiness, abdominal pain, abdominal distention, and diarrhea,” says Eberle. “These symptoms are usually transient and thought not to cause permanent damage.”

Since there are a variety of different causes for reactions to wheat—and these causes can be easily confused with other health problems—seeing a doctor for testing is the only effective way to decipher whether gluten is truly the culprit.

Are We Increasingly Intolerant?
The sudden profusion of gluten-free products isn’t a reflection of more people’s actually suffering from gluten intolerance, but a combination of increased diagnoses and nonallergic folks giving the lifestyle a try—a new diet that magazines and television are popularizing. “Many people are self-diagnosing themselves as having an allergy to gluten, due to misinformation,” says Eberle. “I’m unaware of any actual surge in confirmed [cases].”

She credits media hype with playing on our ongoing fascination with diets, quest for weight loss, and distorted fear of food. “That said, there is an increase in people diagnosed with celiac disease, thanks to increased education and awareness,” she says. This includes newer diagnostic methods, such as blood testing.

Because of this heightened awareness surrounding celiac disease, gluten-free fare has become the fastest-growing health-food category. Last year, around 5 percent of the foods and drinks in the United States were marketed as gluten-free, according to Innova Market Insights, and this number is only projected to rise over the next few years.

How Feasible Is a Gluten-Free Life?
Thanks to companies’ manufacturing a growing number of appetizing gluten-free goods and supermarkets’ including a gluten-free smorgasbord in their aisles, it’s become easier to live gluten-free without sacrificing flavor or variety. For people like Sampson, “even a few years ago, it was much more difficult,” she says. Certain gluten-free grains, like oats, can be contaminated with wheat during processing, and therefore dangerous, despite their technically being gluten-free. Silent ingredients, such as food additives, as well as products like toothpaste, lipsticks, medications, and vitamins, often contain hidden gluten, too. “It used to take me hours to grocery shop,” Sampson says. Today, there are oats clearly marked as gluten-free, and a bevy of beauty products, vitamins, and toiletries that are ensured against contamination during processing. “I was always sick before I cut out gluten,” says Sampson. “Now I’m healthy and happy, and I eat flavorful foods every day.”

But can you miss out on key nutrients by eliminating gluten? Yes, says Eberle. “It all really depends on what foods you eliminate, and to what degree,” she says, “as well as what you eat instead.” A recent study found that a significant number of people with celiac disease don’t get their daily recommendation of key nutrients, such as iron, calcium, vitamin D, fiber, and B vitamins. So if you’re currently avoiding gluten, or even considering it, it’s important to consult a doctor to be sure you’re meeting your nutritional needs. Doubtful? Take a walk down the gluten-free aisle of your nearest gourmet grocery store—and just try to resist those gluten-free doughnuts.

Secrets to Enjoying Gluten Again

 Can You Digest Gluten Comfortably?
How many of us have noticed that we don’t digest certain foods as well as we used to? Or started modifying our diet in our thirties and forties to feel better and be healthier? Though it makes sense to eat healthier, we have to be careful that we haven’t turned towards eating easier to digest foods in the name of eating healthier, when it is really because we can no longer digest them as well as we once did. If we don’t digest beef, wheat, dairy soy or corn very well, we can’t assume that we are digesting everything else perfectly.
 
I know there are issues regarding how these foods are processed that make them hard or even impossible to digest.  I am not suggesting that they are good for us. What I am saying is that many of us have taken certain foods out of our diets that have been unnecessarily deemed bad and indigestible. Gluten may be one of them and is the focus of this video-newsletter and article.
 
Gluten – Innocent Till Proven Guilty?
In the name of good health we are often told to stop eating wheat or gluten and to start taking digestive enzymes because,  "as we  age, we  lose our digestive strength."  While I am being forced to concede, albeit slightly to the aging process, I completely disagree that our digestive strength has to slow down just because of the number of years we have been on this planet.
 
