People with celiac disease have increased bone fracture risk and other bone problems

Posted on January 9th, 2012 by Alison | Read 4 Comments - Add Your Own »

For anyone with bone density problems, bone fractures, osteoporosis, osteopenia, osteomalacia, bone pain or any other bone-related problems, consider getting tested for celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. This is a common symptom that often gets overlooked.  Two recent studies confirm the negative effects of celiac disease on bone health.

A case study of a 29-year old man with no gastrointestinal complaints came in with back pain. It was discovered that he had a compression fracture in his spine, and he reported that he had several bone fractures as a child. Tests revealed low bone density, but that vitamin D levels were normal, despite villous atrophy (damage to his intestines, often preventing the ability to absorb nutrients).

The authors of the report stated that ”Celiac disease is often a cause of low bone density and patients with celiac disease have an increased fracture risk, a hazard ratio of 1.43 or 43% increased risk when compared to age-matched healthy populations.” They concluded, “We emphasize considering celiac disease in all patients with idiopathic [arising spontaneously or from an obscure or unknown cause] low bone density even if vitamin D and PTH [parathyroid hormone] levels are normal.”

Another study submitted by doctors in Amsterdam profiled a 29-year old woman bound to a wheelchair who had progressive bone pain, short stature, difficulty walking, scoliosis, softening of the bones, low bone mineral density and poor dental condition. Testing showed that she had villous atrophy, antibodies against gluten, and extremely low vitamin D and low calcium, and was deficient in several other vitamins. She had already been diagnosed with celiac disease at age 17, but apparently wasn’t following the gluten-free diet or was at least getting some amount of gluten exposure. The doctors treated her for 14 days with intravenous calcium and vitamin D, and “the symptoms of the patient rapidly improved; the bone pain decreased, muscle strength and physical performance improved markedly, and she was able to walk unassisted.” Incredible! After 5 1/2 months they found that her bone mineral density had indeed improved.

Have you had bone problems as a result of celiac disease or gluten intolerance? Are you looking for answers to your bone-related health issues? Leave a comment so that your experience can help others or others can help you!

Related reading: Gluten and bone health


Celebrating nine years gluten-free and happy holidays to you!

Posted on December 20th, 2011 by Alison | Read 3 Comments - Add Your Own »

On December 28, 2002 I received a diagnosis of celiac disease and began eating gluten-free. I could never have imagined how that diagnosis would change my health or the course of my life. I knew soon after that I needed to share this information, and I turned to the web.

This blog has been been visited by over a half a million different people over the years — that’s amazing to me! I have been able to help people find a diagnosis when their doctors failed them. I have been able to guide people in how to live gluten-free. Because my own daughter was diagnosed with severe food allergies, I have commiserated and shared advice with other allergy moms. I have gotten strength and support from my readers through their comments, emails and phone calls. I so appreciate your thoughts.

Thank you to everyone who continues to support me in my quest to educate and provide support. I don’t look at my diagnosis as a curse. Instead, I am thankful to have discovered a healthy way to live. Happy Holidays to you all!


This Week Only: Donate $2 (Or More) To Help Send Children To A Gluten-Free Summer Camp!

Posted on December 19th, 2011 by Alison | ADD A COMMENT »

If you or your child has ever been to summer camp, you have memories of the playing in the outdoors and making new friends. But what if your child couldn’t go because of his special dietary needs? Fortunately, special camps are popping up around the U.S. and this summer the Celiac Disease Foundation is starting a new one in southern California.

In the spirit of the giving season, I am hoping that you will help provide scholarships for children to attend this gluten-free summer camp. This week, giving just $2 will go a long way…

Through Sunday, December 25, Gluten-Free Saver has partnered with Van’s Natural Foods to raise money to send children to next summer’s CDF-sponsored summer camp, and Van’s is matching all donations up to $1,000!

The goal is to raise $2,000 – and when you donate $2, you’re really contributing $4.

You can read more about the fundraiser here: www.glutenfreesaver.com.

The summer camp will be held in San Bernardino in Southern California from July 30 to August 3, 2012, and it’s open to all 7-15 year old gluten intolerant and gluten-sensitive children – not just those diagnosed with celiac disease.

I hope you will join me in giving $2 (or more if you wish) so children can attend a camp where they don’t have to worry about the food, and they can just enjoy being kids. Please help reach the goal of $2,000. Every $2 helps. 100% of all donations will go directly to the Celiac Disease Foundation.

YES! I want to help send a child to a gluten-free summer camp and donate $2 right now!

Thank you!


Chocolate Coconut Crispy Meringue Squares Recipe – Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free

Posted on December 15th, 2011 by Alison | Read 2 Comments - Add Your Own »

If you know someone who needs to be gluten and/or dairy-free this holiday season, surprise them with a treat they can eat! Once they get over the shock of your thoughtfulness, they will simply delight in the yumminess of your creation. (Or, gift them to yourself – you deserve it!)

To get an idea for the Attune Foods December theme of “holiday gift recipes”, I turned to my mom and her recipe box. I love when she pulls out a tattered 3×5 notecard — you know that the more stained the card, the tastier the outcome will be. When I asked her if she had a special cookie recipe that she remembered fondly, she offered one of those well-used cards. She made these bar cookies often, but I of course have adapted them to be gluten-free, dairy-free and also nut-free by using Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice Cereal in place of the chopped nuts.

To read the recipe for Chocolate Coconut Crispy Meringue Squares, please visit the Attune Foods blog.


Finding or making your favorite holiday foods – gluten-free, allergen-free

Posted on December 13th, 2011 by Alison | Read 4 Comments - Add Your Own »

For people who are gluten-free or have food allergies, the holidays can be a reminder of what we can’t eat. Gluten and other allergens are everywhere, and because we are more social at this time of year, this fact becomes more obvious as we attend holiday parties, share meals with family and friends, and are tempted by sweet treats all around.

But you don’t have to go without your favorite foods! You may not be able to indulge in everything, but think about what food would make you feel the most emotionally satisfied — is it pie, is it stuffing? Is it a box of chocolates, matzoh ball soup? Which one holiday food would give you the greatest pleasure? Then, make it happen! If you can buy it, treat yourself! If you have to make it yourself, do it. If someone else wants to make it for you, great! If you don’t have to stop at one food, by all means, don’t! If you are feeling overwhelmed by all the things you can’t eat, let’s simplify it.

I hope this short list of suggestions can help, and if there’s something else you’re longing for, let me know, and I will use my resources to try to find you the enjoyment you deserve!

GLUTEN-FREE / ALLERGEN-FREE GINGERBREAD MEN OR HOUSE

Buy it: Oops, we’re past the deadline already for ordering an allergen-free gingerbread house kit from A&J Bakery, but now you know for next year. Sensitive Sweets in southern California is also making an allergen-free gingerbread kit for purchase.

Make it: You can make this. Seriously, you can. Read my post “I made an allergen-free gingerbread house!

ROLL OUT SUGAR COOKIES

Buy it: I haven’t found any gluten-free shaped sugar cookies you can buy in stores that are gluten-free, and many of the sugar cookie mixes don’t make cookies that hold their shape.

Make it: I am very excited this year that I found a GREAT recipe for roll-out sugar cookies that are free of gluten, dairy, eggs and nuts! The recipe is from Heidi at Adventures of a GF Mom. (The recipe calls for almond extract which I replace with vanilla.) Cybel Pascal has a recipe for sugar cookies that is also free of the top allergens.

PIE OR PIE CRUST

Buy it: Whole Foods’ Gluten-Free Bakehouse brand has a pie crust, and you can find finished pies or tarts from Katz Gluten Free, Crave Bakery, and Christine’s Upper Crust Pies.

Make it: There are actually tons of gluten-free pie and pie crust recipes out there if you want to make it from scratch. Some of the sites that have recipes are Whole Foods, Simply Gluten-Free, Living Without Magazine, Elana’s Pantry, and Gluten-Free Girl. You can also use commercially available flour blends to make a crust, which saves you some steps. King Arthur shows you how, and if you want a really easy with video instruction, Pamela of Pamela’s Products shows you how to make a gluten-free pie using her mix (is also egg-free and can be dairy-free). Jules of Jules Gluten Free also shows you how to make pie using her flour blend.

