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Gluten free a weight loss diet? NO. Check out this article for valuable info!

I saw this awesome article this morning on the Gluten Free Cooking School website.  This was one of the first websites I found when going gluten free and have gotten a wealth of information from Mary Frances and her husband John.  When I read this article, it really sums up so many things that I have wanted to tell people!  So instead of my version – check out what John has to say about gluten free diets!  I’ve left in all of the links so you can research further on your own.  When you are done, head over to their website and check out all of the fabulous information and recipes available and sign up for her cooking school!

LIVE AND LOVE THE GLUTEN FREE LIFE!  😀

Lose Weight, Improve Energy Levels, and Feel Great: Three Variations On The Standard Gluten Free Diet

July 19, 2012 By John

There’s often a lot of confusion about starting a gluten free diet. Most people, when they’re interested in eating gluten free, look up “gluten”, find out that’s it’s contained in wheat, and they figure all they need to do is avoid wheat in their diet. Then they hear that gluten might be in other grains as well, and that it can be a “hidden” ingredient in some foods, so they end up confused as to what they can and cannot eat.

Compounding the issue is the prevalence of gluten free food products that are starting to appear in grocery stores more and more frequently. Are these boxed flour mixes and frozen dinners healthier than a whole foods diet that happens to contain gluten?

So if you’ve heard about the gluten free diet in the news, or a friend mentioned that they’re trying it out, or you read that Miley Cyrus is now gluten free, where do you start? Do you just avoid wheat and eat everything else like normal? Are processed foods bad? Are there any other ingredients that you need to look out for besides wheat?

I think the answer to these questions is contained in the reason that you’re thinking about going gluten free. Let’s take a look at 4 different ways to eat gluten free, and see which one will work for you.

(Quick note: For the purposes of this article, “diet” doesn’t necessarily refer to a weight loss diet. It simply means an overall way of eating.)

SAD minus gluten – This diet doesn’t have a particular name, but it’s what most people try at first when they go gluten free. The SAD, or Standard American Diet, generally consists of 50% carbohydrate, 15% protein, and 35% fat. When people decide to go gluten free, they often unconsciously stick to these amounts, and simply replace gluten-containing carbs with new gluten free carb sources.

Is this a healthy diet? Well, the answer is “It depends.” It depends on your particular situation and your health.

If you’ve just been diagnosed with celiac disease or a similar gluten intolerance, removing gluten from your diet is, hands down, the best (and first) thing that you can do is to improve your diet and overall health. In this case, eating the “SAD minus gluten” diet is not a bad choice, especially as you’re getting your feet under you on the whole GF thing.

(That’s not to say that you should try to eat tons of carbs and nothing else when you go GF. Check out our guide to your first week of eating gluten free to get some ideas of healthy, whole food meal ideas to try out.)

Once you’ve been gluten free for a while, and seen improvements in your health, you may be inspired to continue to improve your health through other dietary changes. Removing common allergens such as milk, soy, and corn are often a reasonable next step. Some of the diets mentioned below may be good choices too.

Can I Lose Weight On A Gluten Free Diet?

If you’re trying a gluten free diet to lose weight, and you keep eating the same number of calories, and the same amounts of carbs, fat, and protein that you ate before, you’re almost certainly not going to lose weight. Removing gluten from your diet is not a magical potion for weight-loss. In fact, we can attest that you can gain quite a bit of weight if you have daily access to delicious home-made gluten free biscuits, pizza, cakes, etc.

That being said, there are weight-loss diets that are gluten free. If you’re looking to increase your energy levels, lose weight, or generally improve your health, then I recommend starting with one of the three diets below.

Slow Carb Diet – Popularized by Tim Ferris in The 4-Hour Body
, the Slow Carb Diet is designed to help you lose weight. The rules of the diet are pretty simple:

Rule #1: Avoid “white” starchy carbohydrates (or those that can be white). This means all bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and grains. If you have to ask, don’t eat it.

Rule #2: Eat the same few meals over and over again, especially for breakfast and lunch. You already do this; you’re just picking new default meals.

Rule #3: Don’t drink calories. Exception: 1-2 glasses of dry red wine per night is allowed.

Rule #4: Don’t eat fruit. (Fructose –> glycerol phosphate –> more bodyfat, more or less.) Avocado and tomatoes are excepted.

Rule #5: Take one day off per week and go nuts. Eat anything that you want (except gluten, if you have a medical reason to avoid it). I choose and recommend Saturday.

