Tag Archives: Healthy Lifestyle

Living A Junk Food-Free Life

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You walk into a movie theater. There it is, in shining lights, bright as day, the concession stand. The lure of the brightly popping corn, the larger than life boxes of Milk Duds, the smell of hot buttery kernels, the super-sized fountain drinks. You walk past. Halfway through the movie, you find yourself unable to concentrate; the smell, the sounds of happily munching neighbors reaching into the giant buckets for another buttery handful. You burst out of the theater, money in hand, “Give me the extra large.” You demand. If this is you, you may be having a hard time kicking junk food. After all, it’s so convenient, so cheap, so addictive, so delicious, so childlike, so seductive, so fattening. You need help. Here are some tips for living a junk free life.

Kicking Junk Food
We all know it’s hard to kick junk food. It’s set up that way. Junk food is big business and manufacturers are prepared to take full advantage. Manufacturers aim for the “bliss point’ in the product. This may think of as sort of a junk food orgasm, with the later experiencing the height of pleasure, the ultimate balance between the sweet, the salty, and the fatty. At this point, your brain reacts in a similar way to the way it would with cocaine addiction. This is the point at which temptation becomes hardest to resist, but there are ways:

Plan Ahead
A good way of handling cravings is to make sure you always have a healthy alternative prepared. This will reduce what researchers refer to as your “food cue activity”, or the time in which you are most susceptible to the influence of food advertisements, smells, and conversations pertaining to food. Aim to plan your weekly meals at the beginning of your work week. Go grocery shopping, stocking up on easy to prepare foods, like brown rice, beans, roasted and stir-fried vegetables, and cold salads. Store them in containers or foil to make them easy to grab before work in the morning. Fruit also travels well and can be an easy afternoon snack option.

vine vera banner presents Living A Junk Food-Free Life

Shop Around
….and by this, we mean around the edge of the store. The dairy, fish, produce, heart healthy and meat sections are typically located on the perimeter of a grocery store, while processed foods are kept in the aisle. By purchasing from these sections, you will begin to get used to eating whole grains, proteins, fruit, and vegetables, gradually weaning yourself off junk foods.

Healthy Fats
Not all fat makes you fat. Your body needs a little fat, as long as its heart healthy. While you should avoid the trans fats and saturated fats lurking in pro chart -healthy fats, like the kinds found in nuts and avocados will reduce cravings and help you to feel full.

Change Your Thinking
Ah, the power of negative thinking! A 2013 study demonstrated that when participants were trained to look at junk food in a negative way, their desire for it decreased. Junk food junkies were asked to view the objects of their cravings as if they: We’re already full; Just saw someone sneeze on the item Could save the food for later; We’re told that the food would have a negative impact on them (weight gain, stomachache)

Eat the Rainbow
Try bringing some new foods in your diet to keep it interesting. Eating diverse foods across the color spectrum keep you from boredom and reverting back to junk food. Plus, eating the rainbow can improve health and prevent disease. Try some purple grapes, red beets, orange mangoes, green spinach, and blueberries for some healthy psychedelia.

Let us know how your battle with junk food is going. What are your best tips for resisting the “bliss point?”

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Lifestyle Choices Of Timeless Beauties

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There she is, you think, her skin is flawless, her hair: perfect, her figure: toned, heck, you don’t even see a chip in her nail polish. And then it comes, the inevitable question: What is she doing that I’m not? How does she achieve that effortless cool while you struggle to keep your stockings from running? Well, you asked, we answered. Here are some of the lifestyle choices of timeless beauties that you may want to start making yourself.

Not Using Heat On Your Hair
If you want your hair to bounce with youth, the flat iron and hair dryer are not going to do the trick. Francesa Fusco MD, says she’s, “seeing lots of damage and breakage from women using multiple heat styling tools.” Instead, she advises declaring heat free days two days a week, opting for a wet bum, air drying, or dry shampooing.

Using Hand Lotion
Because the skin on the backs of your hands is so thin, it tends to age faster than the rest of your body. Dr Fusco says using lotion with sunscreen, “will greatly reduce sun damage, which appears as brown spots and wrinkles.”

woman applying sunscreen on legs

Applying SPF Daily
You must have guessed the timeless beauty is slathering on the SPF. According to a 2013 study, people who applied SPF formulas three to four days a week were less likely to show signs of aging skin than those who applied it less often. Rule of thumb according to the American Academy of Dermatology is a shot glass worth of SPF-30 every day.

Avoiding Foods That Stain Teeth
Oh, how we love to eat and drink them, but when it comes to what they do to our teeth, it’s another story. Dentist Emanuel Layliev says dark, hot, sticky condiments like soy or barbecue sauce are the worst when it comes to staining teeth, followed not far behind by coffee, red wine, and soda. He advises swapping dark sauces with mango salsa or fresh herbs, and foregoing dark soda for seltzer.

Painting Your Nails
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, old looking hands can betray your age more easily than your face can. Distract from less than youthful hands by wearing jewelry and nail polish. “Jewel tones are the best bets for anti-aging,” advises manicurist Lynette Renee, who recommends rich reds and purples to clients seeking more youthful looking hands.

woman exercising

Exercising Regularly
It should be no surprise to hear that timeless beauties take in exercise on a regular basis. “Exercise Improves healthy circulation, which allows the skin to look its best,” Dr. Fusco explains. A firmer body always makes for a more youthful appearance, and a study from McMaster University in Canada showed that exercise may even reverse signs of aging in the skin. Make an effort to clock in 30 minutes of physical activity daily.

Reducing Sodium
Salty foods can cause you to retain water, and that can result in puffiness, especially beneath the eyes. Try to pinpoint the hidden sodium sources in your food; common culprits include cereal, condiments, sauces, deli meats, and baked goods.

Limiting Smartphone Use
You may have heard that bending your neck when scrolling through your smartphone can cause neck wrinkles. Hanging photos at eye level in the places you text the most may be a good reminder to keep your head up when you’re on your phone.

Let us know how you achieve timeless beauty. We want to know your secrets.

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The Healthiest Summer Foods

So you’ve made it past winter. Past the comfort foods, the mac and cheese, the long cold nights on the couch the endless turkey leftovers, the pumpkin spice lattes, the pumpkin spice potato chips, the pumpkin spice nut muffins and the pumpkin flavored ice cream, and now it’s summer. Time to turn over a new leaf, and hopefully one with a vegetable attached. Summer is time to get healthy, and that means eating healthy. Here are some great healthy summer foods to set you off on the path to health.

woman eating watermelon

Watermelon
It wouldn’t be summer without the taste of watermelon, and the added perks: the fruit can also help keep your memory sharp, your body cool, and your mood balanced. The great thing about watermelon is that it’s 92 percent water, which not only keeps your body hydrated but can also help to keep your weight down. Research shows that the water in the melon keeps you full without adding calories. Another watermelon plus: the lycopene will protect your skin from the sun.

Corn on the cob

Corn
Ah, sweet corn, a must for your summer barbecue, and get this, it actually may be nature’s sunglasses. The antioxidants in corn, lutein and zezxanthin form a macular pigment that actually helps to filter out the sun’s more damaging rays while helping to lower the risk of age related macular degeneration.

woman drinking iced coffee

Iced Coffee
What better way to start your summer morning than with an ice cold glass of coffee? Better yet, in doing so, you may be reducing your risk of skin cancer. According to a study of more than 9,300 women published in European Journal of Cancer Prevention, those who drank a daily cup of caffeinated coffee lowered their risk of non-melanoma cancer development by about 10%, and the more they drank, the lower the risk.