In the last twenty years or so, gluten has been accused of causing allergies, chronic fatigue, insomnia, auto-immune conditions, attention deficit disorder, asthma, memory loss, focus issues, headaches, rashes, joint pain, digestive issues, malaise, anxiety, depression, cravings and exhaustion – to name a few.  In America we are innocent until proven guilty and I think gluten has been convicted without a fair trial. Giving gluten a life sentence with only symptomatic evidence just isn’t right!  Let’s dig in here and find out the truth about gluten.
 
10,000 Years of Gluten
Gluten is a protein that has been eaten for 10,000 years all around the world and still is to this day. It is most commonly found in wheat but also found in many other grains.

Undigested Gluten is the Problem – Not Gluten Itself
There are good studies that have shown that the undigested protein molecule of gluten can cause Leaky Gut Syndrome. This is a syndrome where the villi of the small intestine become damaged and begin to separate, which causes the spaces in the semi-permeable membrane of the small intestines to break down.  Undigested proteins, pathogens and fat soluble toxins can sneak into the blood and lymph before they are neutralized by the digestive system.  In my last two video-newsletters on The Miracle of the Lymph and Look and Feel Vibrant in 3 Steps, I explained that 80%  of the body’s immune response is located in the gut. When these villi get beaten up by undigested gluten you can begin to see why a host of symptoms arise and why gluten has been given a life sentence.
 
Weak Digestive Fire Can’t Cook Gluten

Gluten is a very hard to digest protein that requires a specifically strong acid in the stomach to process it. Without optimal digestive fire, gluten will not be broken down in the stomach.  If gluten passes through the stomach undigested, it will – if eaten in excess – cause irritation to the intestinal villi.
 
Though it is common for the strength of the stomach acids and the overall digestive strength to weaken over time, it is not due to the aging process. This is a very reversible condition at any age. If we don’t reset the digestive strength, a host of symptoms such as toxicity, food allergies, gluten intolerance and deficiencies will ensue. 
 
As it turns out, gluten is not particularly bad.  It is simply a harder protein to break down that can wreak havoc on the gut wall if our digestion has become too weak to digest it.  We are told, "Stop eating wheat and all your problems go away."   
 
Well some of them do disappear – for a while – until the problems start to return again.  Then we take other hard to digest foods off the diet like dairy, corn, nuts, soy, fish and so on, until eating becomes a very challenging venture.

Read Secrets to Enjoying Gluten Again below to learn how to improve your digestion.

Secrets to Enjoying Gluten Again
 
First we must diagnose why the stomach acids have been turned off in the first place and why we can no longer digest richer or heavier foods.  The main causes are dehydration, lymph congestion, thick bile, congested liver, inflamed intestinal villi and stress. There are simple treatments for all of these, which I have written about in these recent video-newsletters:  Surprising Symptoms of Poor DigestionTop 10 Weight Loss Tips (which is really about improving digestion) and The Miracle of Lymph.
Start Your Engines
Usually the stomach acids have been turned off for a reason and we must identify that first. Often, with good habits, the body balances itself and all that is needed is to turn the digestive fire back on. For this I use a technique called The Trikatu Protocol. This is where you increase the amount of Trikatu capsules you take with each meal until you begin to feel a sense of warmth and digestive heat before, during, after or in between  meals. Once you feel this, the stomach acids are working. Then you wean off the Trikatu while maintaining the digestive warmth around each meal, which indicates that the fire is still working even with smaller and smaller doses of the Trikatu. If you feel any burning or acid feelings then this means the stomach is not able to handle the fire for another reason.
 Gluten Isn’t Meant to Be Eaten Every Day of the Year
The other secret about gluten and wheat is that it was never meant to be eaten three times a day, every day of the year. This overwhelming amount of gluten, along with increasing stress, will bog down the digestive process and begin to let the gluten through the stomach without being properly broken down.
Wheat and most other glutinous grains are harvested in the fall and thus eaten in the winter. This heavy, warm, wet protein rich grain is the perfect antidote for the coldness and dryness of winter.  Interestingly, according to Ayurveda,  our digestive strength and fire is strongest in the winter. We can digest the hard to digest foods in the season they are harvested. In the spring, which is a damp, heavy, wet time of year, this grain is not available if you are eating based on natural harvesting cycles.

