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What is gluten? A nutritionist explains everything you need to know

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Gluten has become a popular topic, and there is a lot of confusion as to whether going gluten-free is a legitimate pursuit or just an unfounded fad. Let’s clear it up. Here’s what gluten is, why it may need to be eliminated from your diet, and the common pitfalls to avoid when opting for gluten-free.

What is gluten

Gluten is a type of protein found naturally in wheat (including spelled, kamut, farro, and bulgur), barley, rye, and triticale. However, as an additive, gluten acts like a binder that holds food together, so you can find it in products that range from salad dressings to vitamins; it can even be in lip balm.

Credit: Wesual Click / Unsplash

Is Gluten Bad For You?

There are legitimate medical conditions that make people intolerant to gluten. The most common is celiac disease, an autoimmune disease in which eating gluten causes damage to the small intestine (more on this below).

Some people believe that gluten is harmful to everyone and should generally be avoided. So far, there isn’t a lot of research to support this. A 2017 study published in the BMJ followed over 100,000 people without celiac disease for 26 years. The researchers found no link between long-term consumption of gluten through food and the risk of heart disease, a concern that people in and outside of the medical community had.

Another study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology in 2019 looked at over 160,000 women without celiac disease. The scientists concluded that dietary gluten intake in adulthood was not linked to a risk of microscopic colitis, also known as inflammation of the colon lining, which was another potential problem.

However, some people may want to avoid gluten even if they don’t have a condition that causes gluten intolerance. As a nutritionist, I agree that a customer can become gluten-free as long as they consume a variety of nutritious whole-food sources of carbohydrates. In short, you don’t need gluten, but you do need a wide range of nutrients and energy-supporting carbohydrates that are easily obtained while avoiding gluten.

Why do people go on a gluten-free diet?

Gluten is found in many foods, so killing it entirely can be a huge obligation, but there are medical conditions that call for strict gluten avoidance. Again, someone with celiac disease must completely cut gluten from their diet. This is because even consuming small amounts of gluten can trigger serious symptoms such as abdominal pain and gas. However, celiac disease isn’t the only condition that warrants a gluten-free diet. Some doctors recommend that people with other autoimmune diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, psoriasis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis avoid gluten.

There is also gluten sensitivity without celiac disease. In people with this condition, eating gluten causes bothersome side effects due to an inflammatory reaction. Symptoms can include flu-like feelings, gas and other gastrointestinal problems, mental foggy, and tiredness. The remedy is to avoid gluten.

Another condition, dermatitis herpetiformis (DH), is a skin rash that results from eating gluten. While people with celiac disease can also have DH, you can have DH without being diagnosed with celiac disease.

Finally, if you have a wheat allergy, you need to avoid some sources of gluten. Sometimes mistakenly referred to as a gluten allergy, a wheat allergy can lead to a serious reaction to any of the proteins found in wheat, including gluten. Wheat must be avoided if you have a wheat allergy, but you may not need to cut out non-wheat grains that contain gluten. Swelling or itching in the mouth or throat, hives, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal problems and, in severe cases, anaphylaxis are possible symptoms of a wheat allergy.

Even for people without any of these conditions, eliminating gluten can improve health, energy, and weight management – but only if it means replacing highly processed foods that traditionally contain gluten with whole, naturally gluten-free foods. For example, if switching to gluten results in a change, such as replacing a dense bagel of refined white flour with a bowl of oatmeal with fruit and nuts, you may see benefits even if your body isn’t specifically gluten-sensitive.

Are Gluten Free Foods Healthy?

Gluten-free and high-carbohydrate foods, including sweet potatoes and fruits, are nutritious and healthy. (Photo credit: Louis Hansel / Unsplash)

Gluten-free foods can be healthy, but they can also be highly processed and lacking in nutrients. Whole grain gluten-free products like brown rice and quinoa are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, and have research-backed health benefits. Other naturally gluten-free, high-carbohydrate foods such as sweet potatoes and fruit are also nutritious and healthy.

Unfortunately, the gluten-free craze has sparked a boom in highly processed foods made with refined versions of gluten-free grains like white rice. From pizza crusts to cupcakes, you can buy practically anything in a gluten-free version these days. The fact that a product is gluten-free doesn’t automatically make it healthy; it just makes it acceptable to someone who needs or wants to avoid gluten.

