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I’ve been hearing about this book, Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health by William Davis, for a few months now. I figured it was probably a good book, but what I didn’t realize was that it would be such a great book! Admittedly, there is a fair amount of science talk in there that is tough to get through. But, there are also some amazing gems of information too. Personally, I think when you feel you might burst if you don’t tell someone about a book…that’s a good indication that it has made an impact on you!

 

So, what is it about this book that was so impressive? Well, Dr. Davis examines the history of wheat over the past thousand or so years and discusses how the introduction of genetically modified ingredients like gluten have really destroyed the essence of wheat. It’s true, the current wheat available is certainly not the same wheat that your grandparents ate. Now, you may have already discovered that for yourself. But, what he does explain rather thoroughly is how the ingestion of all this gluten-infused wheat is impacting society by causing so much inflammation and impacting diseases, particularly diabetes. Dr. Davis links all this “healthy, whole grains” hype with the intestinal and autoimmune damage that it is doing in all of our bodies. If you have diabetes, you’ll be intrigued to find out that those “healthy, whole grains” have a higher glycemic index than a Snickers bar!

 

In addition to all the science and background history about wheat/gluten, Dr. Davis talks about how his patients have had dramatic turnarounds in their own health because of eliminating wheat/gluten from their diets. (And, he even mentions that eliminating dairy along with gluten is a good idea too.) This is a great book to give a skeptical family member because Dr. Davis just doesn’t make claims and state his own opinion, he backs it all up with published studies that explain these exact findings about whole grains and autoimmune diseases. I encourage you to pick up a copy of Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health by William Davis, as soon as you can. I can think of a few family members that might find this under the tree for Christmas this year, too!

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There are three main reasons mainstream health professionals say human beings should drink a lot of milk.  The first is to get enough Vitamin D, the second is to get enough Vitamin A and the third is to get enough calcium.  Interestingly enough, dairy is not really a great source of any of these nutrients, and ingesting it can come with a whole slew of issues.

What is the Matter with the Moo Juice?

When shopping for food in the grocery store, it is important to make note of certain marketing terms.  One such term is “fortified.”  When a food product is “fortified” with any given nutrient, the food usually does not have a lot of that thing in it to begin with.  Milk is one such item.  In its natural pre-pasteurized state, it contains only trace amounts of Vitamin D.  A serving of whole variety has approximately 9 percent of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin A for an adult.  However, the reduced fat varieties contain even less Vitamin A.

Calcium is the third matter.  Most pasteurized varieties contain quite a bit of calcium.  The amount is usually around 300 micrograms per cup.  That is a good amount of calcium, but it comes with two problems.  The first is that the body needs magnesium with the calcium to digest it, and there is not usually enough magnesium to help with that process.  The second problem is that some studies have shown that this supposedly healthy liquid actually leeches calcium from the bones!  That completely negates one of the main reasons for drinking it in the first place.

Finally, for those who are trying to avoid casein for various reasons, including autism related issues to simply seeing if it is one of the sources of digestive distress, the drink contains quite a bit of casein.  There are generally six proteins in each variety of cow’s milk.  Of those six, four are casein.  That makes it terrible for a GFCF diet.

What are the Milk Alternatives?

Dairy is great for certain recipes, with cold cereals and a number of other foods.  However, because of its issues, it is often better to entertain the idea of using milk alternatives.  These are made out of several non-dairy foods, but the most common milk alternatives are:

  • Almond
  • Coconut
  • Rice
  • Soy

Two of the better types for baking and overall natural flavor are the almond and coconut varieties.  Most of these are interchangeable in every application with regular dairy.  Each variety makes great ice cream and, in the case of soy, a reasonable alternative to traditional cheese.  These are just a few of the ways to avoid moo juice while still enjoying the same recipes.

 

 

Is there really such thing as “healthy” junk food? The closest thing I have found is the tasty chips from Way Better Snacks. My family and I tasted all 6 varieties of these chips and we were impressed. In fact, we had a tough time choosing which flavor was the best.

