Why Should I Go Gluten Free?

My entire life, I would often end the day with belly that looked like it belonged to someone at least 4 months pregnant.  Ugh.  It really didn't make me want to go out, or put my jeans on.  I still go through life preferring to wear tights and dresses because I remember this phase of my life.  And it happens still, but now I know why:  I'm sensitive to gluten.

So, let’s talk gluten. What is it? Gluten is a component of the grains wheat, rye and barley. If your body is intolerant of gluten, it’s actually reacting to gliadin, a protein within gluten. Severity of this intolerance ranges from a mild gluten sensitivity, to full-blow celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder where your body basically attacks itself every time you eat gluten. In the short-term, sensitivities and celiac can translate into constantly feeling bloated, fatigued, irritated, foggy, or constipated, among over 300 (you read that right!) other symptoms, or it can mean having no noticeable symptoms whatsoever. In the long-run, it can mean the slow flattening and deterioration of your small intestine’s nutrient-absorbing villi, which translates to passing up nutrients that your body REALLY needs and reabsorbing toxins, leading to inflammation, deficiencies, other autoimmune diseases, and infertility. Not fun.

It’s estimated that 1 in 133 people in the U.S. are genetically predisposed to celiac, and about 18 million others are suffering from a gluten sensitivity. The worst part is that MOST of these people are walking around undiagnosed or even misdiagnosed with another disease or issue! Oh, and it runs in families.  So, if a family member has one or the other, chances are you do too, even if your symptoms are totally different. Have I piqued your interest yet? If you’ve been feeling yucky, or I’ve planted a seed of doubt, take this short quiz from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness to figure out if it’s worth a trip to your doctor to get tested for celiac disease.

http://www.celiaccentral.org/disease-symptoms-checklist/

Unfortunately, those with just a gluten sensitivity (after having eliminated celiac as a possibility, of course) can’t get clinically diagnosed simply for the fact there is no test for it yet. This makes it that much more important for you to listen to your body and to be your own health advocate.

So, tell me, why should I go gluten free?

The good news is that the harmful effects of a sensitivity can be completely reversed with a gluten-free diet because of your body’s remarkable ability to heal, and you may start to feel it immediately. An elimination diet can be an important way for you to figure out if you have a sensitivity to gluten, simply by seeing how you feel after you’ve taken it out of your diet. I have clients who, after going gluten-free for just a week, have woken up feeling refreshed, as if a cloud has been lifted, and others who have completely reversed their headaches, cramping, bloating, diarrhea, irritability, or whatever was ailing them. Many pounds have been lost simply by going off gluten since it forces to avoid some of the most fattening, processed foods.   Everyone, however, is different.

One reason why you might want to go gluten free, is if you have any thyroid issues, digestive issues, or your children are having behavioral issues and attention deficit issues at school, it could be worth taking out gluten and seeing if things improve.  Many people find that it helps.

We do however, need to know what foods and food products contain gluten.

Take a look at this list of foods that contain gluten. Does anything surprise you?

  • Beer, ale
  • Barley
  • Broth, bouillon powder/cubes
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Bulgur
  • Commercial soups and salad dressings
  • Couscous
  • Breads, cereals, pastas
  • Imitation seafood
  • Cakes, pies, cookies
  • Processed meats
  • Soy sauce
  • Seitan
  • Wheat starch
  • Pizza
  • Mac and cheese
  • Seasonings
  • Marinades, gravies
  • Rye-containing products
  • Vegetarian meat substitutes
  • Flavored rice-packaged products

Alternatively, here is a list of gluten-free foods (assuming they have not been contaminated with gluten during processing and are free of gluten-containing ingredients).

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Dried beans
  • Lentils
  • Amaranth
  • Cassava, millet
  • Grits, corn, cornmeal
  • Quinoa
  • Oatmeal (gluten-free- Bob’s Red Mill is certified gluten free)
  • Fats
  • Fresh meats, fish
  • Rice, wild rice
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Seaweed
  • Polenta
  • Cheese (not processed)
  • Popcorn
  • Milk

Do you see a trend?

In general, the more processed a food is, the higher the likelihood that it will have an ingredient that contains gluten or an ingredient that has been cross-contaminated with gluten-containing grains. So if you’re identifying with any of these symptoms, and want to explore whether gluten could be at the root of your ailment, here are some ground rules to eating a gluten-free diet.