Mary and I did the Slow Carb Diet for several months last year and had great results. We both lost significant amounts of weight, and actually enjoyed the diet. The thing that I love most about the SCD is that it is naturally gluten free six days of the week, and the only time you have to watch what you eat (in terms of gluten) is Cheat Day.

If you’ve been wondering why our Cooking School has so many “not good for your” recipes, Cheat Day is the explanation =)

Primal/Paleo Diet – Mary and I are currently on a 30-day trial of the Primal diet, and things are going great. I have a lot more energy when I eat low-carb, and I don’t crave more food a few hours after eating like I used to.

The rules of the Primal diet are somewhat more complicated than the SCD, as it encompasses more than just the diet. Sleep, exercise, and play are also addressed. As far as what you eat, the Primal diet focuses on meat, vegetables, moderate amounts of fruit, and nuts. All grains, dairy, legumes, and refined carbs are out. If you’re interested in reading more about this diet and why it works (which is really, really interesting), then this book
would be a good place to start.

The Warrior Diet – The Warrior Diet is similar to the Primal diet, but with one major change: You only eat once a day. You fast all day (although you can eat some fruit during the day if you’re really hungry), and then eat a huge meal at night.

Ori Hofmekler, the man behind the Warrior Diet, recommends a Paleo diet approach to the foods that you eat – i.e., meats, veggies, and fruit. He also says to focus on protein and fat for your big meal, and finish up with carbs if you’re still hungry.

I wouldn’t recommend that you go straight from the Standard American Diet to this one. Fasting for most of the day is very hard and painful if your body is used to receiving grain and sugar based meals on a regular basis. Now that we’ve been eating Slow Carb/Paleo for 20 months, we can comfortably fast long enough to do the Warrior Diet, and we do follow that plan on days where we are not terribly hungry or when it’s just not convenient to eat gluten free.

Summing It All Up

A gluten free diet, though it can improve your health if you have celiac or some other wheat/gluten allergy or intolerance, will not necessarily result in weight-loss. Some people will lose weight; others will not.

However, there are weight-loss diets that are inherently gluten free. These weight-loss diets are ideal for those who need to be gluten free and lose weight. There is also plenty of anecdotal evidence that these diets will improve other aspects of your health. To make it even better, these diets are all enjoyable and do not focus on calorie restrictions. You’ll probably experience carb cravings, but you shouldn’t actually be hungry. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

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Amazing uses for coconut

I think that it follows when you become gluten free, you learn more and more about the wonderful things that NATURAL foods can do for you.  This was the case with me and coconut.  While I don’t really care to eat the stuff……….I stumbled upon a great article written by Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama that I am sharing with you explaining what this wonderful oil does and giving you 160 uses for coconut oil!!  She has other really good information on coconut oil relating to specific conditions like Alzheimers, Hashimoto’s, pregnancy etc…on her site, check it out when you have a few minutes.

I’ve been using coconut oil for SO many things in the last 6 months and have had positive results.  My quick success story – A couple years ago I had gotten a tattoo on my ankle/foot and discovered that I am allergic to the red ink.  It never healed right, everything that was red was raised and sometimes itched, this went on for almost two years.  I started using the coconut oil on my skin, rubbing it in instead of lotion (the gluten, mineral oil, paraben lotions were really giving my skin a fit too).  Within one month the raised area on the tattoo was GONE!  My skin is totally healed and smooth and does not itch.  I’m thrilled.

I should clarify this post really has nothing to do with gluten free – other than the fact that coconut oil has no gluten!  But since all of us glutenfreers are trying to take better care of ourselves, I thought you might like this info.  I’ve been told that you can buy coconut oil at Walmart, however I buy mine from my local health food store.  What I buy is solid, but it melts very quickly, in fact I just put a little in my hand and it will melt enough to rub it into my skin.  Enjoy her article:

Coconut Oil – An Overview
Offering a myriad of health benefits, coconut oil is affordable, readily available and completely natural. I use it for EVERYTHING. Literally. I buy it in 5 gallon increments and keep it all over my house. I even have some in the car. So here is a little information to inspire you to check out this amazing oil!

