Posted in The Basics

Gluten Intolerant? – A Self Test

Going gluten free is not a trend!  It is a permanent lifestyle where even small amounts of gluten exposure can cause problems, so it should be taken very seriously.

Some basic info:
The American Celiac Disease Alliance (ACDA) explains that there is a difference between Celiac Disease, wheat allergy and gluten intolerance/sensitivity and that all three are “treated similarly, in that patients with these conditions must remove wheat from their diet. It is important to note, however, that there is a difference between these three medical problems. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition, where the body’s immune system starts attacking normal tissue, such as intestinal tissue, in response to eating gluten. Because of this, people with celiac disease are at risk for malabsorption of food, which cause nutritional deficiencies and may result in conditions such as iron deficiency anemia, osteopenia, and osteoporosis.  Persons with a wheat allergy or gluten-intolerance usually do not have severe intestinal damage, and therefore are not at risk for these nutritional deficiencies.  They also are not at increased risk of developing other autoimmune conditions.”

The ACDA also explains a bit about the potential risks with Celiac vs. allergy or intolerance/sensitivity “celiac disease involves the activation of a particular type of white blood cell, the T lymphocyte, as well as other parts of the immune system, which may increase the risk of developing GI cancers, in particular lymphomas, in persons with celiac disease.  Since food allergies and intolerances do not involve this particular immune system pathway, these patients are not at increased risk for these cancers.”

Keep in mind that unlike a food allergy or food intolerance, celiac disease is an inherited condition.  This means family members may have it, too.  If someone in your family is diagnosed, ACDA recommends that first degree relatives (parents, children, siblings) are screened as well.

Have you ever wondered if you were gluten intolerant?
If you think you might have Ceiliac Disease, have a wheat allergy or have gluten sensitivity/intolerance you need to go to a specialist.  However, if you can’t afford it at this time, you can try a quick self test that could help determine if gluten could be your problem.

This is a simple test that I have adapted from one found at Glutenology.net.

Sensitivity to Gluten Self Test 
Check the symptoms you are experiencing that you can’t attribute to legitimate conditions.

For example: if you have asthma that you developed from working with chemicals or in a mine, do not check it as that can be clearly attributed to that environment.  However, if you have asthma and have not been exposed to anything where you would develop it, check it.

One more example, if you have diarrhea because you have a virus or ate sushi out of a vendors trunk, do not check it.  However, if you have diarrhea often and can’t attribute it to anything else then check it.

Gut:

    • Craving baked goods (cake, cookies, brownies)
    • Craving high sugar foods
    • Frequent intestinal bloating or gas especially after eating
    • IBS – irritable bowel syndrome
    • Acid reflux – GERD (aka heartburn)
    • Indigestion
    • Constipation
    • Diarrhea
    • Frequent nausea and or vomiting
    • Difficulty gaining weight (children under the growth curve)
    • Iron deficiency anemia

Head &Nervous System:

    • Frequent headaches
    • Sinus congestion
    • Migraine Headaches
    • Poor memory
    • Vertigo
    • Difficulty recalling words
    • Brain fog
    • Poor concentration
    • Been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD
    • Suffer with frequent vertigo (dizziness)
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Neuropathy
    • Irrational irritability
    • Mood swings
    • Restless leg syndrome
    • Diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
    • Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s

Muscle and Joint:

    • Frequent joint pains with or without activity
    • Chronic muscle aches
    • Migrating joint pain (without injury)
    • Frequent muscle spasms (especially in the legs)
    • Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia
    • Diagnosed with autoimmune arthritis (RA, lupus, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, Sjogren’s)
    • Bone pain
    • Growing pains
    • Osteoporosis or osteopenia

Hormonal:

    • Fatigue
    • Inability to lose weight
    • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
    • Infertility
    • History of miscarriage or spontaneous abortion
    • Menstrual problems – PMS
    • Thyroid disease
    • Diagnosis of hyperprolactinemia
    • Diagnosis of Diabetes (type I or type II)
    • Hypoglycemia
    • PCOS (polycystic ovary disease)
    • Endometriosis

Immune:

    • Chronic urinary tract infections
    • Chronic respiratory infections
    • Asthma
    • Vaginal, oral, or nail bed yeast infections

Skin:

    • Fever blisters or mouth ulcers
    • Skin rash
    • Eczema
    • Psoriasis
    • Dermatitis Herpetiformis**
    • Vitiligo

Other Internal Diseases/Problems:

    • Gall bladder problems
    • Elevated liver enzymes
    • Non alcoholic fatty liver
    • Autoimmune hepatitis
    • Lymphoma
    • Platelet disorders

RESULTS
The results are pretty simple.  If you have checked more than 8 of these problems, you may want to consider that you have gluten intolerance, especially if you have checked several of the problems listed in red.  In particular, dermatitis herpetiformis which is a skin condition known to be caused by gluten.