All the chips have a nice, crunchy texture and a good “mouth feel” to them; they didn’t taste like cardboard or like a fake snack of any kind. Every chip contains sprouted grains, which provides many health benefits. These include: increased vitamins and minerals, increased antioxidants, increased digestibility, increased nutrient absorption, etc. It’s almost like you need to eat these to improve your health!

Here are our thoughts on each of the 6 flavors:

Black Bean – an all-around good tortilla chip. These disappear fast because they taste so good! Personally, I don’t like beans, but these have no “bean-y” taste to them; they just taste like a healthy chip.

Multi-Grain  – the packaging calls these “Sunny” chips. You can really taste the flax-seed in these, which is a good thing. I thought these tasted most like Sun Chips brand chips.

No-Salt Naked Blues – blue tortilla chips are fun, no question about it. If your diet limits or prevents you from having salt – here’s a great chip that you can still indulge in and feel good about it.

Sweet Potato – these chips don’t have a typical sweet potato flavor. In fact, my husband usually hates sweet potato chips, but he gave these two thumbs up!

Sweet Chili – this was my husband and I’s favorite flavor. They taste like a spicier version of Nacho Cheese Doritos, without the red dye!

Unbeatable Blues – my son liked these the best. In fact, he was very eager to share him with his friends (and they liked them too!).

There are many places to purchase Way Better Snacks, including Whole Foods Markets. Or, if you aren’t near any of those many locations, you can even order them in groups of 6 right from the company website. So, get snacking!

Disclaimer: Way Better Snacks provided me with  free samples of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

 

 

breadUnderstanding and Preventing Celiac Symptoms

Celiac disease or gluten sensitive enteropathy (GSE) affects about one in 133 people in the United States today. According to studies, celiac disease happens to 5-15 percent of those people who have siblings and other family members who are suffering from this ailment. However, among identical twins, about 70% of twins suffer from celiac symptoms shortly after the other is diagnosed with the disease. Given these high incidents of the disease among twins, doctors often subject the other twin to a series of test for celiac disease even if the other twin does not manifest any celiac symptoms.

Although there are so many people who are suffering from celiac disease in the country today, it not really clear as to what causes this type of ailment. Some medical professionals believe that celiac disease can be genetic judging by the way twins often display the same celiac symptoms, but there is still no concrete evidence to support this claim.

What are the Common Symptoms?

Some of the most common celiac symptoms are abdominal cramping, intestinal gas, bloating, distention of the stomach, chronic diarrhea and/or constipation, anemia, and weight loss even if the person has large appetite. In some other cases, celiac symptoms may come in the form of dental enamel defects, bone or joint pain, osteoporosis, depression, infertility, and fatigue and even ulcers. Since most of these symptoms are non-exclusive to celiac disease, one should not assume that you are suffering from celiac symptoms if you suffer from any of these conditions. In fact, a lot of medical professionals warn against starting a gluten-free diet until the existence of celiac disease has been medically confirmed.

How to Know If You Are Indeed Suffering From Celiac Symptoms

The only way to know for certain whether or not a person is suffering from celiac symptoms is to conduct a small bowel biopsy. This process involves gastroscopy or the passing of a tube from the mount of the patient to the gut where a small sample from the wall of intestine is taken for study. This can be quite an uncomfortable procedure but since a blood test is not always sufficient to establish if a person is suffering from celiac disease and the celiac symptoms can easily pass off as symptoms of some other types of diseases, this uncomfortable procedure is important to determine the true condition of the patient.

For more information about Celiac Disease, please visit these resources:

Celiac Disorder Foundation

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse

Celiac.com

National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

luggage_tagIt’s summertime…a time that many people go on vacation. But, what if you’re gluten-free? How can you manage travelling outside your comfort zone and still feel like you can find something to eat that won’t make you sick? The answer is found at Gluten Free Traveller! This website is chock full of information about different cities around the globe and where you can eat gluten-free in each of them.  For those of us worried about finding places to eat in far off places, this website is definitely something to consult when planning your next vacation/trip.

Here’s a snippet about the creator of this website:

“My name is Laura. I’m originally from Scotland (hence the British spellings throughout this website).  I was diagnosed with coeliac disease in August 2009. I cannot eat gluten ever again and even the tiniest crumb will make me sick. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye but it’s not as simple as just avoiding bread, pasta and beer like some people might think.”

