Why can some people eat gluten and others can’t?

Gluten?  Say what? We’re talking about it all the time these days, but what is gluten? Why can some people eat it and other can’t? What’s the buzz about gluten-free diets?  What’s the scoop about Celiac Disease?  What are the pros and cons about going-gluten in their diet, or avoiding-gluten all-together?  All great questions, right?  Today’s blog is the second in a five-part series on all-things-gluten.

Being intolerant of properly digesting gluten it’s a food allergy. It all comes down to your gut. Undigested gluten proteins, found in food products made of wheat, oats, rye, barley, and other related grains, remain in your intestines. They are treated by your body like a foreign invader, irritating your gut and flattening the microvilli along the small intestine wall. Without those microvilli, you have considerably less surface area with which to absorb the nutrients from your food. This leads sufferers to experience symptoms of malabsorption, including chronic fatigue, neurological disorders, nutrient deficiencies, anemia, nausea, skin rashes, depression, and more.

If you remove gluten from the diet, the gut heals and the symptoms disappear. Depending on the level and degree of the intolerance, it may be possible to eventually re-introduce properly prepared grains into ones’ diet. Others are not so lucky. They have a genetic pre-disposition that causes gluten-sensitivity.

Happily there are plenty of replacement foods that are naturally gluten-free:

  • Daily products;
  • Beans and other legumes;
  • Corn, rice, quinoa, soy;
  • Eggs;
  • Fish, lean beef, chicken, seafood;
  • Fruits and vegetables including potatoes;
  • Nuts;
  • Oils and vinegars.

If you’re looking for gluten-free substitutes for baking, consider using these:

  • Buckwheat;
  • Chickpeas;
  • Corn;
  • Millet;
  • Quinoa
  • Rice;
  • Sorghum.
I acknowledge that this image is borrowed from the Leaky Gut: The disease your doctor can’t diagnose. on July 17, 2017. Thank you!
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What is gluten?

Gluten? We’re talking about it all the time these days, but what is gluten? Why can some people eat it and other can’t? What’s the buzz about gluten-free diets?  What’s the scoop about Celiac Disease?  What are the pros and cons about including gluten in a diet, or avoiding gluten all-together?  All great questions, right?  Today’s blog is the first in a five-part series on all-things-gluten.

To begin, what is gluten? 

In a nutshell, it’s a combination of 2 proteins found in wheat: glaiadin and glutenin. Similarly, in rye the protein is secalin, in barley it’s hordein, and in oats it’s avenins. All these proteins are  collectively referred to as “gluten.” When wheat flour is combined with water, the protein strands unwind and link together to form a membrane-like network which is called gluten. All grains have endosperm, a tissue produced in seeds that are ground to make flour.  Endosperm from these grains both nourish plant embryos during germination, and more importantly affects the elasticity of dough which affects the chewiness of baked products.

Gluten helps foods maintain its shape, acting as sort of a ‘glue’ or binding agent that holds food together. Gluten can be found in many types of foods as follows:

Wheat is commonly found in:

  • breads;
  • baked goods;
  • soups;
  • pasta;
  • cereals;
  • sauces;
  • salad dressings.

And, derivatives of wheat such as:

  • wheatberries;
  • durum;
  • emmer;
  • semolina;
  • spelt;
  • farina;
  • farro;
  • graham;
  • einkorn wheat.

Barley is commonly found in:

  • malt (malted barley flour, milk, milkshakes, extract, syrup, flavoring, vinegar);
  • food coloring;
  • soups;
  • beer;
  • Brewer’s Yeast.

Rye is commonly found in:

  • rye bread, such as pumpernickel;
  • rye beer;
  • cereals.

So, gluten is in a lot of different foods. Read the labels, and be mindful of how much gluten is in food.