In my practice, I’ve seen people gain weight after becoming gluten-free from eating too much processed gluten-free foods like muffins, donuts, crackers, bread, and cookies. If diet is your priority, check out the ingredients list. Unless it’s an occasional treat, a product’s ingredients should read like a recipe you might have made in your own kitchen. And if grains are included (some gluten-free products are made with other starches like potatoes or cassava) they should be whole (like brown or white rice), which means they haven’t been stripped of their fiber and nutrients. In other words, there are packaged gluten-free foods that are healthy, like chickpea noodles, but you need to look beyond “gluten-free” on a package to isolate it.

Beware of the gluten myths

Since going gluten-free became mainstream, I’ve heard a lot of myths about this protein, and I’ve seen some common gluten-free missteps. For example, I’ve met a lot of people who say they’re gluten-free, but in reality they’ve only eliminated wheat-based foods like bread, pasta, and bagels. As mentioned earlier, wheat is just a source of gluten.

Photo credit: Pille R. Priske / Unsplash

Some people also think that gluten is found in all types of grain. In fact, there are several naturally gluten-free grains, including rice, corn, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, sorghum, teff, and oats – that is, as long as they have not been contaminated with other gluten-containing grains during processing. (Note: this is why some oatmeal is specifically labeled gluten-free. It is not a different type of oat, and the gluten has not been removed; they simply have not been exposed to gluten.) Also, some people believe that all high-carb foods contain gluten, which results in them eliminating carbohydrate free foods like potatoes or even fruits. The truth is, most whole foods are naturally gluten-free, with the exception of a handful of grains.

Bottom line

Going gluten-free shouldn’t be dismissed as a trend. Some people have to go without gluten in order to feel good. Others may choose to avoid gluten as it helps them make healthier choices, such as snacking on fruits and nuts instead of pretzels. If you choose to go gluten-free, be sure to avoid some of the pitfalls mentioned. And if you need more personal advice on how to meet your nutritional needs on a gluten-free diet or how to treat a chronic condition, contact a registered nutritionist who can advise you individually.

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is the nutrition editor for Health, a New York Times best-selling author, and a private performance nutritionist who has advised five professional sports teams.

This story first appeared on www.health.com

Main and Feature Image: Courtesy of Getty Images

© 2021. Health Media Ventures, Inc.. All rights reserved. Licensed by Health.com and published with permission from Health Media Ventures, Inc. Duplication in any language, in whole or in part, without prior written permission is prohibited.

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Whole Grains Health

‘ABCs’ of primary and secondary CVD prevention have expanded over the years

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Blumenthal R. Opening session. Presented at: American Society for Preventive Cardiology Congress for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease; 23-25 July 2021 (virtual meeting).

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Blumenthal does not report any relevant financial information.

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The ABCs have been providing a roadmap for primary and secondary CVD prevention since 1999, according to a spokesperson for the American Society for Preventive Cardiology on CVD Prevention virtual congress.

Roger S. Blumenthal

Since then, the ABCs have been expanded and adapted to changing guidelines and newer evidence-based care approaches. Cardiology today editor of the Prevention Department Roger S. Blumenthal, MD, FACC, FAHA, Kenneth Jay Pollin Professor of Cardiology and Director of the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, discussed these changes and more during his talk.

Heart shaped puzzle pieces

Source: Adobe Stock

Blumenthal said the ABC structure originated in the 1999 American Heart Association / American College of Cardiology guidelines for the treatment of stable angina, chaired by Raymond J. Gibbons, MD.

“We have modified the ABC approach to an ABCDE approach over the years,” said Blumenthal. “For this talk we added an ‘F’ for failure or heart failure as seen in the 2019 Primary Prevention Guidelines,” said Blumenthal.

He said that in its current form, a draft of the “ABCDEF” of CVD prevention would read:

A (Assessment and Aspirin) Adults 40 to 75 years of age should be routinely screened for traditional CVD risk factors, and clinicians calculate the 10-year risk for ASCVD using the pooled cohort equations. According to the presentation, low-dose aspirin (75 to 100 mg per day) may be considered in adults who have currently or recently smoked, a family history of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, hypercholesterolemia with statin intolerance, subclinical arteriosclerosis (coronary artery calcium Score>.) Have 100) or in patients with a 10-year ASCVD risk of at least 20%.