Coconut Oil Is: 

  • Anti-bacterial (kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, gum diseases, and other bacterial infections)
  • Anti-carcinogenic (coconut oil has antimicrobial properties so it effectively prevents the spread of cancer cells and enhances the immune system)
  • Anti-fungal (kills fungi and yeast that lead to infection)
  • Anti-inflammatory (appears to have a direct effect in suppressing inflammation and repairing tissue, and it may also contribute by inhibiting harmful intestinal microorganisms that cause chronic inflammation.)
  • Anti-microbial/Infection Fighting (the medium-chain fatty acids and monoglycerides found in coconut oil are the same as those in human mother’s milk, and they have extraordinary antimicrobial properties. By disrupting the lipid structures of microbes, they inactivate them. About half of coconut oil consists of lauric acid. Lauric acid, its metabolite monolaurin and other fatty acids in coconut oil are known to protect against infection from bacteria, viruses, yeast, fungi and parasites. While not having any negative effect on beneficial gut bacteria, coconut oil inactivates undesirable microbes.)
  • An Antioxidant (protects against free-radical formation and damage)
  • Anti-parasitic (fights to rid the body of tapeworms, lice and other parasites)
  • Anti-protozoa (kills giardia, a common protozoan infection of the gut)
  • Anti-retroviral (kills HIV and HLTV-1)
  • Anti-viral (kills viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles, hepatitis C, SARS, AIDS, and other viruses)
  • Infection fighting
  • Has no harmful for discomforting side effects
  • Known to improve nutrient absorption (easily digestible; makes vitamins and minerals more available to the body)
  • Nontoxic to humans and animals
Daily Dosage:
Here is a chart outlining the recommended daily dosage of virgin coconut oil for persons over the age of 12. Coconut oil may be consumed by children under 12 but it is advisable to check with a healthcare practitioner on the proper dosage. Any good naturopath will have the information at the ready. (Starting at 12 months of age, I gave my daughter one teaspoon per day and she weighed about 16 pounds at that time.)
Weight in pounds/kilograms
Number of tablespoons of coconut oil daily
175+/79+
4
150+ /68+
3 1/2
125+ / 57+
3
100+/ 45+
2 1/2
75+ / 34+
2
50+ / 23+
1 1/2
25+ / 11+
1

Type of Coconut Oil to Use:

  • Virgin (unrefined) coconut oil tastes and smells coconutty and is great for cooking and baking where you want that flavor. You can use it for anything but it will impart a coconut taste (mild) and odor (pleasant in my book)! Unrefined coconut oil retains the most nutritional value and is superior to refined oil.
  • Expeller pressed (refined) coconut oil can be used for anything. It does not have a coconutty smell or taste. It is still outstanding to use but does lose some of it’s health properties during the refining process.
  • Food grade should always be used.