The above list is only some of the symptoms of gluten intolerance/sensitivity.  There are 200-300 symptoms.  From this list, the symptoms listed in black can be caused by gluten intolerance.  The symptoms in red are often mis-diagnosed conditions that could be caused by gluten intolerance.

When I did this test myself, I checked off TWENTY FOUR of the symptoms listed above, many of which were red.  I had been mis-diagnosed with several different things and was frustrated as to why the medicines they were giving me were not working (in addition to causing other problems).  Once I went gluten free, I eliminated about 18 of these symptoms. Eighteen!  I feel better than I have in years.  True story.

Keep in mind I am not a doctor and am not dispensing medical advise.  I am a self-diagnosed, gluten-intolerant woman who has happily experienced the benefit of going gluten free.  To read more about my story click HERE.  If you have checked off a whole bunch of symptoms and are willing to consider that you may have an issue with gluten, please get to a doctor (one who is experienced with Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity/intolerance) soon and get yourself checked out.

If you, for whatever reason, are unable to get to a doctor at this time and think you may have a problem with gluten – do a gluten-free trial to see if it makes a difference.  Check out other areas of my website for more information, or do a search online to get more information about how to start a trial.  Then get yourself to a specialist as soon as you can. The key to your feeling better may be as simple as eliminating this from your diet!!

Live and LOVE gluten free!

Posted in GREAT articles to check out

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?

Posted in The Basics

OMG! I’ve Been Glutened!! Now What?

It’s gonna happen, no matter how safe you’ve tried to be.  You have accidentally ingested something with hidden gluten or has been cross contaminated and now you are sick.  Ugggh!  Woulda, coulda, shoulda……………yeah………we know……..but it’s done…….now what?

We all have different rituals to heal and feel better and you will have to figure out what works best for you.  Also, don’t forget everyone is different as to how long it takes to get back up and running.  One time I was been better after a day of yuck, another time it took me more than a week!  Depending on what your symptoms are, here are a few ideas to help deal until you can get back to “normal”:

First off, don’t beat yourself up about this.  It happens to all of us and probably won’t be the last time.  It is important to figure out where the gluten came from and make a mental note so that you can steer clear of whatever it is in the future.

Drink lots of water.   It is important to stay hydrated.

Sooth your tummy with some tea.  Pick one or a combo of:  Ginger, peppermint, fennel or chamomile.  Fresh is great, if not dried/teabags will work too.  All of these are great for calming the tummy, relaxing you and helping to relieve spasms, aches and gas.

Ginger – I keep candied ginger around just because and just in case.  Ginger is a wonderful little root that has all sorts of benefits like relief from inflammation, heart burn, nausea, stomach spasms and aids in digestion. Of course if you have fresh ginger and want to use that for your tea or in your food that is even better! 

Eat less and be bland! Sick to foods that are easy to digest, mashed potatoes, rice, soup, smoothies…….  Your tummy is already fighting the gluten, don’t make it work harder by trying to digest dairy, spicy or high fiber foods too.  Give it a day or three of feeling good before you start your regular eating again.

Get in a little exercise.  Key word here…….a little.  Don’t go crazy, but do some stretching or yoga.  Exercise will give you a little more energy and actually helps to detoxify your body.

Activated charcoal can help to alleviate diarrhea, bloating, gas, constipation, abdominal pain, etc.  When ingested, the activated charcoal adsorbs toxins and takes them out of the body before they can be absorbed.  Keep in mind that charcoal will absorb EVERYTHING, including medicines and vitamins you take and move it out before it gets a chance to absorb.  So you do not want to take this for days on end because while you are eliminating the toxins you are also eliminating all of the good stuff too!

Probiotics.  If you are not taking them already, now is the time to take some.  You gut is out of balance.  The “good bacteria” will help to get things back in order.  If you are not on them regularly, then take them till you feel better and keep them on hand.  If you are already taking them, up your dose for a few days.  Personally, I use FLORAJEN which for me works much better than the other ones I’ve tried.

Bentyl.  Before I realized that I was gluten intolerant, Bentyl was prescribed to me for stomach spasms.  Since being gluten free, I keep it on hand and take it when I’ve been glutened and my tummy is not cooperating.  It does not take away spasms 100%, but makes them MUCH more tolerable.