Cherries

Tart Cherries
It’s cherry eating season and if you’re looking to slim down, you may want to do a whole lot of it this summer. Scientists at the University of Michigan Health System found that rats who supplemented a high-fat diet with tart cherry powder gained less weight and body fat than those who got the same amount of calories from carbohydrates. Apparently, the anthocyanins in tart cherries activate a molecule that boosts fat burning in the body and decreases fat storage. Another tart cherry bonus: drinking tart cherry juice can help you sleep better and relieve pain after a taxing workout.

woman harvesting tomatoes

Tomatoes
Not only do tomatoes make a lovely addition to a summer salad or sandwich, they can also help to keep you from sunburn. Apparently, the lycopene, which is the carotenoid responsible for giving tomatoes their red color, can also protect skin from sunburn. In fact, according to one study, participants exposed to UV light had almost 50% less reddening after eating 2 1/2 tablespoons of tomato paste for 10 to 12 weeks.

What are you eating this summer? Let us know how you’re staying full and healthy this season. We want to know!

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21 Days To A Fab Summer Bod

Vine Vera 21 Days To A Fab Summer Bod

Losing weight too rapidly can be ineffective as well as dangerous. Electrolyte imbalances can result from a lack of nutrients and it is likely that most of the weight loss will be in water and lean muscle rather than fat. One pound is equivalent to 3,500 calories, which means that you need to lower your caloric intake by 500 to 1,000 calories per day in order to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week. This can be done by swapping out high calorie foods for lower calorie ones that still satisfy your appetite.

Eating

  • Load Up On Breakfast
    When you skip the first meal of the day, your hunger will build up and you’re more likely to over-eat later.
  • Eat Eggs
    Eggs are full of protein, which is key to feeling full. Reports from “Good Housekeeping” show that in a study of 30 overweight women, those who consumed two scrambled eggs with two slices of toast of breakfast, ate less food for as much as a day and a half later, than those who ate a bagel breakfast with a similar calorie count.
  • High Fibre
    To keep the calories down and the stomach full, eat high fibre foods, which are likely to fill you up longer. Aim to incorporate beans and salads into your meals, and choose pears for snacks.

Vine Vera 21 Days To A Fab Summer Bod 1

Drinking

  • Drink Water
    Water is a calorie-free way of flushing waste and fat from your body to help you lose weight.
    Ditch Sugary Drinks. Fruit drinks, juices, and sodas all contain a high calorie content. The average soda has 200 calories, which means giving up a soda a day translates into a 21 day total of 4,200 calories that you didn’t put in your body.
  • Skip the Treats
    Beware of drinks with bubble shaped lids. Those frothy blended coffee drinks are basically glorified milkshakes with an untold amount of calories. Try to avoid alcoholic beverages, which can also be well disguised diet killers.

Switch Out

  • Low Fat
    Try replacing some of your regular food options with healthier ones that are lower in fat and calories. For example, try to select skinless chicken breast when choosing poultry, as this is the leanest part of the chicken.
  • Lean Meats
    When choosing meats, look for the words “select” or “choice” on the label, which tend to be a less fattening option than “prime cuts.” In addition, tenderloin, sirloin, chuck and round are all examples of the leaner cuts of meat and are a better option for dieting than others.
  • Bake Your Food
    Baking food rather than frying it eliminates the fatty oils that add calories.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
    Use calorie free apple cider vinegar as an alternative to salad dressing.Exercise
  • Boost Your Routine
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend 150 minutes of exercise a week, which means 30 minutes a day, five days a week. If you’re pressed for time, you can split the routine into 3 ten-minute intervals.
  • Increase Your Intensity
    Increasing the intensity level of exercise will help to drop weight faster.

Woman measuring her waist

How are you preparing for beach weather? Let us know how your dropping weight and feeling great!

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Give These Summer Skincare Tips A Try

The day of reckoning has come. The days are getting longer and the shorts are getting shorter. It’s time to unveil all those parts of the body that you’ve been referring to as the “nether regions” this past winter, and that means your skin has to be up to the task. How are you going to get your pasty legs “Daisy Duke” ready in time to hit the beach? No problem! Just dust off that razor, toss out the old sunscreen, and get ready to glow crazy.

Exfoliate
Your body is a skin cell shedding machine. You need to get rid of all those dead cells before they end up collecting on your skin, making it look dull and dry. Lotions is not enough. You need to grab a good body scrub and high tail it to the shower, now! Rub the exfoliator over your body in circular movements and rinse. Do this 2-3 times a week to keep skin soft and smooth.

