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Brain on Gluten

This is an interesting article about one neurologist’s belief that gluten and carbs are responsible for many brain ailments, such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, ADD and such. He talks about inflammation being caused by carbs which in turn is the root of many brain diseases, with gluten being especially damaging because of blood brain barrier issues. The part I found most personally verifiable is where he says many gluten intolerant symptoms are not felt in the digestive track at all, but in other parts of the body, and I can readily attest to that. Other foods majorly affect my stomach and such, but when I eat gluten I feel it almost immediately in my head. I had a low-grade headache from childhood until my 20s when I began to figure out the wheat connection. It is like clockwork, eat something with gluten and I start to feel ‘off’, like maybe I’m coming down with something and need to sleep it off, but then I slowly realize it isn’t just fatigue, but the a headache that is different from a normal headache, which incidentally I rarely get now that I don’t eat gluten. My whole body feels fatigued, I feel slightly depressed, and my head hurts for 3 days, and then it all fades into feeling good again. Very predictable. As for Doctor Perlmutter’s assertion that gluten and carbs are innately bad for us, I tend to disagree. It seems he’s stumbled upon some truths, (carbs cause inflammation, inflammation is bad for our brains, gluten causes the worst problems, etc) but he made some suppositions that go to far. There has long been a link between brain and gut health~ this has been long-established and shows up in products such as MindLinx, a probiotic that emphasizes the link between a healthy intestinal tract and the mind, hence the name, and before gluten intolerance was recognized it was thought that all carbs were equally responsible for digestive troubles. People have singled out gluten, sugar, PH balance (remember that craze?), blood type, fat, and many other things as the be-all-end-all deciding factor in health, always just until the next thing comes up. Granted, they usually have at least a nugget of truth in them, but they are never the golden nugget that they are made out to be. If you look at the world’s healthiest populations with the least amounts of disease you find communities that focus on whole foods~ fruits and vegetables, grains and vegetable fats, with small amounts of meat/fish/poultry. A fantastic book (with recipes!) about these healthiest cultures and their diets is The Jungle Effect by Dr.Daphne Miller. Real food, despite valiant efforts, could not be improved, and in fact has only deteriorated in nutrition and taste since the industrial revolution. We live in an age of amazing medical technology and knowledge, and goodness knows I’m happy to not be living in the middle ages with leaches being the latest and greatest, but sometimes the old ways, the jungle ways, can teach us more than any doctor.

gluten free · gluten free food · gluten free foods · gluten free symptoms · gluten intolerance · gluten intolerance symptoms · gluten intolerant · kids · picky kids

Early Afternoon Pick-Me-Up

Just had to share my latest favorite afternoon snack. Coffee and protein powder. I know, it sounds wrong but it tastes so right! I add ice to the above and blend it into something that tastes similar to a Frappuccino but has 17g of protein (I just use one scoop~ the directions call for 2!) and lots of other good things like micronutrients and super greens. I figure if I’m going to have coffee in the afternoon anyway, might as well make it extra healthy.


And consider this a public service announcement~ Have you had your iron checked lately? Did you know gluten sensitive people are almost always iron deficient? And vegetarians really need to work to get the recommended daily dose too, but I don’t know about anyone else but no doctor, ever, has checked my iron. Not even the naturopath I see! She recommended my boys take Floradix Iron (nasty liquid stuff which they hate) because of their gluten intolerance so I did a bit of research and decided I needed to take it myself. My goodness, what a difference it makes! I have more energy, consistent energy, and I don’t feel like fainting when I ‘get up too fast ‘~so I’m now a fan of the nasty liquid stuff. I have probably been deficient all my life considering most of it has been spent eating a vegetarian diet (more like a Pastafarian diet in my younger years, as my friend pointed out) and have the gluten issue. So anyway, if you think this might apply to you, ask your doctor! And if you go the Flora route, make sure to get the gluten-free one (if you need it) because there is one that is and one that is not. It is worth it.

gf foods · gluten free · gluten free lifestyle · gluten free symptoms · gluten intolerance diagnosis · gluten intolerance symptoms · gluten intolerant

