Gluten Intolerance vs Gluten Sensitivity

For anyone who suffers from gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity, you know that finding gluten-free foods is important so as to not aggravate any symptoms. However, while the terms gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity are often used interchangeably, there are also slight differences between being the two. For example, if you are sensitive to gluten, then that means specific parts of the immune system are involved and an immune response is triggered; whereas if you’re intolerant to gluten, the immune system does not play a role.

The best way to explain gluten intolerance is to compare it to lactose intolerance. If someone is lactose intolerant, they may experience things like diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. The reason an individual may be lactose intolerant is because they lack an enzyme known as lactase. Without this enzyme, it makes it difficult for the body to breakdown and digest lactose. To avoid the aforementioned symptoms, individuals that are intolerant are unable to consume things like milk and other dairy products, and will instead have to buy products that are lactose-free. The same goes for gluten intolerance.

Because gluten sensitivity is also quite common, individuals with this condition will often say that they have a gluten allergy. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. While it’s possible to have an allergy to wheat, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have an allergy to gluten. In fact, according to allergists, gluten allergies don’t actually exist. You’re either allergic to wheat, sensitive to gluten, or have Celiac Disease – an autoimmune disease that is triggered when gluten has been ingested. The aforementioned conditions (wheat allergy, gluten sensitivity, and Celiac Disease) can also overlap. It is important to note that if you have a gluten sensitivity, you cannot go into anaphylaxis. This can only occur if you are allergic to wheat.

Symptoms of gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity can manifest in a variety of ways. Gluten sensitivity may cause things like nausea, acid reflux, mouth ulcers and constipation, as well as feelings of fatigue, joint pain, and even headaches. Similarly, gluten sensitivity can also cause gastrointestinal-related symptoms; i.e. nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

The best thing you can do to avoid these symptoms is to avoid gluten. Many companies often make products that are gluten-free. In fact, most grocery stores have aisles dedicated to gluten-free foods. There are also certain goods that are naturally gluten-free, and the list is extensive. Gluten-free foods include broccoli, asparagus, brussels sprouts, lettuce, mushroom, olives, potato, spinach, squash, zucchini, pineapple, coconut, beef, chicken, cod, pork, nuts quinoa and soy…just to name a few; while foods such as bread, cookies, cakes, other pastries, alcohol (beer, specifically), gravy, malt vinegar, pretzels, pizza, sausages, salami, as well as soups and sauces (as they may contain wheat as a thickener) should be avoided.

To determine whether or not gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance are triggering your symptoms, it is recommended that you first be tested for both Celiac Disease as well as wheat allergy. If those tests come back negative, then physicians typically recommend trying a gluten elimination diet and exclude certain foods to see if that helps.

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Why You Shouldn’t Skip Breakfast

If you’re thinking about skipping breakfast this morning, you might want to reconsider!

According to a recent study done by researchers from the Mayo Clinic, findings suggested that eating meals in the mornings may actually help keep you slimmer and promote weight loss, as those who ate breakfast compared to those who didn’t were less likely to gain weight and accumulate belly fat. The study, which analyzed the breakfast habits of approximately 350 individuals, found that those who ate breakfast on a regular basis gained an average of 3 pounds in a year, while those who only ate breakfast occasionally gained approximately 5 pounds, and those who skipped breakfast all together gained 8 to 10 pounds.

While it’s easy to skip on what’s commonly referred to as the most important meal of the day, it’s widely known that if you eat breakfast in the morning then you’re less likely to feel hungry throughout the day, meaning you won’t snack as frequently and indulge in things that aren’t necessarily good for you.

Of course it’s not just about how frequently you eat. It’s about what you eat, too. Just as you would with lunch and dinner, you need to make sure your breakfast choices are just as healthy. That means avoiding carbohydrates, sugar-filled foods and fruit juices. Some of the best foods you can eat in the mornings include eggs, Greek yogurt, and oatmeal. You can also add things like chia seeds, flax seeds, and nuts to your breakfast, as these are packed with fibre, and can also prevent you from unnecessary snacking in the middle of the day. If you’re unsure what to make for breakfast or are in a hurry, a smoothie can be a quick and easy way. Simply blend together some of your favourite fruits and ice (with or without a little bit of Greek yogurt.) Another great way to kick off your morning is by making a protein shake. You can find plenty of healthy shake recipes on Pinterest.

Just as healthy eating is important for adults, it’s also important to make it a habit for young children. However, kids can be picky eaters, so the best way to get them to eat healthy is to make it fun and set up a reward system. Also think beyond breakfast food. If you had ham for dinner, it also works as a great breakfast food. For example, in an omelette. Pinterest also has plenty of tips to help parents make breakfast a fun activity for children.