Shave the Right Way
If you haven’t been exactly diligent about your shaving practices last winter, its time to pay the piper. Find a good razor that won’t cause razor burn and invest in a good women’s shaving lotion with moisturizers. If you find yourself without lotion, hair conditioners will do in a pinch.

Use A Summer Scented Lotion
You don’t want to just look like summer, you want to smell like it too. Get the full effect with a light fast absorbing summery gel or spray. Coconut and mango scents absolutely bespeak of summer. Make sure to apply right after drying off from the shower to seal in moisture.

Give These Summer Skincare Tips A Try

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Safe Summer Glow
It may seem hard to believe that less than 40 years ago, people spent their summers basking in the sun hoping to catch some color. Nowadays, we have to seek our glow from containers. Sunless tanners are a great option for giving your skin a glow this summer. You can also alternate your usual facial moisturizer with a tinted one to build gradual color, giving the effect of an effortlessly maintained tan all summer long.

Feet
Time to switch out those winter boots for your slinky sandals? An at home pedicure may be on the agenda. Use a foot scrub and file to scrub off dry, dead skin a few times a week. Products with ADA acids will add some exfoliating action to your pedi, making your feet sandal ready.

Nail Polish
While you’re working on those feet, you may want to polish those toenails. You can go for something bolder on the toes than the fingernails, and its bound to stay on for a lot longer because we don’t clean our houses with our feet. Just apply a base coat, two coats of color, and a clear top coat for protection. Go barefoot for a few hours to let polish set.

New Sunscreen
The importance of a good sunscreen cannot be overstated in the summer months. Using last year’s unused sunscreen is not going to cut it. Be safe and buy a new bottle and use it. You should apply a shot glass sized amount of sunscreen to your body and a full teaspoon for just the face and neck area. Reapply every 1 to 2 hours. Be sure to look for something with broad spectrum protection and an SPF of at least 30.

How are you getting your glow on this summer? Let us know your favorite summer glow to-s.

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Nutrients That You Should Get From Food

Healthy food

Nobody does it quite like Mother Nature, and Mother Nature does not make pills. Although no one can deny the vast contributions of science, try as man may, he has yet to manufacture a product, or pill, capable of healing and promoting growth in the same way Mother Nature can. That is why when it comes to seeking nutrition, there are some things science just can’t give us; and supplements don’t grow on trees. Here are some of the nutrients you should be getting directly from food sources.

Vitamin C
Citrus fruits are the best source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps your body absorb iron. One large orange contains 97.9 mg of the powerful stuff. That exceeds the recommended 90 mg a day for adult males and 75 for adult females. Other high C options include kiwi, tomatoes, and green and red pepper.

Kale

Calcium
Although not the most obvious source, Kale is a great way to get calcium to support nerve function and muscle movement. One serving of the leafy green contains 150 mg of calcium, which is a little over 10% of the recommended daily allowance. But rest assured, you can still get a good amount of calcium from dairy products, such as yogurt.

B Vitamins
Vitamin B 12 is one form of vitamin B usually taken in supplement form. It is important for the formation of red blood cells and neurological function. Eggs are a good source, and, while some shun them for their high levels of cholesterol, nutritional experts concur that this need not be the case. You can get 0.6 micrograms of B12 (about 10% of the RDA) from one large hard-boiled egg, and 3 oz of trout or salmon will just about do you for the daily intake.

B6, crucial for brain development and metabolism during pregnancy can be gotten for tuna, chickpeas, and nuts.

Vitamin A
We need vitamin A to maintain good vision and immune system function. It also plays a part in reproduction and supports the lungs, heart, and kidney.

Sweet potato

Sweet potatoes are particularly high in Vitamin A concentration. Just one baked sweet potato with the skin on has a whopping 28,058 IU of vitamin A per serving. That’s 561% of the recommended value. The National Institute of Health reports that 28-37% of the population take vitamin A supplements.