GlutenAid – This is a product at CVS that claims “CVS/pharmacy GlutenAid is specially formulated for individuals who feel unwell after eating wheat or grain and thus may have an intolerance to gluten.”  I HAVE NOT TRIED THIS.  But if you CLICK HERE there is another gluten free blogger that tried it and you can read what she experienced.  Please know that there is no cure for celiac or gluten intolerance.  The only way you can be symptom free is to completely avoid gluten.  This pill may or may not help with symptoms if you’ve been accidentally glutened and is absolutely NOT a pill to take so that you can purposely ingest gluten.  You will need to determine for yourself if you think this is worth it.

Digestive enzymes.  These help to breakdown different foods so that they can be absorbed/processed by the body.  Different enzymes help with different foods.  Some people have found this helps when they have been glutened.  Personally I have not tried this so I cannot say yay or nay.  But I will say again – if you are celiac or even gluten intolerant, this is not something that will “allow” you to eat gluten.

Ibuprofen. This can help to reduce the inflammation.  Please be sure that your brand of ibuprofen is gluten free!

I hope something in this list will help you!  Keep in mind, this too shall pass…….

Live and LOVE Gluten Free!!

Posted in The Basics

What Does Gluten DO to me?

Well lets start with the fact that gluten has NO nutritional benefits.  So by removing gluten from your diet, you will not be missing out on something important.  There are many people who have no issues at all with gluten and this post is NOT about them.  This post is for the 15% of U.S. population who have gluten sensitivity in some form.

Those with some form of gluten sensitivity can experience many problems such as hives, difficulty breathing, and digestive issues; in serious cases, a person can experience anaphylaxis, a sudden and severe reaction that can be life-threatening.  Gluten can also cause damage and inflammation in the small intestine, bloating, weight loss, joint pain, weight gain, fatigue and headaches.

For those of you who might like a little more detailed description of what it does in your body: you have small hair-like projections on the intestinal wall which are called villi.  Their function is to absorb the nutrients and vitamins as food passes through the intestines and help break it down. Gluten attacks the villi, wearing them down so that they can no longer function as they should (no longer absorbs nutrients and vitamins) which leaves you malnourished.

Sometimes, tiny holes are created in the intestinal lining, which lets food particles leak into your bloodstream rather than being broken down and absorbed normally. Your body’s natural defense system will fight these “foreign invaders” and attack the body.  You may see symptoms like skin rashes, eczema, bloating, mouth sores, and headaches and more.

Both Celiac disease and gluten intolerance create inflammation throughout the body, with 200-300 possible effects across all organ systems including your brain, heart, joints, digestive tract and more. It can be the single cause behind many different “diseases.”

Re-read that part……….TWO to THREE HUNDRED possible symptoms!  That is crazy! No wonder why it is so often mis-diagnosed.  Different organs can be affected by different types of gluten sensitivity and it can affect more than one area, again complicating diagnosis.  

When damage takes place in the cerebellum, the balance center of the brain that controls coordination and complex movements like walking, speaking and swallowing.   This is called Gluten Ataxia and is a neurologic condition characterized by the loss of balance and coordination. However it can also affect fingers, hands, arms, legs, speech and even eye movements. Typical symptoms include difficulty walking or walking with a wide gait, frequent falls, difficulty judging distances or position, visual disturbances and tremor.

When it affects your skin it is dermatitis herpetiformis.   This is a chronic blistering skin condition, characterized by blisters filled with a watery fluid.

When gluten affects the small bowel, this is celiac disease.  

The Gluten Free Network had some interesting points on Celiac disease vs. gluten intolerance:

Celiac disease is an immune reaction, a severe sudden onset allergic reaction, to the protein called gluten. While celiac disease is initially an auto-immune disorder, it is also a disease of malabsorption, because essential nutrients are not absorbed.  If you imagine a continuum of gluten intolerance symptoms, celiac disease is usually at the most extreme end with immediate autoimmune reactions.

Gluten intolerance often has a slower onset than celiac disease, and may be hard to diagnose due to the broad range of symptoms and causes.  Undiagnosed for long periods of time, food intolerance have been found to contribute to diabetes, bowel cancer, anemia and osteoporosis.

A partial list from Celiac.com shows signs and symptoms of malabsorption, malnutrition, vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies associated with Celiac Disease to be:

Abdominal cramps, gas and bloating; Anemia; Diarrhea; Easy bruising; Epistaxis (nose bleeding); Fatigue or general weakness; Flatulence; Fluid retention; Foul-smelling or grayish stools that are often fatty or oily; Gastrointestinal symptoms; Gastrointestinal hemorrhage; Infertility; Iron deficiency anemia; lymphocytic gastritis; Muscle weakness; Muscle wasting; Nausea; Panic Attacks; Peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage); Stunted growth in children; Vertigo; Vitamin B12 deficiency; Vitamin D deficiency; Vitamin K deficiency; Vomiting; Voracious appetite; Weight loss or Obesity.

