Archive for the ‘nutrition’ Category

Oats do contain their own form of gluten, knows as avenin. However, a definitive study has been done to show that oats and the avenin they contain do not cause problems in most adults with celiac disease.

So they are safe to eat in a gluten-free diet, provided that they are processed with machinery that is not also used to process wheat– this can cause cross-contamination. And this information can usually be found on the product packaging.

Now, then, oats still contain phytic acid, which is present in the hull or outer portions of most seeds, nuts and grains.  When phytic acid is ingested, it can cause lots of problems in the digestive tract; this is because its chemical structure hits us with a one-two punch: it attracts and binds up valuable minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and zinc; it also inhibits the function of digestive enzymes like amylase, pepsin, and trypsin. Diets high in phytic acid, as a result, can cause mineral deficiencies.

While humans do produce phytase, the enzyme which breaks down phytic acid, we do not produce it in enough quantity to avoid digestive unpleasantries.

Fortunately, phytase is also present alongside the phytic acid in these same foods, but it must be activated by being soaked in an acidic environment.

BUT– phytase is fragile, is easily destroyed by heat or freezing, and even the simple processing to turn oats into oatmeal is enough to render it inert.

AND– phytase is not present in a high enough contentration even within raw oats to render all the phytic acid inert by soaking or cooking.

So should you stop eating oatmeal? Probably.

But then why bother saying that it’s OK to eat oats?

There is a solution: Lactobacilli. Or, in layman’s terms: Yogurt Bacteria. Lactobacilli produce phytase in quantities enough to neutralize the phytic acid in oats. So, by simply soaking your oats overnight in probiotic (still alive, not pasteurized) yogurt, you can let your bacterial friends do the hard work for you, and then you have delicious Muesli to eat in the morning.

Excellent article on phytic acid and phytase at the Weston A Price foundation

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I love me some fried chicken. So I decided to do a food experiment to see which one of the locally available gluten-free chicken-nugget varieties tasted best and was the best value. I found the following products at Target.

In the arena, we have:

  • Tyson gluten-free chicken strips, 14 oz, $5.99
  • Tyson gluten-free chicken nuggets, 18 oz, $5.99
  • Applegate gluten-free chicken nuggets, 16 oz, $8.99
  • Nature Raised Farm gluten-free chicken nuggets, 12 oz, 2 for $10 ($5.00/bag)

Opening the bags, we note that we receive:

  • 5 Tyson strips, $1.19ea, $0.42/oz
  • 24 Tyson nuggets, $0.24ea, $0.33/oz
  • 45 Applegate nuggets, $0.18ea, $0.35/oz
  • 16 Nature Raised nuggets, $0.31ea, $0.41/oz

I should also note that each of these products are packaged in resealable bags, but also contain a separate internal heatsealed plastic bag inside which contains the food. Double packaging. And, in the case of the Tyson strips, all 5 of them, why even have a resealable bag? You’re going to use them all in one cooking session.

I baked them all in a glass dish according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. All came out fully cooked (they are pre-cooked anyways). I served them with a small variety of condiments (mustard, ranch dressing, sriracha, and Cholula hot sauce) taking the time to try them all with each sauce. Seen in the following photo, beginning in upper right, going clockwise: Tyson GF strips, Tyson GF nuggets, Applegate GF nuggets, Nature Raised GF nuggets.

GF Chicken Olympics

GF Chicken Olympics

Regarding value for weight, it’s easy to figure. Gold Medal goes to Tyson nuggets, Silver to Applegate nuggets, Bronze to Nature Raised nuggets, and Tyson strips goes home crying.

At first impression, they all have appealing smell. So all receive Gold Medals for that.

Appearance-wise, the color on the Applegate nuggets wasn’t as vibrant as the others, which colorwise were all equal. So Gold Medal for appearance goes to both Tyson products and NatureRaised. Silver goes to Applegate.

Now taste-wise, all three had that deepfried umami to them, and all were good, however the flavor of the Applegate nuggets fell short, probably because due to their smaller size they have a higher breading-to-chicken ratio, and the chicken got lost under the taste of all the breading. That’s not to say they tasted bad, quite the opposite. Just not as chicken-y as the others. The nuggets from both Tyson and Nature Raised tasted nearly identical, maybe a tiny bit more pepper in the Tyson breading. The taste of the Tyson strips was good but they were heavily breaded, and, like the Applegate nuggets, the taste of the chicken started to get lost under the deepfried flavor of the breading. So… Taste Gold Medal goes to nuggets by Tyson and Nature Raised, Silver to Tyson strips, and Bronze to Applegate.