A Gluten Free Spring

After a long winter of eating heavy, insulating foods rich in proteins and fat, nature changes the harvest and gives us a fat free and gluten free harvest each spring. It takes about 6-8 weeks without gluten to heal and repair the villi and nature has designed this digestive rest to happen each spring:
  • Leafy greens fertilize the villi with new healthy bacteria.
  • Bitter roots that are harvested each spring, like dandelion and turmeric, cleanse the villi of excessive mucus.
  • The berries and cherries of late spring de-stagnate the Gut Associated Lymphatic Tissue that resides just on the outer wall in the intestinal tract.
Ancient Techniques to Help Digest Gluten
I am always amazed at how traditional cultures developed successful techniques to help them enjoy the tastes and benefits of wheat and gluten. Sourdough bread is one of them.  The culture of the sourdough goes through a fermentation process that breaks down the gluten protein and renders it much easier to digest. So look for a good quality sourdough bread and toast it for added digestibility.
 One other technique to help the stomach win the battle of breaking down the gluten protein is to soak your grains overnight. This softens the grain and activates enzymes within the grain that begin to break down and release this protein. Here are some ideas:
  • Soak oats (or other cereal grains) overnight before cooking them for breakfast
  • Soak grains like barley and bulgar before turning them into a delicious soup, casserole or stew
 Conclusion:  Eat Smart
If you abuse gluten, over eat it and let your digestive fires weaken, it will have its way with you.  With strong digestion, which we can rekindle, and respect of natural harvest cycles, most of us can enjoy the taste and benefits of wheat for many more years to come.

Why All the Hype About Gluten?

WheatIf you’re not gluten-free yourself, you probably know someone who is.

Many think of it as the next trend in eating or some kind of diet. In fact, it’s a lifestyle change that can eliminate many symptoms of disease and result in improved health and well-being.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is the main protein in wheat. When ingested through foods that contain wheat, the body’s immune system sometimes sees it as a toxin and attacks it, resulting in inflammation and exhausting the immune system. This process can create significant problems, and not just digestive ones.

Gluten sensitivity can manifest through everything from the most extreme, such as Celiac disease, to less obvious problems such as thyroid issues, bloating, fatigue, depression, headaches, and fibromyalgia. Once gluten enters the bloodstream, it can also have a negative affect on other organs through something called “cellular mimicry,” where the immune system will attack cells that look like gluten, but aren’t gluten, such as heart cells.

Gluten sensitivity can turn into autoimmune disorders, and autoimmune disorders are among the top 10 leading causes of death.

The earlier gluten screening is done, the sooner a person can start to make changes and the body can begin to heal. There is often a delay of several years between the start of symptoms and the diagnosis of something like Celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

Modern medical diagnoses may not look for gluten sensitivity and report normal results, but a person may still experience distressing symptoms. Medications are often prescribed to deal with symptoms like headaches, bloating, or thyroid problems, addressing the problem but not the source of the problem. Looking at the root cause of illness is a healthier approach to healing and creating long-lasting results.

Many people write off potential symptoms of gluten sensitivity, such as gas or bloating, as normal or common. However, symptoms of any kind only occur in unhealthy bodies. They are the body’s way of signaling us that something is wrong and needs to be changed.

If it seems like gluten has just recently become a part of our vocabulary, it’s because it has. The effects of gluten can take years to surface. Grains have been around for as long as we can remember, but wheat and gluten have become more concentrated with our consumption of fast and processed foods.

What Foods Have Gluten?

Gluten is not just in the obvious places, such as bread or baked goods. It’s often used as a thickener in sauces such as gravy and is present in salad dressings, beer, lunch meats, and soy sauce, to name a few. It’s often used in the preparation of fried foods and soups. It can also be in the most random foods such as mustard, licorice, instant coffee, and curry powder.

The list of foods containing gluten is not a list of foods that can’t be eaten. There are gluten-free versions of many foods, and it just requires reading labels and rethinking what we put in our bodies.

There are also many gluten-free snacks available in response to the growing number of people going gluten-free, such as thinkThin protein bars.

As infants and children we are exposed to foods, and our immune system learns which ones are a “friend” and which ones are a “foe.” If the immune system learns early on that gluten is an enemy, it will continue to attack it every time it sees it, turning a protective body function into a disease.

