Probiotics and Gluten Intolerance/Celiac Disease

Posted on April 14th, 2011 by Alison | Posted in Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance, Healthy Living, News & Research | Read 2 Comments - Add Your Own »

Bacteria – your gut is full of it! But wait, before you call the doctor for antibiotics, you need to know that not all bacteria are bad. In fact, the “friendly” bacteria that reside in your gut are vital to maintaining a healthy digestive system, and amazingly and perhaps most importantly, a healthy immune system.

lactobacillus1Unfortunately, the intestinal flora in many people’s digestive tracts are out of balance, with not enough of the good bacteria. Why the decrease in beneficial gut bacteria? It seems the way we live in our modern society is contributing to the imbalance. Consider some of the following theories as to why:

  1. The use of antibiotics has killed off the good bacteria in addition to the bad.
  2. The sterilization of our society – hand sanitizers and antibacterial cleansers – has eliminated the good bacteria along with the bad.
  3. The decreased consumption of cultured and fermented foods like kefir and sauerkraut, means we are not consuming as many probiotics in our diets as we used to.
  4. The increased consumption of whole or processed grains that have not been soaked, sprouted or fermented first has eliminated a source of prebiotics, which feed the good bacteria.
  5. Processing and pasteurization of foods destroys any beneficial bacteria that may naturally occur in the foods.
  6. C-sections and formula feeding changes the microflora of infants, possibly contributing to food intolerance and allergies.

Given the pace of our society today, it is unlikely that any of the above behaviors will change, so people are going to continue to have this bacterial imbalance.

If you have gluten intolerance or celiac disease like me, your gut flora may especially be out of whack. WANT TO READ THE REST? Go over to Attune Foods, where you will read some research on probiotics and celiac disease, and also get some advice on probiotics from Certified Nutritionist Sheila Wagner. Go to rest of article on probiotics… and please leave a comment over there!


Finally, gluten sensitivity is considered real

Posted on March 20th, 2011 by Alison | Posted in Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance, News & Research | Read 7 Comments - Add Your Own »

For years I have been talking about gluten sensitivity, encouraging people to Think Outside the Celiac Box. I have witnessed my own family members test negative for celiac disease but clearly have a sensitivity to gluten. All research up to the present has focused solely on celiac disease, an autoimmune condition in which the body mistakenly attacks its own tissue, specifically targeting the villi of the small intestine, making it difficult to absorb nutrients. I tested positive for this disease, but many others have struggled to find the validation that they too are suffering from the effects of gluten.

Finally, a new study highlighted in the Wall Street Journal acknowledges the condition of gluten sensitivity! Researchers found that there was indeed some immune response happening in a group of people that was different from those with celiac disease, but also different from the control group. They still aren’t sure how a reaction to gluten can cause so many varied symptoms in people — headaches, fatigue, neurological problems, IBS symptoms, ADHD — and the list goes on, but Dr. Alessio Fasano speculates that “once immune cells are mistakenly primed to attack gluten, they can migrate and spread inflammation, even to the brain.”

The article states that 6% of the population may be gluten sensitive. I believe the number is higher, and that this will be discovered as more studies are conducted on gluten sensitivity. But the recognition of the existence of gluten sensitivity is a great first step, so rejoice you gluten-sensitive people! You are not crazy, as doctors and family members and maybe even you believed!

Other articles that address gluten sensitivity:


From GERD to Great: Abigail’s Story

Posted on March 7th, 2011 by Alison | Posted in Babies & Kids, Celiac Disease, GERD, Symptoms | Read 24 Comments - Add Your Own »

A baby diagnosed with GERD, a tired mother who kept fighting for answers, and a new beginning. Today’s post is from Cherie, a reader of this blog who originally shared her story with me via email. She willingly agreed to share her story publicly, knowing that her difficult journey could help others to avoid the pain that her daughter and her family went through. Thank you Cherie.

abigail-babyMy name is Cherie. In 2007 I gave birth to our second child, a beautiful baby girl. She came quickly and was just perfect. Little did I know that this would begin an often difficult and heart wrenching journey. It started right away. Because of a surgery I had when I was younger I was unable to breastfeed my babies. So the nurse gave me some formula for Abigail, but she would not eat it. I should have know something was up — our son, born less then 2 years earlier, ate his first bottle like nothing. But not Abigail. She just would not eat. She just wanted to sleep. We tried so many different things to get her to drink. Finally a nurse decide to try putting the formula in a little medicine cup and putting drops on her lips. Eventually, she started drinking, but we ended up staying in the hospital for 5 days.

