Why Gluten Is Bad For You: Going Gluten-Free

Gluten, gluten, gluten. When will we stop hearing about gluten?!

We hear about gluten allergies, we hear about gluten-free diets, we hear from people who don’t know what gluten is, and then we make fun of them all. But should we? First, let’s find out why gluten is bad for you (okay, so it’s probably not bad for you, but there’s more to the story than that).

1) Why gluten is bad for you: Because you have celiac disease, dummy!

Researchers now know that celiac disease is much more common than once thought, and doctors can more easily diagnose someone. These folks can’t eat gluten, which is unfortunately found in one of the most common ingredients known to mankind–wheat.

A lot of people who have irritable bowel syndrome may have celiac disease and not even know it. That’s why gluten is bad for you–many people with celiac disease have been sick for a long, long time and have become accustomed to living that way.

2) Why gluten is bad for you: because gluten products have more than one ingredient!

If you don’t have celiac disease, then gluten won’t cause any problems–maybe. Most people can metabolize the ingredient just fine. But still, many people without celiac disease swear on everything they know and love to feeling much, much better after eliminating gluten from their diet. Why on earth is that?

The answer is simple and logical, and we should all be able to put two and two together in order to arrive at the blatantly obvious answer. But if you’re not looking at the numbers, then even the simplest equation is difficult to solve.

Gluten is found in flour. Consequently, those poor gluten-free souls are forced to eliminate all foods containing flour from their diet. Have you ever baked bread, cookies, brownies, or muffins? Then you should immediately know which other ingredient is associated with flour. Keep thinking. Have you ever eaten a bowl of cereal? What about all the other processed foods lining the shelves of any grocery store? If it contains wheat, then which other ingredient must it contain?

The answer: Sugar!

Two plus two. Now that you know the numbers in the equation, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that avoiding gluten will inevitably make you feel better–because you’re inadvertently and substantially reducing the sugar you consume, too. The sugar and other processed garbage in your diet are making you feel like crap–not the gluten. But avoiding sugar will also leave your body bereft of most gluten-containing foods. See how that works?

3) Why gluten is bad for you: Because you don’t even know what gluten is, and that’s just embarrassing!

It’s disappointing that we live in a world where people are belittled for not knowing technical details of an ailment. There are numerous articles on the internet pointing out how often gluten-free individuals don’t even know what it is.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat. Many people are allergic to that protein. Those people have celiac disease.

But what difference does reciting information make? How many people can provide a technical explanation of cancer, heart disease, or stroke? Instead of asking people what gluten is, why not ask them what the function of their kidneys is? What does the pancreas do? What does the spleen do? And why do you have such enormous gynecomastia? Feel free to look the last item up on your own–you won’t be disappointed. In any case, how many of us can provide specific details about our own organs?

Not the majority.

The point is this: Don’t tease people for being short of details about why gluten is bad for you. Those details won’t make you feel any better if gluten (or sugar!) makes you sick. But even so, being asked about gluten might lead to stress. Add it to the list of reasons why gluten is bad for you!

What are your thoughts? Are you being driven nuts by people blathering on about gluten? Is this article driving you nuts? Are we all just nuts? Shoot us a comment below! Gluten, gluten, gluten!

What Is Gluten Free Food? Gluten Free Myth vs. Fact!

What is gluten? Gluten can lead to… Celiac disease can cause cancer! Makes it difficult to absorb important nutrients, found in processed foods…

The gluten-free diet has achieved fad-like status. But what is gluten, what is celiac disease, and who should bother going gluten-free? I’m going to answer those three questions, and hopefully squash some of the nastier gluten myths in the process.

What is Gluten Free Food? Gluten is…

Simply put, gluten is a protein most commonly found in wheat, barley, and rye. Ever wonder how many of your beloved foods contain wheat? I’ll bet you remember the food pyramid. Almost everything on the bottom (that would be the biggest part) is a grain. If you’re purchasing processed food or baked goods like cereal or bread, then you’re adding gluten to your diet. So, what is gluten free food? Most likely, it’s the opposite of what you’ve been consuming on a regular basis.

Consider a common day for any of us: We wake up only to grab a bowl of cereal before we start our day. For lunch we have a sandwich (Subway, anyone?). For dinner, maybe we have a side of pasta or a slice of freshly baked bread. See how easy it is to consume gluten during all three meals? In between meals, you might be snacking on pretzels, certain types of chips, brownies, cookies, and a number of other desirables. You’re adding even more gluten.

