Is going gluten-free always necessary?

Is going gluten-free always necessary?

By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog

Given the growing amount of gluten-free foods available at the grocery store, it seems a number of people have trouble digesting the stuff. But are they truly gluten-intolerant, and is there a clear diagnosis for that?

Gluten sensitivity is the topic of a paper published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine in which researchers acknowledged the seriousness of celiac disease, but also said part of the population could have nonceliac gluten sensitivity. That’s characterized by having distinct symptoms such as diarrheaabdominal pain, gas, bloating or headaches after eating foods containing gluten.

Celiac disease, also triggered by eating foods with gluten, can cause damage to the lining of the small intestine. Among gastrointestinal symptoms are nausea, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, and sufferers can also be lactose intolerant. Vitamin and nutrient absorption can also be an issue. A blood test can determine if someone has the disease.

The authors sited a 1981 study in the journal Gastroenterology that found six out of eight people with chronic diarrhea and abdominal pain had a gluten sensitivity but did not have celiac disease. But since then, they added, not much more has been done because testing for nonceliac gluten sensitivity is difficult.

That hasn’t stopped many people from declaring they are gluten sensitive, even though they may not be. Cutting out wheat products — especially simple carbs such as white bread, cookies and pastries — often makes people feel better, so they assume they can’t tolerate gluten.

Claims of being gluten-sensitive, the authors write, “seem to increase daily, with no adequate scientific support to back them up. … This clamor has increased and moved from the Internet to the popular press, where gluten has become ‘the new diet villain.’ ”

Opting for a gluten-free diet isn’t necessarily any healthier than a diet with gluten, and products are sometimes costly. If gluten intolerance is not truly an issue, there may be no advantages to cutting out wheat and other foods, because some substitute grains contain little fiber.

The researchers argue that more research should be done on nonceliac gluten-sensitivity, “and that ‘sense’ should prevail over ‘sensibility’ to prevent a gluten preoccupation from evolving into the conviction that gluten is toxic for most of the population. We must prevent a possible health problem from becoming a social health problem.”

Does Beer Affect Your Training?

Does Beer Affect Your Training?

By Dr. Victor Runco • For

It’s there after almost every race. There are running clubs associated with it. Now even Lance Armstrong is in their commercials. In recent years, beer has become increasingly popular in the running community. One may think that this doesn’t make sense. Why would health-conscious runners be associated with something considered unhealthy? Is it the carbs? The cool refreshment? For many runners, it’s the completion of a job well done. But what does it do to our bodies and how can it affect our performance? Here are a few things to consider before cracking that beer.


Before Your Race

Since beer has carbs, it has to be beneficial for carbo loading the night before a race, right? Sadly, no. The amount of carbs that are in one beer are only equivalent to about half a slice of bread. Also, beer can act as a diuretic, leaving runners dehydrated for race day.

To keep your fluids levels high, be sure to drink water before and after that cold one. In addition to dehydration, alcohol consumption may interrupt sleep, leaving you feeling groggy on race day.


Race Day

Oddly enough, some runners have a beer during a race. In fact, groups like the Hash House Harriers map their runs around local bars, using them as aid stations.

While running tipsy may be a little more fun than running sober, it really isn’t going to help your training. Again, since beer is a diuretic, it can ultimately affect your performance.  And since it can also impair your judgment, it may not be the safest thing to do while running.

However, occasionally having a cold one during your run isn’t going keep you from completing thatmarathon. Just don’t expect it to be the most efficient of training sessions.


Race Recovery

Sure, an ice cold beer tastes great after a long run, but what does it do as far your recovery? For one, alcohol’s diuretic properties can hamper your hydration, which is vital for recovery.

Alcohol is also processed through the liver, an organ that is vital for muscle recovery. With the liver already overworked from the alcohol, your bodies’ ability to properly recover is reduced.

From these angles, drinking and endurance training don’t necessarily look like a good mix. But, in moderation, drinking while training is usually OK. Remember to drink plenty of water while at the bar and don’t drink too much that it interferes with your nutrition and sleep cycle, both of which are important.

So feel free to crack open that cold one. Just remember that moderation is key.

What about you? Do you drink and run? Tell us about it in the comments below.

For the Littlest Hearts

For the Littlest Hearts

The American Heart Association recommends taking a positive approach that gets your children more involved and invested in their food choices, so that the decision to eat healthier comes from them, not you.

At one time or another, you’ve surely heard this cry from the backseat as you’re driving past a familiar fast-food outlet: “Mom, can we stop here? Please?” Or as you’re passing the bakery department in your local supermarket: “Mom, can we get chocolate cake? Please?”

Your instinct is to make your children happy, but you also know about consequences. Obesity and poor nutrition, after all, are an alarming trend among children, causing a broad range of health issues that previously weren’t seen until adulthood. More and more young people get a large portion of their calories from fast food and sugary soft drinks, while neglecting nutrient-rich foods that aid in healthy development. Based on current trends, today’s children could be the first generation to live shorter lives than their parents.

