To Eat Gluten or not to Eat Gluten…is that the Question?

So what is all the fuss about gluten…and why would anyone want to “go gluten free?” I work with many people who ask me that question as they try to understand what exactly constitutes a gluten free diet. Many people now are wondering if they might want to consider eliminating gluten from their diet, but the messages in the public’s eye are often confusing leaving us unsure.

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Fortunately, there is a lot of information now about the benefits of a gluten free diet. In addition, the availability of real, whole foods that we can eat and not feel deprived is very encouraging. I emphasize real whole foods because there is a ton of processed gluten free foods out there that are not healthy so buyer beware. It is much better to avoid those processed products as it is challenging to truly know whether they contain gluten or not and in many cases they offer little to no nutritional value.

The question about who should consider removing gluten from their diet is not one that can be easily answered without knowing where people are on the spectrum of gluten sensitivity. There is a difference between wanting to eliminate gluten for improved energy and being gluten intolerant or having Celiac Disease. The spectrum regarding gluten below can help to show how many types of people are benefitting from removing gluten from their diets and some of the reasons they have chosen to do so:Image

For people electing to eliminate gluten they often find that they have better energy, their thinking is clearer as is their attention. They also find the added benefit of weight loss if they are looking to shed pounds. These folks have the option of “choosing” to eliminate gluten. For others who suffer from the health risks related to consuming gluten it is not a choice. For people on the higher end of the scale, who are allergic or intolerant it is not an option. These individuals often can develop the most severe gluten issues such as Celiac Disease. Now recognized as a major health issue, people with Celiac Disease struggle with diet and health related issues exacerbated by gluten.

Celiac Disease is an immune system reaction to gluten which affects about 1 in 140 people in the United States alone. It is a digestive disease that damages the lining of the small intestines (the villi) where much of our nutrients are absorbed into the body causing one to not be able to absorb needed nutrients. Celiac is a complicated disease as it not only a digestive disorder it is also an autoimmune disorder. It is genetic and so the likelihood you will have it increases dramatically if a family member is diagnosed with it or if there is a family history of autoimmune disease. For people in this situation it is important to know whether you have the disease and to take action to eliminate all gluten from your diet immediately. I advise people with symptoms related to gluten sensitivity to ask their doctor about how to get tested make sure, and to eliminate gluten as a precaution while they await test results. A typical course of testing may involve an endoscopy but there are many screening blood tests for celiac disease as well. The most sensitive and commonly used, whether symptoms are present or not, is the tTG-IgA test. Tissue Transglutaminase Antibodies (tTG-IgA) – The tTG-IgA test will be positive in about 98% of patients with celiac disease who are on a gluten- containing diet.

Common symptoms related to Celiac Disease are unexplained iron-deficiency anemia, fatigue, bone or joint pain, arthritis, bone loss or osteoporosis, depression or anxiety, tingling numbness in the hands and feet, seizures, missed menstrual periods, infertility or recurrent miscarriage, canker sores inside the mouth, an itchy skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis to name a few. Symptoms vary with each case making it challenging to identify. If you experience these symptoms and are not sure why speak with you doctor about whether you should be screened.

For those people in the optional low risk category who like to bake there are some good alternatives to regular flours on the market now so fear not. I love to bake and have found several good quality ingredients that are consistently certified GF.

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A favorite recipe of mine now available on my website is a bread made with brown rice flour, millet, quinoa and flax meal and it is super simple, http://leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com/recipes. I have also added some good resources to determine if you want to seek medical support to address your gluten related issues.

http://www.celiac.nih.gov

http://www.cureceliacdisease.org

http://www.gluten.net offers information and recipes

Books:

Gluten Free Diet: A Comprehensive Guide by Shelley Case – http://www.glutenfreediet.ca

The Gluten Free Nutrition Guide by Tricia Thompson – http://www.glutenfreedietician.com/

Real Life with Celiac Disease by Melinda Dennis – http://www.deletethewheat.com

Hope you found this helpful. If it is sunny outside where you live get out in it for at least 30 minutes to absorb some that that vitamin D we all need for our immune systems function.

Be Well

Summer’s Bounty

It is the first day of summer which means that our gardens will start to swell with yummy fresh vegetables soon. I love tending gardens even when they get away from me and start growing plants that were not invited. I tend to be one of those gardeners that likes the organic nature of how things grow so neat rows really don’t matter to me. Some of my neighbors might wish I was less of a cottage type gardener but they are kind and marvel at how much produce I can pull out of my tiny little patch of ground.

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 My garden looks more like this one…

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Than it does like this,,, though I truly appreciate all forms of gardening and love browsing catalogs and online to see what creative ideas are out there. I value each individual plant and try to understand it’s purpose even if it is considered a weed. Prior to cultivation many of these so called weeds were staple foods in tribal peoples diets so I think it wise to consider and honor them. This honoring of “weeds” is not an excuse for not keeping my garden weed free…I gave up on that many years ago and still have great fresh vegetables each year.

So the snow peas in my wild little garden are setting flowers now and the baby kale is so tender you can eat it right off the plant…no preparation. I will try to plant my second harvest of snow peas again today since the resident chipmunks decided they liked the pea seeds this year and neatly removed all of them promptly after I planted them.

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I’ll also get the zucchini plants under my form of control (move them off the grass I plan to mow) and then mow the wild lawn before getting into the canoe for a leisurely paddle on the lake with friends. There will soon be more zucchini than can be eaten so hello friends and neighbors welcome to zucchini harvest!

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I guess what I’m trying to say here is that gardens are not meant to be perfect or orderly. Life is not, so why try to create that order in our gardens. Seek the beauty in each plant no matter how seemingly unimportant it appears to be. This coming from someone who knows. Get outside and play on this first day of summer!

