Gluten-Free: A Necessity PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 25 June 2011 16:48

By Toni B. Snyder

The gluten-free diet is a necessity for those diagnosed with gluten intolerance and celiac disease. Why? Because the gluten protein damages the intestinal mucosa causing inflammation, malabsorption, and subsequent nutrient deficiencies. Eliminating gluten aids in intestinal healing, enhances nutrient absorption, and lessens the risk of autoimmune and related disorders.

Let's look at some reasons why the gluten-free diet is lifelong for many of us:

1. Celiac Disease

Need I say more? Celiac disease (CD) is a potentially life-threatening, autoimmune disorder characterized by a lifelong intolerance to gluten, which is a protein found in the grains of wheat, barley, rye and oats. In celiac disease, the immune system treats gluten as an invader and triggers an autoimmune response that causes inflammation and flattening of the villi of the small intestine. This interferes with the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients and damages other body systems as the condition progresses.

I have a dear friend who had undiagnosed celiac disease for 45 years. Over the past five years, she has been severely ill with several life-threatening bowel obstructions, osteoporosis, a hip replacement -- all because of the ill effects of gluten. She is trying to prevent further health issues and autoimmune diseases by adhering to a strict gluten-free diet with essential supplements. Luckily, my friend found a wonderful doctor (he also has celiac) who listens and is helping her on her gluten-free journey.

2. Dermatitis Herpetiformis

Bet you didn't know this... Dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) is celiac disease manifesting on the skin. It is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes extremely itchy skin with blisters and rashes on the limbs, torso, and scalp. A strict gluten-free diet is vital to heal the skin ulcers. Eczema and/or chronic dermatitis can also occur in unmanaged celiac disease. A gluten-free diet and appropriate supplements may provide relief in these cases.

3. Over 300 Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease

Did you realize that? Case in point... My beloved son's symptoms of eating gluten are severe motor tics and concentration issues. Before starting his gluten-free diet, his motor tics became so intense that he looked like he was having seizures! This was embarrassing for my son and heartbreaking for me. His current diet along with magnesium and fish oil has significantly decreased the motor tics. They are very mild now. Bless his heart.

My own health symptoms of gluten intolerance are digestive, glandular, dermatological, skeletal, and nervous system related. Whew! How do I know this? Because after my kiddos were born, a multitude of mild lifetime issues became severe. I tried everything nutritional and alternative without relief. Traditional doctors thought I was a hypochondriac and wanted to prescribe antidepressants. I am stubborn, however, and decided, after much research and denial, to remove gluten from my diet. Voila! That was the answer! After just two weeks on a gluten-free diet, I was energized and pain-free! Life just got better and better in the weeks, months, and years following. I bet you or someone you know has had a similar experience!

In summary, the gluten-free diet is an absolute necessity to manage the many different symptoms of gluten intolerance and celiac disease. Happily, there is increased awareness in the general public and the medical field. However, we still have a long way to go to educate about the risks of gluten intolerance and celiac disease and the benefits of a gluten-free diet.

Toni B. Snyder invites you to visit for more information on gluten-free living. Dr. Snyder is a nutrition consultant specializing in the management of common nutrient deficiencies and related health concerns associated with food sensitivities and allergies. Take her Free Health Assessment and discover the benefits of personal nutrition consulting.

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Diet Plans Are Not Just About Losing Weight PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 21 June 2011 17:23

By Graeme Turner

I coach a number of endurance athletes and most of them look at me quizzically when I suggest doing a diet review for them.

"Why do I need a diet plan?. I don't want to lose weight"

But most diet plans focus on far more factors than just weight loss and indeed a good diet plan can make an enormous difference in terms of realizing benefits from training and achieving your goals.

Supporting your training

A hard training session requires fuel. Imagine setting off for a drive in your car on an empty tank. It wont be long till your car stops before you reach your destination - your goal. The same is true for exercise. Your body needs an amount of fuel to allow you to complete the exercise session and create the necessary stressors on the body in order to improve and develop. Yes - there are some sessions that are best completed in a fasted state but they are after a specific adaptation. The diet plan allows the planned adaptation to be matched to the correct fueling strategy

Supporting recovery

Most people know that they require protein as the building blocks for recovery but very few people consume the correct amount. Supplement companies love to sell you big tubs of protein but this may not be necessary if your diet is balanced. In fact if you are consuming enough lean protein in your diet the additional scoops of protein powder are only really making one thing thinner - your wallet.

I often use the analogy that protein is like a load of brick for building a house. Do the bricks build the house? No - they need cement (good fats) and builders (good carbs) in order to be utilized. Working hard and not taking in enough good fats and carbs can be counter productive and cause a weakening of the muscle (catabolic state). A good diet plan ensures that the athlete is getting enough nutrients - protein, carbs and fats in the correct ratios.

Reducing Inflammation.

Inflammation is a process by which the body's white blood cells and chemicals protect us from infection and foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses however chronic inflammation has a number of serious conditions associated with it including Rheumatoid arthritis and tendinitis. In addition it has been associated with Fever, Chills, Fatigue/loss of energy, Headaches, Loss of appetite and Muscle stiffness

A number of these conditions can be common in athletes anyway so an inflammatory diet can only exacerbate these and delay recovery. In simple terms - better recovery equals better subsequent training which equals faster/better results. Some inflammatory foods are less obvious than others. For example grain fed meats can often introduce inflammation in the body. A simple change to grass fed meats can fix this. This is another factor a good diet plan looks at

Supporting the immune system.

For an athlete, illness can significantly impact their ability to train. The conundrum is that training - especially high volume endurance training, can strain the immune system making it more likely that the type of athlete who most wants to avoid illness is also the more likely to experience it. The inclusion of specific nutrients and minerals can help support a healthy immune system.

Saving you money.

The sports supplement industry is a multi-billion dollar industry with athlete X saying that they won a certain event because they took Product Y. They won the event because they trained hard, prepared well (including diet) and executed on the day. If they are displaying Product Y's logo on their apparel chances are that they are being paid by that company.

There are also numerous articles (which are really just advertorials) stating how Product Y was proven in a study to increase time to fatigue etc by some wonderful factor. But who paid for the study? Was it independently tested?

Yes there are roles for supplements especially when people have busy lifestyles however buying every product that is advertised can be expensive. A simple diet review can tell whether that product is truly of benefit or a waste of money. It is ironic that some people spend $300 a month on supplements but wont pay 1/3 that for a diet analysis..

You will note that none of these areas mention weight loss. A diet plan, especially for an athlete is far more than about achieving 'racing weight'. It is about providing the right environment, along with training and recovery, for the athlete to meet their goals. Indeed a number of athletes training almost perfectly yet fail to achieve their goals through poor diet.

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