Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Gluten Allergy

Gluten allergies are relatively common. Some studies indicate that 1 in 150 children and 1 in 110 adults have a gluten sensitivity (or allergy). When people with gastrointestinal complaints were studied, 1 in 40 children and 1 in 30 adults were found to have a gluten sensitivity. Gluten is the sticky protein which appears in foods processed from wheat, barley and rye. Symptoms of gluten-sensitivity (GSE) can range from mild inflammation of the small intestine causing abdominal cramps, bloating, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting to severe GI disease (Celiac disease). Celiac disease causes damage to the surface of your the intestine and an inability to absorb nutrients (malabsorption). Later symptoms include eczema, allergic rhinitis, asthma, depression, dizziness, headache, palpitations, psoriasis and irritable bowel syndrome. The gluten-sensitive designation may not be appropriate in all cases, as wheat allergies are often directed toward other components of wheat or wheat products (such as bread yeast). Gluten sensitivity can develop at any point in life and symptoms may appear years later. Wheat allergy symptoms are similar, however the sensitivity is limited to the seed proteins of the wheat.
There are several ways of diagnosing gluten allergy or sensitivity: a blood test, endoscopy or starting a gluten free diet. Antibody blood tests may be used to determine if someone has a gluten sensitivities. An endoscopy may also be used to obtain images of the small intestine to determine whether damage from gluten has taken place. After eliminating all foods containing gluten from yourdiet, those who are allergic or sensitive to gluten usually find that their symptoms will dissipate in just a few days.

Foods that may contain gluten include:
Baked goods
Bread crumbs
Many cereals

The obvious treatment is a gluten free diet. This diet is difficult to follow due to the severe limitations. The most frequently used grains and starch sources are corn, potatoes, rice and tapioca. Other less commonly used foods include include amaranth, arrowroot, millet, montina, lupin, quinoa, sorghum, taro, teff, chia seed, and yam. Various types of bean, soybean, and nut flours are sometimes used in gluten-free products to add protein and dietary fiber. In spite of its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat; although many commercial buckwheat products are actually mixtures of wheat and buckwheat flours, and thus not acceptable. Gram flour, derived from chickpeas, is also gluten-free. Special care is necessary when checking product ingredient lists since gluten comes in many forms: vegetable proteins and starch, modified food starch (when derived from wheat instead of corn), malt flavoring, including dextrose, unless specifically labeled as corn malt. Be careful and do your homework thoroughly any exposure to gluten trully matters, especially if you are making these choices for a child.
There are numerous websites and a tremendous amount of information available for gluten free living. The most important things are early recognition and following a strict diet.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection; about 70% of sexually active Americans will be infected with HPV at some point in their lifetime. Approximately 20 million Americans are currently infected with HPV and another 6 million people become infected each year. HPV is passed on through direct contact, most often during genital or oral sexual activity. Most HPV infections are temporary and have little long-term significance. 75% of infections are gone in 1 year and 90% in 2 years. However, when the infection persists (10% of cases) there is a high risk of developing precancerous lesions of the cervix in women, which can then progress to cervical cancer. Tobacco smokers are less likely to develop HPV antibodies and therefore may not clear the infection easily. The risk of transmission to a fetus or newborn is generally low. A person may also have HPV for years and not realize they are infected or that they may be passing the virus on to a partner.

Some HPV infections can cause warts (primarily genital) which are noncancerous skin growths. Genital warts are quite contagious, while common flat or plantar warts are much less likely to spread from person to person. Genital warts may appear as small or large, raised or flat, or shaped like cauliflower. The warts may appear within weeks or months after contact with an infected partner. If left untreated, genital warts might resolve, remain unchanged, or increase. Although a wide variety of HPV types can cause genital warts, types 6 and 11 account for about 90% of all cases.

The biggest concern for HPV is cervical cancer. Cervical cancer usually does not have symptoms until it is quite advanced. For this reason, it is important for women to get regular pap smears. The good news is that cervical cancer usually takes years to develop. Screening can find early signs of disease that you can treat before their is a risk of invasive cancer.

Two vaccines are available to prevent infection by some HPV types, Gardasil and Cervarix. Both protect against an initial infection with HPV types 16 and 18, which cause most of the HPV associated cancer cases. Gardasil also protects against HPV types 6 and 11 which cause 90% of genital warts. The vaccines provide little benefit to women who have already been infected with HPV. For this reason the vaccine is recommended primarily for those women who have not yet been exposed to HPV.

HPV Types and infections:
Common warts

2, 7
Plantar warts 1, 2, 4, 63
Flat warts 3, 10
Genital warts 6, 11, 42, 44
Genital cancers

Highest risk: 16, 18, 31, 45
Other high-risk: 33, 35, 39, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59
Probably high-risk: 26, 53, 66, 68, 73, 82
6, 7, 11, 16, 32

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Benefits of Omega-3s (DHA)

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid and key ingredient in fish oil, is essential for the growth and development of the brain and visual acuity of infants. DHA is also necessary for normal brain and eye function in children and adults. There are several types of omega-3s (including EPA and ALA); however DHA, the most potent, has the most important health benefits. The inclusion of DHA in the diet is known to improve learning, whereas deficiencies are associated with deficits in learning. Studies have shown a strong correlation between fish consumption and reduction in death from heart attack, the leading cause of death in the US. Not only does fish oil reduce triglycerides in the blood, it decreases stroke risk by it's anti-inflammatory properties. DHA deficiencies are also associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), cystic fibrosis, depression, aggression and hostility.

Our bodies naturally produce small amounts of DHA, but we must get the amounts we need from our diet or supplements. Most people in the US do not get enough omega-3s in their diet. Vegetarian diets also contain limited amounts of DHA, and vegan diets typically contain no DHA. DHA in the brain is metabolized (used) quickly, so more is needed than is generally realized. Omega-6 fatty acids (linoleic and arachidonic acid) are found in foods such as poultry, eggs, avocados, nuts, whole-grain breads and most vegetable oils. Americans typically consume much higher levels of omega-6s than omega-3s (10 or 20 to 1; should be 3 to 1), and this excess will often negate the health benefits of omega-3s. Also realize you must have at least one gram (1000mg) of DHA and or EPA, and probably 2-3 grams, daily to receive the maximum health benefits.

DHA has been used to treat:
Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Bipolar Disorder
Pre-term labor
Age Related Eye Problems
Memory Disorders
Heart Disease
High lipids
High Blood Pressure
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Menstrual Pain
Raynaud's Syndrome

Perhaps one of the best sources of omega 3s (DHA) is from krill. Krill oil is made from a species of krill (Euphausia superba). Three of the most important nutrients in krill oil are: (1) omega-3 fatty acids similar to those of fish oil, (2) omega-3 fatty acids attached to phospholipids (mainly phosphatidylcholine or marine lecithin) and (3) astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant.