Is Gluten Really Bad for You?

It’s doubtful that you haven’t heard the term “gluten-free” by now. Most often it is discussed when referring to Celiac disease. Celiac disease is a digestive autoimmune disorder associated with intolerance to gluten. Any product containing wheat, rye or barley must be avoided. People with Celiac are not optimally absorbing the nutrients from the food they eat. The symptoms range from diarrhea, weight loss, bloating, abdominal or joint pain to fatigue, brain fog, weakness, anemia, skin rashes and depression which is why it is not always easily diagnosed. In addition, if left untreated it can cause damage to the small intestine. If you have any of the above symptoms and have not been able to get any relief, ask your doctor to test you for Celiac. It is also genetic so keep that in mind if you have children who exhibit any of these symptoms. In some cases people who have Celiac may have a reaction to soy and dairy as well.

The hard part about eliminating gluten is that it can be found in everything from canned food to condiments such as ketchup and salad dressing. If you love sushi ask for the gluten-free soy sauce. You need to read labels. Even when you go to a restaurant, make sure you ask questions. There can be cross contamination in restaurants if they don’t have a gluten-free zone where they prepare food.

The good news is that once you are diagnosed and start avoiding gluten and clean up your digestive track you will feel like a new person. You should also know that you may test negative for Celiac but could still be sensitive to gluten. It is recommended that anyone with an autoimmune condition avoid gluten. Gluten can cause an inflammatory response in the body making an autoimmune issue worse. Here again it is important to get to the root of the problem and look at the whole person and see what is out of balance. I have Hashimoto’s which is an autoimmune thyroid condition however gluten is not a problem for me.

So many people have told me that they gave up gluten because they heard it is bad for you and causes weight gain. As a result many have given up not only gluten but all grains.  This is where being bombarded with so much information can get confusing.  First remember that no two people are alike. One person’s medicine is another person’s poison and vice versa. Beware whenever you read about anything to an extreme …extreme diet and food regiments, weight loss or even taking large amounts of supplements.

We have been eating wheat and gluten for thousands of years. Gluten is fine as long as you are eating good quality non-processed foods containing gluten and you are able to digest it. Gluten free packaged foods are a big industry now however they are just more processed food laden with harmful chemicals.  You are better off eating good quality sourdough or whole grain bread.  With giving up all grains there is a risk of not getting enough fiber.   Fiber is necessary to maintain bowel health and keep everything “moving”, control blood sugar and cholesterol and also maintain and achieve a healthy weight. Ironically we have an epidemic of obesity, diabetes and people taking stain drugs which are three issues a high fiber diet can help.

Many times gluten is not the problem.  Consuming processed or refined foods, sugar and non-organic foods that are sprayed with toxic chemicals affect our ability to absorb nutrients and also damage the digestive tract. This can lead to problems such as leaky gut.   You are what you eat but also what you digest.  If you cannot properly digest your food then you are not benefitting from all the rich minerals and nutrients that enable the body to achieve and maintain optimal health.  So first get to the root cause of why gluten or any food is a problem for you.   Make sure you read labels and if you cannot identify an ingredient put the item back. Try to eat as close to nature as possible and organic whenever your budget allows. You will never go wrong with fresh, local, organic whole foods and your body will thank you!
For more information about Celiac and gluten, go to: http://www.celiac.com

healthy wishes,

Maria

Live Long & Prosper – Guidelines for a Healthy 2017 and Beyond!

Since most people don’t like to read long dissertations on anything I wanted to offer some guidelines to live long and prosper.  So here goes:

  • Eat plenty of fruits (choose low glycemic fruits like berries) and vegetables (less starchy and more leafy greens).
  • Make sure you buy as much organic as your budget allows.  Dairy is a MUST and make it grass-fed.  There are certain fruits and vegetables you can get away with not buying organic but some you must. Chart below.
  • Buy non GMO products.
  • Stay away from packaged, boxed or canned food unless the can is BPA free. Many foods come in cartons now. Frozen is better option.
  • Eat only wild fish like salmon and sardines that are filled with omega 3 fatty acids which are good for your health.  They are also safe fish to eat without toxins.
  • Use extra virgin olive oil for salads (do not fry or cook on the stove with it) and unrefined coconut oil for frying or sautéing.
  • Eat meat as a condiment but make sure it’s grass fed and doesn’t have any antibiotics or hormones present.
  • If the product you are buying has more than a few ingredients, don’t but it.  If you can’t identify ingredients on a label, put it back on the shelf.
  • Fall in love with cooking at home.  Food in restaurants is filled with salt and sugar.
  • Use as many herbs and spices as you can. They have tremendous health benefits.
  • Take probiotics or eat plain yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut or kimchi.  Most people have digestive issues.  The gut is responsible for the health of our immune system and an unhealthy gut can lead to depression and more research is being done linking gut issues to Alzheimer’s.   Along with a healthy diet and exercise, consider taking a probiotic or consuming foods rich in probiotics.
  • Sugar is the culprit of many diseases…stay away from it!
  • Try meditation for at least five minutes a day and work up to ten then twenty. It’s a practice so stick with it even if your mind races.  That’s normal.  You will be so happy you did!
  • Exercise but make sure it’s fun.  Yoga and Tai Chi are great for alleviating stress along with a whole host of health benefits.
  • Take large breaks from social media. You are missing out on so much by filling your mind with other people’s lives.
  • Consume less.  Buying things does not contribute to happiness, quite the contrary. Take joy in experiences rather than things.
  • Spend more time in nature.
  • Help others less fortunate.
  • Treasure the people you love and have compassion for those you don’t.
  • Don’t obsess.
  • Love, love , love!
  • Enjoy a glass of good red wine!

Peace,

Maria

 

 

Pickled Garlic for Cold & Flu Season

Now that sMT2ummer is coming to a close and the cooler weather and flu season is right around the corner it’s time to think about pickled garlic!

Garlic is a powerhouse for colds and flu as it has antibacterial and antiviral properties.  It’s also great for fungal infections, lowering both cholesterol and blood pressure and also prevents against blood clots. You need to eat it raw since the antibiotic properties are lost when cooked. Since it can be hard to eat raw, try pickling it. The taste is milder and delicious.  Here is a great and easy recipe to do that.  I just bought my garlic this past Sunday at my local farmers market and as I write it is being turned into medicine.  At the first sign of a cold or the flu eat 5 cloves a day. It’s not just for when you are feeling ill, you can add it to salads or eat it as a snack.

 

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PICKLED GARLIC CLOVES

Peeled garlic cloves (enough to fill whatever size jar you choose) apple cider vinegar {to cover), raw local honey (to taste)

Fill a glass jar with garlic cloves and cover with apple cider vinegar.

Keep in a warm dark place for two weeks. After two weeks, strain the liquid (into a bowl) and set the garlic cloves aside.

Pour half the liquid into a small saucepan over very low heat and add the honey stirring until it dissolves. I add a teaspoon but you can add more or less if you like.

Pour the reduction back over the garlic and store in a cool dark place, such as your pantry, for another 2-3 weeks.

Note: If your garlic turns green, don’t be alarmed.  This is a result of the interaction with the vinegar and it will eventually go back to its original color.

 

 

 

 

Guest Blogger Katherine Keys – Mesothelioma, Cancer, and the Healing Power of Food

My name is Katherine Keys and I have been fighting mesothelioma cancer for the past 9 years. If you don’t know, mesothelioma is a cancer caused by asbestos exposure. People can be exposed to asbestos in many ways. My exposure was a result of asbestos being spread into the air when the office I was working at was remodeled.At the age of 49 I was diagnosed with Stage 1 Pleural Mesothelioma and was told I had less than two years to live. But I was determined to stay positive and beat this cancer against all odds! My treatment included having my right lung and the lining of the lung removed–a major surgical procedure. Soon after, I began several months of radiation therapy.  I am overjoyed to say that my fight paid off and now 9 years later I am still cancer free! But I know I did not face this battle alone. The doctors and staff at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center are true miracle workers and I am forever grateful to them.I was also helped greatly by the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma Lawyer Center. Not only did they help me obtain financial compensation which helped with my treatments and quality of life, they genuinely care about my well-being. I am proud to call them my friends and they continue to stand by my side as I fight mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma, Cancer, and the Healing Power of Food

Cancer is a dreaded word, and even more dreaded is mesothelioma. This aggressive, most often terminal type of cancer is most often seen in people who spent years exposed to asbestos. Most of these people were not aware of the exposure risks, usually at their jobs, and later faced the terrible consequences of living out the rest of their shortened lives with no more than cash from mesothelioma settlements to bring them comfort.  https://www.mesotheliomalawyercenter.org/mesothelioma-compensation-settlements

Mesothelioma affects the lining of organs in the body, most often the pleura or the lining of the lungs. It can be treated to extend life, but rarely cured. If you or someone you care about is living with mesothelioma, you may be facing uncomfortable symptoms from the cancer and treatments. Medicines can’t fix everything, and it is important that cancer patients harness the power of nutrition, if not to cure their disease, at least to heal from harsh treatments and painful symptoms.

Healing Foods Can Extend Your Life

A study that investigated how nutrition impacted patients with malignant mesothelioma http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24149776 researchers found that those with a better nutritional status lived longer. A healthy diet may extend life in patients with cancer because it provides the body with nutrients needed to carry out important functions, including those that fight cancer cells.

Additionally, treatments for cancer, like chemotherapy, can cause nutritional deficits. Eating well and consciously choosing nutritious foods can make up for those deficits. A good diet helps replace damaged tissue, fights infections in the body by strengthening the immune system, keeps the body strong and more mobile, and generally makes a patient feel better.

Using Nutrition to Counteract the Side Effects of Mesothelioma and Treatment

Good nutrition is healing for the body and it can extend the life of a cancer patient, but it can also help patients find relief from side effects http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/side-effects/appetite-loss/nutrition-pdq#section/_177. Mesothelioma and some of its treatments cause pain, appetite loss, weakness, nausea, and digestive issues. Depending on your specific symptoms, your doctor or a nutritionist can help you decide what kinds of foods are best for you, but there are also some good general guidelines anyone can follow:

Nausea. Chemotherapy may leave you feeling nauseous and unwilling to eat, which in turn can lead to weight loss and malnutrition. Try eating before treatment sessions and eat dry, bland, and soft foods like crackers, dry toast, and bananas.

Loss of appetite. Cancer patients often lose a taste for food and eat less. If food doesn’t taste as good to you anymore, try dishes that are more flavorful. Use spices, eat vibrant fruits like citrus, rely on your favorite foods and don’t feel you have to branch out and try anything new.

Diarrhea. Digestive issues are also common in patients with mesothelioma. For diarrhea, get plenty of fluids, especially with electrolytes and avoid foods high in fiber like beans, cruciferous vegetables, and whole grains.

Constipation. For constipation, do eat high-fiber foods. Eat vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, and legumes every day. Drink plenty of fluids, especially those with fiber, like prune juice or juices with pulp.

Pain. To help battle the pain of mesothelioma, include plenty of anti-inflammatory foods and seasonings in your diet, like ginger, berries, walnuts, yogurt, turmeric, mint, and spicy peppers.

Living with mesothelioma is something that no one should have to go through, and yet so many people are suffering from this largely preventable type of cancer. Along with regular medical care and treatments, nutrition can be healing and is something that all patients should consider. Be sure to consult with your doctor or other health care professional before you make any serious dietary changes.

 

Maitake Mushrooms! Health Warriors!

maitakeThe most common mushroom is the button or white mushroom. Unfortunately it contains natural carcinogens and I encourage you to stay away from it.  There are many other great varieties to try which have better flavor and great health benefits. One of those is the maitake mushroom. It’s also referred to as “hen of the woods” because it looks like a nesting hen with many feathers.

I LOVE Maitake mushrooms.  I buy them fresh at my farmers market every Sunday. Once in a while my local Wholefoods carries them.  They are packed with health benefits.  Some studies show (Kubo et al., 1994; Konno et al., 2001Preuss et al., 2007Lo et al., 2008) that they have a positive effect on glucose levels.  Maitake mushrooms have anticancer and antiviral properties and may help lower blood pressure.  I love them simply sautéed with garlic and oil or ghee and a hint of Braggs Liquid Amino or Tamari. They are also great for mushroom soup, with pasta or sautéed with other vegetables.  AS we begin to ease into the cooler whether it helps to have a little immune boosting help and these are just the prescription!