Continuing to ingest gluten when your body is attacking it can result in malabsorption of important nutrients.

This is because the inflammatory attack damages and shrinks the lining of the intestines and limits the normal absorption of nutrients. Poor absorption can lead to fatigue and overall poor health.

While there are blood tests for gluten intolerance, it’s easy to test for gluten sensitivity on your own. Go a month without eating gluten and then slowly introduce it back into your system. See how you feel. You don’t need a doctor to tell you what’s wrong or right in your body. You live in your body every day and have for years. Listen to what it’s telling you. Listen to what it needs.

In future posts we’ll discuss healthy alternatives to gluten and the pros and cons of a gluten-free diet.

References: The Gluten Effect, by Drs. Vikki & Richard Petersen, D.C., C.C.N.

 

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Gluten-free diet, day 15

Originally posted at Vitality Health Hub.

It’s day 15 and I am still gluten-free! Basically, I just wanted to write this short post and tell you how well it is going, although it has not been without it’s challenges.

Over the course of the last week I have stuck to my guns with the occassional meal or snack of some rice to satisfy some cravings, and while doing this I have always felt good that I’ve not let myself slip.

On two occassions I have been really challenged however:

  1. Last night I was training a client who is on a strict anti-fungal diet, and she was talking about getting Chinese food (which is my absolute FAVOURITE cheat/treat!). Even just talking about it was challenging me. The first thing I did when I got home was to eat my normal food which I knew would lift my blood sugar and make me crave much less.
  2. Earlier on in the week, my wife (bless her heart), thought she was doing a fantastic treat for me – she made me an apple crumble with coconut flour and organic oat flakes. It looked fantastic, smelt fantastic, but unfortunately she didn’t realise that on the gluten free diet I am not allowed oats. Luckily it didn’t go to waste and she got to enjoy it all to herself, even if I was a little envious.

This second challenge was not a hard challenge physically – there was no physical cravings for the apple crumble whatsoever. It mainly involved the mental/emotional challenges of not wanting to upset Laurie by not eating her surprise. I could have very easily said "Ok, I’ll have some", enjoyed it initially and then felt extreme guilt afterwards for failing ten days into my mammoth 6 month challenge.

Instead I chose to be honest – it’s the best policy – and let her know that however thoughtful I felt it was, I couldn’t eat it. She didn’t mind, and I felt good too.

I tell you this story to let you know that a lot of addictions, and other decisions we make in life, are not always based on physical impulses but mental conditioning, and often emotional responses to family and friends. Whenever you decide to do anything in life, I suggest making sure that you do it for yourself first, and then please others second if you can.

Gluten Free Diet

 Originally posted at Vitality Health Hub.

I wrote in my most recent post that one of my health goals for 2009 is to go ‘gluten-free’ for at least six months, possibly a year.

The reason I decided to do this is because gluten has many undesirable properties as a food product. Gluten basically means any grain that contains the protein gliadin. Some of the side-effects of eating gliadin are abdominal bloating or digestive discomfort, mood swings, energy highs and lows, depression and anxiety, failure to absorb and assimilate nutrients, and many, many more.

If you suffer from any of these and eat gluten then it is likely that you have a gluten intolerance – generally a sensitivity to these foods that aggravates your system. Even if you don’t have any of the above symptoms, you may still find that you benefit from a gluten free diet.

In the past I have suffered from many of the above, hence my desire to eliminate gluten altogether from my diet.

A gluten free diet means eliminating all grains except rice, millet, buckwheat and corn. (I also have a corn intolerance so I have to avoid this too!) Now for many people this might seem very restricting – eliminating breads, pastries, pastas, cakes, cookies, etc – but the benefits far outweight the foods that you might "love". I am just 9 days into my New Years Resolution and I feel fantastic already – clearer mind, less bloating, better digestion and better moods. Just 9 days in! Fantastic!

Since I can admit that I am addicted to gluten (or at least I was!), I decided to give myself a fallback, and I have definitely needed it. I am using rice and my food that I am always going to turn to when I get a craving. I like rice but was never a big eater of it until these past 9 days. This might be something you want to try if you also go for a gluten-free diet.