When we got home, her feeding issues continued. She never wanted to eat. And when she did she would cry and scream. She would violently spit up. She would throw up. Off to the pediatrician we went. She was diagnosed with GERD. Then put on Zantac. It did not really help. She was still crying and screaming, when I could get her to eat. It was so difficult for me. I was a stay at home Mum, and had Connor who was not even 2 yet. My husband worked a lot and I felt so overwhelmed with this little one who would just scream for hours on end. Abigail needed to be constantly held. She never, I mean NEVER, slept. She would sleep for 20 minutes to half an hour at a time, even at night time. She never napped. When she did sleep she would reflux in her sleep and start gagging and often turned blue from everything settling in in her mouth and throat. I was scared to death to let her sleep in her room because I thought she would choke to death. We did all the typical things: raised her bed, tried to tuck her in so she would not slide down. Nothing really helped.

Finally, after going to the doctor for the millionth time, I took her to the ER. CONTINUE READING »


Asthma is linked to gluten, study finds (and so did I)

Posted on February 26th, 2011 by Alison | Posted in Asthma, Celiac Disease, Symptoms | Read 12 Comments - Add Your Own »

asthma-inhaler1People with celiac disease are more likely to develop asthma, according to a new study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. And, those diagnosed with asthma are more likely to develop celiac disease. How are asthma and gluten linked? The researchers are not quite sure what makes people with celiac disease have a 1.6 fold increased risk of asthma (60% more likely to have asthma) than those without. However, one of the researching doctors in a Reuter’s Health article on the study, speculated that it is related to vitamin D deficiency.

Since people with celiac disease have damaged intestines, they are unable to properly absorb nutrients. According to the Vitamin D Council, Vitamin D helps “the immune and nervous systems defend the body, with defects in this intricate system leading to autoimmune disorders.” Several studies have shown that lower levels of vitamin D related to higher incidence of asthma in children. Just supplementing with vitamin D isn’t enough if the body can’t absorb it, as is the case with celiac disease. Removal of gluten is the only way to heal the intestines, so that they can begin to absorb vitamins again.

But forget those studies… just look at me. I puffed on asthma inhalers every day for about 25 years and took prednisone when the inhalers weren’t enough. Three months after I started a gluten-free diet after I was diagnosed with celiac disease at age 32, I stopped my medication cold turkey. I never used it again. It has been over 8 years.

I hadn’t considered vitamin D deficiency as a cause of my asthma before reading this new study. I recently had my vitamin D tested and it is low even now, so I can’t imagine what the level was before my diagnosis — I was never tested for vitamin deficiencies in the past.

If you have asthma, I urge you to get tested for vitamin deficiencies and for celiac disease. Think of your asthma as a symptom for which there is a cause. To be able to breathe again — now that is a gift.

You can read more about me and my asthma and if you’ve got a story about your asthma, please share it in the comments.


Skiing is more fun now that I don’t eat gluten

Posted on February 25th, 2011 by Alison | Posted in Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance, Symptoms | Read 2 Comments - Add Your Own »

skiingI went skiing this week for the first time since my diagnosis of celiac disease and the beginning of my gluten-free diet more than eight years ago. I used to be an avid skier, starting as a kid on family trips, then in my college days and after with friends. The last time I skied, though I enjoyed it, I was also suffering.