Gluten seems to be everywhere. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are people who have a gluten allergy. Which leads us to our next question.

What is Gluten Free Food? Celiac Disease is…

Certain people have a genetic predisposition that leads to an autoimmune disorder affecting the small intestine, making it more difficult for them to absorb important nutrients. This inevitably causes a number of other conditions, and makes the disease extremely difficult to diagnose. What is gluten free food? It’s the kind of food that many of us need to eat, but don’t–because we don’t know we have celiac disease.

Many people are under the impression that celiac disease is the formal diagnosis for those with a gluten allergy, but that’s only part of the big picture. The truth is that a gluten allergy can lead to and cause celiac disease. When the small intestine is exposed to gluten, it becomes inflamed and those parts of the organ responsible for absorbing nutrients cannot do their job.

The only effective treatment for celiac disease is the gluten-free diet.

What is Gluten Free Food? The Myths Are…

One myth suggests that contemporary wheat is higher in gluten, and that’s false. Unfortunately, processed foods do contain higher levels of gluten than they did only a few years ago, so it pretty much doesn’t matter. Avoiding processed foods is probably a great idea for anyone, not just those with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance.

What is gluten free food? That’s a tough question to answer accurately. Another enormously common misconception is that the gluten-free menu is better for you…or that it is actually gluten-free. People with celiac disease can be affected by even trace amounts of the substance, and so an important ongoing question should be: Are restaurants really preparing these gluten-free foods safely? The reality is that they’re probably not. You shouldn’t think that they’re going to be extra careful or clean those contaminated surfaces just for you, because there are no rules governing whether they do or don’t.

Another myth that confuses people is that all grains contain gluten. Not true. Only a few grains contain gluten, and so there are still many that can be safely consumed by those with celiac disease. But it’s worth noting that wheat, barley, and rye are all insanely common ingredients in processed foods, and that there are many other ingredients that effectively mask the inclusion of gluten. Malt flavoring, for instance, contains gluten, and is in quite a few cereals that would otherwise be gluten-free. Those who are allergic need to do a fair amount of research before making any purchase, and take care to avoid quite a few ingredients.

What is Gluten Free Food? The Facts Are…

The truth is this: If you have a single concern that any substance entering your body might be harmful to you, you should seek the advice of a specialist. Go to a qualified doctor, and test for an allergy to gluten. There are a host of symptoms associated with celiac disease, including gas, cramps, vomiting, and nausea. In fact, many people who have irritable bowel syndrome also have celiac disease, and doctors are discovering that many more people have celiac disease than originally thought.

What is gluten free food? Hopefully, it’s the answer to an allergy epidemic. Make no mistake about the gluten-free diet. Although it has achieved a cult following, celiac disease is extremely dangerous. It can lead to very severe problems–such as cancer–if not diagnosed and treated properly. The diet, and those who must follow it, are not going anywhere anytime soon.

That said, not everyone is gluten intolerant or has an allergy to gluten, and therefore not everyone must follow the gluten-free diet. Many do and feel better because of it, but this is more likely due to the consumption of less carbohydrates and fewer processed foods, and not because of a gluten intolerance. If you still want to give the diet a try, then by all means go for it. But there’s probably no impending medical crisis if you don’t.

Hopefully I’ve provided some insight on gluten, the gluten-free diet, and celiac disease. There has been an awful lot of judgment surrounding the diet and the disease. I actually have a friend who calls me a member of hypochondriacs anonymous because I eat gluten and processed foods as little as possible. That might be amusing, but it strikes a nerve because there are many people who really don’t have a choice.

Feel free to leave me some comments below, or share your own thoughts, feelings, and experiences on the subject. I’d love to hear from anyone, and especially from those who have had to cope with celiac disease!

If you’ve got other allergies and you’re looking for some relief, check out my article called Why Are My Allergies So Bad? Natural Ways to Help Allergies for some great tips.

The Local Honey Allergies Myth And Other Allergy Myths: Busted!

Crazy allergy myths! Locally produced honey can have an effect on your… Pet allergies aren’t what you think… Eating only organic foods won’t…

Allergies are a tricky subject. It’s often very difficult to pin down exactly which allergens are causing certain symptoms, and because of this we tend to develop strong beliefs surrounding the subject. The problem is that many of these beliefs are myths that can lead to problems down the road.

