Archive for ‘Education’

July 3, 2018

Your Gut Has a Mind of Its Own

If you feel like your gut has a mind of its own, it’s because it does. The billions of neurotransmitters in your intestine are of the same type as those in your brain and house the Enteric Nervous System. The gut is capable of a level of independent intelligence equal to that of your dog.
diet
Does that mean our stomachs can be trained?

It’s kind of a funny idea, but it’s one that’s currently being explored. Some scientists hypothesize that we can treat stomach pain using hypnosis — essentially curing our tummies by talking to them.

The gut is host to 100,000 billion bacteria. When researchers mapped the DNA of one study participants’ microbiomes, they first reported that each of us falls into one of 3 enterotypes.

Subsequent research has called this limited number and the specific characteristics within each type into question. Things may be a bit more nuanced and complicated than originally indicated. Research continues and will bring a clearer picture over time.

We do know that the gut communicates with the brain via the vegas nerve and can affect our emotions. That could be why it feels like the gut has a mind of its own that sometimes controls us.

Ninety-five percent of the seratonin in our bodies is produced in the gut where it regulates the immune system and sets the pace for intestinal transit. Seratonin is also released into the bloodstream acting on the hypothalamus and registering in the upper brain as a sense of well-being.

With conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in which there is no observable organic malfunction, it is theorized that there could be a problem between brain and gut communication. One of the brains may send the wrong message or a message may be misinterpreted resulting in the symptoms experienced.

Learning more about this possible process may lead to innovative treatments for the 1 in 10 of us who suffer from IBS. It also has potential benefit for those who have become hypervigilant as a result of trauma.

An examination of the microbiome can increasingly assist in diagnosis and treatment of disease. The microbiome can show a propensity for Type II diabetes, heart disease, and liver disease and may influence obesity. Patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) show an increase in pro-inflammatory molecules and a decrease in inflammatory dampening bacteria. Altering microbial composition could possibly be used to reduce inflammation or calm down the immune system.

Researchers have successfully diagnosed Parkinson’s disease through intestinal biopsy paving the way for additional exploration of the possibility that the gut and brain share diseases. This could be key to a greater understanding of autism spectrum disorders and alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Michael Gershon, Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center who is sometimes referred to as the father of neurogastroenterology has, along with Dr. Anne Gershon, demonstrated that shingles can occur in enteric neurons and may be the cause of several gastrointestinal disorders currently of unknown origin.

It’s a little unclear whether the DNA of a microbiome is a set entity that changes slowly over time or whether researchers were simply mapping a DNA moment in a constantly changing microbiota. Studies have shown that the microbiota can change within one day with a change in diet.

That sounds like great news to me! It’s possible that a change in diet could bring symptom relief fairly quickly once we better understand what in the diet needs to be altered.

The possibilities are huge and the research has just begun. Changing the microbiome through diet, prebiotics, and probiotics may have a much greater effect in preventing and reducing disease than we previously believed. Diet may not just be fuel to keep the body strong, it may be real medicine that can be used to reduce inflammation, revise autoimmune response, and change the messages transmitted from the gut to the brain.

Knowing that my gut has a mind of its own sounds like relief to my upper brain!

https://www.pathology.columbia.edu/profile/michael-d-gershon-md

http://sales.arte.tv/fiche/3707/VENTRE__NOTRE_DEUXIEME_CERVEAU__LE_

http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/1/6/6ra14.short

https://www.mdedge.com/jfponline/article/105514/gastroenterology/targeting-gut-flora-treat-and-prevent-disease

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25786900

https://www.pathology.columbia.edu/profile/michael-d-gershon-md

February 20, 2018

Is Your Gluten-Free Tummy Tied in Knots?

Is your gluten-free tummy tied in knots? You’ve given up your favorite Hawaiian bread, yeast rolls, biscuits & gravy, cake, crackers and doughnuts, but your tummy still feels like it’s tied in knots. That doesn’t seem fair! What’s going on?
knots
Before you grab a doughnut while pondering this question, keep in mind that gluten is not the source of all abdominal pain – even for a person with Celiac Disease.

In December, I contracted rotavirus (don’t believe anyone who says adults don’t get it). After a couple of miserable rounds of it, I could finally get off the couch and eat! The problem was, my system could no longer break down many foods. Almost two months down the road, I still have to avoid nuts and seeds, raw greens, and beef unless it’s shredded. I am slowly improving, but still often one food choice away from significant pain.

I have a friend who spent the bulk of 3 months on the bathroom floor after gall bladder surgery. Removing the source of the problem did not mean an instant end to her tummy troubles. She followed her doctor’s dietary recommendations, but her system adjusted much more slowly than anticipated.

One of my former employees has Crohn’s Disease that caused significant pain before she began a monthly regimen of chemotherapy. Now she has few restrictions and little pain.

There are many other medical conditions that cause stomach and abdominal pain – Inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, hiatal hernia, ulcer, kidney stone, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, appendicitis, bowel blockage, hepatitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), parasitic infection, and urinary tract infection.

Sometimes the aftermath of another condition causes the stomach lining to become inflamed or swollen causing gastritis that results in abdominal pain.

The point is, you can be getting healthier after removing gluten from your diet and still experience tummy pain. I know, that sucks. And it makes things confusing. It’s one of those unfortunate, frustrating possibilities.

Another possibility is that you have learned through traumatic experiences to reroute emotions like terror, rage, horror, or helplessness to portions of your body where you then experience those emotions as physical pain. Most of us have experienced a sinking feeling in our gut as a result of fear or stress. Imagine if you multiplied that feeling in intensity, duration, and/or repetitiveness. The resulting feeling could be that your tummy is tied in knots.

The original response to a stress may have been emotional, but the resulting response to similar situation becomes physical pain. Untangling the messages of somatic experience can take time. Sometimes it is difficult to determine the origin of physical pain.

I’m aware that I’ve shared lots of words with you that are not definitive for determining why your tummy is tied in knots. Hopefully, something you read here will give you a starting point for describing your pain to your physician or therapist.

In the meantime, if you have Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance, I encourage you to stay the course with your gluten-free regimen. You may be getting better even if your tummy is tied in knots.

January 30, 2018

Back to Basics in the Kitchen

We often talk about cooking here as if you’ve been cooking all your life, but today we’re going to get back to basics. While my mom didn’t cook much when I was growing up, my grandmother did. I spent enough time cooking fresh food and baking from scratch to feel comfortable with the tools and the terms. That’s not true for everyone my age and certainly not for everyone my kids’ age.

In some circles cooking has come to mean popping a packaged meal in the microwave or heating precooked entrees or vegetables in the oven. I’ve seen posts in which a description of baking from “scratch” included a cake mix.

Reducing the amount of prepackaged, convenience foods you eat can help lessen your consumption of chemical additives, sodium, manufactured fats, and sugar. It also means you may have to perform a few additional “cooking” related tasks.
eggshells
If you’re not familiar with cooking terminology, translating a recipe into a dish may seem daunting. Removing some of the mystery can help you get past the feeling that you can’t cook because you don’t even know what the words in the instructions mean. Today, let’s explore some basic cooking terms and techniques so you can be on your way to becoming a great cook!

You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to prepare a wide variety of foods for boiling, steaming, baking or broiling. Peeling, slicing, chopping, dicing, and mincing only require a knife. But what are they?
Definitions:
Peel – Remove the outside skin from vegetables or fruits.
Slice – Cut a thick or thin, flat piece of something like fruit, vegetable, bread, or meat.
Chop – Cut food into irregular pieces of similar size to each other. Chopped pieces are typically larger than diced or minced.
Dice – Cut food into cubes between 1/8″ and 1/2″ in size. If size is not specified, use 1/4″
Mince – Mincing is like dicing, but the pieces are smaller.

When preparing vegetables and fruits, you’ll use these techniques over and over again.

Sometimes you may not want a cooked or raw vegetable to retain its shape at all. You can then use a food chopper or processor to grind or purée it. Grinding reduces the food to tiny particles. Puréeing means the food is processed until it’s smooth. You don’t have to have an electronic appliance to do this. A cooked vegetable can be mashed, then put through a sieve to create a purée.

Once you’ve prepped vegetables and meats, you may want to add heat in order to boil, steam, sauté, bake, broil, roast, grill, or braise.
Definitions
Boil – To submerge in a boiling liquid at or above the boiling point of water.
Steam – To place food above boiling water in a pot or pan using some kind of rack or basket and a cover so that steam cooks the food.
Sauté – To cook a food quickly in oil and/or butter over high heat.
Bake – To cook using dry heat in an oven or on heated metal or stones.
Broil – To cook quickly using high heat from above the food.
Roast – To cook using dry heat with a temperature of at least 300 in an environment in which hot air from an open flame, oven or other heat source envelops the food, cooking it evenly on all sides.
Grill – To cook directly over live, high heat flames.
Braise – To cook slowly in a small amount of liquid in a covered container in the oven or on a burner.
Brown – To give a cooked surface to meat or flour. Also to turn a brown color in the oven.

Sometimes you’ll want to parboil, blanch, simmer, scald or blend.
Definitions
Parboil – To briefly boil in water until food begins to soften.
Blanch – To briefly place food in boiling water, then immediately move it into cold water. 
Simmer – To cook in liquid at a temperature just below a boil. 
Scald – Refers to both dipping into boiling water, and heating milk to just below the boiling point.
Blend – To mix ingredients together thoroughly often using a beater, mixer, or blender.

You may be instructed to dot a casserole with butter before baking it, or to baste a turkey while it roasts. If so, here’s what to do:
Definitions
Dot – Cover the top with small pieces of butter.
Baste – Spoon, brush or pour drippings or liquid over a food before or during cooking.

When you begin baking from scratch, you’ll commonly see instructions to sift, mix, cut in, whisk, flour, fold, and knead so let’s prepare for that:
Definitions
From Scratch – To make from the very beginning without using already prepared ingredients.
Sift – Use a device made of a metal cup with a screen at the bottom that contains a mechanism to force the flour through the mesh.
Mix – Combine items to form one mass.
Cut In – Work solid fat into dry ingredients with a pastry blender until evenly distributed.
Whisk – Beat or stir with a whisk.
Flour – To dust a pan the shortening in a prepared baking pan with flour.
Fold – To delicately incorporate one substance into another substance without releasing air bubbles.
Knead – To work a dough by mixing, stretching, and pulling with the fingers and mashing with the heel of the hand.
grate
Other common actions are grating, whipping, and garnishing. Let’s explore those terms:
Grate – To rub firm food on a tool with small, rough, sharp-edged holes grater to create small pieces.
Whip – To beat vigorously to incorporate air and cause expansion.
Garnish – To decorate a dish with something attractive and flavorful.

Now for the important question – Can we use these terms to make a great snack for the Super Bowl?

Of course we can! It’s winter. Let’s make chili!

Chili Sallie
Serves 8

1 large onion, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 or 2 jalapeño peppers, seeds removed, finely chopped
2 fire roasted sweet peppers, seeds removed, diced
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
2 tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans
3 1/2 – 4 cups tomato juice
1/3 cup stewed tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tbsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Instructions
Sauté onion in olive oil in large pan until translucent – about 5-7 minutes. Add the jalapeño and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Add red peppers and ground beef to the pan and brown. Once beef is browned, sprinkle with chili powder and stir until all the meat turns red. Add beans, 3 1/2 cups tomato juice, stewed tomatoes, and the balance of the spices.  

Stir and simmer for at least 20 minutes. Add the balance of the tomato juice if needed as the chili cooks down.
Serve hot.
chili
Now that you have a guide to more than 30 common cooking terms and have had a chance to see them as they appear in a recipe, you can build on this knowledge as you gain experience and confidence.

Never feel bad about having to look something up. Many chefs have used books and kitchen experience to become successful. And remember, you don’t have to be a chef to be a great cook!

November 20, 2017

Celiac’s Relationship to Risk for Other Diseases

If you have Celiac Disease, it’s important to recognize Celiac’s relationship to risk for other diseases. It’s especially tempting at this time of year to ignore the signs of distress your body sends you when you eat bread stuffing, gravy on your turkey, flaky pie crust, gingerbread cookies, and Christmas cookies – after all, it’s the holidays! Before you grab another roll in spite of your physician’s advice to follow a gluten-free diet, it’s good to be informed about the other health effects this could have.
crust
Here is a list of health conditions related to Celiac Disease:

Cancers
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and Small Bowel Cancer are serious complications of Celiac Disease. The good news is that three to five years of adherence to a gluten-free diet reduces the risk of these cancers to the same risk found in the general population. The risk will remain the same as it is for the general population so long as the gluten-free diet continues.

In untreated Celiac Disease patients, Esophageal Cancer occurs at a rate as much as 8 times higher than in the general population. A gluten-free diet reduces this risk.

Those with Celiac Disease have a threefold higher risk of Papillary Thyroid Cancer. This is the most common type of thyroid cancer and is highly treatable.

Chronic Pancreatitis
Chronic Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas that worsens over time. Having Celiac Disease increases your risk of Chronic Pancreatitis threefold.

Scleroderma
Celiac Disease is a known trigger for Scleroderma – an autoimmune condition that causes a hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissue. It is chronic and without cure.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is the third leading cause of death in the US. A large Swedish study from 1987 – 2008 found that those with both diagnosed and undiagnosed Celiac Disease had a moderately increased risk of COPD.

Osteoporosis
Untreated Celiac Disease can lead to development of osteoporosis also known as brittle bones.

Infertility
Untreated Celiac Disease may be an underlying cause of unexplained infertility.

Type 1 Diabetes
The incidence of Celiac Disease in patients with Type 1 Diabetes is 4 – 6% (possibly as high as 10% according to the Diabetes Council). Untreated Celiac Disease with resulting malabsorption can cause hypoglycemia in these patients. If you have Type 1 Diabetes and Gluten-Sensitive Enteropathy, it will be easier to manage blood sugar levels when you adhere to a gluten-free diet.

In addition to these diseases, any condition that is exacerbated by inflammation can be affected because Celiac Disease is often associated with chronic inflammation. The inflammation from untreated Celiac Disease frequently causes joint pain.

With all the tempting treats of the holidays at hand, you may struggle to make the decision to remain gluten-free. While you are always free to choose that flaky pie crust, it’s only prudent to do so with the knowledge that if you have Celiac Disease, doing so can have a detrimental effect on your health. And now you know!

http://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/copd/learn-about-copd/how-serious-is-copd.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/

https://www.thediabetescouncil.com/balancing-diabetes-and-celiac-disease/

http://spectrum.diabetesjournals.org/content/15/3/197

https://celiac.org/celiac-disease/understanding-celiac-disease-2/celiac-disease-and-comorbid-conditions/22514-2/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/cut-bite-size-pieces/