Archive for February, 2011

Gluten comes from a Latin word that means “glue.” In essence that is what gluten i s- it is two proteins that are connected.

These proteins are known as gliadin and glutenin. Gluten is found in many food products that you probably enjoy on a regular basis, such as bagels and bread. It is readily found in barley, rye and wheat.

It wasn’t too long ago that no one had ever heard of gluten but now we are hearing about it all of the time. However before you decide that a gluten-free lifestyle is the best option for you it is worthwhile to become familiar with the facts.

Gluten is the ingredient that gives many of the foods we enjoy that taste and specialness that we appreciate. It is what makes bread and bagels spongy in nature. It is also what makes pizza dough stretchy and pleasurable to sink your teeth into. Gluten is also commonly used as an ingredient in soups and sauces to make them thicker in their consistency.

Eating foods with gluten can cause problems for those who suffer from a chronic digestive disorder known as celiac disease. When the body of a celiac suffer senses the presence of gluten in the digestive track it causes an immune reaction in order to protect itself. Unfortunately this immune response can damage the small intestine. When this happens it gives rise not only to tremendous gastrointestinal discomfort but also to nutritional deficiencies.

If celiac disease remains undiagnosed and therefore untreated it can lead to intestinal cancer. It has also been known to lead to other problems such as osteoporosis and infertility.

Once believed to be a very rare disorder that affected only one person in every 10,000, a study conducted by the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2003 suggested that it is actually more common than once thought. It has been theorized that one in every 133 Americans suffers from this disease. Those who feel ill after eating a piece of bread or a bagel should be checked out by a doctor to determine if celiac disease is the cause.

People on a gluten-free diet feel they have to give up their favorite tasty foods like pizza however, there are many substitutes for wheat in dough and here is some information about gluten-free pizza.

There is also a milder form of disorder that gluten can cause which medical experts have come to call nonceliac gluten sensitivity. This sensitivity to gluten can lead to symptoms that are similar to celiac disease. These symptoms include bloating, stomach cramps and diarrhea. The only difference is that a gluten sensitivity will not do damage to the intestine. It is believed that as many as 20 million Americans may suffer from a nonceliac gluten sensitivity.

Gluten is not bad per se but is definitely to be avoided by those with celiac disease or sensitivity to gluten. Many people have sought out a gluten-free lifestyle to help them to improve other conditions they suffer from as well, such as chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia. While eating a gluten-free diet may help some individuals it is not a cure-all for everything.


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It’s the cold and flu season and if you’re feeling a little run down then you’re in good company. You’ve probably got so much to do and yet your energy is at a dangerously low level.

What can you do to improve your health forecast for the weeks and months ahead? The answer is to get your immune system humming with health and vitality.

Here we look at some of the most significant ways to boost your immune system.

Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and keep eating them often. Do not allow yourself to tire of eating all of the natural good stuff that is full of nutrients and antioxidants. Find ways to make your vegetable and fruit intake more exciting. For example, try making a parfait out of low fat or non-fat vanilla yogurt, a variety of fruits such as berries, grapes and peaches and then add bran cereal or flax seed powder.

Keep your water content high so you don’t become dehydrated. Your immune system needs lots of liquids to keep it strong and healthy. Water is the most important beverage for you to consume. You should also add herbal tea to the list. Drink it often. Experiment with different types to find the one that is most enjoyable to your taste buds.

You need to get your beauty sleep each and every night. Something many people do not know is that when you constantly short-change yourself on sleep this renders your immune system less effective. In fact your immune system will be reduced in effectiveness by as much as 50 percent. An occasional night of tossing and turning is one thing but lots of nights of not enough sleep can lead to insomnia and can also make you less alert and focused in the daytime and make the potential for getting sick much greater.

When you are going through a particularly stressful period in your life your immune system has greater demands placed upon it. This is when you are more susceptible to getting sick.

Do what is necessary to reduce your stress load. You should also give your immune system a helping hand by taking a well-balanced vitamin and mineral supplement. Your health and well-being can benefit tremendously from a supplement. When you are feeling stressed you are less likely to be eating as healthy which is another reason why a supplement is a very wise choice at this point in time.

Vitamin E has been known to boost the work of the immune system. If you feel a sore throat and cold coming on then 500 milligrams of vitamin C taken once a day can help you to feel better. The mineral zinc can soothe your throat that feels raw and dry from sickness. You can buy zinc throat lozenges at natural health food stores and in the alternative health food aisle of grocery stores and drug stores.  Zinc throat lozenges should only be used on a full stomach.

It is not recommended that they be popped into your mouth when your stomach is empty.

Follow these simple suggestions and you’ll immune system will soon kick back in top gear and get you through the cold season to spring fever.

Becca Scott

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Chronic low grade inflammation is common to those who suffer from any number of disorders or diseases.

You are likely to have inflammation if you have cardiovascular disease, arthritis, acid reflux, asthma or a bacterial or viral infection. Even if you suffer from a skin disorder such as acne or psoriasis then you are likely to have inflammation in your body.