GRAVY

Buy it: You can purchase gluten-free gravy mixes. Here is a list of search results for gluten-free gravy on Amazon. Mayacamas is another company that makes gluten-free gravy mixes.

Make it: Instead of flour, use a gluten-free starch. Here’s a little primer on wheat-free thickeners from FitSugar. Ali at Nourishing Meals explains how to make gluten-free gravy. A chef from Whole Foods shows in a video two ways to make gravy, and The Family Chef shares her easy steps.

STUFFING

Buy it: Look around — gluten-free bread  crumbs or croutons are available, but if you can’t find them, you can buy gluten-free bread like Udi’s or Rudi’s to use in any traditional stuffing recipe.

Make it: You can make a loaf of gluten-free bread to use in stuffing recipes. That’s what I do because I can make the bread dairy and egg-free also for people with multiple food allergies in my family. This recipe for Harvest Stuffing always turns out. If you don’t want to use bread, opt for a rice dressing, which will be naturally gluten-free. Make sure any broth you are using is gluten-free. If you have nut allergies, watch out — many stuffing recipes call for nuts.

MATZOH BALL SOUP

Buy it/Make it: You buy the mix to make your own matzoh balls. They are really good and I love the name: Mock-Zah Ball Mix.

POTATO LATKES

Buy it: Hmmm… nope, you’re going to have to make these.

Make it: Easy to make gluten-free, just substitute an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend for the flour called for in traditional recipes. Need to be egg-free too? Don’t worry, I figured this one out for you: Gluten-Free Egg-Free Latke Recipe

CHOCOLATES

Buy it: See’s Candies is still my favorite boxed-chocolates. They have an allergen list, so depending on your allergy, you might be able to find something you can have!

Make it: You can easily make chocolate lollies and shapes by following these steps:

  1. Buy candy molds in holiday shapes, like snowflakes or snowmen or Christmas shapes or Santas.
  2. Buy Enjoy Life Foods Chocolate Chips or Mega Chunks – they are free of the top 8 allergens.
  3. Temper the chocolate in the microwave by heating the chocolate in a bowl in the microwave, at power level 5 or 50% for 30 seconds. Using a rubber spatula in a gentle sweeping motion,  stir the chocolate, even if none of it has become liquid yet and return the bowl to the microwave oven for another 30 seconds. Remove, stir, and repeat until about two-thirds of the chunks become liquid and about one-third are in soft lumps. Continually stir to cool the chocolate until the soft lumps disappear and the chocolate has cooled a little.
  4. Pour the chocolate into the molds, or use a spoon or spatula to put it in, and let it set in the refrigerator.
  5. When chilled completely, wrap the chocolates with colored foil or clear wrap.

What else is tugging at your tummy this holiday season?


Gluten in cosmetics – should you be concerned?

Posted on November 28th, 2011 by Alison | Read 12 Comments - Add Your Own »

People with celiac disease, gluten intolerance or a wheat allergy are accustomed to reading ingredient labels to know what they can or cannot eat. But what about cosmetics? Is it necessary to avoid gluten in makeup or shampoo? And if so, how easy is it to spot on a label?

Whether celiacs and gluten-sensitive people need to avoid gluten in their cosmetics, including makeup, lotion, and hair products, has been the subject of debate. During my gluten-free life, I have heard two different schools of thought about this. The conservative one is that celiac disease is a digestive disorder and that to exacerbate the condition, one would have to consume gluten, so lipstick would need to be checked because you are literally consuming it when you wear it. Because this school of thought maintains that gluten cannot be absorbed through the skin, gluten-containing shampoo would be considered safe, as would any other cosmetic or beauty or hygiene product that is not being eaten. The Mayo Clinic’s website is one resource that supports this idea, in their answer to Can gluten be absorbed through the skin? (Their answer is no.)

The other school of thought is that gluten on the skin, or anywhere on the body, can aggravate celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, especially if someone has any associated skin conditions. At the American College of Gastroenterology’s 76th Annual Scientific meeting, doctors presented a case of a 28-year old woman who experienced worsening of her celiac symptoms, including gastrointestinal complications and a recurring skin rash after using a body lotion advertised as “natural.” When she stopped using the lotion, her symptoms resolved. This was just one case, but how common is it to react to gluten in skin products? It’s hard to say, as most of the information is anecdotal, and few studies have been conducted, but I know from the people I have contact with in the gluten-free community that it is a problem for many.