Olympic Peninsula Travel

Traveling with food intolerances to the Washington coast is not something to be done without your car full of groceries. You can always find grocery stores, but they aren’t going to be the kind with a ‘gluten free section’ and restaurants are pretty typical gluten/dairy laden places. We stayed at Seabrook and my sister saw that the menu at the restaurant there did include gluten-free options, but I did not inquire if they were also dairy and egg free. We had enough corn tortillas, rice, and beans to keep everyone fed enough until we hit our next destination on the north side of the peninsula where we knew there would be more to choose from. (The ocean was phenomenal by the way, despite some drizzly days and cooler temps then we ideally wanted. It is called Juneuary here though so I wasn’t too surprised. We enjoyed it anyway.) Between Port Angeles and Port Townsend is Sequim, and we found at least gluten-free options in all three places, plus in Port Townsend there is a great Co-op with which to stock the car back up with groceries, if that be needed. In Sequim we ate twice at the Sunshine Café where there was a great gluten-free, egg free, soy free, dairy free bread from a nearby bakery. I meant to get some bread before heading leaving Sequim but forgot. It was a great place though, for breakfast and lunch. In Port Townsend which is a beautiful Victorian town on the water we ate at the Owl’s Spirit Café which had a great menu and tasty food, but it wasn’t the best choice for children. The adults all had delicious meals though and you can get fresh juices there also while you wait for your food which is a nice bonus. In Port Angeles we ate at  Next Door which boast gluten-free buns and notes foods that are gluten-free. Other than that we ate in our “fake homes” as my youngest called them and although it took a bit more planning, we made it a whole week without anyone being too upset over any food issues. Yay! Another thing I’ve noticed with this whole food intolerance thing is that my both my sons are surprisingly ok with the fact they are for instance the only ones who can’t eat the pizza at a get-together, or the cake at a party. I just tell them I’ll make whatever it is for them when we get home, and that seems to satisfy them, and more often than not they don’t even ask for whatever it was later. It makes me think about how often we just mindlessly eat whatever is in front of us. The other day at a party my son would have eaten pizza, cake, ice cream and rice crispy treats. Instead he ate the protein bar I had packed him and the rice crispy treats. He was a little sad, but I assured him I could make him pizza and ice cream (what he most wanted) at home, and then he happily forgot about it all. Just an observation. Another thing that’s been very obvious is both the boys’ skin issues are clearing up fast.  My youngest has had red bumpies on his cheeks since he was about 4. I always suspected food issues but the pediatrician and dermatologist both insisted it was Keratosis Pilaris, something 1/3 of the population has on the back of their arm, and kids can have it on their cheeks. “It’s hereditary,” they said. “It’ll go away.” It hadn’t by age 7, but now it is indeed going away~ his skin is looking beautiful  and his eyes are even brighter. My other son had bumpies on this arms and back, probably the same thing, and they are going away too. A friend of mine told me this happened to her husband after going off gluten also, plus his asthma completely cleared. Pretty amazing! It makes me wonder if 1/3 of the population has gluten sensitivity…

pink cheeks this winter
pink cheeks this winter
Clear cheeks with his grandfather.
Clear cheeks with his grandfather.
gluten free · gluten free symptoms · gluten intolerance symptoms

Sneaky Gluten

I was feeling a little bad for a couple of weeks. Not terrible, just kind of like I was fighting a little virus or something~ bit of a headache, less energy, skin looking bad, vague sense of un-well-ness. After about a week I started thinking, wait a minute, this feels like gluten! But what could it be? My diet has not varied much lately and I rarely eat out and the symptoms were persisting, telling me I was taking it in continually but it seemed in low doses because of how stealthily the bad feelings crept up. That is when I thought about the supplements I take everyday and I began to wonder when was the last time I checked to make sure those are gluten free…and let me just say as someone who used to work in the natural foods industry and as a certified herbalist I tend to take more supplements than the average human, so that’s a lot of bottles about which to keep vigilant. Sure enough, my three Whole Foods brand supplements were made in a facility that also processed wheat, etc. They weren’t made with gluten mind you, just had potential to be cross-contaminated. To be honest I was dubious these were the culprit~ am I really that sensitive? After I stopped taking them, I felt a little better the next day, and even better the day after that, and by the third day I woke up with no headache. Bingo. It is a bummer to be so sensitive although I do take those supps every day and who knows for how many months it’d been before either a. it built up in my system as a problem or b. I just had starting taking some that were indeed contaminated. It was a good reminder to keep vigilant. Now I make sure my supps have a cute little gluten-free symbol on the bottle~ these are the most common:I’m partial to that top one…tatoo material maybe? I’m gluten-free after all. Or at least I try to be.