Inflammation is not all bad. It is good in that it does its part to help your body cope with stresses that are put upon it. For instance when you come down with a head cold you may get a fever which is a type of inflammation that signals to your body that your immune system needs to kick into high gear to help you heal. However if your immune system is constantly working overtime and your body is always under stress then this can lead to chronic inflammation that will make you more vulnerable to any number of diseases and sicknesses.

What you need to do is to find natural ways to prevent the bad type of inflammation from making you ill and from zapping all of your energy. You can do this by eating nutritious foods, reducing stress in your life and eliminating sugar and processed foods from your life. Increasing the amount of sunshine you receive on a regular basis can also do you a tremendous amount of good in making you less inflammation prone.

Let us focus in on the inflammation-fighting foods that can improve your health and your lifestyle in general.

Broccoli is a vegetable that takes high marks for so many of its beneficial properties. It is rich in the mineral calcium as well as vitamin C. Broccoli is instrumental in fighting inflammation of the eyes. For optimum digestion you should lightly steam your broccoli before eating it.

In our society so many of us consume too many omega-6 fatty acids and not enough omega-3 fatty acids. To fight inflammation you need to add more omega-3’s to your diet. Hemp oil can be helpful in this regard. Hemp oil contains an ingredient known as gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) that fights inflammation throughout the body. There are other types of oils that contain omega-3 fatty acids such as flaxseed oil. Add more of these oils to your daily diet. In particular select unrefined organic oils.

Another way to ensure that you are getting enough omega-3 fatty acids is to eat wild-caught salmon. Other fatty fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids includes cod and sardines. Include fish in your meals at least twice a week.

Onions and garlic can both send inflammation packing! Onions are full of quercetin which is an intense antioxidant that can help the body to fight inflammation anywhere that it shows up. Garlic has its fair share of anti-inflammatory properties. It is made up of sulphur compounds that stimulate your immune system to fight illnesses and diseases that threaten your health.


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Your skin deserves the best you can give it. During the season of winter you really need to turn up the tender loving care aspect and treat it extra special.

In the first part of this series I provided tips on keeping your skin moist during winter. You can read Alternative Skin Care Tips for Winter – Part One here.

Today, I want to talk about drink and foods that can help your skin looking great through the cold months.

But first an additional tip about soaps. One of the things you should do right away is to reduce the amount of soap you use on a regular basis. Resist the urge to use a lot and to scrub your skin in the shower. Choose a soap that acts as a mild cleansing agent. Good choices include soaps that are vegetable and oil-based or made of olive oil. Not only will these types of soaps clean your skin but they will moisturize it as well. Use a soft loofah or bath sponge when you are bathing. Only use deodorant soaps for your underarms and your feet if necessary.

Drink and Food for a Sparkling Skin:

Summer is not the only season when you need to drink plenty of Mother Nature’s cocktail- water! You need plenty of water to hydrate yourself on the inside. This will keep your skin looking smooth, plump and youthful. Water can help to bathe your cells and get rid of waste products quickly and effectively. In the world of alternative medicine many skin problems are the result of poor digestion, not enough water and a lack of fiber.

Speaking of a lack of fiber, your winter skin needs all that it can get to function at its best and to look its best!

To increase your intake choose whole grain products such as brown rich instead of refined products. Eat more apples, cauliflower and high-fiber snacks such as dried fruits (dates, figs and prunes), nuts and seeds. Sprinkle ground flaxseed on your yogurt, salads, casseroles, oatmeal and soups. Flaxseeds are one of the many foods that can provide internal moisturizing for the body. Add beans and legumes to some of your favorite recipes.

The condition of your skin is a reflection of how well you take care of your body overall. In the winter months you need to ensure that you are eating enough good fats. Essential fatty acids are fats that your body requires to be healthy and strong. They provide many beneficial functions to the body. As for your skin they are very helpful for those individuals who suffer from inflammatory conditions such as acne or eczema. They are also very important for those who suffer from dry skin.

Increase your intake of healthy fats by consuming flaxseed and walnut oil and cold water fish such as sardines and salmon. You might even want to add a fish oil supplement to your cold weather diet. Nuts are a source of healthy fat but eat them in small quantities. Avocadoes are high in healthy fats. Dip your whole grain crackers or bread in hummus and use olive oil as a dressing for your salads.

Humidity and your skin.

If your home does not have enough humidity in it then it can dry out your skin.

To increase your humidity levels buy a humidifier or create your own. Heat water and then place bowls or pots of it on your wood stove or heater. Make sure you are safe about it. Or you might want to simply sit bowls of water about your home such as on tables or countertops.

Another trick is to hang wet laundry on a line or rack in your home. The water from the clothing will be absorbed into the air as it dries.

Follow the tips of the last two posts you should make it through winter to spring with skin the envy of all your friends – as a famous ad said “If your friends don’t accuse you of having a face-lift, then send the bottle back and we’ll refund your money.”  Alright, so my tips are free and I can’t refund anything but you get my sentiment…

Becca Scott

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