My feet and legs were cramping inside my ski boots, and if you’ve ever worn ski boots you know how stiff they are, so there was really nothing I could do about the cramps but grin and bear it (I cried, however). In addition to the cramping, I was having a difficult time seeing on the slopes. After skiing a bit, I would have to stop because my vision was obscured by white spots in front of my eyes. I would have to wait until I could see again before continuing down the mountain. Being in altitude, I had a hard time catching my breath as many people do, but the lack of air felt like it went deep, and it took a while to recover each time I stopped. All of these difficulties were caused by the anemia I suffered as a result of undiagnosed celiac disease.

That I stopped skiing for many years had nothing to do with these health problems — it’s just that I had kids, and time flew by. But this week I was back at it, and after so many years away from the sport that I loved, several things were clear:

  • I no longer suffer from foot and leg cramps while skiing!
  • I can see! No more white spots, no more loss of vision. More oxygen to my brain!
  • My recovery was much better — I could ski a hard run, and when I stopped I could catch my breath more easily and quickly.
  • Ski equipment is so much better! Except for ski boots, which are still uncomfortable (but not as bad without the cramps). :)

I am older, and not as bold, but I feel good. I see more skiing in my future!

If you suspect you might be suffering from anemia or celiac disease, ask your doctor to get tested. And remember, even if you test negative for celiac disease, you could still have a gluten problem.


What matters most is what’s inside… the stomach

Posted on February 15th, 2011 by Alison | Posted in Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance, Healthy Living | Read 2 Comments - Add Your Own »

attunefoodsbrandam_button“What Matters Most is What’s Inside” — the Attune Foods theme this month — might inspire one to write about seeing the good inside people, to write about not judging a book by its cover, but that’s not where I’m going with this one. I am going to look inside… the stomach!

Every forkful of what you put in your mouth is either inflammatory, contributing to more disease, or anti-inflammatory, contributing to less disease. These are the words of Dr. Tom O’Bryan in a lecture on Unlocking the Secrets of Gluten Sensitivity. What a fascinating way to look at the way we eat. What a black and white way of looking at what we eat! Thinking this way may very well take the enjoyment out of eating altogether, but on the other hand, what value do you place on eating anything you want versus living disease-free?

You’ve heard the saying “All roads lead to Rome.” I once heard a gastroenterologist say “All diseases lead to the stomach”…

To read the rest of this article, please visit me over at Attune Foods. Don’t forget to leave me a comment!


Kikkoman gluten-free soy sauce – new product

Posted on January 27th, 2011 by Alison | Posted in Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance, Products, Wheat Allergy | Read 8 Comments - Add Your Own »

kikkoman-gluten-free-soy-sauceKikkoman has finally done it — they have created a gluten-free soy sauce. Traditional soy sauce is made with wheat, and is therefore not gluten-free. Wheat-free tamari has been available for years: San-J and Eden Foods are two well-known brands.

To clarify the difference between soy sauce and tamari:
Soy sauce is made from fermented soybeans and wheat. Tamari is made from fermented soybeans and little or no wheat. Tamari is considered richer than soy sauce because of the higher concentration of soybeans.

Some tamari is wheat-free, but many brands of tamari have wheat in them. For example, San-J makes soy sauce (contains 40-60% wheat), tamari (a small amount of wheat), and gluten-free tamari (no wheat).  Kikkoman also makes a Tamari Soy Sauce that contains wheat, so one can’t assume that all tamari is wheat-free.

Kikkoman’s new gluten-free soy sauce is wheat-free, using rice instead of wheat. The ingredients are water, soybeans, rice and salt. What I find interesting is that for years, Kikkoman has claimed that their soy sauce made with wheat is gluten-free by Codex standards, yet they have now come out with a truly gluten-free soy sauce.

Before you get too excited about going out for Asian food again, realize that it’s going to take a while for restaurants to begin using this soy sauce because it needs to be available to them in a large size. Currently there is an almost 1/2 gallon size available for restaurants, but this is small compared to regular soy sauce that comes in 5 gallons! Not only will the available size determine whether or not a restaurant decides to use the gluten-free soy sauce, so will the general availability and the price. Restaurants buy through distributors. If the distributor doesn’t carry the gluten-free soy sauce, then it isn’t available to the restaurants. And the gluten-free soy sauce will probably be more expensive also, deterring restaurants from converting all their dishes to gluten-free.