Ground Rules for a Gluten Free Diet

1. Avoid gluten-containing foods, the obvious and the not-so-obvious. Clearly, anything with wheat, barley, rye is off-limits. But did you know that pasta, couscous and seitan are derivatives? Malt vinegar? Here is a great article identifying ingredients to look for on packages when you’re out shopping:

http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/copingwiththediet/a/Gluten-On-Food-Labels.htm.

2. Focus on foods that are naturally gluten-free! There is NO shortage of nutritious, filling foods here that you already love, and your body will thank you. Just because a package says gluten free does NOT mean it’s healthy….it still could be incredibly processed.  Read the labels!

Quinoa, rice, potatoes, and vegetables are perfectly safe. If wheat flour was previously a pantry staple, you’ll be happy to know there are a ton of natural alternatives:

  • almond meal flour
  • coconut meal flour
  • pea flour
  • potato flour
  • garbanzo bean flour
  • millet

3. At the supermarket, look for items that are certified Gluten-Free with an accredited label. Just because an item is labeled wheat-free doesn’t mean it’s necessarily gluten-free, so be an educated shopper! Thankfully, there are several organizations out there that take it upon themselves to certify products, more so in recent years.

The NFCA highly endorses the Canadian-based GFCP for their process, whose symbol looks like this:

4. Download your free copy of this comprehensive gluten-free diet guide from the NFCA here:

http://www.celiaccentral.org/gettingstarted/

 5. Check out online gluten-free recipe blogs! There are SO many, and you can shop around to find your favorites. Here is a great list compiled by thekitchn.com:

http://www.thekitchn.com/10-inspiring-blogs-for-glutenf-137359

Try it for a week. You’ll find yourself eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, fish, beans and legumes. Whole foods! You won’t be hungry, and your late-night delivery pizza cravings just may disappear (which is a good thing, regardless). It will also take practice reading labels and finding gluten-free alternatives to your favorite foods, but once you get the hang of it and realize how much better you feel, you’ll wonder how you ate any other way. Source:  Brown, Judith E.  (2011) Nutrition Through the Life Cycle.  Belmont. Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Source:  Brown, Judith E.  (2011) Nutrition Through the Life Cycle.  Belmont. Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Contributing writer: Duaa Elnoory for The Nourished Belly

*LEGAL DISCLAIMER – This website (including any/all site pages, blog posts, blog comments, forum, etc.) is not intended to replace the services of a physician, nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Information is provided for informational  purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating a medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have an urgent medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Any application of the recommendations in this website is at the reader’s discretion. Tammy Chang and The Nourished Belly are not liable for any direct or indirect claim, loss or damage resulting from use of this website and/or any web site(s) linked to/from it. Readers should consult their own physicians concerning the recommendations in this website.

 

Bet You Didn't Know This About Your Factory Farmed Meat!

My mind has been blown yet again by reading an article in WAP Foundation’s Wise Traditions written by a small meat processor, Bob Martin, who works for a small USDA processing plant.   Now, there is already a lot of information out there about how the factory farmed meat industry in this country is a pretty foul and scary operation.  Some great books out on the subject include Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma, Barbara Kingsolver’s, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals.   They all do a great job explaining the conditions of CAFO’s (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) and the ramifications of eating meat and dairy products tainted with antibiotics and rBGH.  rBGH, according to organicconsumers.org was manufactured by Monsanto, who sold it to Eli Lilly.  It forces cows to boost “milk production by 10%, while increasing the incidence of mastitis, lameness and reproductive complications.”

I make it a point to buy good quality meat, and even though it is more expensive, I feel that I’m doing a favor for my body and supporting ranchers and farmers who also put an emphasis on high quality care and feed.  And even though I feel pretty knowledgable about the conditions of factory farmed animals, I’m always amazed when I find out more unsettling facts.  Read on please.

1)  Large meat processing plants can process up to 2500 animals a day, with 20-30 USDA inspectors and each of them literally have 3-6 seconds to inspect each piece of beef!  The particular plant that Bob Martin works for processes 10 animals a day and inspectors take as long as they need to.