The case of the 28-year old woman prompted researchers to explore how readily available information is about cosmetic ingredients. What they found, and what most of us already know, is that ingredients are difficult to obtain from cosmetic companies. Even if you can obtain all the ingredients, they are difficult to understand. Unlike the food industry, which requires labels to list the top 8 allergens in plain language so we can understand it, the cosmetics industry is not required to make ingredients understandable or list allergens.

I did find some information to help sort through the confusing labels and hopefully locate the gluten ingredients to watch out for.

CosmeticsInfo.org is a website that gives specific information about individual ingredients. In a search for “gluten”, “wheat” and “oat”, I was able to find the following ingredients and their definitions, including what type of cosmetics they are used in:

In addition, I found a commonly circulated list from L’Oreal of ingredients they state “contain wheat and other grains.” It’s not clear to me if all of these ingredients contain gluten (they may contain another grain like corn, for example).

Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Flour
Cyclodextrin
Dextrin
Dextrin Palmitate
Hydrolyzed Malt Extract
Hydrolyzed Oat Flour
Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
Hydrolyzed Wheat Flour
Hydrolyzed Wheat Gluten
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein/PVP Crosspolymer
Hydrolyzed Wheat Starch
Malt Extract
Maltodextrin
Secale Cereale (Rye) Seed Flour
Sodium C8-16 Isoalkylsuccinyl Wheat Protein Sulfonate
Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract
Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil
Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Gluten
Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Starch
Wheat Amino Acids
Wheat Germ Glycerides
Wheat Germamidopropalkonium Chloride
Wheat Protein
Wheatgermamidopropyl Ethyldimonium Ethosulfate
Yeast Extract

What about you? Are you careful about the ingredients in your cosmetics, shampoo, lotions? What brands have you found to be gluten-free?


Simple Corn Flake Crusted Fish Sticks Recipe (gluten, dairy, and egg-free too!)

Posted on November 17th, 2011 by Alison | Read 1 Comment - Add Your Own »

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My memory of fish sticks is the processed perfectly-machine-cut kind that they served in my elementary school cafeteria. A peek at the ingredients of those fish sticks would reveal a long list that includes gluten, dairy, MSG, and preservatives. But you can make healthy fish sticks at home — and I promise, it’s really simple.

I use corn flakes for the breading of these fish sticks and I recommend using Erewhon Corn Flakes, because they are perfectly crispy and contain only two ingredients: Organic Milled Corn and Sea Salt. Other brands of corn flakes, especially gluten-free ones, add sweeteners, which I don’t really want with fish.

For this super-easy gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free recipe, read my post on the Attune Foods blog!

Simple Corn-Flake Crusted Fish Sticks Recipe


Gluten Intolerance Group of Marin December 2011 Guest Speaker & Potluck

Posted on November 15th, 2011 by Alison | ADD A COMMENT »

gigofmarin1Our next meeting of the Gluten Intolerance Group of Marin will take place on Tuesday, December 6th at 6:30.

Like our past holiday meetings, we will have a special guest and a potluck. This year we will welcome New York Times best selling author and award-winning blogger, Stephanie O’Dea.

Stephanie O’Dea’s websites and books have reached more than 12 million people from all over the world. Her award-winning blog, A Year of Slow Cooking, spawned two cookbooks: Make it Fast, Cook it Slow and More Make it Fast, Cook it Slow. Because one of her three daughters has celiac disease, all the recipes in both cookbooks are completely gluten free and her family lives gluten-free.

In her appearances on Good Morning America, The Rachael Ray Show, and in Real Simple Magazine, Woman’s World, and Oprah.com, Stephanie is known and loved for her down-to-earth, and often hilarious, style.

Come get some crock-pot tips from Stephanie and enjoy our gluten-free potluck celebration! Bring your favorite savory or sweet dish to share, and please include a card with all of the ingredients, as we have members with multiple food sensitivities. OH – and did I mention that Stephanie will be raffling off books… and a crock-pot?! Now I got your attention!

Please let your gluten free friends and family know about this fun event. The meeting is free; however, we appreciate a donation of $5 or more to cover the costs of renting the meeting room, printing the handouts, etc.