I still have hope, though, and dream of one day having more choices at a sushi or Chinese restaurant!


Camp Celiac registration starts February 1, 2011

Posted on January 4th, 2011 by Alison | Posted in Celiac Disease, SF Bay Area, Upcoming Events | Read 3 Comments - Add Your Own »

campceliacYou might not be thinking about summer while it’s still winter, but if you are considering sending your child to Camp Celiac, a wonderful gluten-free camp in northern California, mark your calendars now! Registration begins February 1 and fills up fast. Thanks to the Taylor Family Foundation, and other donations and volunteers, Camp Celiac will offer two weeks this year instead of one to allow more kids the opportunity to eat delicious gluten-free food and do camp activities such as a ropes course, rock climbing, zip line, boating, swimming, and outdoor sports.

**For 2011 there will be TWO separate weeks of camp (each with a different group of campers):
Week 1:  Thurs, July 21st- Monday, July 25th, 2011
Week 2:  Monday, July 25th – Friday, July 29th, 2011
Vendor Fair for both groups to be held on Monday, July 25th.

Campers can indicate which of the two weeks they prefer to attend.  For 2011, the second week is tentatively designated for campers who attended in prior years (to help maintain prior contacts and friendships), although campers can express a preference for either week.

Priority is given to campers from Northern California. All campers from Northern California who register between Feb 1st and Feb 14th will be given equal priority if a completed registration is received; i.e. there is no advantage to registering on February 1st rather than February 14th. For more information about how to sign up for this camp, visit the registration page at CeliacCamp.com.

To read a short interview with my relative who attends the camp every year, you can read my post about the camp from last year.


Vitiligo and gluten intolerance

Posted on December 14th, 2010 by Alison | Posted in Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance, News & Research, Symptoms | Read 162 Comments - Add Your Own »

Vitiligo and celiac disease is a topic I have been meaning to write about for a while now. I have both, and believe there is a connection between vitiligo and gluten intolerance. I have found out more on this topic from the readers of this blog than any other source out there, and hope that this incredible information reaches those with vitiligo who are told there is no known cause.

Vitiligo is a skin disorder characterized by smooth, white patches on various parts of the body that occur due to loss of pigment. This loss of pigment often starts on the hands, feet and face, and then can progress to other parts of the body. Hair can turn white where there is a vitiligo patch. Vitiligo is not physically painful, but can be quite emotionally devastating as it affects one’s appearance.

The picture below is of me as a child with vitiligo on my face. It appeared symmetrically below my eyes, but asymmetrically on my legs — 8 spots on only one side of my body.

vitiligo1

The spots on my face re-pigmented with the treatment at that time (1973) which was psoralen pills and UV light treatments at Stanford. The spots on my legs remained into adulthood, never getting any bigger or smaller. When I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2002, I didn’t think about the vitiligo, but over the past years since being on a gluten-free diet, CONTINUE READING »


Halloween Candy List – Gluten-Free Allergen-Free Status – 2010

Posted on October 3rd, 2010 by Alison | Posted in Celiac Disease, Dairy Allergy, Egg Allergy, Food Allergies, Gluten Intolerance, Holidays/Special Events, Peanuts/Nuts Allergy, Products, Wheat Allergy | Read 74 Comments - Add Your Own »

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS FROM 2010. THE 2011 HALLOWEEN LIST IS HERE: Halloween Candy List Gluten-Free Allergen-Free 2011

Here’s the list you’ve been looking for… but first, you get to see the giant spider I made in my yard last year for Halloween! The Home Depot guys cutting the black pipe to my specifications thought I was crazy! The spider is coming out again this year with some modifications (furry perhaps?)

spider1

Now on to the candy…

Each candy shows if its ingredients contains wheat/gluten, milk (dairy), soy, egg, nuts, or peanuts (6 of the top 8 allergens — fish and shellfish are not included since I have not found this to be a concern with candy). I do not include coconut as a tree nut and have not listed coconut as an allergen. I called many of the manufacturers and/or checked their websites for gluten and allergen information,which I have noted at the end of each manufacturer’s section. To print this list, click on the Print icon above the title. If you don’t see the print icon, click on the title of the article first.