Texture is where they differentiated themselves and a winner for the whole lot came out. By far the best texture of all is the Nature Raised nuggets, which, defying all history of chicken nuggets in the oven, actually retained a crispy component to the breading. The breading on the Tyson nuggets was a close second but it felt more oily and saturated than the Nature Raised. The overdone breading on the Tyson Strips made them not so enticing after a while, which brought them in worse place than the Applegate nuggets, whose heavy breading wasn’t quite so bad after all compared to the Tyson ones. So… Texture Gold Medal goes to Nature Raised, Silver to Tyson nuggets, Bronze to Applegate, and Tyson strips goes home crying.

And, for overall performance and foodie joy brought to me by these gluten-free chicken products…

Gold Medal: Nature Raised Farms gluten-free chicken nuggets.
Slightly more expensive than the cheapest option, but worth it for the better texture and experience.

Nature Raised Farms gluten-free chicken nuggets

Nature Raised Farms gluten-free chicken nuggets

 

Silver Medal: Tyson gluten-free chicken nuggets
Better value but not as good texture.

Tyson gluten-free chicken nuggets

Tyson gluten-free chicken nuggets

 

Bronze Medal: Applegate Naturals gluten-free chicken nuggets
Good value, decent product.

Applegate Naturals gluten-free chicken nuggets

Applegate Naturals gluten-free chicken nuggets

Pasta is one of those easy meals that I had fully given up on with my gluten-free diet, and one that I missed. Boil for 10 minutes, throw in the sauce, and eat. Cheap, filling, fast, easy. But the gluten in the pasta would cause me problems, and so the pasta had to go. At the time I started gluten-free eating, there wasn’t much on the market that was any good, so I just cut pasta completely from my pantry and did without.

I went to the store yesterday to see if there was any gluten-free bread-like product I could use to make BLT sandwiches with, but finding none, I saw the pasta instead. So I decided to give it a try.

I found several varieties of Tinkyada’s gluten-free pasta at Publix supermarket in their “green” section. I tried the rotini/spirals first. The label’s statement of “not mushy” and “perfect al dente texture” had me skeptical, but the claims turned out to be honest. It came out with excellent texture and consistency, it tasted like pasta, held together like pasta, chewed like pasta, and worked nicely with the sauce actually better than pasta (it was slightly more absorbent). It did tend to stick together more than wheat pasta once it cooled off in the colander; future tests with butter or olive oil will need to be done, to see if I can get it to stick less. It wasn’t a problem, though, as the stuck-together portions came apart again once I mixed in the sauce.

The instructions to boil for 14-15 minutes I found to be a bit excessive; I found 13 minutes to be more than adequate for my preferences.

Ultimately, it is an excellent product and I am overjoyed that I can eat pasta again.

Tinkyada pasta’s website is here, at www.ricepasta.com

I have been shamelessly addicted to Diet Coke for years. I quit it once after reading up on the potential horrors of aspartame toxicity, and replaced it with Coke Classic, but I gained so much weight with the extra calories that I had to go back to Diet.

Freaking out after another onset of new “aspartame is horrible for you” propaganda, I’ve been off Diet Coke for a week now, and there are some notable changes in the consistency of my toilet trips. First of all, when I am drinking Diet Coke, I am drinking it all day. Sipping constantly. While working, while resting, it became a sort of habit, similar to smoking, that I had to constantly have a drink with me. Even when I am not drinking Diet Coke, and I am not thirsty, I still yearn for the physical sensation of constantly sipping a beverage. I wake up every morning craving Diet Coke. When I say it’s an addiction I’m not kidding.

The first reaction I notice to lack of Diet Coke is that I am not hungry between meals. I have read that aspartame is so sweet that it can trick your brain into thinking it is sugar-crashing, causing you to be hungry. This may be the case. I have not been hungry for snacks between meals the whole time since I quit drinking Diet Coke last week. I am also less thirsty to a significant extent. I have been drinking water and occasional ginger ale (made with sugar, not corn syrup). With the ginger ale, I maybe drink a glass, and I feel no need to drink more.

The second thing I notice is that my trips to the toilet result in firmer stools. Perhaps a consequence of not being overhydrated? I have also read some things about food allergies to caffeine. There are many potential variables, and I did not do a real scientific-method study, but the end results are that I feel much better and have more normal bowel habits as a result of my stopping drinking so much soda.

 

This is an excerpt from my book (see links for editions in print and Kindle, in English and Spanish). Studying the search-terms that bring traffic to the blog, I thought it might be a good idea to post this information to the general public.

The Coeliac Connection

Coeliac Disease (spelled Celiac in the USA) is an autoimmune disorder caused by a reaction to gliadin, a gluten protein found in wheat. The reaction causes inflammation of the small intestine, which leads to atrophy of the vilii (surface cells), which then causes malabsorption of nutrients. Coeliac Disease is not a symptom of gall bladder dysfunction, but it can definitely be a cause. If you are suffering from gall bladder problems you should definitely be screened for Coeliac Disease. It affects about 1% of the population in the USA.