2) Many of the animals killed at slaughterhouses have a dark red color to their meat, meaning that the animals are stressed before they are killed.  The stress releases a rush of adrenaline into their muscles which affects the tenderness of the meat.

3)  The contents of the stomachs must be removed, and for those animals being fed grain, the contents of their stomachs smell putrid and repulsive, while those being fed grass have virtually no smell.

4)  Livers are heralded as being extremely nutrient dense, but the livers of grain fed cows are often abscessed and instead of being firm to the touch you can poke your finger all the way through!  Ew!  Cows are not supposed to eat grain, so it can be very hard on their livers, making them abnormally large and filled with fatty deposits.  The liver of a healthy cow fed only on grass are firm to the touch and a normal size.

I don’t necessarily need MORE reasons not to buy meat from factory farmed conditions, but it never fails to surprise me to learn of all the different ways the health of the animal is severely compromised simply to make meat cheaper for the producer and for the public to buy.

At the very least, buy your meat organic which will ensure that your meat has not been fed GMO feed, and that your farmer has not used antibiotics or growth hormones.  Look for meat that has been grass finished, not just grass fed, because most animals are on pasture for the first 3 months of their lives.  And better yet, have a conversation with a person who sells meat at your farmers market and ask them to describe the way in which they raise their animals.

And if expense is a real issue, don’t forget about using the bones for bone broth!  Which is the best way to get nutrients and a little more protein into our diets.

Happy Nourishing….

Tammy

Bloated? Eczema? Gassy? It's probably something you ate....

I have always been a pretty healthy eater.  But for much of my life, I have had two issues plaguing my self esteem.  My skin was one.  I always broke out more than the average person, but a couple of years ago it got REALLY bad.  I became super self conscious and did not want to have any pictures taken. Being from a Taiwanese family also didn't help because my mother pointed it out constantly!   The other is the fact that normally, I would finish each day feeling bloated and GIGANTIC.  If I let my belly relax, I literally looked like I was 5 months pregnant, and that really did not do a lot for my self image.  I would just think that this was normal, and eventually I became accustomed to feeling this way.  Stretchy pants were my best friend.

It wasn’t until I went to nutrition school, that I learned about food allergies and more importantly for me,  food sensitivities.   Allergies can cause pretty severe reactions, which I never had, but food sensitivities could cause bloating, gas, acne, brain fog, weight gain and a host of other symptoms.  I had a LOT of these problems.    Lightbulb! Bing!  My “healthy” diet wasn’t really healthy anymore... at least for me.  I began playing around with different foods, taking them out of my diet and checking to see how I felt, and finally, I found out which ones didn’t work for me.  Since I've made a big switch in my diet, I know which foods make me bloat and my skin has cleared up tremendously.  Last time I went home, a family friend (Taiwanese of course)  couldn't stop raving about how my skin looked.  Taiwanese are quick to point out the good and the bad. :)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What is a Food Allergy?

An allergy triggers the immune system. The immune system reacts to a foreign substance, or allergen (for our purposes something edible).   The body will create antibodies against this allergen and can cause inflammation and tissue damage, especially if chronically exposed.

Immediate allergic reactions are acute and can include symptoms such as hives, rashes, itching, trouble breathing, and unconsciousness.  These are the type of allergies that cause people to carry around epi-pens.  In general, however, this only affects 7.5% of children and only 1-2% of adults.

What is a Food Sensitivity?

Delayed reactions are much harder to detect because they can take several hours or up to 72 hours after to manifest.  They are often called “hidden” food allergies or also sensitivities.  Delayed reactions are much more common and affect about 25% of the population.  Those with intolerances are unable to either completely digest a food or unable to handle the chemical structure of a food.  One of the most well known intolerances is lactose intolerance where a person is missing the enzyme “lactase” and therefore cannot digest the lactose in dairy products. Delayed reactions are much more insidious, because people often do not connect their symptoms (such as eczema, brain fog, ear infections, joint pain, or fatigue) to something they ate.  Uncomfortable problems can persist for long periods of time.

Some delayed reactions or intolerances can be resolved over time by abstaining from the food, and then it allowing back into the diet only occasionally.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Explosion of Allergies

Chances are if you know any children, you know that there is an explosion in the amount of food sensitivities and allergies in children today.   I’ve worked in education for the last 10 years and I have seen it.  What has happened in the last decades that has changed so drastically?  Well, let’s take a look.

 Likely culprits:

1)  Adulteration of the food supply:  antibiotics, artificial flavors and colors.  Some people are extremely sensitive to these additives, but it is also an issue to think about how all these chemicals interact with each other and over time.

2)  GMO’s:  Genetically Modified Foods.  To be clear, we are talking about when scientists go into the DNA of a plant and add usually a different organism’s DNA into its genetic code.  The most common GMO foods are conventional corn, alfalfa, soy, canola oil, rice, tomatoes, potatoes, milk (rBGH), and cotton. There has been little research done on the safety of GMO’s and many articles have been published possibly linking the two.

3)  Increased environmental pollutants:  More pollutants mean more stress on the body, and the body can only take so much.

4)  Leaky Gut:  Leaky gut is when the membrane of your gut lining is compromised, and larger food molecules pass through into your bloodstream.  Your body recognizes these molecules as foreign, and starts to create antibodies to these foods.

 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Have Symptoms?  What can you do?

Not sure if you have any symptoms?  Here are some common ones that could be from food sensitivities.

* bloating              * joint pain                                * excess weight

* gas                     * fatigue                                   * chronic ear infections

* acne                   * diarrhea                                 * depression

* eczema               * asthma                                  * chronic sinus infections

* brain fog             * Irritable Bowel Syndrome        * headaches

If you have some of these symptoms, it would be worth your while to try and take out some suspected culprits for a couple of weeks, and then add them back in one at a time, waiting 3 days between each one.   This is commonly called an elimination diet, which I often work on with my clients, and if you are experiencing a lot of symptoms, then it would be a good idea to find a health care practitioner that can support you through it.

Not sure what to take out?  Here is a list of commonly allergenic food and foods least likely to cause problems.

Most Allergenic Foods

Least Allergenic Foods

·    Wheat

·    Nuts (peanuts, tree nuts)

·    Eggs

·    Sugar

·    Dairy (Casein)

·    Soy

·    Corn

·    Citrus

·    Yeast

·    Shellfish

·        Lamb

·        Fish (cod, haddock, mackerel, and trout)

·        Artichokes

·        Beets and beet greens

·        Carrots

·        Celery

·        Fennel

·        Green Beans

·        Onions

·        Parsnips

·        Peaches

·        Pears

·        Rutabagas

Pulse Testing

Developed by Dr. Andrew Coca, pulse testing is a helpful tool in narrowing down your sensitivities.  Here are the steps:

1)  Sit quietly for 5 minutes

2)  Measure your resting pulse for one minute by counting the number of beats for 60 seconds.  Record.

3)  Ingest the suspected food.

4)  Measure immediately for 1 minutes, record results.

5)  Measure again at 10 minutes and at 30 minutes.  Record.

6)  If there is a significant increase or decrease (by 10 beats or more per minute), this indicates a likely sensitivity.

 

Good luck in finding out how to eat better and learning to avoid foods that are problematic!  Happy Nourishing :) 

 

References:

Bauman, E, and Jodi Friedlander NC. (2011) Foundations of Nutrition.  Bauman College.

Knoff, Laura J. (2010)  The Whole-Food Guide to Overcoming Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Oakland.  New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

 O’Brien, Robyn.  (2009) The Unhealthy Truth.  New York.  Random House.

http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/5-common-genetically-modified-foods10.htm

 

*LEGAL DISCLAIMER - This website (including any/all site pages, blog posts, blog comments, forum, etc.) is not intended to replace the services of a physician, nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Information is provided for informational  purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating a medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have an urgent medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Any application of the recommendations in this website is at the reader's discretion. Tammy Chang and The Nourished Belly are not liable for any direct or indirect claim, loss or damage resulting from use of this website and/or any web site(s) linked to/from it. Readers should consult their own physicians concerning the recommendations in this website.

 

 

What You Need to Know About Sugar

It's time for another   10 Day Sugar Challenge back by popular demand!!   I love to do a challenge right before the holidays because it really does help us come back to a state of balance BEFORE we get to indulge a bit. This will give us a a great foundation to head into the holidays. Join me and a group of others for 10 days of taking the sugar out starting November 8th!   Register here!