Note: Please, as always, double check ingredients and also check with the child’s parents before giving them any candy or allowing them to eat anything! I will not be held liable for any accident occurring due to the use of this list. It is meant as a guide only.

In a hurry? Check out these:
Gluten-Free Halloween Candy Quick List 2010
Allergen-Free Halloween Candy Quick List 2010

NOTE for bloggers: If you are going to post or share this list, would you be so kind as to give me credit and link to me? This took many hours of my life and I even got kicked out of Walgreen’s for taking notes in the candy aisle, so please be considerate of my hard work! :)

Mainstream candy listed by brand, in alphabetical order:

ADAMS & BROOKS

  • Scooby Doo! Fun Pops (lollipops with picture of Scooby Doo)
    • Ingredients free of: peanuts, nuts, egg, milk, wheat/gluten, soy
    • Ingredients contain: no top 8 allergens
    • Package statement: “Packaged in a plant that processes peanuts and tree nuts.”

AIRHEADS

  • Airheads Bars and Airheads Bars Sour
    • Ingredients free of: peanuts, nuts, egg, milk, wheat/gluten
    • Ingredients contain: soybean oil
    • Package statement: “Manufactured in a facility that processes wheat flour”
  • Airheads Xtremes Rolls
    • Ingredients free of: peanuts, nuts, egg, milk
    • Ingredients contain: wheat flour, soybean oil
  • Airheads Xtremes Belts
    • Ingredients free of: peanuts, nuts, egg, milk, soy
    • Ingredients contain: wheat flour, wheat starch
  • Airheads Pops and Whistle Pops
    • Ingredients free of: peanuts, nuts, egg, milk, soy, wheat/gluten
    • Ingredients contain: none of the top 8 allergens

AMERICAN LICORICE CO.

  • Sour Punch Twists
    • Ingredients free of: peanuts, nuts, egg, milk, soy
    • Ingredients contain: wheat/gluten

ANNABELLE’S

  • Big Hunk
    • Ingredients free of: wheat/gluten, milk, tree nuts (see company Gluten-Free info below)
    • Ingredients contain: peanuts, eggs, soy lecithin
    • Package statement: “made in a facility that uses milk, egg, treenuts, wheat and peanuts”
  • Rocky Road
    • Ingredients free of: none of top 8!
    • Ingredients contain: milk, tree nuts (cashews), wheat/gluten (barley malt and wheat flour), soybean oil
    • Package statement: “may contain peanuts, eggs, and flour”
  • Abba Zabba
    • Ingredients free of: tree nuts, eggs, milk, wheat/gluten (see company Gluten-Free info below)
    • Ingredients contain: peanuts, soybean oil and soy lecithin
    • Package statement: “Made in a facility that uses milk, egg, treenuts, wheat and peanuts”
  • Look
    • Ingredients free of: tree nuts, wheat/gluten (see company Gluten-Free info below)
    • Ingredients contain: milk, peanuts, soy lecithin, eggs
    • Package statement: “Made in a facility that uses milk, egg, treenuts, wheat and peanuts”
  • U-No
    • Ingredients free of: peanuts, eggs, wheat/gluten (see company Gluten-Free info below)
    • Ingredients contain: milk, almonds, soy lecithin
    • Package statement: “Made in a facility that uses milk, egg, treenuts, wheat and peanuts”

Gluten-Free info (via phone Sept 2010): The only guaranteed gluten-free candy is the 2 oz. (regular size) Big Hunk. For all other candies, including the mini Big Hunks, there is the possibility of contamination from flour that is used on the belts. While there is no flour used specifically for the Big Hunk minis, there is flour used on the belts for the manufacture of the Look bars.

CONTINUE READING »