However, be careful! I was recently told by a fellow blogger that some rices  are actually coated in gluten. 

Not proven, but definitely an issue that is not solved yet.

I was directed to this site and I can take one rule from it regarding rice:

– Make sure it is not "enriched". If it is, then it is likely to be enriched and coated in a grain that is likely to contain gluten / gliadin. My suggestion would always be to go for organic produce too as you are then avoiding pesticides and other industrial farming chemicals.

So, there you have it. Try the gluten-free diet and see how you feel. Maybe you can’t commit yourself to a full 6 months just yet, but I suggest you try 21 days with not a sniff in your diet and re-evaluate. 

I’ll let you know how I get on with my own challenge!

Addictions

Originally posted at Vitality Health Hub.

It’s the fourth of January 2009. I am hoping that everyone came into this year as the clock struck midnight on the last day of December 2008 with clearly defined goals about the way they want the year to turn out. Even if this isn’t exactly the case, maybe you just had one goal, aim or resolution that you wanted to achieve.

For many people they want to beat addictions around this time of the year. For me, it doesn’t matter what you are addicted to, it can still be called an addiction – cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, food, sex, people, places, work.

I use this definition of an addiction: If you are compelled to do something, but it DOES NOT take you towards you overall dream vision of yourself.

Of course, for this to be true, you need to have an overall dream of yourself first. To continue this example I am going to discuss my own addictions and New Years Resolutions – hopefully you’ll see I’m a real person too, and The Art of Living Healthy isn’t always simple.

My overall dream of myself is to be as healthy as I possibly can, with fitness, strength and optimum sporting performance to boot. I want to be free of emotional ups-and-downs, have good mental clarity and loving relationships with all those around me. I also want to have good work-life balance and minimise the stress in my life.

Sounds like heaven doesn’t it? 

Now, this dream doesn’t have to be your Resolution but just something in the back of your mind to help you to know where you are going. The next question is, what am I doing about it? So in December I took a good hard look at my life and noticed a few things, and saw that some of the actions I was taking in my everyday life were not taking me towards my overall dream of myself. In fact they were taking me further away! Not a sensible move!

From here it becomes reasonably simple – change your habits to serve your overall dream!

One example of a habit that was not serving me is that on occassions I would still eat gluten. I eat a great diet 95% of the time – some would call it perfect! However, I teach the 80/20 rule that you can still eat the occassional "treat" every now and then, and this is what I would do. Typically I’d go for all of the things I’d suggest to cut out: Wheat/Gluten, Sugar, Dairy.

I’d do this, might feel crappy for the day but then be back to myself right as rain the next day as long as I didn’t overdo it!

However, for as long as I have been doing this, I can honestly say that my health and fitness has not necessarily been progressing as fast as I would like it to. Then I saw a video presentation with JP Sears of the CHEK Institute, and he said that when you eat gluten it so damages and irritates the walls of the intestines that in order for the gut to start healing itself you need to be without gluten for 60 days – just for it to start healing! No gluten whatsoever! Not even any cheats!

I don’t believe there has been a 60 day period in my entire life where I was away from gluten (as a baby/child my nutrition was very poor) – I’d probably imagine I had gluten at a very young age!

So, this is my aim for 2009: 6 months being gluten free. I was addicted to eating gluten and I knew this because I was compelled to eat it and it wasn’t taking me to where I wanted to go. So I found where I wanted to go, decided why, and went there.

I suggest the same process for all addictions. If you notice something is not serving you, then take action and do something about it. I would recommend finding an alternative to the habit in case you find it particularly difficult as you may well do, but motivation is the key. Definite decisions about your future are most certainly the key!!! And do it NOW!!!

(My alternative to gluten is rice, just so you know!)

So if you have got this far into 2009 you are already doing quite well – it’s the 3 day hump that you have to get over and it is well known to be the hardest period of any addiction, so well done to get to the 4th January.

However if you started on the 1st and have already returned to your old ways, don’t panic!! Just start again, using the formula above, and give yourself an overall dream / motivation to carry on.

 

 

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