The best thing about this website is that it’s written by people who have actually been to the locations, rather than a generic story or obvious advice like, “Ask what the ingredients are in the food you order.” By listing actual restaurants and location tips, you can really use this website when planning your trip, similar to how you would gather advice from a friend who has already been to the location that you plan to visit. Now, the only thing is….where do I want to go next!

Today’s product recommendation is a book about healing autism through natural methods. It’s titled, Healing and Preventing Autism: A Complete Guide, and is co-authored by Jenny McCarthy and Dr. Jerry Kartzinel.  This book contains quite a bit of information about the GFCF Diet as well as other nutritional therapies and supplements. It is not light reading, and if you are squeamish about detailed information about poop, you may have a tough time getting through at least one chapter! However, the reality is that for many people with autoimmune disorders, including those on the Autism Spectrum, poop is something we usually have to correct (either there is not enough or there is too much, to be polite). In addition to this information, there is also a great deal of information on environmental toxins, allergy testing, and dietary intervention.

I realize that if you are not a big Jenny McCarthy fan it may be tough to take this book seriously. However, while Jenny provides the human, humorous touch to the subject, the “meat” of the information comes from Dr. Jerry Kartzinel, a well-respected pediatrician specializing in the biomedical treatment of autism and autoimmune issues.  (To learn more about Dr. Kartzinel, go here.) I found that the combination of their voices helped to make a difficult and potentially boring subject quite readable. The book is set up in a Q & A format and is packed full of resources. My copy is dog-eared and I’ve probably re-read it about 4 times because it is such a good source of information.

I’d love to hear from you if you’ve read this book and what you thought of it. Please comment below!

elisa_test

ELISA is an acronym for Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The ELISA can be used for food allergies, like dairy or gluten intolerance. It can also tell you whether you are allergic to other things, like watermelon or garlic. Many people with autoimmune diseases, like Aspergers/Autism, have what is called a “delayed food reaction” which causes them to experience bowel issues, general stomach discomfort, or even behavioral reactions. The ELISA is a screening tool to determine what foods are causing problems and is often recommended to be done before starting any type of specialized diet, such as the GFCF Diet.

However, it is difficult to walk in to your typical doctor’s office and request an ELISA test because many doctors considered this to be “fake science.” (I would bet they don’t have someone in their household that has seen dramatic results from eliminating certain foods, though!) In order to get an ELISA test done, the best route is to either work with a physician who is considered an advocate of biomedical treatment of autism and other autoimmune diseases, formerly referred to as DAN! Doctors. You can submit all the samples and pay for testing on your own through various companies (see below), but by working with a physician, you will be able to discuss your testing results and then devise a plan for better health based on your ELISA test results.

When my son did his ELISA test, we found that he tested very high for garlic and yeast, but lower for other things like nuts. Through the advice of his biomedical specialist, we have eliminated garlic and yeast from his diet, but he does eat nuts sometimes. Some doctors will even have you eliminate anything that showed a reaction and then slowly rotate these foods in to see how the person will react.

Here are several well-known companies that offer ELISA tests for food allergies/intolerances. The only one I have personally used is the Great Plains Laboratory and they were very thorough. (Please use the following links, at your own risk; I am not a physician and cannot recommend any testing protocols specifically for you!)

Great Plains Laboratory   (need a physician to authorize testing if you live in the U.S.)

Accesa Labs (claim that you don’t need a doctor’s authorization)

Complete Nutrition & Wellness  (require a physician to authorize testing)

Discussion Questions (please add your comments below) –

Have you done food allergy testing and did you find it helpful?

What food(s) did you eliminate from your diet as a result of the testing?