160 Uses for Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil for Personal Hygiene/Body
1.   Age Spots (also known as liver spots) – applying coconut oil directly to the age spot will help it fade.
2.   After Shave – coconut oil will help heal your skin after shaving without clogging pores. Great for razor burn!
3.   Baldness – apply three times a day to affected area of hair loss. Coconut oil supports cell regeneration.
4.   Birth Marks – can be used after a laser removal treatment to aid in healing. Can also be applied after an apple cider vinegar treatment to help support and aid the fading process.
5.   Body Scrub – mix coconut oil and sugar together and rub all over! Rinse off and your skin will be super soft! You can add in essential oils if you would like a specific smell.
6.   Bruises – applied directly to the bruise, coconut oil enhances the healing process by reducing swelling and redness.
7.   Bug Bites – when applied directly to a bug bite, coconut oil can stop the itching and burning sensation as well as hasten the healing process.
8.   Burns – apply to burn site immediately and continue applying until healed. Will reduce the chances of permanent scarring and promotes healing.
9.   Chapstick – just rub a little into lips and it not only acts as a softening agent but it also has an SPF of about 4 so you get a little protection!
10. Cradle Cap – having issues with dry skin on your baby’s scalp? Coconut oil will not only nourish your baby’s skin, it also helps eliminate cradle cap. Just rub a teaspoon onto scalp daily.
11. Dandruff – coconut oil soaks into the scalp moisturizing dry skin and relieves symptoms of dandruff. It also helps to control oil secretion from the scalp, another leading cause of dandruff.
12. Deodorant – coconut oil alone can be used as a deodorant, but even more effective in combination with cornstarch/arrowroot powder and baking soda!
13. Diaper Salve – very comforting on a rashy bum with no harsh chemicals. Also safe for cloth diapers.
14. Exfoliator – coconut oil mixed with sugar or sea salt is a very nourishing and effective exfoliator and safe to use all over the body.
15. Eye cream – apply under the eyes to reduce puffiness, bags and wrinkles. Use on the lids in the evening.
16. Face Wash/ Soap – mix equal parts coconut oil with olive oil, almond oil, avocado oil and castor oil and use in place of soap when washing your face. Wet face, rub oil in and leave on for two minutes, rinse and pat dry. One teaspoon should be adequate.
17. Hair conditioner/ Deep Treatment – use as a leave-in hair conditioner by applying a teaspoon of coconut oil to your ends and then running your fingers through your hair to distribute the rest! For a deeper treatment, rub in a tablespoon of coconut oil onto your dry scalp and gently work through to the ends. Put a shower cap on to prevent transfer onto bed linens and leave on overnight.
18. Hair Gel/ Defrizzer – rub a little between your palms and either scrunch into hair (for curly hair) or finger comb in through from scalp to ends (for wavy/straight hair).
19. Healing – when applied on scrapes and cuts, coconut oil forms a thin, chemical layer which protects the wound from outside dust, bacteria and virus. Coconut oil speeds up the healing process of bruises by repairing damaged tissues. Plus, it smells a heck-of-a-lot better than anything from the pharmacy.
20. Lubricant – it is an all-natural, perfectly safe personal lubricant. Not compatible with latex!
21. Makeup Remover – use a cotton swab and a dab of coconut oil and you would be amazed at how well it works!
22. Massage Oil – pretty simple; grab some and rub!
23. Moisturizer – simply scoop some out of the jar and apply all over your body, including neck and face.
24. Mole Remover – when applied after an apple cider vinegar compress for several weeks, moles have been known to “slide off” or just disappear.
25. Nipple Cream – works great to nourish cracked, sore or dry nipples. Apply to a cotton ball and leave on your nipples between feedings.
26. Oily Skin Fix – prone to oily skin or an oily T-zone? Use a pea sized amount underneath makeup or alone to reduce the appearance of oil.
27. Pre Shampoo Treatment for Hair – rub a little into scalp and hair before shampooing. This is especially useful for those with course or frizzy hair.
28. Pre-Shave – coconut oil will prep skin for the pending damage caused by shaving.
29. Skin Problems – coconut oil relieves skin problems such as psoriasis, dermatitis, and eczema.
30. Stretch Mark Cream – coconut oil is great at nourishing damaged skin. It may not be the magic stretch mark cure but it will help.
31. Sun Burn Relief – rub liberal amounts of coconut oil into the affected area.
32. Sunscreen – see my post on natural sunscreen for more detailed information.
33. Swimmers Ear – mix garlic oil and coconut oil and put a few drops in affected ear for about 10 minutes. Do this 2-3 times a day and it usually works within one or two days.
34. Tattoo Healing and Moisturizer – continued use of coconut oil on tattoos will help keep the pigment from fading. Used on new tattoos, coconut will hasten the healing process and decrease the chance of infection.
35. Toothpaste – there are numerous recipes out there but I just mix coconut oil and baking soda and dab a little of the mix on my toothbrush.

36. Wrinkle Prevention and Wrinkle Reducer – rubbing coconut oil on winkles and sagging skin helps strengthen the connective tissues to bring back that youthful look!

Coconut Oil for General Health and Wellness
37. Breastfeeding – for breastfeeding moms, consuming 3 ½ tablespoons of coconut oil daily will enrich the milk supply.
38. Bones and Teeth – coconut oil aids in the absorption of calcium and magnesium leading to better development of bones and teeth.
39. Digestion – the saturated fats in coconut oil help control parasites and fungi that cause indigestion and other digestion related problems such as irritable bowel syndrome. The fat in coconut oil also aids in the absorption of vitamins, minerals and amino acids, making you healthier all around.
40. Energy Boost – coconut oil boosts energy and endurance making it a great supplement for athletes as well as those needed a quick pick me up.
41. Fitness – coconut oil has been proven to stimulate your metabolism, improve thyroid function, and escalate energy levels, all of which help decrease your unwanted fat while increasing muscle.
42. Improves insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose making it great for both diabetics and non-diabetic.
43. Lung Function – increases the fluidity of cell surfaces.
44. Nausea – rub some coconut oil on the inside for the wrist and forearm to calm an upset stomach.
45. Nose bleeds – coconut oil can prevent nose bleeding that is caused by sensitivity to weather such as extreme heat and extreme cold. This condition happens when the nasal passages become dry because of cold or dry air resulting to burns and cracks in the mucus membranes so bleeding happens. To prevent this just put coconut oil in you nostrils. Coat your finger with coconut oil and then lie down and coat your finger inside your nose. Doing this will strengthen and protect the capillaries in the nasal passages. A Vitamin C supplement will also help prevent nose bleeding.
46. Oil pulling with coconut oil offers a two for one health benefit!
47. Stress Relief – relieve mental fatigue by applying coconut oil to the head in a circular, massaging motion. The natural aroma of coconuts is extremely soothing thus helping to lower your stress level.
48. Vitamin and nutrient absorption