I’m going to let you know which myths to watch out for, and teach you the real solution for dealing with nearly any allergy.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular allergy myths:

1. Raw, Locally Produced Honey

This one is a common belief. It suggests that if you consume raw, locally produced honey, then you’ll slowly build up an immunity to the local pollen allergens in the air. Unfortunately, the majority of seasonal allergies aren’t triggered by the pollen you’d find in honey. Although bees do tend to transport different kinds of pollen, it’s the pollen in the air that usually sets off your seasonal allergies. Most often, this pollen is from trees, grass, or weeds. Not flowers.

Most researchers consider this myth busted since there isn’t yet a study which clearly indicates that raw honey and allergy prevention are linked, and in fact most evidence seems to support that they aren’t. There are countless other health benefits to eating raw honey over processed honey, however. So if you enjoy the stuff, give this one a try anyway.

2. Antihistamines Versus Prevention

It’s sometimes difficult for people to believe that the only way to prevent allergic reactions is to stay away from them. We’re human, and so we inevitably want to believe that popping a pill will make all our problems go away. But take it from me: being human just means that we’re usually wrong. Antihistamines come with a host of side effects. These can include symptoms ranging from dry mouth and dizziness to constipation and bladder retention. Most often, though, you’ll find yourself drowsy.

It’s best to avoid the allergen altogether. Using antihistamines should be considered a temporary solution, as serious side effects may develop from constant use. Your best bet is to see an allergist in order to find out exactly which allergens are causing the reaction. Your doctor will also be able to prescribe more effective medication, or at least medication more suited to your own personal needs. Prevention will always be more effective than the drugs you use to combat these allergies. Be careful.

3. Food Allergies

Do you think you have a food allergy? Maybe you do, but maybe you don’t. If you have an allergy, then reactions will always occur when you come into contact with an allergen. This is because coming into contact with distinct types of food proteins will trigger your immune system to respond 100% of the time. Because these reactions are constant, certain food allergies can lead to very serious problems down the road. For example, celiac disease prevents your small intestine from absorbing nutrients due to an allergic reaction to gluten, and can cause a dizzying arraying of ailments, including malnutrition and cancer. It’s an extremely dangerous and underappreciated condition, and unfortunately only one of many. For more information on gluten and the dangers of celiac disease, check out my article called What Is Gluten Free Food? Gluten Free Myth vs. Fact!.

If the reaction only happens sometimes, then you probably have some sort of sensitivity to a specific type or food, or you may be mistaking the reaction for food poisoning. In order to be sure, you’ll need to give your allergist a list of your symptoms. It may help to keep a detailed food diary. Write down which foods you eat, when you eat them, when the reaction occurs, and the specific symptoms that occur. Bring this with you when you visit the doctor. It’ll make diagnosing the exact problem much, much easier, and maybe even save you an additional trip or two.

4. Pet Allergies

Believe it or not, if you’re allergic to cats or dogs, it’s not the hair that’s triggering the reaction. The allergy is caused by a specific protein found in the skin, urine, and saliva of those animals. The myth most likely persists because hair often traps and carries this protein. Because these pets shed, the protein will pretty much end up everywhere. Still, you’re better off with a short-haired animal since the hair will trap less of the protein and can be more easily washed. If you have an animal, groom it well, and keep its hair short if at all possible.

5. Organic Foods

One of the biggest myths is that consuming only organic foods will let you avoid certain food allergies. Guess what? That’s a big fat lie. First of all, labeling a food as “organic” doesn’t mean as much as you might think it does. You’d be surprised how often foods are granted this label without really qualifying. But even so, unprocessed foods account for around 90% of food allergies.

Therefore, if you have a food allergy, then organic versus inorganic won’t make much of a difference. If you notice that there is one, then you’re probably misidentifying the protein causing the allergy in the first place. Remember, there are many different parts to a food item. If you’re allergic to an apple, for instance, then there’s a good chance you’re allergic to either the skin or the meat but not both. In other words, skinning an apple might solve your problem.

One thing is for certain: Don’t listen to anyone who isn’t a doctor. If you’re looking for treatment or professional prevention tips, then ask an allergist for more information. They’ll be able to help you sort out the facts from the fiction, and they’ll be able to help you discover exactly which allergens are causing all of your ailments. For now, though, check out some great tips on how to prevent allergic reactions.