Do you recommend a specific doctor and/or lab?

scaleA friend of mine asked me the other day, “So, if I quit eating gluten, can I lose some weight?” Well, that’s a tricky question. Yes, you can lose some weight if your previous eating habits have led you to eat mostly processed foods or if you ate a lot of dairy foods that tend to be high in fat and calories. However, just getting rid of gluten doesn’t always equal weight loss. Here are some quick facts –

1. Processed Foods – Unfortunately, the majority of Americans see this as the easy choice when it comes to meal preparation. They grab the frozen dinner, the chicken nuggets, or fish sticks and just “heat and eat”! Well, by eliminating the majority of these foods, you will not be filling yourself with empty calories (like from the breading on nuggets and fish sticks), but instead you will fill yourself up with fruits and vegetables that have more vitamins, minerals, fiber, and yet are much lower in calories.

2. Eating Out – because it is challenging to find restaurants that cater to a GFCF diet, you will eat out less and will definitely be skipping most fast food restaurants! (My son now exclaims, “Gross, they have too much gluten!” every time we drive by McDonald’s. I smile when he says that, knowing he is internalizing this healthier way of eating.)

3. Spending Money on What Matters Most – yes, you can buy many “gluten-free, dairy-free” products at most grocery stores now.  But, they are still very expensive and will cause you to think twice about downing a box of cookies or crackers in one sitting! Plus, as you become more confident in the kitchen, you will want to make your own foods and can control the sugar and calories much better.

4. When You Feel Better, You Move More – if you physically feel more alert and energetic, you will want to go for walks, play tennis, or go for a bike ride.  Feeling healthy automatically begets more healthy choices and I’ve yet to meet someone who is eating a GFCF diet that is sedentary. You just feel too good not to move!

5. You Realize What Real Food Tastes Like – before going GFCF, I had become pretty complacent in what I chose to eat. Now that I’m having to search out new recipes and find new ways to prepare fruits and vegetables, I’m finding that I actually enjoy eating.  It’s fun to find a new way to prepare green beans or carrots, rather than simply be content to have a salad at dinner every night.

In closing, yes – you can lose weight by cutting out dairy and gluten from your diet.  It’s just not a guarantee. But, I feel confident in guaranteeing that you will feel more energetic, more clearheaded, and happier about what you are eating if you give this diet a try!

It’s been quite awhile since I posted my concerns that I might be suffering from Celiac Disease myself.  I finally had a blood test and received the results…..negative. However, I have to disagree with the doctor on this one.  After spending 10 days eating gluten again (and, this was only about half the time anyway), I was totally miserable. In addition, I also listened to a very interesting podcast by naturopathic doctor, Dr. Lauren Noel interviewing an expert on Celiac Disease,  Dr. Thomas O’Bryan.  One of the most revolutionary things I learned in the podcast was that most blood tests for Celiac Disease are negative because you can’t test positive for Celiac Disease until it is ravaging your intestinal tract.  Dr. O’Bryan stated that if you are off gluten, then go back onto it and feel miserable (like I did) – you have at least a gluten intolerance and this is essentially the precursor to Celiac Disease. So, based on that information and my miserable time of going back on gluten – I’ve decided to avoid it completely!

It’s been interesting in the last few weeks how I feel like my awareness to the presence of gluten in so many things has really heightened.  I am amazed how we are literally inundated with it in our daily lives.  My son, Nicholas, even asked me the other day when we were buying a household cleaner, “Mom, check if it has gluten in it!” I laughed at the time, but I was proud of him for being so clearly observant and sensitive to the prevalence of gluten in our daily lives.  I am so much happier and feel so much better being off the gluten, that I can’t imagine ever wanting to eat it again.

I encourage anyone who thinks they might have issues with gluten to really investigate it and consider cutting it out of their diet for  a few months to see how they feel.  Dr. O’Bryan, in the aforementioned podcast, said he believes that as many as 60% of the population may have gluten sensitivity or intolerance! That’s a lot of people who could really benefit from changing their eating habits.  The podcast is full of great information, as is Dr. O’Bryan’s website; please check it out for more information.

As I’ve mentioned before, I use Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program. So, I was very excited to find a really good Coconut Oil available for a wonderful price through the program.  I now have two large jars of it – heaven! I think I signed up for a shipment every three months, we’ll see if I make it that long, since I do love using my Coconut Oil for just about everything! Watch for more recipes with Coconut Oil in them….

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Your Guide to Success with the GFCF Diet

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