Celiac.com also shares a list of disorders and conditions that may have a connection to gluten intolerance:

Addison’s Disease; Anemia; Arthritis; Ataxia, Nerve Disease, Neuropathy, Brain Damage; Attention Deficit Disorder; Autism; Bacterial Overgrowth; Casein / Cows Milk Intolerance; Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; Cognitive Impairment; Crohn’s Disease; Depression; Diabetes; Down Syndrome; Dyspepsia, Acid Reflux; Epilepsy; Fertility, Pregnancy, Miscarriage; Fibromyalgia; Flatulence (Gas); Gall Bladder Disease; Gastrointestinal Bleeding; Infertility, Impotency; Inflammatory Bowel Disease; Intestinal Permeability; Irritable Bowel Syndrome; Kidney Disease; Liver Disease; Migraine Headaches; Multiple Sclerosis; Obesity, Overweight & Celiac Disease; Osteoporosis, Osteomalacia, Bone Density; Psoriasis; Refractory Celiac Disease & Collagenous Sprue; Sarcoidosis; Schizophrenia / Mental Problems; Sepsis; Sjogrens Syndrome; Skin Problems and Thyroid & Pancreatic Disorders.

THIS IS NO JOKE PEOPLE!

I would like to be clear here………….this does NOT mean that everyone with depression or an autoimmune disease or any of the above mentioned symptoms/disorders/conditions has gluten sensitivity.

What it DOES mean is that if you have any chronic illness, or one or more of the above listed issues and do not seem to experience relief from what the doctor prescribed, perhaps you should consider the cause could be gluten sensitivity.

How can you correct this?  You need to treat the cause not just the symptoms.

Eliminate gluten-from their diet – not just “cut back” on it.

This information only scratches the surface of what is available. Please check WebMd, Celiac.org, Celiac.com and many other sites for more detailed info.  I hope that this has given you a little insight as to the seriousness of gluten intolerance.

Live and LOVE gluten free!

Posted in The Basics

What the Heck is Gluten and WHERE do I find it?

Simply put, gluten is the one of the proteins found in certain grains like wheat, barley, rye, durum, spelt, farro, graham, kamut, and semolina. 

It is the “glue” (get it? GLUEten, lol) that makes dough stretchy, makes it rise and adds that texture that is often enjoyed in regular bread.

It is VERY IMPORTANT to check your labels* each and every time you buy anything BECAUSE:

It is in the obvious foods – breads, cakes, cookies, crackers, croutons, couscous, graham crackers, pasta, pizza, stuffing, pretzels etc…

It is used as a thickener and stabilizing agent – Asian sauces, BBQ sauce, canned baked beans, canned chili, canned soup, gravy, ice cream, ketchup, mustard, pie fillings, puddings, salad dressings, sherbet, soy sauces, soup etc….

It is a flavor enhancer and flow agent so you might find it in baking powder, beer, bouillon, coated popcorn or chips, cocoa mix, dairy products, dry roasted nuts, instant flavored coffees, packaged rice mixes, seasoning packets, spice blends,  etc…

Watch out for processed foods because you can find it in cheese, fast food, hot dogs, inexpensive cold cuts, pate, ready-made foods, reduced-fat foods, sausage, self-basting poultry, soy protein meat substitutes, etc…

Bet you didn’t think you could find it in: blue cheese, candy (especially licorice), canned meats, cheese sauce, chewing gum, curry powder, extracts, frozen french fries (it’s in the coating), imitation fish (like those crab sticks),  “malt”, pickled products, shredded cheese, sour cream,  etc…

Are you shocked yet?  

Here are a few more things to think about:  body wash, body lotion, hair care products, make up, laundry detergent, lipstick, prescription medications, tea bags, toothpaste and vitamin supplements.  

How about this:  your toaster, wooden cutting board, lickable envelopes or stamps, the inside of latex or rubber gloves, paint, clay, play dough and glue!

WHY why why is it in everything?  Simple answer for most – because it is cheap.  Think about this……….what is the best way to stretch a pot of chili?  Add beans.  What is the best way for manufacturers to use less of the quality ingredient and make more product (and more money)?  Add gluten, because is cheap.

Moral of this story – READ ALL LABELS!