By all means, share your own stories. What other myths have you heard? Are there any natural remedies that have worked for you? Have you been dealing with a potentially life-threatening allergy? Let us know! If there are any other subjects you’d like us to cover, feel free to comment below! Thanks for reading!

Why Are My Allergies So Bad? Natural Ways to Help Allergies

Allergies are on the rise: 18% increase in food allergies. We don’t know exactly why. Here’s what you need to know: We don’t encounter as much bacteria…

Allergies can pack a truly unexpected punch, striking at any time or place. Seasonal allergies, food allergies, animal allergies. They all equate to a world of pain for those who have them.

Did you know that allergies are becoming more prevalent in today’s society? The number of food allergies alone have risen a shocking 18% in children between the years 1997 and 2007. We’re not really sure why just yet, but a popular theory suggests that because we live in such a clean, sterile environment, our bodies aren’t being exposed to as much bacteria. In other words, our cleanliness might actually be making us sicker! This trend implies that allergies are only going to make us and our children feel worse as time goes on.

Those of us who have asthma or skin conditions might expect an even more agonizing assault. I unfortunately have every debilitating condition known to man, but luckily this puts me in a unique position to help others.

Allergy prevention methods range from pretty much free all the way to pretty much ungodly expensive. For the sake of giving you as much information as possible, I’m going to pretend that we live in a communist society where people get everything they need when they need it.

I’ll start by explaining how you can most effectively stop the symptoms of allergies from becoming a nuisance, and then let you know how you can combat them when they already have. Here are the five worst causes of allergic reactions, small and large!

1. Bedding

First things first. You know that place where you sleep? It’s filthy. And I mean mind-bogglingly, absolutely filthy. It’s true, some of us just don’t wake up until we’ve had our morning shower. But as far as allergies are concerned, it’s counterintuitive. If you shower in the morning, then that means you spend the entire day picking up allergens from each and every one of the places you visit. You’re inviting them into your bed. Don’t.

You should shower or bathe in the evening instead. At the very least take a short shower in the morning, and enjoy a more serious scrub-down in the evening before lying down.

That’s all well and good, of course, but truth be told your bedding is a festering den of debauchery for those crazy little critters no matter what you do. Allergens aren’t the only things you’re bringing to bed. Dirt, bugs, sweat, and bacteria all habitually find their way into your nest. There are two ways to fight them. First, buy hypoallergenic covers for your pillows, mattress, and comforter. Second, and this is the priority, you should find the time to wash the entire bedspread at least once every week or two.

2. Air Conditioning

Believe it or not, air conditioners do more than shoot blissfully cool air into your fortress of solitude (I call it your fortress of solitude because let’s face it, if you have seasonal allergies and you’re reading this, then you’ve probably realized that you should never leave the house again). Air conditioners filter the air. Cleaner air means fewer allergens, which in turn means fewer stuffy, runny noses. If you’re worried about allergens floating around during the winter months, try searching for a HEPA air purification unit.

Something else to consider: Air conditioners not only filter the air, but they reduce its humidity as well. I mention this because while a dry environment can most definitely help allergy sufferers reduce their symptoms, it can also go a long way toward increasing the symptoms of those who suffer from dry skin.

If you suffer from ichthyosis, eczema, or a number of other pesky skin conditions, you’ll want to weigh which is worse–your allergies, or your skin. And don’t forget, allergies can irritate your skin. Yep, you heard me. If you turn the air conditioner on, your skin might dry out. And if you leave the air conditioner off, your skin might get irritated. And if you have asthma on top of all this? Don’t even get me started. Sucks, right?

3. Furniture and Carpeting

If you have the option of leather furniture, go for it. It’s safe. Upholstered furniture is great for caging all the little allergens that find their way into your home. Any other surface needs to be regularly dusted and wiped down. Tables, mantles, floors, picture frames, sliding glass doors. Anything and everything. Maybe you can afford a maid.

Carpeting isn’t worth the trouble. It’s a safe-haven for anything floating in the air and it’s a great environment for mildew or mold to thrive. And no one wants to go shopping for a special HEPA vacuum cleaner. (Although if you insist on carpeting, this is what you want). If you can, choose hardwood flooring instead.

That’s three down and we’ve got two allergy offenders to go. Did you know that knowledge itself can be a reason for your out-of-control allergies? Next up: Knowledge!

Why Is My Skin So Dry? The 9 Main Causes and How To Get Relief For Dry Skin!

1 out of 5 Americans will get Skin Cancer. Skin can give you an idea of overall health. Here’s what you need to know: As we get older, our cells…

I’m going to explain how you can condition your skin to be the best that it can be and reduce your chances of dry, flaky skin.

Before I do, did you know that dry skin can be an indicator or other conditions? Visually checking your skin can give you an idea of your overall health. For example, a malfunctioning thyroid gland can cause our skin’s appearance to drastically change from one extreme to the next. As we get older, our cells also shed much more slowly. That’s why a baby’s skin is so soft. Because one out of five Americans will battle skin cancer at some point in their lifetime, it’s becoming more important than ever that we pay attention to what our skin tells us.

Before we begin, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is my dry skin mild or severe?
  • Is it hereditary?

Even if your skin is severe and it’s been in your family for generations, realize that you do have options.

I’m going to explain how you can condition your skin to be the best that it can be and reduce your chances of dry, flaky skin.

Remedies For Dry Skin

If we’re going to address the problem, it’s important to be aware of the four major offenders when it comes to skin irritation. I’ll explain why they’re damaging your skin and offer suggestions to alleviate your pain!

1. Hot Water

This one should be an immediate priority. Everyone feels perfectly at ease in a hot, steamy shower. Falling water is relaxing, cathartic, serene. Showers wake us up in the morning and they put us at ease after a long day at work. But they’re also one of the fastest ways to completely strip away the natural oils that protect our skin, not to mention keep it feeling moist and looking healthy.

When you’re in the shower or taking a bath, keep the water temperature low. Lukewarm works for most people, but cold is even better. When a peasant in the Middle Ages wanted a bath, he jumped in a lake. Maybe he stood under a waterfall wondering why the powers-that-be wanted him to suffer. We may be more civilized these days, but sometimes the luxuries that result from our civilization are destroying our skin and our confidence in our appearance. Truth be told, the peasant was doing it right. He (possibly) had phenomenal, clean, healthy skin. And you can too. Be a peasant. Take cold showers.

2. Washing

That peasant probably didn’t stay in the water for too long (because it was frigid, icy death-water that might have even led him to question his gods), and you should probably follow his lead. Keep them short. Five minutes, ten at the very most. We know better than the peasant did, so we can be happy knowing our gods only want the best for our skin. Plus, standing in a cold shower is a great character-building exercise.

Peasants probably didn’t have access to great soaps. Which is perfectly fine, because they’re not necessary at all. When it comes to your skin, simple is better. Dry skin often lacks key nutrients and oils, which results in less water absorption. Try to find rinses or body washes (and moisturizers) that contain ceramides, which will help prevent your skin from becoming easily irritated. Avoid soap. And be gentle. You don’t need to be a Herculean beast in order to clean yourself. Take it easy on yourself.

3. Drying

Speaking of which, violently scraping a towel back and forth against your skin will destroy your natural oil barrier as fast as anything else. Are you noticing any patterns here? Your skin is delicate and must be protected at all costs if you want it to look pretty. When drying, gently pat the towel against wet areas. Damp skin is okay, because you’re about to lubricate it with a nice, uncomfortable layer of lotion, and locking in some of that moisture is a great idea.

4. Moisturizing and Exfoliating

After washing and drying, your skin will hold fewer oils and need help retaining moisture even if you washed and dried yourself correctly (I know, it’s like we’re just meant to be in pain all the time). This is why lotions come in handy. The best time to apply a moisturizer is directly after a shower. Look for brands that are recommended by dermatologists. They’re usually a little bit more expensive, but it’s an investment worth making. They keep your skin moisturized a lot longer than the stuff you wasted pennies on at the dollar store.

Also look for moisturizers that help exfoliate. People with preexisting conditions can have dry, flaky skin almost constantly. This means that your demon skin cells are multiplying at a rate that outpaces your body’s ability to exfoliate naturally. Exfoliating moisturizers will help you let go of that dead skin more quickly.

Now that we’ve covered the four major offenders when it comes to your dry skin, let’s talk about the five secondary factors that contribute to the dryness of your beautiful skin. On the next page: Climate!