I'm reposting an old blog about sugar...it's an oldie but goodie.  Take a look!

Sugar.  It seems that it's a problem for everyone, and that's because it is! Many clients come to me with sugar being a large part of their diet, and oftentimes even people who think they don't eat a lot of sugar, realize that they do.

Personally, I have made huge strides in lessening the amount of refined sugar in my diet. I used to hold the sugar canister over my cup of coffee for 5 whole seconds. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Really.  This happened.  But I decided one day to try it without and now, I can't stand the taste of sweetened coffee. The great thing about a sweet tooth is that once you put a little bit of effort into taking sugar out of your diet, the cravings start to disappear. Things will start tasting disgustingly sweet to you.  I promise you.

The problem with sugar isn't just the empty calories and the tooth decay. It's a whole host of other things. Read on.

1) Sugar makes you fat! More research is coming out on the idea that different calories are metabolized differently in the body, and the way sugar is metabolized will cause more of those calories to be stored as fat. (If you happen to have an extra 90 minutes lying around, watch Robert Lustig's youtube video, The Bitter Truth. Or if just an extra 10, watch Sean Croxton's summary of that video. Enlightening)

2) Sugar could give you wrinkles. Boo, right? An article in Discover Magazine reported that sugar in the blood can bind to collagen in a process called glycation.

3) Sugar suppresses your immune system. Can't quite beat that cold? Are you eating a ton of cough drops? Ann Louis Gittleman in her book, Get the Sugar Out, writes that the ability of cells to kill off foreign invaders can be reduced up to 5 hours after we ingest sugar. Also, it reduces the production of antibodies, interferes with the transport of vitamin C, and makes cell walls more permeable to outside invaders. Ooof.

4) Sugar disrupts your body's mineral balance. In sugar refining, nutrients such as chromium, manganese, cobalt, copper, zinc and magnesium are all stripped away. Not only are many of these the same minerals that help to control our blood sugar in the first place, but without them our bodies then have to use our own nutrients to absorb and metabolize sugar.

5) Sugar is an ANTI NUTRIENT. It's not just empty calories. It pulls nutrients, that I would rather keep, away from the body. Gittleman also writes that it interferes with absorption of minerals and can increase the secretion of B vitamins and almost ALL minerals, but especially calcium and magnesium. Double oof!

6) Sugar can feed cancer cells. Cancer cells feed on sugar. Also, with a continuous influx of sugar into the blood stream, our insulin levels are chronically elevated and insulin can trigger the growth of cancer cells.

7) Overuse of sugar can lead to insulin resistance, which can lead to type II diabetes. The more you eat foods that directly send sugar straight to the blood stream (think foods that are almost pure refined sugar, like soda), the more your body has to work to bring your blood sugar back down to a safe level. (Too high or too low blood sugar is dangerous.) If the body becomes overworked by what you are consistently eating, pretty much it will just stop working properly.

8) Unfriendly yeast in your body feeds directly on sugar. Ladies, have you ever had a yeast infection? Unfortunately, they are really common, and for you, it is imperative that you take sugar out! Men, you are equally at risk?  Jock itch? Athlete's foot...  You almost certainly have an overgrowth of Candida, which is the yeast that naturally occurs in our body, but can run rampant if the conditions are right. However, an overgrowth of candida can have all sorts of symptoms (jock itch, headaches, brain fog, fatigue), so even if you never experience yeast infections, candida can still run rampant. Men are also affected!

9)  Sugar is addictive.  According to Nicole Avena, and her great youtube video, eating sugar releases dopamine and affects our pleasure centers every time we eat it.  No wonder we crave it, we want to feel good!

There are many more things I could include, but these are some of the important ones. If you think these facts are meant to scare you....they are! It is important for us to realize the far reaching consequences of over indulging in refined sugar; it is not a harmless food. My personal experience is that once I start eating it, I start craving it all the time. It is extremely addicting.

But the good news again, is that as we start to cut it out of our diet, we will lose our taste for it. I work with many of my clients to cut sugar out for a week, and invariably they report craving it significantly less. It is possible! And those that dramatically reduce consumption lose weight.  It's really as simple as that.

So join me in the intention of cutting out the sugar. It is something that requires a little effort for sure, but it is one of the most health promoting habits you can have.