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“This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere: the dew is never all dried at once: a shower is forever falling, vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round Earth rolls.”         John Muir

Blessed Be

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http://leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com/events

 

 

 

Stay Vacation in Paradise…HOME

My stay vacation in Berkshire County is nearing at an end. I’m happy to say I’ve accomplished many of the house projects I set out to do this week and I had a ton of fun on the cheap. One the favorite things this week was taking a walk with my daughter Kristen and my two dogs on the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/massparks/region-west/ashuwillticook-rail-trail.html where we found a momma duck and her ducklings. She was right out of the children’s story book Make Way for Ducklings. She seemed unfazed by my dogs who by all rights are bird dogs though they have been humanized by me and would rather swim than retrieve birds. Kristen is as much of a birder as I am so we were pretty happy to get photos.ImageImage

After a day of heavy rain I took a walk at Wahconah Falls State Park http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/massparks/region-west/wahconah-falls-state-park-generic.html. The falls were high which I expected, as was the mosquito population but it was completely worth the trip. I took many photos and a 1 minute video of the falls to play when I’m feeling overwhelmed by life. I also got my first 100 mosquito bites for the season.Image

I feel a sense of accomplishment in having my vegetable garden planted and the perennial garden beds somewhat less weedy though that project never ends.The exterior trim around my new kitchen patio door and window are painted a lovely brick red making them stand out. It’s amazing how a little paint can completely brighten things up. I am blessed to have had a kitchen remodel (nearly completed) by a very talented contractor/carpenter. This remodel allows me to offer individual and small group cooking classes in my home kitchen which I truly love. And I get to chat with people like my lovely daughters while cooking too! Image

Today I’ll be on the lake in a canoe with a dear friend. There are many other projects to be done but they will have to wait. In my health coaching practice I encourage others to make room for play in their lives. I’m a work horse so taking time to play and live the balanced life I teach others about can be a challenge for me. Here’s what I do  to remind myself the importance of balance and play: enjoy every moment, seek happiness without any reason to be happy, be yourself and truly love that self, share, know you can cope with difficulties, find time to play and experience the joy in this life. We are here to love and be loved, to experience joy and to share ourselves with others. 

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Our true home is in the present moment. To live in the present moment is a miracle. The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment, to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now. Peace is all around us…in the world and in nature…and within us…in our bodies and our spirits. Once we learn to touch this peace, we will be healed and transformed. It is not a matter of faith; it is a matter of practice.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Blessed Be

 

 

From Farmer’s Market to Cancer Crusaders

I had a wonderfully busy day yesterday, starting with the Downtown Pittsfield Farmer’s Market Health Fair. This is the second year for the market. It has become such a cool Saturday morning destination and yesterday was no exception. It is incredible to watch the parking lot transform from asphalt to a bustling open air market in a matter of minutes…it’s kind of magical.

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At one point while setting up my booth I had this realization that there are literally thousands of these farmers markets in towns and cities across the US springing up and truly taking hold…it was a very good thought to have! I was there to offer information about my health coaching programs @ Kira’s Kitchen, http://leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com/ and offer some tasty sweets that are actually healthy.

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I was so pleased to see that the wonderful organizers of the market are connecting health care and good food by joining farmers and growers with various adjunctive health and main stream health care organizations including Berkshire Medical Center’s mobile PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scanner. I was between Berkshire Nautilus Health Club, http://www.berkshirenautilus.com/ and New Life Chiropractic, http://www.dr-schagen.com/ which made perfect sense to me. After all, people need good quality nutrition to partake in what Berkshire Nautilus offers and they can certainly benefit from someone guiding them through an anti inflammation diet when faced with pain that a chiropractor is helping them manage.

I left the Farmer’s market at 1pm and drove north to Bennington Vermont to join friends at the Southwestern Vermont Cancer Center Community Crusaders event to raise money for the cancer center in Bennington. 

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I was struck by the celebratory feel of this event as I wandered around looking for my friends booth. There were people dancing and music playing. Children were running around having a great time. I have lost several people I love dearly to cancer so my mindset driving to Bennington was not that I was going to a party. By the time I found my friends booth my mindset had shifted to a more relaxed state and the sun had broke through the clouds as if to say “it’s all good.” We set out the healthy sweets I’d brought next to the beautiful cupcakes that were part of the fund raising for the event.

The conversations that took place surrounding both the cupcakes and the treats I brought were very enlightening for me. I met a mom whose child has a brain tumor. She was seeking healthier snack options for him so he doesn’t feel left out of the fun. He sampled each of the treats I brought and we talked about how hard it is for parents to find the time to make healthy snacks. I offered her some recipes and made a mental note about reaching out to parents of children who have cancer.

At the end of the event there was a lovely candle light vigil and honoring of the survivors and those lost to cancer. I took a moment to remember the people I love who are living with cancer, and to honor those who were not able to survive it. I found myself feeling a bit indignant as I got in my car to drive home. How is it that the rates of cancer continue to rise even with the amazing health care system available to us in the United States.

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I think this topic will be continued next blog as it requires additional research and the sun is out today calling me to mow my lawn. Remember to eat healthy, take time to relax and let go of stress and spend time with the people you love. It truly matters in your overall good health!

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First you need only look:

Notice and honor the radiance of everything about you…

Play in this universe.

Tend all these shinning things around you:

The smallest plant, the creatures and objects in your care.

Be gentle and nurture. Listen…

As we experience and accept all that we really are…

We grow in care.                      Anne Hillman

Blessed Be

 

Leanne Yinger, M.Ed.

Board Certified Holistic Health Coach

413-464-1462

Kiraskitchen5@gmail.com

Website: http://leanne_yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com

Blog:      www.kirasgoodeatskitchen.com

 

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