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Natural protection from the sun: foods to eat

Yes, it’s true. You can eat certain foods that will naturally enhance your skin, allowing you to enjoy the sunshine without fear of damage 365 days a year. We need to get out into the sun in order to get that all-important Vitamin D.  This vitamin is vital to long-term health and happiness. Sunshine only becomes dangerous when you get excessive exposure to UV rays and get sun burned, BUT moderate exposure is a good and healthy thing.  Curious? Here’s a list of foods that promote natural sun protection:


  • Almonds;
  • Apples;
  • Flax Seeds;
  • Kiwis;
  • Lemons;
  • Oranges;
  • Pomegranates;
  • Red Grapes;
  • Strawberries;
  • Sunflower Seeds.
  • Broccoli;
  • Cabbage;
  • Cauliflower;
  • Chard;
  • Carrots;
  • Collard Greens;
  • Dandelion Greens;
  • Kale;
  • Spinach;
  • Sweet Potatoes;
  • Tomatoes;
  • Turnip Greens.


  • Dark Chocolate;
  • Green and Black Teas;
  • Red Snapper;
  • Turmeric.


Avoid going outside between 10am and 3pm. The sun’s rays are strongest during this time period.

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Benefits of sunlight

Here comes the sun! With summer almost officially here, we’re all thinking “I gotta get outside and enjoy the sun!’  While too much exposure to the sun can be harmful, you need to seek out the right balance to get the most out of the sun’s beneficial rays.

In a nutshell, sunlight and darkness trigger the release of hormones in your brain. Exposure to sunlight increases the brain’s release of a hormone called ‘serotonin.’ It’s a boost-enhancer associated with helping us feel calm and focused. At night, darker lighting cues trigger the brain to make another hormone called ‘melatonin.’ It’s responsible for helping us feel sleepy and fall asleep. Without enough sunlight exposure, our serotonin levels can dip low, making us feel depressed. Besides this, sunlight helps us feel good in so many other ways as follows:

Sunlight & Mental Health:

Exposure to sunlight benefits those of us suffering from non-seasonal depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and pregnant women with depression.  Anxiety-related disorders and panic attacks have also been linked with changing seasons and reduced sunlight. The light-induced effects of serotonin are triggered by sunlight that goes through the eye. Sunlight triggers special areas in the retina, which taps the release of serotonin.

Sunlight and Vitamin D:

Getting 5-15 minutes of sunlight on your arms, hands and face 2-3 times a week is enough to reap the Vitamin D benefits of the sun. The sun’s benefits go beyond just fighting stress. While researchers don’t always have an exact measurement for how long you should stay outside to glean these benefits, the following are some of the other reasons to catch some rays.

  • 50,000 international units (IUs) in most Caucasian people;
  • 20,000 to 30,000 IUs in tanned people;
  • 8,000 to 10,000 IUs in dark skinned people.

Thanks to the sun, the vitamin D made in us plays a big role in bone health. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to rickets in children and bone-wasting diseases like osteoporosis and osteomalacia.

Sunlight and Cancer Prevention:

Although excess sunlight can contribute to skin cancers, a moderate amount of sunlight has cancer preventive benefits. Those who live in areas with fewer daylight hours are more likely to have many cancers than those who live where there’s more sun during the day, according to a study from Environmental Health Perspectives. These cancers include:

  • Colon cancer;
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma;
  • Ovarian cancer;
  • Pancreatic cancer.

Sunlight and its Bonus Effects:

Research studies have revealed preliminary links between sunlight as a potential treatment for a number of conditions. These include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis;
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus;
  • Inflammatory bowel disease;
  • Thyroiditis.

Summer is almost here. S0 dance, prance, enjoy playing in the sun!

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Spring Clean Your Body: Lemon Water

It’s time to do some spring cleaning! Besides cleaning out your attic, closets, garage, and yard … don’t forget about cleansing your body too. Today’s blog is the second in a six-part series on cleanses.

When life gives you lemons, make lemon water!

It’s easy to make and is fantastically effective in helping with stomach aches, cramps, bloating, and more. Lemon water improves the secretion of your digestive juices, which enables easier digestion. It flushes out toxins and cleanses the liver. Lemons contains Vitamin C with boosts your immune system, and some consider it an antibiotic. Lemon water freshens your breath, helps keep your skin blemish-free, aids in losing weight, and help alleviate joint pain by reducing inflammation.Make drinking lemon water part of your morning routine. Just squeeze a few lemons in a glass full of warm water and drink it every day.

Have questions? Simply reach out to me at Step Forward to Better Health.

I acknowledge that this image is borrowed from the Benefits of Lemons on May 29, 2017. Thank you!
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