49. Weight loss – the saturated fats contribute to weight loss and controlling cravings. Also increases metabolic rate.

Coconut Oil for Health Problems (when taken internally it is known for aiding, preventing, relieving or even curing these health issues)
50. Acid reflux/indigestion aid if taken after a meal
51. Adrenal fatigue
52. Allergies (seasonal hay fever)
53. Alzheimer’s/Dementia
54. Asthma, even in children
55. Autism
56. Bowel function
57. Bronchial Infections
58. Cancer (has been shown to prevent colon and breast cancer in laboratory tests)
59. Candida Albicans
60. Cholesterol – improves HDL (‘good’ cholesterol) to LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol) ratio in people with high cholesterol
61. Chronic Fatigue
62. Crohns Disease and resulting inflammation
63. Circulation/feeling cold all the time
64. Colds and Flus
65. Constipation
66. Cystic Fibrosis
67. Depression
68. Diabetes – helps keep blood sugar levels stable and/or helps with cravings
69. Dysentery
70. Eczema – in addition to taking it internally, many have success applying it externally, but some don’t
71. Edema
72. Energy boost
73. Epilepsy (known to reduce epileptic seizures)
74. Fever Support
75. Flaky, Dry Skin
76. Gallbladder disease and pain
77. Gas
78. H. pylori
79. Head Lice
80. Heart Disease (protects arteries from injury that causes atherosclerosis)
81. Hemorrhoids (can applied externally or internally twice a day)
82. HIV
83. Hot Flashes
84. Hyperthyroidism
85. Immune System Builder
86. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
87. Jaundice
88. Kidney Disease
89. Kidney Stones (aids in dissolving them)
90. Liver Disease
91. Lung Disease
92. Malnutrition
93. Mental Clarity
94. Menstruation Relief regarding pain/cramps and heavy blood flow
95. Migraines (with regular use)
96. Mononucleosis
97. Osteoporosis
98. Pancreatitis
99. Parasites
100. Periodontal Disease and tooth decay
101. Prostate Enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia)
102. Rickets
103. Skin problems
104. Scurvy
105. Stomach Ulcers
106. Toenail fungus
107. Thrush
108. Thyroid Function (regulates an overactive or underactive thyroid)
109. Ulcerative Colitis
110. Underactive thyroid gland – results have shown subsequent thyroid
blood tests becoming normal after ingesting coconut oil daily
111. Urinary Tract Infections (Bladder Infections)
Coconut Oil and Health Problems (when applied topically it is known for aiding, relieving, or even curing these health issues)
112. Acne
113. Allergies/Hay Fever – rub a little inside the nostrils for quick relief. The pollen will cling to the oil.
114. Athletes foot
115. Back pain/sore muscles
116. Boils and cysts
117. Canker sores
118. Cellulite
119. Circumcision healing – although I am personally against circumcision, I have read that coconut oil is a really great healer for this.
120. Decongestant – rub coconut oil on the chest and under the nose when congested from a cold or allergies
121. Ear infection – place a few drops inside the ear twice daily for relief from pain. Also fights the infection itself.
122. Genital Warts (through topical application over 6 weeks, and coconut oil enemas twice a day depending on the location of the warts)
123. Gum Disease and Gingivitis (use as a toothpaste or rub directly on gums)
124.Herpes (applied topically and taken internally)
125.Hives (reduces the itch and swelling
126. Pink eye (applied around and in the eye)
127. Ringworm
128. Toothache
129. Warts
Coconut Oil and Cooking
130. Butter Substitute – use 1 cup to 1 cup ratio when replacing butter in recipes with coconut oil.
131. Nutritional Supplement – melt and add to smoothies.
132. Replacement for butter/lard/Crisco/PAM in its solid form for greasing pans, pie crusts, etc.
133. Replacement for various oils in liquid form – baking, cooking, sautéing, etc.
Coconut Oil and Pets/Animals
Check with your veterinarian but the recommended dosage for animals is 1/4 teaspoon for every 10 pounds of body weight twice daily.
134. Aids healing of digestive disorders like inflammatory bowel syndrome and colitis
135. Aids in arthritis or ligament problems
136. Aids in elimination of hairballs and coughing
137. Applied topically, promotes the healing of cuts, wounds, hot spots, dry skin and hair, bites and stings
138. Clears up skin conditions such as eczema, flea allergies, contact dermatitis, and itchy skin
139. Disinfects cuts and promotes wound healing
140. Great for dogs and cats for general wellness. Just add a teaspoon to their water bowl daily.
141. Helps prevent or control diabetes
142. Helps sedentary dogs feel energetic
143. Helps reduce weight, increases energy
144. Improves digestion and nutrient absorption
145. Makes coats become sleek and glossy, and deodorizes doggy odor
146. Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) have been shown to improve brain energy metabolism and decrease the amyloid protein buildup that results in brain lesions in older dogs.
147. Prevents and treats yeast and fungal infections, including candida
148. Reduces allergic reactions and improves skin health
149. Reduces or eliminates bad breath in dogs
150. Regulates and balance insulin and promotes normal thyroid function
Other Uses for Coconut Oil
151. Chewing Gum in Hair Remover – just rub some coconut oil over the stuck chewing gum, leave in for about 30 minutes, then roll the gum between your fingertip. Voila! It’s out!
152. Goo Gone – just mix equal parts coconut oil and baking soda into a paste. Apply to the “sticky” area and let it set for a minute. Then scrub off with an old toothbrush or the scrubby side of a sponge.
153. Insect repellent – mix coconut oil with peppermint oil extract and rub it all over exposed skin. Keeps insects off better than anything with DEET!  Tons safer too.
154. Moisturizing and cleaning leather products
155. Oiling wood cutting boards and wood bowls
156. Polishing Bronze – all you have to do is rub a little oil into a cotton towel and then wipe down the statue. It cleans and helps deepen the color of your bronze.
157. Polish Furniture – coconut oil with a little bit of lemon juice to polish wood furniture. However, I recommend you test it first on a very small, unobtrusive part of your furniture to make sure it works the way you’d like.
158. Seasoning animal hide drums
159. Seasoning cookware
160. Soap making – coconut oil can be used as one of the fats in soap.
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When You Can’t Get a Diagnosis AND 5 Frequently Missed Diseases

Medical Mystery: When You Can’t Get a Diagnosis
Something’s wrong with you—and no doctor can pinpoint what. Here’s how to handle this frustrating but surprisingly common situation
By Meryl Davids Landau

Her symptoms came on slowly but kept getting worse. Within a few months, Susan Warm’s fatigue had turned into debilitating exhaustion, her aches had graduated to serious pain, and her periodic sweats had developed into waterfalls that plastered her hair to her head. Warm, then 45, consulted several doctors, each of whom ran a variety of tests and declared she was suffering from nothing worse than the symptoms of menopause. “I thought I was going crazy, because I felt so bad for no explainable reason,” recalls Warm, a customer-marketing specialist in Pasadena, California.

Eight months into her ordeal, Warm persuaded an ER doctor to admit her to the hospital. There, one of the attending physicians touched her drenched arm and said, “I haven’t felt sweats like this since I last treated tuberculosis.” Sure enough, even though Warm didn’t have the classic TB cough, she tested positive for the disease. (The infection was in her bloodstream, not her lungs.) Once Warm took the appropriate antibiotics, she was cured—at last.

Americans believe that diagnosis is the cornerstone of medical care: You go to a doctor, who labels your problem and prescribes a treatment that makes you well. But what if the process gets stuck at the labeling stage? “We have a fantasy that as soon as we describe our symptoms, the doctor will know what is wrong with us. But the reality can be much more complicated,” says Evan Falchuk, president of Best Doctors (bestdoctors.com), a Boston-based company that helps corporate employees get second opinions from top physicians. You don’t expect the doctor to be stymied, particularly after extensive testing. But failures to find a diagnosis do occur—and while no one knows exactly how often, 10,000 patients contact Falchuk’s firm for help every year.