Don’t Eat Romaine Lettuce, CDC Warns

If you recently purchased romaine lettuce, you might want to think twice before eating it. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also known as the CDC, has issued a strong warning urging all Americans to avoid consumption of the leafy green vegetable, and instead says you should throw it out or take it back to your point of purchase for a refund due to fears of E. coli contamination.

This latest warning comes just three months after the initial outbreak that caused as many as 53 people to become ill, killing 2; and while there had been no new cases reported since December, and the risk of developing E. coli was considered to be quite low, some grocery stores and restaurant chains across North America decided to voluntarily pull romaine lettuce from their store shelves and off their menus out of an abundance of caution. However, following new information coming to light in recent days, the CDC now says the outbreak has expanded to at least 16 states and sickened at least 60 people, including 8 inmates from the same Alaskan jail. Hardest hit states in this most recent outbreak include Pennsylvania, with 12 reported cases, and Idaho, with 10.

While the exact source of the contamination has yet to be identified, health officials say the information they’ve received thus far suggests that the contaminated lettuce was most likely grown in Yuma, Arizona. However, if you’re unsure of the specific source of your lettuce, the CDC says consumers should avoid it all together – even if you’ve already eaten it and have had no ill effects – as it can take anywhere from 24 hours to 7 days until symptoms will present themselves. The most common symptoms associated with E. coli that you need to watch out for include abdominal pain and/or cramps, gas, severe or bloody diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Other complications can also arise, such as decreased urine output or bloody urine, pale skin, fatigue, dehydration, and fever. If any of these symptoms develop, or if your symptoms worsen or persist, you should seek immediate medical attention, as failure to treat an E. coli infection could be fatal – though the chance of this happening is typically quite rare, and in most cases an E. coli infection will get better on its own as long as you make sure you’re getting plenty of rest and drinking plenty of water. If you’re not getting enough fluids, you may require them needing to be administered to you intravenously. You may also need to be prescribed antiemetic medication, such as Zofran, to help relieve the nausea and vomiting.

Now you’re probably wondering what this outbreak means for Canadians. Well, there’s some good news to share. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, Canadians are free to consume romaine lettuce without worry. That being said, Dr. Ali Ghahary still recommends taking the appropriate measures to ensure that your lettuce is well washed prior to serving and consumption, and that you don’t store lettuce in your fridge any longer than 7 days.

How to Recognize and Stop Emotional Eating

How to Recognize and Stop Emotional Eating | Dr. Ali GhaharyRegardless of what it’s caused by (such as work, school, or personal relationships), stress is something that affects us all. For some, stress can be a minor and infrequent occurrence, while for others it can be a reoccurring, daily problem, resulting in serious mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

The most important thing when it comes to dealing with stress and anxiety is not only identifying the triggers, but also being able to recognize how it affects us. For example, some individuals under stress may want to find some downtime – whether it’s keeping to themselves by finding a quiet room and reading a book, or taking a vacation. This is known as a cooling-off period. For others, dealing with stress isn’t as simple. One of the most common ways that individuals will self-treat their stress is through food – otherwise known as emotional eating. Food isn’t just something we consume to satisfy our hunger. Food can also mean comfort and can help relieve those feelings of anxiousness, sadness and/or loneliness. That being said, emotional eating doesn’t actually solve anything. Not only does the stress remain, but we also tend to feel guilty for eating – especially if we overeat, which is also easy to do when you’re under a lot of stress.

Regardless of how tempted you might be to try and relieve your stress through eating your favourite candy bar, greasy French fries, pint of ice cream or other favourite food item, it’s important that you find other, healthier alternatives to dealing with your stress. The best way to do this is to practice mindful eating; but in order to do that you first need to be aware of what’s happening around you or to you to cause the stress and therefore make you want to eat your emotions away in the first place. Dr. Ali Ghahary suggests asking yourself the following questions:

• Do you eat more when you’re feeling stressed compared to other times?
• Do you eat even when you’re not hungry/already feel full?
• Do you tell yourself that eating will make you feel better?

If the answer to any of those questions is “yes” then you have a problem. That being said, by answering yes to those questions, you’re also aware of the fact that the problem exists, which means it will be easier for you to come up with other coping mechanisms. Also remember that emotional hunger is something that tends to come on overwhelmingly sudden, makes you crave specific comfort foods, doesn’t actually leave you feeling satisfied, and often leads to guilt and shame for overeating – all completely different feelings compared to those of someone with normal eating habits.

Once you’ve identified these issues, now comes the hard part. Finding those healthier alternatives. Before you eat, ask yourself why you’re eating. Are you picking up food because you’re upset or because it’s lunch and you know you need to have 3 well-balanced meals? Secondly, pay attention to what you eat. As mentioned, comfort foods are commonly associated with emotional eating, so always make sure you’re choosing foods that are healthy and nutritious.

Failing to follow these steps can eventually result in serious eating disorders. If you suffer from severe stress, anxiety or other mental health issues, never hesitate to reach out for help from a trusted medical professional.