It was my goal to make an impact so that you can see that gluten can be found in the obvious places and not so obvious places.  If you want to feel better you will need to remove gluten completely and to do this you need to investigate anything and everything that you put IN or ON your body.  Do not be overwhelmed by this large (but partial) listing. Once you start reading every label, it will quickly become second nature to you to be able to figure out what you can and can’t have.  Don’t despair – there are gluten-free products available for most items listed above!

The biggest and most important tip I can give you is to read, read, read every label – EVERY TIME YOU BUY IT (manufacturers often change their formulas with no warning or indication).  If you can’t tell from the label, contact the manufacturer, toll-free numbers are readily available on the internet.   If after all of this you still are not sure………don’t!

NOTES:  You will notice that I did not include OATS in this listing.  It is not an oversight – there seems to be some question as to IF it has gluten.  Naturally they do not and even though it is a different protein than wheat, some Celiacs might have a problem with oats.

One of the biggest concerns is from possible cross-contamination in the growing and  processing of oats – they might be grown in fields next to wheat and barley and/or processed in the same facilities.

It is suggested that if you want to try oatmeal that you find a product that is grown in gluten-free fields and processed in gluten-free processing plants.  Bob’s Red Mill is one of these companies that make gluten-free oats, there are others – check online.

Something else to think about:  Doctors say that Celiac and gluten-intolerance is from ingested gluten – but there are so many people out there (myself included) who have problems using products with gluten on their skin, hair etc. you may want to make your own choice based on your level of sensitivity.  Personally I steer away from anything that has it!

Live and LOVE gluten-free!

When checking your labels, they will not list “gluten” as an ingredient.  You will need to learn what names to look for that have gluten.  I will be posting additional blogs on what to look for on a label.  For now a quick tip, after the ingredients you might see a bolded line that says “Allergen Information” or “Contains”.  This will be followed by a list of potential allergens.  If you see WHEAT then you know for sure to stay away!   

Posted in GREAT articles to check out

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

Posted in Books and Websites

WHERE can I find Gluten free products?

Once you’ve figured out that you can’t have gluten, the next step is trying to find products you can use!  Luckily, there are more and more gluten-free products available now.

There are quite a few ways to find gluten-free products online.  One way is to go directly to manufacturers websites.  Many of the larger companies will have a section for allergen information.  Take for instance Frito-Lay.  Check out their list of products that are gluten-free:  http://www.fritolay.com/your-health/us-products-not-containing-gluten-ingredients.html  Are you as surprised as I was to find out you could have so many snacks?  I mean really! I was beyond thrilled to find out that I could have regular Doritos!! Yessssss!  All is not lost!!

You will notice too on this site that it has been divided into two lists.  The first list is certified to contain less than 20 ppm of gluten. The FDA says for a product to be “gluten-free” it must have less that 20 ppm (parts per million) or .002%.

The second list, the products do not contain wheat, rye, barley or oat ingredients but some of them may be manufactured on the same lines as products that contain gluten.  They say “Although our lines are cleaned between production runs, Frito-Lay has not tested these products for gluten content and the ingredients in these products may have come into contact with gluten-containing products prior to manufacturing.  Individuals who are sensitive to gluten should take these factors into consideration in consuming these products.”

This is where the possibilities of cross-contamination can come into play.  Basically the item has no gluten, however it might get gluten on it from other things nearby.

How to handle this?  I cannot speak for anyone who is a Celiac, because that is a disease and not an intolerance.  But for ME (self-diagnosed gluten intolerant), I approach these items with care.  Sometimes these products do not bother me at all.  Some give me a grouchy stomach or make me a little bloated.  If I choose to have something that “could” be cross-contaminated, I make sure that everything else I eat at that time is gluten-free so that IF I do have a reaction I can attribute it to that particular item.  But for ME, I try to stay away from these items as there are usually other options available.  This is something you will need to figure out which path YOU want to take.

Other locations for great information are the Celiac websites.  Even though you may be gluten-intolerant and not a Celiac, always check these sites, publications etc… as they are a wealth of information and are specifically gluten-free!

Lastly, The Celiac Disease Foundation has started a wonderful on-line resource where you can find lists of gluten-free products!

http://cdfresourcedirectory.com/uid/4946c8e7-1ee7-4daf-9a0d-8ce558d83669

You will see it has the products in simple categories.  Then it will list products available that they are aware of.  It also includes that company’s contact info – address, website etc……..so that you can check further.  The websites will usually tell you if you can purchase it in your area or if you can get it online.  Often times they will have coupons too!

Let me know what you think about this resource!

Love Life!!