TV shows like House contribute to our misconceptions. Although Dr. Gregory House is portrayed as an expert in diagnostic medicine, such a medical specialty exists only in scriptwriters’ imaginations. In real life, analyzing what’s wrong with us falls to our primary care physician or to the specialists we consult. In most cases, by relying on our symptoms, medical history and test results, doctors are able to figure out our problems. But MDs typically look for common scenarios; people with rare diseases or unusual presentations of prevalent conditions (like Warm’s TB) can fall through the cracks, notes Marianne Genetti, executive director of In Need of Diagnosis (inod.org), a nonprofit in Orlando, Florida, that assists patients who have not been able to put a name to their complaints.

If that’s your situation, don’t give up: It’s essential that you persistently advocate for yourself. One way to do that is to actively help your doctors find the correct diagnosis.

Here, five steps you can take.

Step 1 Do Your Homework

The more information your doctor has, the better he’ll be able to treat you. In the days leading up to an important doctor visit, keep a pad of paper handy and jot down your symptoms as they occur so you can read the list to your practitioner. In addition, do a little digging on the Web, spending time on reputable medical sites such as MayoClinic.com and Health.gov to gain insight into how your symptoms might fit together. For instance, you may have gotten so accustomed to feeling thirsty all the time that you didn’t even think to bring it up during your last visit. But if an online check reveals that the symptoms you did plan to mention—fatigue and headaches—often go along with increased thirst in diabetics, then you’ll realize you should be telling the doctor how frequently you need a drink of water.

Or maybe you have a funny bump on your hand. By going online, you discover that one possible cause is a marine parasite. Now you remember that you swam in the ocean during your last Caribbean vacation, so you’ll be sure to tell the doctor.

Just don’t try to generate your own diagnoses, cautions Marie Savard, MD, an ABC News medical contributor and author of How to Save Your Own Life: The Eight Steps Only You Can Take to Manage and Control Your Health Care. Online information helps you pose smarter questions to your doctor, but he’s much better qualified to piece together the information.

At your doctor’s appointment, you’ll also need to list all the medications (and supplements) that you take or have recently taken. Unexplained symptoms frequently stem from a reaction to a drug, even one you’ve been on for a while, says Abbie Leibowitz, MD, chief medical officer of Health Advocate (healthadvocate.com), a firm in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, that helps patients navigate the health care waters.

But the best information you can give a physician is your personal and family medical histories. “Up to 80 percent of a doctor’s determination comes from your history, not from tests done the day you’re in the office,” Savard says. Be ready to describe all the major conditions you have ever had, even if they are long in the past or do not seem associated with your current symptoms. Bring to your appointment important test results from any related prior illnesses.

And make sure to tell your physician about conditions your relatives have suffered from. Rare diseases often go undiagnosed, but if your doctor knows that one runs in your family, he will be much more likely to consider it a possibility.

Step 2 Prod Your Doctor

When symptoms don’t add up to a ready diagnosis, physicians sometimes suggest that an ailment is psychological or stress related. But don’t let your doctor dismiss your complaints so quickly, says Pamela Hops, MD, a family physician at New York City’s Continuum Center for Health and Healing. “Sometimes psychological issues do present themselves physically, but the doctor shouldn’t assume that’s the case, especially if you feel in your gut that something else is wrong,” she says. Some symptoms, says Hops, can indicate a serious condition and always call for additional testing: prolonged fever, unexplained weight loss and night sweats that aren’t associated with menopause. Night sweats, for example, can indicate an infection or a possible cancer or may be a side effect of certain diabetes drugs.

If your doctor is baffled, suggest he consider conditions that are known for being overlooked. (See 5 Diseases Doctors Often Miss below) Take, for instance, Lyme disease, which sometimes surfaces in the form of vague and ordinary symptoms. Stephanie Smith, 36, an asset manager from Newport Beach, California, suffered for a decade from joint pain, fatigue, insomnia and heart palpitations before she was diagnosed with the disease, which is primarily a problem in the northeastern U.S., not in her home state. When one doctor suggested her troubles were due to stress, Smith (who asked that her real last name not be used) quit her high-pressurejob,but she continued to deteriorate. “I began to think my symptoms were normal age-related issues, and eventually I stopped trying to get a diagnosis,” Smith says. Then one day she described her condition to her aunt, who’d once had Lyme disease and recognized the symptoms. After a positive test, Smith started using the antibiotics and immune-boosting supplements that returned her to health.