B (blood pressure) In adults with elevated blood pressure, including those requiring medical therapy, recommended measures include weight loss (if overweight), a healthy diet, sodium reduction, potassium supplementation, increased physical activity, and limited alcohol consumption.

C (Cholesterol and Cigarette Cessation) statin therapy is the first-line approach to primary prevention in patients with elevated LDL, diabetics or patients with a sufficient risk of ASCVD. In addition, nicotine replacement or other pharmacotherapy are recommended to aid in smoking cessation. All adults and adolescents should avoid secondhand smoke.

D (Diabetes / Glucose Management and Diet / Weight) Clinicians should encourage patients to improve their consumption of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and fish to reduce risk factors; Replacing saturated fat with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats; reduce dietary cholesterol and sodium; and minimize your intake of processed meats, refined carbohydrates, and sweetened beverages.

E (exercise / education) – Sedentary behavior should be avoided and people should participate in 300 minutes of moderate or 150 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week.

F (Heart Failure) The sequential introduction of evidence-based RF therapies, including ACE inhibitors / angiotensin receptor blockers, beta blockers, aldosterone antagonists, angiotensin receptor neprilysin inhibitors, and SGLT2 inhibitors, can reduce both the relative risk of death and the 2-year mortality rate is reduced by patients with HF.

“If you take our guidelines and put them in an ABC approach, we’ll start with pharmacists assessing cardiovascular risk,” said Blumenthal. “We also need to keep in mind that the ultimate decision rests with the patient on how aggressively we are drug management or how long we focus on lifestyle. Of course, the healthcare professional has to present the data in a way that patients can understand. “

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Serena Siddiqui: Shape Your Future Recipe Contest Winner

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AAs part of their mission to educate Oklahomans to make healthy choices, Shape Your Future (shapeyourfutureok.com) partnered with TulsaKids to find a young chef who can create a healthy, delicious recipe using fruits or vegetables. Shape Your Future encourages everyone to fill half their plate with fruits and vegetables at every meal, and 9-year-old Serena Siddiqui’s creation hit the mark. Her salmon tacos recipe is a winning combination of lean protein, whole grains, and colorful vegetables that are delicious, healthy, and visually appealing.

Young people like Serena can point the way to a bright future for Oklahoma. The state ranks 47th nationwide for health and has some of the highest childhood and adult obesity rates in the United States. Shape Your Future aims to change these statistics by educating all Oklahomans about healthy choices. They want families to know that in addition to eating fresh fruits and vegetables and drinking plenty of water, children do 60 minutes of physical activity a day and adults 30 minutes a day. And of course, tobacco-free is always the best choice for a healthy lifestyle.

Serena used her passion for healthy eating to create this year’s winning recipe. Their unique twist on tacos combines omega-3 wrapped salmon with tasty spices and colorful vegetables to make it a dish worthy of family evenings!

TK: How did you come up with your award-winning recipe?

Serena: I thought about healthy options that we eat on a daily basis. I drew pictures of different foods and ingredients that I like: avocados, salmon, sweet potatoes, and lettuce. With the help of my mom, I created a recipe that not only tastes good, but is also healthy and easy to prepare.

TK: What did you learn from this experience?

Serena: I learned that eating healthy can be better than junk food. Almond flour tortillas are healthier than regular tortillas and taste the same!

TK: How did you develop your interest in cooking?

Serena: I watch my mother cook all the time and enjoy helping out in the kitchen. And in my mind I thought that one day I wanted to cook dinner for my family.

TK: What do you like to cook best?

Serena: Homemade pizza with my aunt.

TK: What is your advice to other children who want to cook and eat healthily?

Serena: Don’t eat out a lot. Eat vegetables and fruits at every meal. If you want to try something new, try it at least six or seven times until you have decided whether you like it or not.

TK: What are you and your family doing to eat healthily?

Serena: My mom and I go to the grocery store and she lets my sister and I choose the protein and vegetables we’re going to cook for dinner tonight. Our family doesn’t usually eat dessert – only on special occasions.

TK: What is your favorite place to eat in Tulsa?

Serena: My favorite restaurant in Tulsa is Olive Garden. I love their salad and breadsticks. I also like sushi from Sushi Hana and Sprouts. One of my other favorite restaurants is Amazing Thai.

TK: What hobbies do you have besides cooking?

Serena: I like to draw in my sketchbook. I also love reading and doing science experiments. My favorite experiment is making slime and trying new recipes to make slimes of different consistencies.