Vitamin E
Vitamin E is an antioxidant contain in the body which helps the immune system fight off virus and bacteria. Almonds, hazelnuts, and peanuts are all rich in vitamin A, with one ounce of dry roasted almonds containing 34% of the daily recommended value.

Magnesium
Consider trading your magnesium supplements for a handful of cashews. These nuts are rich in the nutrient which is important for maintaining nerve function and healthy blood sugar and blood pressure levels.

Cashews

One ounce of the cashews will provide you with a tasty way to get 74 mg of magnesium, 19% go the recommended daily amount.

Iron
Iron is a very popular supplement, especially for women who are at risk for not having enough. Men 19-50 should aim to get 8mg of iron each day, while women of the same age should get 18mg. You can get 3 mg of iron, around 17% of the daily recommended value in half a cup of drained, boiled spinach.

Vitamin D
Although most of our vitamin D needs to come from sun exposure, it is available in fatty fish like salmon and tuna. In fact, you can get 112% of the recommended daily amount from just three ounces of salmon, deliciously.

What about you? What supplements are you trading for foods? Let us know!

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What You Can Do About High Blood Pressure

Woman monitoring her own blood pressure

You go for a routine check up. The diagnosis: High blood pressure, a.k.a. The Silent Killer. It is asymptomatic. It sneaks up on a third of Americans without them even knowing it. High blood pressure does not make your head ache, it does not make you bleed, it does not make you break out in a rash, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there and it certainly doesn’t mean it’s not deadly. It works against your heart and arteries and can cause kidney disease, blindness, brain hemorrhage, and, eventually death. Of the 29% of Americans with high blood pressure, only 54% have it under control. However, if you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you can keep yourself in that percentage. Here are some tips on doing just that.

Lose weight
Blood pressure can increase with weight, and, if you suffer from sleep apnea, as a result of excess weight, your blood pressure can increase even more. Losing just 10 lbs is enough to bring about a significant reduction in blood pressure.

While you are slimming down, you may want to pay special attention to your waistline. Men with a waist measurement greater than 40″ are at risk for high blood pressure, as are women with waist measurements exceeding 35 inches.

Exercise
If you have high blood pressure, you can reduce your blood pressure by 4-9 mm of mercury by performing at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days. But, it’s important to keep it up. A lapse in consistency can cause blood pressure to go back up.

Woman jogging

The Dash Diet
The Dash diet, also known as the Dietary Approaches to stop Hypertension is the suggested diet for lowering hypertension. It consists of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and is low in cholesterol and saturated fat and high in potassium.

Limit Alcohol Intake
Although small amounts of alcohol can lower your blood pressure, too much alcohol can reverse the effects. Women and men over 65 should not drink more than one drink a day, while men under 65 should not exceed two drinks. Twelve ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor constitute one drink.

Reduce Sodium
Although a reduction in sodium can reduce blood pressure in all people, the amount of recommended intake varies. Sodium should generally be limited to less than 2,300 mg per day; however, an intake of 1,500mg a day is more appropriate for higher-risk groups, including African Americans, people 51 or older, and anyone diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension, and chronic kidney disease.

Man cutting cigarettes in half

Quit Smoking
Each cigarette increases blood pressure for several minutes after you smoke it. Quit smoking to reduce blood pressure and increase life expectancy.

Monitor Blood Pressure and See Your Doctor Often
It is important to keep track of blood pressure levels and home monitoring can help you make sure that your lifestyle changes are effective and alert you to complications. Monitors are widely available and do not require a prescription.

See your doctor every six to twelve months to keep your blood pressure under control.

Do you have high blood pressure? How do you keep it under control? Let us know! Your advice could make a difference!

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Tasty Low Calorie Snacks

If you are a consumer, you may have noticed the recent popularity of prepackaged 100 calorie snacks. They seem like a great idea. One hundred is a perfectly rounded decimal number, and seems relatively inconsequential when compared with the recommended 2000 calorie per day recommended allowance. At that rate, we an eat them every day an still have room for another 1,900 calories! And, on top of that, the snack companies have already done the hard work for us. There’s no measuring required, and no uncertainty about serving size. Plus, the individual packaging helps curb the temptation to eat more than one serving. Genius!