It’s not too late to change. The American Heart Association recommends taking a positive approach that gets your children more involved and invested in their food choices, so that the decision to eat healthier comes from them, not you.


Eight Ways to Help Children Eat Better

1. Be a good role model. “Do as I say” won’t work. If, for example, your child catches you polishing off a box of doughnuts, any rule you attempt to impose about healthy eating will only confuse and frustrate her. “Do as I do,” however, works. If that same child sees you eating nutritious snacks like an apple, carrots, or fat-free yogurt, she will be more likely to do the same.

2. Get them involved. Let children play an active role in cooking and planning meals. Engage them in conversation about what makes certain ingredients better for them than others. Let younger children perform simple, low-risk tasks around the kitchen, gradually increasing their responsibilities as they get older.

3. Cook smarter. Show your children how their favorite foods can be prepared healthier, while holding on to great taste. For example, chicken nuggets can be made with chicken breast trimmed of fat, seasoned, and coated in whole-grain breadcrumbs and natural cornflakes, then baked instead of fried.

4. Set the parameters, but offer choices. Choose the time and place for meals and snacks. Tell children about the types of foods and beverages to be served, giving them a few options within that menu. Let them choose how much they’d like to eat, within an acceptable range of portion sizes appropriate for their age.

5. Bring everyone to the table. When the entire family dines together, there’s less chance of children eating the wrong foods or snacking too much.

6. Make a game of reading food labels. If your children join you while food shopping, test and reward their skill in identifying the appropriate levels of saturated fats, sodium, and other important nutrition information on food product labels.

7. Speak up. Contact your child’s school and insist on smart food choices. Let day-care providers and babysitters know about what you want your child to eat.

8. Keep it positive. Children don’t like to hear what they can’t do. Instead, let them know what they can do, in terms of looking and feeling their best. When they make good choices, offer praise and healthy rewards like extra playtime — not video games, extra TV time, or candy.


Cooking for Young Ones

These guidelines benefit not just children, but the entire family!

  • Serve vegetables and fruits — fresh, frozen, or canned — at every meal; be careful with added sauces and sugar.
  • Use only lean cuts of meat and reduced-fat meat products; remove the skin from poultry before eating.
  • Eat more legumes (beans) and tofu in place of meat for some entrées.
  • Cook with canola, soybean, corn oil, safflower oil, or other unsaturated oils.
  • Regularly serve fish as an entrée.
  • Eat whole grain breads and cereals — look for “whole grain” as the first ingredient on the food label of these products.
  • When buying breads, breakfast cereals, or prepared foods such as soups, choose high-fiber, low-salt, and low-sugar alternatives.
  • Serve water, low-fat or fat-free nonflavored milk, and no-sugar-added fruit juices.


Get Them Moving

Healthy eating is only part of the story. Physical activity — at least 30 to 60 minutes a day — is just as important. Plan times for the whole family to get moving together, whether it’s taking walks, riding bikes, swimming, or just playing hide-and-seek outside. Instead of allowing children to sit for hours watching TV or playing video games, encourage them to try outdoor activities they might enjoy, from playing hopscotch to walking the dog to jumping rope.

Read more: Healthy Diet for Children – Keep Children Eating Healthy – Good Housekeeping

The Mighty Leaf Vegetable

The Mighty Leaf Vegetable

Leaf vegetables, also called potherbs, greens, or leafy greens, are plant leaves eaten as a vegetable, sometimes accompanied by tender petioles and shoots.

Although they come from a very wide variety of plants, most share a great deal with other leaf vegetables in nutrition and cooking methods. Nearly one thousand species of plants with edible leaves are known.

Leaf vegetables most often come from short-lived herbaceous plants such as lettuce and spinach.

Woody plants whose leaves can be eaten as leaf vegetables include Adansonia, Aralia, Moringa, Morus, and Toona species. The leaves of many fodder crops are also edible by humans, but usually only eaten under famine conditions.

Examples include alfalfa, clover, and most grasses, including wheat and barley.

These plants are often much more prolific than more traditional leaf vegetables, but exploitation of their rich nutrition is difficult, primarily because of their high fiber content.

This obstacle can be overcome by further processing such as drying and grinding into powder or pulping and pressing for juice.

Leaf vegetables are typically low in calories, low in fat, high in protein per calorie, high in dietary fiber, high in iron and calcium, and very high in phytochemicals such as vitamin C, vitamin A, lutein and folic acid.

Simple Sports Nutrition Tips

Simple Sports Nutrition Tips

Sports nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated. If you aren’t interested in the details or the science of sports nutrition, but still want to get the most from your diet and fitness program, the following recommendations are for you.

Eat a Balanced Diet Each Day

To exercise consistently, you need to provide a good supply of high-quality energy to your working muscles. The easiest way to to this is to eat a balanced breakfast and continue eating a variety of high-quality foods throughout the day.