Coeliac Disease gets in the way of proper gall bladder function by dampening or canceling out the Cholecystokinin (CCK) signal sent from the duodenum. If the duodenum can’t sense fat content because its lining is inflamed or atrophied, it doesn’t know to send the CCK and call the gall bladder to action.

The gall bladder, not getting the proper signal, either sits idle waiting or does an inadequate job and doesn’t give 100% effort. Therefore bile doesn’t circulate properly, it has a greater opportunity to settle and crystallize, and the chance of gallstone formation is greatly increased.

Not only does Coeliac Disease cause malabsorption of nutrients in general due to its inflammatory nature, but its problems are further compounded by a double dose of malabsorption caused by reduced bile output from a lazy or unresponsive gall bladder. As the atrophy of the intestinal lining worsens over time, more symptoms and digestive disorders can result (such as lactose intolerance).

Symptoms of Coeliac Disease:

  • Diarrhea: often pale and foul-smelling

  • Abdominal pain and cramping

  • Bloating

  • Often misdiagnosed as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

  • Vitamin A, D, E, and K deficiencies

  • Calcium malabsorption/deficiency

  • Bacterial overgrowth in the bowels

  • Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH), an itchy skin rash

  • Mouth ulcers

  • Hypothyroidism

  • Iron deficiency

  • Chronic fatigue

  • Osteoporosis

  • Intestinal cancer

  • Sterility

Getting tested for Coeliac Disease:

Blood tests are the fastest way to screen for Coeliac Disease. The tests you should get are as follows:

  • IgA or tTG antibodies: Sensitivity 90%, Specificity 99%. IgA means anti-transglutamase antibodies. These antibodies are very specific, occurring 100% in people with Coeliac Disease, and 80% in people with DH (Dermatitis Herpetiformis). IgA is also called tTG (tissue trans-glutamase). If your test comes back IgA positive, there is a 97% chance that you have Coeliac Disease. This test does give occasional false-negatives; if you test negative, there is only a 71% chance that the negative result is accurate.

  • IgG anti-gliadin antibodies: Sensitivity 87%, Specificity 91%. This test shows positive results more readily but does not have as strong a correlation to proving Coeliac Disease. For ecample, IgG-positive results show up in 21% of people suffering from non-Coeliac digestive disorders. This test may not provide as good a test-positive result as the IgA/tTG but it provides less false-negatives, and therefore should be done at the same time.

Other testing methods:

  • Endoscopy with biopsy of duodenum or jejunum. Most Coeliac sufferers have a bowel that appears normal through the endoscope but inspection of a tissue sample viewed through a microscope reveals proof of the disease.

What to do if you have Coeliac Disease:

Presently, the only cure is to go on a gluten-free diet for the rest of your life. There are no miracle medications. Fortunately the solution requires only willpower, and costs nothing extra. In time, the intestinal walls will heal and the symptoms will abate or disappear completely.

Unfortunately, this means that you will have to stop ingesting anything containing gluten. The list of forbidden ingredients containing gluten is as follows:

  • Wheat

  • Spelt

  • Kamut

  • Rye

  • Barley

  • Triticale

  • Oats (if your oats are pure, you may not need to exclude them; normally they do not contain gluten but the machines that process oats are also used to process the other grains and may be cross-contaminated. There are also studies that show oats contain peptide sequences very similar to gluten which can cause problems in 10% of Coeliac patients)

The list does not stop there; all things derived from the above products must be avoided as well:

  • Bread and flour products of all kinds, with exception to pure corn bread.

  • Beer (Rest In Peace!)

  • Most types of Whiskey

  • Malts

A general list of things that are gluten-free:

  • Corn

  • Potatoes

  • Rice

  • Cassava

  • Yams

  • Chickpeas/garbanzo

  • Meats (be careful of sausages, as some use ingredients containing gluten as filler or flavor enhancers)

  • Wine, rum, brandy, sake, vodka, and other spirits derived from fruit, honey, sugar, rice, potatoes, or corn.

The particulars of following a gluten-free diet could easily fill their own book. There are a wealth of gluten-free diet books on the market. It is such a common problem that there is even a “Celiac Disease for Dummies” book in addition to a “Living Gluten-free for Dummies” and a “Gluten-free Cooking for Dummies.” All three are quite informative, and rated 4 stars or higher on that online bookstore everyone knows. Fortunately, many product manufacturers are more aware of dietary gluten problems, and label their ingredient list clearly as either containing gluten or being gluten-free.

Either traveling, or commuting, or anywhere you can’t be at home, it is tough to eat things that are compatible with a body which has no gall bladder (or has one, but it’s “out to lunch”).