So what’s wrong with this? Well, a few things. Firstly, you’re paying for that individual packaging and really not getting that much food. After all, 100 calories is one hundred calories. Secondly, a good deal of what’s on offer is highly processed and not really that filling. But don’t worry, the party’s not over! Here are a few more satisfying and healthier one hundred calorie options that you may not have considered.

Baked Potato
Microwaves have revolutionized the preparation of the baked potato. For a quick snack, pierce the spud with a fork and nuke on high for five minutes. Eat plain for the full hundred calories or top half with 1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt and one tablespoon of salsa and save the other half for later.

Frozen grapes

Frozen Grapes
Grapes are great frozen or fresh, but the frozen kind do tend to last a bit longer. One cup, or about 28 of these babies, will equal about one hundred calories and are also a great source of antioxidants.

Protein Shake
To make your own, less processed version, add a scoop of vanilla whey protein to a cup of unsweetened almond milk. It makes a delicious post -workout snack that will help muscles recover after exercise.

Dark Chocolate
Three squares of dark chocolate or five chocolate kisses will provide 100 calories of stress-free, endorphin-raising bliss.

Dark chocolate

Healthy Ice Cream Bars
Not only a low-calorie way to nosh, enlightened ice cream bars actually contain five grams of fiber, eight grams of protein, and no artificial sweeteners!

English Muffin with Fruit butter
Go for a whole wheat muffin, as a more nutritious alternative to white. Also, choosing apple or pumpkin butter over jams will save you around 20 calories per serving.

Coconut and Kiwi
Hear this, orange and grapefruit, there’s a new player in town! One large kiwi has all the vitamin C you need to meet the daily recommended allowance. Top with one tablespoon coconut for a refreshing tropical sensation.

Baked apple

Baked Apples
If you want to satisfy a sweet tooth, core a medium sized apple dusted with cinnamon and bake it at 350 for 20 minutes. Leave off the oats and nuts to keep it at the 100-calorie mark.

Kettle Corn
Make a healthy version of this snack by topping 2 cups of freshly popped popcorn with a teaspoon each of stevia and cinnamon. Or, swap the Stevia for one teaspoon of honey mixed with one teaspoon of water. Thin out in a microwave for 20 seconds for best results.

22 Pistachios
Higher in protein and lower in saturated fats than most other nuts, 22 pistachios are a filling and flavorful hundred calorie option. Go for the in – the – shell type, if possible. The extra work will save you 41% of the calories as compared to the unshelled. Well worth the effort.

If you still prefer your pre-packaged options, let us know! Or if you’ve decided to try a few of our suggestions, or have any of your own, we want to hear about your experience!

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You Need A Hobby

Are you spending an inordinate amount of time online looking up your ex-boyfriends’ Facebook Pages? Have you been watching the first three seasons of Game of Thrones consecutively since Christmas Eve? Maybe you have spent the last few days perfecting your “Candy Crush” strategies or following “Pokemon Go.” If you have answered “yes” to any of these questions it may be a sign that you need a hobby. Even if you are not artistically inclined, having a hobby is not necessarily a means to an end, but rather an end in and of itself. There are a lot of benefits to be had by just developing a hobby, and here are just a few.

Woman knitting

Clear Your Thoughts
Betsan Corkhill, knitting therapist has found that the rhythmic motion of knitting can induce a meditative state. “If you chose a difficult product,” she says, “you’re concentrating so deeply that your mind doesn’t have time to think of anything else. That gives the mind a break. If you knit a very easy project, you can go into a state where your mind is free to roam.” Women’s health and success coach, Jennifer Racioppi explains that hobbies “help us enter flow states.” Flow states are states of mind which merge awareness and action and help you to focus on what you are doing. If you have ever found time has passed quickly without you being aware of it, you are familiar with flow state.