celiac disease · gluten intolerance · gluten intolerance symptoms

Gluten Intolerance

A recipe for a type of pasta and cheese dish sent me to Jovial’s website where I started poking around. I haven’t tried their gluten free products yet, but I will now because I was so impressed with how they concisely explain gluten intolerance, especially how it relates to yet is different than Celiac Disease. Here is the one page information on Gluten Intolerance. Also well done are the fast facts which were found on the page about their gluten free getaway in Tuscany (which sounds like heaven btw.)
Fast facts:

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition triggered by the ingestion of gluten,
a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
Celiac disease affects 3 million Americans, but 95% are undiagnosed.
There are more than 300 symptoms of celiac disease, ranging from gastrointestinal
 issues to migraines to joint pain.
Left untreated, celiac disease can lead to other serious health conditions,
such as osteoporosis, infertility and cancer.
The only treatment for celiac disease is a lifelong, 100% gluten-free diet.
An estimated 18 million Americans have gluten sensitivity – that means a
total of 21 million Americans should be living gluten-free!
In addition to obvious sources like pasta, bread and cookies, gluten can also
be found in soy sauce, salad dressing, lunch meat, gravy, and a number of other foods.

The one page article is seriously worth reading, even if you already know all about
 gluten intolerance, it is written so well that personally I feel now that I read it I can
 better describe the issue to others who offer me food then look confused, dubious,
 and just plain dumbfounded when I say I don’t eat gluten. Their website is my new
 go-to explain-er of things. Ben fatto!

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Pineapple Juice

While living in Prague my spectacular flatmate and I talked about everything under the sun, but really, the majority of the time, by a significant amount I’d say, we talked about food. Usually it was what we’d be eating if we were home right now, or in some other city, or what we ate at such and such restaurant, and what we would like to cook if only we could find the ingredients in these tiny little grocery stores. Because of that, I know far more about the frozen foods in Canada’s fine stores than any American should, and she probably will make a pilgrimage to a certain dark coffeehouse in a bad corner of Cincinnati one day. At the time we were both pescatarians in a city that is more red meat and potatoes than Texas. Needless to say, our options were limited. We lived on bread and cheese and surprise, surprise, I got horribly sick for months. At that time I was not aware of my gluten intolerance, but my natural foods background let me know it was something diet related. I started steaming broccoli for breakfast and living off Uncle Ben’s minute brown rice. And pineapple juice. Prague didn’t have much in the way of juices, but it had the best pineapple juice ever~ we drank it daily out of the same kind of box we later in the day would drink our ‘fine’ wines. The juice sections in Prague grocery stores at the time amounted to about half of an end cap. My flatmate went to Berlin over the holidays and all I remember from her trip was that the juice sections there were whole aisles, just like here. Anyway, at Trader Joe’s last night I saw they have a new pineapple juice in the cold section and I just had to try it. The ones in glass that sit on the shelf have never lived up to Prague’s standards so I have cautious hopes for this one. It isn’t organic so I won’t get it often, but in homage to my lovely friend and our days in Prague I’m going to down a glass and then throw together a sopsky’s salad, hold the fried cheese, please.

gluten intolerance symptoms

Greying Early

This radio station I was listening to the other day informed me that there is an epidemic of young women greying early, so much so that they have their own acronym: gosts~ greying overly stressed twenty- somethings. Considering my general lack of media interaction, this could very well be old news, but I was fascinated and surprised. I got my first grey hair at the ripe ol’ age of 10. My mother acted as though that was completely normal and immediately called the doctor secretly suspecting some horrible disease where I’d be aging rapidly and sharing wrinkle cream tips with her before my teenage years. The dr. allayed her fears, and actually greying early runs in my family, on my father’s side, so it was just kind of accepted and expected. Now I can look at that phenomena and it seems so obvious that I was B vitamin deficient with my meat aversion and sub-par intestines. I would venture to guess my dad’s side has a long history of gluten intolerance actually, though no one but me has ever been tested, much less diagnosed. It definitely makes me wonder if there is more than stress causing this epidemic of young twenty somethings greying early~ food allergies seem to be around every corner these days. I watched a video about lesser known gluten intolerance symptoms and it is amazing how many different ways it can manifest. No wonder drs have such a hard time diagnosing it! She didn’t mention early greying in her video, but it stands to reason if your intestines are not in optimal condition then you cannot get the necessary nutrients for all the body’s processes, which includes coloring one’s hair. (B vitamins are essential.) We know so much more now about health and nutrition, and yet it seems you really have to research for yourself to get an answer. Leaving it up to the docs just isn’t enough.