Whether you have celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or are learning more about gluten free living for yourself, family or friends, we welcome you to the GIG of Marin. New members, friends, and loved ones are always welcome.

As always, we request that you RSVP to this event by emailing us at: glutenfreemarin@yahoo.com.

The Gluten Intolerance Group of Marin will meet:

  • Tuesday, December 6th
  • 6:30 to 9:00pm
  • Community Room at Corte Madera Town Center (upstairs at PF Chang’s end) 770 Tamalpais Dr. Suite 201, Corte Madera, CA, 94925

We look forward to seeing you!


Turning off food allergies – have researchers found a way?

Posted on November 7th, 2011 by Alison | ADD A COMMENT »

Can peanut allergies be turned off?Researchers were able to turn off peanut allergy in mice by tricking their immune systems into thinking the nut proteins were not a threat to the body. The researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine attached peanut proteins onto white blood cells and then put them back into the mice. These mice, who were supposed to have an anaphylactic response if they ate peanut, did not have a life-threatening allergic reaction to peanut extract. Essentially, the researchers created tolerance to peanut in the mice. The immune system, which previously treated the peanut protein as a threat, now didn’t. The researchers were able to achieve the same tolerance in other mice using egg protein.

This is exciting new research targeting food allergies specifically and the hope is that these methods could someday be applied to humans. If we could train the immune system not to overreact to food substances, wouldn’t that be wonderful??

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and Food Allergy Initiative.

Read full article: Peanut Allergy May Be Turned Off By Tricking Immune System


I’ve accidentally eaten gluten … what can I do??

Posted on October 26th, 2011 by Alison | Read 15 Comments - Add Your Own »

It happens. You accidentally eat gluten, and you become sick. Is there anything you can do?

The following is an email I received from a concerned mother, whose daughter suffered recently from an accidental gluten ingestion:

sickMy daughter has just made a transatlantic flight during which the attendants gave her a meal designated specifically for her as gluten free (she had called ahead). She was vomiting for hours on the flight and on route home from the airport.

In the past she has experienced strong “brain fog”, depression, anxiety, fatigue, multiple canker sores, etc when she has gotten a little bit of gluten (she is a college student and her roommates and their guests have occasionally used her stuff or spilled beer, etc).

We know the appropriate treatment for celiac is a gluten free diet, but what can a person do to treat accidental gluten contamination? Are there foods, medications, or therapies that can help eliminate the toxin from the system and shorten the reaction time?

To answer this question I turned to Sheila Wagner, certified nutritionist specializing in food intolerance. She is also gluten-free and has suffered herself from the ill effects of gluten-by-accident. Here is what Sheila recommends for gluten exposure:

Despite being extra careful about eating gluten free, unfortunately, it’s always possible to encounter gluten in settings where we don’t prepare our own food, such as airplanes, restaurants or parties for example. Particularly for these times, I recommend having DPP-IV enzymes available to assist with lessening the gluten response. DPP stands for dipeptidyl peptidase and it is one of many enzymes that we make in our small intestine. Among its many functions is its ability to digest gluten and casein. Lab studies have shown a decrease in blood levels of gluten antibodies following ingestion of manufactured DPP-IV enzymes.

Compounds like metals, pesticides and certain antibiotics can interfere with DPP-IV function and may account for the differences in functional integrity of this enzyme from person to person. So as much I recommend gluten intolerant individuals carry these enzymes with them just in case they are needed, not everyone will get the same degree of benefit by taking them. There is no one protocol for taking the enzymes but I often suggest taking 1-2 capsules as soon as possible after ingesting gluten (or dairy) and then again later in the evening on an empty stomach in order to mop up any gluten that remains in the system. Some people continue to take 1-2 capsules on an empty stomach the next day and even two days following gluten ingestion to continue their attempts at diminishing the slow acting gluten antibody responses.

You can find DPP-IV enzyme containing products on health food store shelves.  Make sure to read the ingredient labels carefully that the product in fact contains DPP-IV. Both Kirkman Labs and Klaire Labs make products specifically for gluten and casein digestion that contain DPP-IV.

Does anyone else have strategies or product suggestions to help relieve accidental gluten ingestion.