Increase Creativity
Intrinsical motivation is the scientific term for the time when the mind is concentrating on something it likes. Such thinking has been linked to creative thinking. Says Racioppi, “If I’m working on a problem, I’m highly creative when I’m in flow. It’s in the process of not thinking about it when I get solutions.”

Woman in bowling club

Social Opportunities
Social opportunities that arise form hobbies can cause less anxiety. If you’re in a club, you can chose to participate or disengage. Corkhill says, “You’re in complete control of the situation and of how much you participate. So that makes it much easier for some people to attend a social group.”

Stress Relief
Hobbies give the mind something positive to focus on when life is stressful. Because the brain has a limited capacity, loading it with pleasurable activities leaves no room for stress. “The more capacity you’re using up being totally absorbed in a task, the less capacity there is left to focus any attention on problems, ” Corkhill explains, “Distraction is one of the most powerful analgesics we know of.”

Unitasking
In these days of technology overload. we need to give it a break by focusing on one task. Racioppi says, ” We want to use the brain in a way that is generative. When you do so, you create and strengthen neural pathways. That has a ton of health benefits in the long term.”

So what’s your hobby? How do you get in touch with your inner creativity. Let us know. It might inspire someone else.

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What Happens When You Go Gluten-Free

Woman eating a healthy salad

Going gluten-free.  Some need to do it, some prefer to do it, and some swear that they wouldn’t do it if gluten disappeared from every food product on this earth.  Late Night comedian Jimmy Fallon quipped, “It’s been discovered that 10% of the population is allergic to gluten and 90% of the population is sick of hearing about it.” Whatever your take on gluten, there is little doubt that its certainly controversial.  So let’s clear some of the dust out about the g-word.

Those who need to avoid gluten
Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye and barley. Celiac is an intestinal disease that can be triggered by eating gluten. Wheat allergy is a negative immune reaction to  wheat proteins that can also be triggered by eating gluten. It affects the skin, respiratory or gastrointestinal tract.  Sufferers of celiac and wheat allergy are diagnosed as gluten sensitive along with anyone who may experience distress when eating gluten.  People with gluten sensitivity need to avoid gluten.

Those who prefer to avoid gluten
You may have heard of the gluten-free diet being tossed around.  Many of the followers are people who have self diagnosed a digestive problem as gluten sensitivity while others claim that cutting gluten out of their diet has made them feel less bloated and depressed and has even helped them lose weight.

What’s wrong with the gluten-free diet?
It seems that studies find that gluten-free diets can be very low in fiber, folate, thiamine, riboflavin, zinc, phosphorous and vitamin B12.  This is because unenriched starches and grains are used in “gluten-free'” products and tend to have lots of calories, but not many vitamins.  The result is that gluten-free diets can actually lead to weight gain.  Experts find that in the case many of those who report weight loss as a result of going gluten-free, the shedding of pounds is due more to cutting out excess calories found in flour based food. Registered dietitian Cynthia Sass says ditching carbs, like pasta and bagels, “automatically cuts excess carbs… ups fiber and nutrients and results in soaring energy.”  On the other hand, if you replace products with gluten in them with gluten-free versions, you will probably get more fat and sugar.

How to check if you need to go gluten-free?

  • Have your family physician perform a checkup.
  • Consult an allergist if you have a wheat allergy and a gastroenterologist for celiac and other gastrointestinal disease.
  • If you are not diagnosed with celiac disease or a wheat allergy, see a dietician to determine whether or not you are getting a balanced diet with nutrients, foods rich in fiber and are staying physically active.

If you need to go gluten-free
If you are diagnosed with gluten sensitivity, you are best advised to see a dietitian.  Sheila Crowe, of Celiac Disease’s Medical Advisory Board says, “The average doctor a) does not have the time and b) the knowledge to counsel them (the gluten sensitive) on the nutrients they’ll need, the addition of fiber and, what grains are naturally gluten-free.”  Make sure that you have substitutions for anything vital that may be lacking from your diet as a result of giving up gluten.

Feel free to let us know if you’ve gone the gluten-free route out of necessity or otherwise and what your take on it is.

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