Carbohydrate in the form of glycogen is the fuel that makes exercise possible, so adequate carbs must be eaten each day if you hope to train consistently. Protein and fat also have a place in your diet and should be consumed daily. In general, each meal should contain a varied combination of carbohydrates, protein and fat.

If you aren’t sure if you are getting the proper nutrients in your daily diet, check out Calorie Count to create a profile and analyze your diet.

Several Hours Before You Workout

The pre-exercise meal will vary depending upon your exercise style. If you workout in the evening, lunch should include easily digestible foods high in complex carbohydrates, such as pasta, breads, fruits and vegetables. A big salad with a small amount of protein works well. Select a small amount of lean meat such as chicken or fish, and experiment with what works best for you.

If you exercise first thing in the morning, you’ll probably feel best if you eat a light breakfast of fruit, toast, or an egg. Again, everyone is different, so experiment with what works best for you. Regardless of what you choice to eat, you should drink plenty of water before and during a morning workout.

Thirty Minutes Before You Workout

Depending upon the type and duration of workout you do, you’ll want to eat a small snack and drink some water a half hour before you get going. Trail mix is great for aerobic workouts over 60 or 90 minutes, but if you are going hard for thirty minutes, you probably only need a half of an energy or granola bar, a large banana, a few graham crackers, fig bars, or pretzels. For a shorter workout, you may not want to eat anything at all, but can get a few calories from drinking about 8-10 ounces of a sport drink.

You should also start drinking water before your workout so you’ve consumed about 6-12 ounces in the the hour before your workout.

During Your Workout

Proper hydration during exercise will vary based on your exercise intensity and duration and even the weather. In order to simplify the recommendations, a good starting point is to drink 8-10 fl oz of water every 15 min during exercise.

If exercising longer than 90 minutes, drink 8-10 fl oz of a sports drink every 15 – 30 minutes. Exercising for more than about 90 minutes usually requires that you replenish lost carbohydrates.

If your workout is less than an hour, odds are you don’t need to consume anything extra.

Hydration After Your Workout

After your workout, the general rule is simple: drink enough water to replace water lost through sweat. The best way to determine this is by weighing yourself before and after exercise. For every pound of body weight lost, you’ll need to consume about 3 cups of fluid.

Another way to determine how much liquid to consume is to check the color of your urine. Dark, concentrated urine may indicate dehydration. Your urine should be relatively clear in color.

Eating After Your Workout

Your post-exercise meal needs to be consumed within two hours after a long or intense workout in order to replenish glycogen stores. Research shows that getting 100-200 grams of carbohydrate within two hours of endurance exercise helps you replenish adequate glycogen stores, but adding a combination of carbohydrate and protein seems to be an even better option. Studies have found that a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein seems to the ideal combination of nutrition. And although solid foods can work just as well as a sports drink, a drink may be easier to digest make it easier to get the right ratio and meet the 2-hour window.

New Guidelines Put Focus on Vitamin D Deficiency

New Guidelines Put Focus on Vitamin D Deficiency

WEDNESDAY, June 8 (HealthDay News) —

Endocrine Society recommends routine screening for people considered at high risk. It has long been known that getting enough vitamin D is key to bone health, yet vitamin D deficiency remains a common health issue, experts say.

According to the Endocrine Society, very few foods naturally contain or are fortified with vitamin D, and sunlight is one of the best sources of the nutrient.

People who don’t get enough vitamin D are at risk for calcium, phosphorus and bone metabolism abnormalities, which can lead to a number of diseases, including osteoporosis. Children with a vitamin D deficiency can also develop skeletal deformities known as rickets, the experts pointed out in a society news release.

“Vitamin D deficiency is very common in all age groups, and it is important that physicians and health-care providers have the best evidence-based recommendations for evaluating, treating and preventing vitamin D deficiency in patients at highest risk,” Dr. Michael F. Holick, of Boston University School of Medicine, said in the news release. Holick chairs a task force that authored the society’s new clinical practice guidelines published in the July issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The Endocrine Society issued the guidelines in response to the possible health risks associated with vitamin D deficiency. Among the group’s recommendations:

  • People who are considered at high risk should be routinely screened for vitamin D deficiency.
  • People who are diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency should be treated with either a vitamin D2 or vitamin D3 supplement.

To maximize bone health and muscle function, people considered at high risk for a deficiency should adhere to the following guidelines for dietary intake of vitamin D:

  • Infants up to 12 months of age require at least 400 international units (IU) a day.
  • Children older than 1 year and adults from 19 to 70 years old, including pregnant and lactating women, should consume at least 600 IU daily.
  • People older than 70 years should get a minimum of 800 IU a day.

The task force stressed that in order to raise the blood level of vitamin D consistently above 30 nanograms per milliliter, a significantly higher intake of vitamin D may be required. The group also noted that vitamin D screening is not necessary for people who are not considered at risk for the deficiency. And, it said there is no evidence supporting use of vitamin D supplements for benefits other than bone health.