Step 3 Take a Break

If your doctor has run important tests and ruled out serious conditions but still hasn’t determined what’s wrong with you, it may be time to put your quest for a diagnosis on hold. “You don’t want to push your doctor into giving you drugs or other treatments that may not be appropriate, because that can lead to other complications,” Savard says. She suggests waiting for three months, or whatever time frame you and your physician agree on, to see if your body can heal itself.

During this hiatus, you might take a more holistic approach to healing by adopting a healthier lifestyle: Get enough sleep, exercise regularly, reduce your stress levels and improve your diet—and see if these measures are enough to cure what ails you.

Changing your diet can be tough, but in some cases the results are dramatic. For years, Kristen Johnson, 51, who lives in San Diego, suffered from migraines, digestive problems, depression, aches and pains. Then she decided to seek out an MD with a holistic bent (find doctors with this orientation through the Institute for Functional Medicine, functionalmedicine.org). The physician thought she might be severely sensitive to certain foods, especially wheat, corn, soybeans and sugar. Eager to try anything that could help, Johnson made over her pantry. “I swooped into my kitchen, tossed out all the processed foods and stocked up on vegetables, fish, poultry, fruits and yogurt,” Johnson recalls. After a couple of weeks, she found relief, and within a few months, she felt truly healthy. “I still get the occasional migraine, but it’s always after I accidentally eat something hidden in restaurant food,” explains Johnson.

Step 4 Call in the Experts

If you’ve followed the advice above and haven’t made progress, it’s time to seek out a topflight physician in a specialty related to your concerns (for instance, a neurologist if you have unexplained tremors). “Always keep your regular doctor in the loop, because if you still don’t have answers after seeing the expert, you’ll want to return to your doctor to discuss other options,” says Leibowitz of Health Advocate.

The best specialists can be found at large hospitals or, better yet, at teaching hospitals affiliated with medical schools—even if these are a long drive away. It’s especially important to seek this top level of expertise once you’ve seen and stumped other doctors, since that means you’re more likely to have a rare condition, says William A. Gahl, MD, PhD, director of the NIH Undiagnosed Diseases Program.

“Doctors at a university center usually have the most up-to-date information on rare diseases, and they have an array of specialists that can address them,” he says. Working through your physician, you can also get second opinions without an in-person examination from such top-rated institutions as the Cleveland Clinic (clevelandclinic.org; click on My Consult), Johns Hopkins Medicine (hopkinsmedicine.org/second_opinion) and Partners Online Specialty Consultations (econsults.partners.org), which connects to Harvard-affiliated doctors. The fees might be hefty but could be worth the expense.

Step 5 Be Prepared for a Diagnosis to be Wrong

Sometimes the problem isn’t that you’re unable to get a diagnosis but that you’ve received an inaccurate one. Mistakes are not uncommon: Autopsies performed on patients in one university hospital found that up to 32 percent of them had been given serious misdiagnoses. “If your treatment isn’t making you feel better, don’t immediately look for other therapies. Your first move should be to confirm that your doctor got the diagnosis right in the first place,” says Falchuk of Best Doctors. That typically involves sending all your records to an expert or, in the case of cancer, asking that a different pathologist examine your tumor sample. One of Falchuk’s clients, who was being treated for cervical cancer, discovered in this way that she actually had colon cancer that had spread to her cervix. Because cancer treatment is specialized, she had been getting the wrong drug. “It’s important to keep asking questions to ensure your diagnosis is right,” Falchuk says. “The worst that can happen is that your doctor may feel annoyed.”

And what’s the best that can happen? Your questioning may well save your life.

Source: http://www.more.com March 2012 Issue

5 Diseases Doctors Often Miss
Being treated for a condition that’s hasn’t improved? Make sure your doctor considers the following diseases.
by Meryl Davids Landau

These conditions often go undiagnosed because their symptoms—such as exhaustion, fever, weight gain and joint pain—are commonplace and vague. If your doctor is unclear about what ails you, be sure he has checked you for:

Lyme disease, a systemic bacterial infection transmitted by a tick bite.

Celiac disease, in which gluten (a protein in wheat, barley and rye) harms the intestines during digestion and leads to nutritional deficiencies.

Lupus, an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and damage in many organs in the body.

Hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce a sufficient quantity of a critical hormone.

Narcolepsy, a nervous system disorder in which the brain makes too little of a crucial protein, leading the sufferer to suddenly fall asleep in the daytime.

Source: http://www.More.com February 2012 Issue