TK: What do you want to do in the future?

Serena: When I grow up, I want to be an astronomer because I think space is great and there is no gravity there!

TK: Who inspires you?

Serena: I’ve read biographies about Ellen Ochoa and Harriet Tubman. They inspired me because they were both women who changed the world.

TK: What’s funny about you?

Serena: This year I went to Hawaii for spring break and went surfing with my uncle. I loved it because I like to try new things even when it’s not what I want to do. I ended up enjoying it and can’t wait to do it again!

Serena’s salmon tacos

  • 2 avocados
  • 1 large tomato (chopped)
  • 1 lime
  • ¼ onion (chopped)
  • Chopped coriander
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound of salmon
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • Almond flour or whole grain tortillas
  1. Chop the avocados and place in a bowl. Add the chopped tomatoes, coriander and chopped onions. Stir in cumin, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Squeeze out the lime juice and mix in for more flavor.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place salmon on foil, add olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Cook the salmon for about 20 minutes until it flakes with a fork. You can also wrap the tortillas in foil and heat them in the oven.
  3. Take the salmon out of the oven and cut, chop or break into pieces. Put some of the salmon in a tortilla, pour the avocado salad and enjoy!

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Higher Levels of This 1 Thing in the Blood Is Linked to a Longer Life, According to New Research

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Grilled fish with peperonata

Being optimistic about eating these 9 foods (beans, whole grains, and salmon for victory!) And following these 7 secrets have been shown to help improve your chances of living longer, healthier lives.

And now new research is adding one more detail that certainly can’t hurt in our entire longevity landscape. A study published June 16 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that Higher omega-3 fatty acids in the blood are associated with a 5 year longer life expectancy than their counterparts with low omega-3 levels.

We’ve known for years that omega-3 fats – the heart-healthy kind in salmon, mackerel, sardines, these 8 vegan sources, and more – can reduce the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, and chronic inflammation. And this study builds on the evidence that omega-3s are a boon to our health.

Scientists from the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM) in Barcelona, ​​the Fatty Acid Research Institute in the United States, and several universities in the United States and Canada spent 11 years studying data from 2,240 people over the age of 65 enrolled in the Framingham Junior Cohort. Their goal was to find out how the level of fatty acids in the blood could be related to mortality. Four types of fatty acids, including omega-3 fatty acids, contribute to longer life expectancy.

“Higher levels of these acids in the blood as a result of the regular intake of oily fish in the diet increases life expectancy by almost five years,” says Aleix Sala-Vila, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow in Cardiovascular. of the IMIM Risk and Nutrition Research Group and author of the study. For comparison: “A regular smoker will reduce your life expectancy by 4.7 years, just as you would if you have high levels of omega-3 acids in your blood.”

A mere 1% increase in omega-3 fatty acids in the blood is enough to move the needle, confirms Dr. Sala-Vila in a research report by the Institut Hospital del Mar d’Investigacions Mèdiques in Barcelona. The appropriate intake recommended by the National Institutes of Health: 1.1 grams per day for adult women and 1.6 grams per day for adult men. For reference, 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil is 7.26 grams, 1 ounce of English walnuts is 2.57 grams, 3 ounces of wild Atlantic salmon is 1.57 grams, and 1 tablespoon of canola oil is 1.28 grams.

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Related: Healthy Omega-3 Recipes

While they have yet to test this theory on a larger pool of people outside of the U.S. and with wider economic and racial diversity, Dr. Sala-Vila states that the length and scope of this study mean that “what we found isn’t,” It reinforces the idea that small changes to diet in the right direction can have a much stronger effect than we think, and it’s never too late or too early to make these changes. “

Whole foods are always the best choice over supplements, although the latter can help fill in the gaps if needed. Because oily fish is high in protein and recommends two of the stronger forms of omega-3 (eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, and docosahexaenoic acid, DHA; both are easier for the body to use than alpha-linolenic acid), or ALA, found in plant sources) the American Heart Association to eat two 3½-ounce servings of low-mercury, oily fish at least twice a week.

If you think you’re shy, a quick home test like this Omega Quant Omega-3 Index Blood Test Kit (buy: $ 49.95, Amazon) may confirm or deny it. Just use the kit to submit a blood sample and you will be emailed your current omega-3 blood levels within a week or two.

Next up, doing this daily walking exercise can help you live longer.

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