I travel quite a bit, internationally. As such, it is very difficult to maintain a fresh refrigerator stocked with the things I need to eat. Need, as in “not want but need.” The things I want, I really shouldn’t eat. The things available to a traveler with no stocked refrigerator are usually all things which are incompatible with gall bladder patients: mostly bready, starchy things made with trans fats.

Bread and starch tends to puff us up and turn us into gas machines. Not good for polite company. Greasy starch even worse.

I offer the following solution which has served me well: eggs and apples.

Eggs can be prepared in multiple ways but the way they travel best is hard-boiled. Whenever I arrive in a new location the first thing I go to buy is 2 dozen eggs and a bag of apples. Then I hardboil a full dozen of the eggs.

Instant breakfast, just peel and eat. Take a few for lunch. Snacks, whatever. There are few things more excellent than a simple hardboiled egg with some salt and Tobasco or sriracha sauce. They are also filling. I’m a big guy and 2-3 hardboiled eggs will keep me fed for half a day before I start to feel hungry again.

The apples, well, they’re for variety 🙂 And they are also good for you and contain fiber and vitamins to go with the eggs.

Not only that, but eggs contain everything a gall bladder patient needs for nutrients and proper digestion. I have noticed that in cases where I have slipped out of a healthy routine and begin to suffer from new bouts of diarrhea (yes, I am prone to binges of pizza and burgers), a few days on eggs and fruit brings me quickly back to normal. Give it a try, the worst that can happen is that you get tired of eggs and fruit.

Thinking chemically, you could probably live forever on a diet of nothing but eggs, fruit, and greens.

To make a long story short, Hashimoto’s Syndrome is an autoimmune/thyroid disorder which can have similar results (and causes) to Celiac Disease. Basically unwanted protein infiltration through a leaky or compromised gut. Supposedly there are some 30 million undiagnosed cases of Hashimoto’s Syndrome in the USA. You can read all the specific details here on Wikipedia.

How does it relate to gall bladder problems? Well, the same problems from Hashimoto’s and Celiac Disease can also incapacitate your gall badder. If you are a gall bladder patient, you may want to test yourself for Hashimoto’s Syndrome.

The wife of my friend Bill (who is writing a book on the subject) has Hashimoto’s and has found successful treatment through dietary changes:

My wife has found that by partioning her meals – eating protein first and giving the stomach at least 30 minutes to break the protein down into assimilable fragments that can be digested by the upper gut enzymes before the fragments have a chance to leak through the gut wall, and then eating the vegetable portion of her meal, almost completely eliminated the auto-immune response.

Bill goes on further to say:

Second let me URGE any reader who has been diagnosed with any kind of gut issue – celiac, IBS, crohns, SIBO, etc – and ESPECIALLY gluten intolerance! – get yourself tested for Hashimoto’s. In most cases, Hashi’s is confirmed by two antibodies labs: anti-TPO and TgAb. The first antibody, anti-TPO, attacks an enzyme normally found in your thyroid gland, called the Thyroid Peroxidase, which is important in the production of thyroid hormones. The second antibody, TgAb, attacks the key protein in the thyroid gland, the thyroglobulin, which is essential in the production of the T4 and T3 thyroid hormones. If you have insurance you may find that your doc resists ordering the tests – though for the life of me I don’t know why. We have no insurance and the damn things only cost @ $60 – and they are absolutely diagnostic. SO – do not let your Doc tell you that since your T4 tests are normal there’s no need for the anti-body tests. MAKE them order the damn tests ( voice of frustrated experience here).Then, if it turns out that you do have Hashi’s, there are several well-established pathways back to health.

Last, let me say that after years of working on this together with my wife and having to do almost all our own research since docs just don’t seem to know or care ( gastroenterologists are the worst IMO) we are convinced that whole-body inflammation is the bottom-line, underlying issue not just in Hashi’s but in a huge range of disease – and most gut disease in particular. Get control of the inflammation and you get control of the disease. A quick story to illustrate this. Within a month of eliminating grain, dairy and eggs from her diet my wife, who had weighed 110 pounds all her life before all this began and then for years she see-sawed between 125-140 but the amount of food she was taking in did not vary and she never ate junk food, sweets etc – the stuff that “makes you fat” – within a month she was back down to 110. But here’s the kicker – she had zero loose skin, the way you do when you lose weight, especially in places like the back of your arms. That’s because her extra weight wasn’t fat – it was inflamed tissue. Once the inflammation was under control, the tissues returned to normal state, and there was no extra loose skin. None. So in my mind that is pretty good evidence that an awful lot of the obesity that’s around these days probably isn’t fat, but inflamation. Just an opinion.