Integrative Dietitian

Are You Stressed?

12 Apr
by Kristen, posted in Blog   |  4 Comments

Image Credit

STRESS. Seeing that word even makes me feel the effect of it, and I cringe.  Sometimes I get so angry at stress because I feel as if it is controlling me, and I don’t know how to let it go.  What makes me even more frustrated is when I don’t feel like I’m stressed, but internally I am and my body gets hit with the repercussions of it.  Do you ever feel that way? You tell yourself over and over again, “I’m not stressed.  I’m fine.  Everything is good.”  Yet, deep down, you know something is going on because you’re not sleeping well, you’re moody, or your body is holding onto that extra weight even though you’ve tried so hard to be extra healthy.

Well, I’m just going to be honest with you.  I don’t have it all together, and I’m not going to pretend like I do.  Who really does?  I’ve been extremely stressed lately.  There is a lot on my plate at the moment, and I just can’t seem to find time to get it all done.  What I’m learning is that while all the good things in our lives are wonderful, too much of anything can be bad.  You’re probably thinking, “She’s just now learning this?” :)   I feel like this is something that some of us will always battle…the challenge of simplifying our lives when the world around us tells us the complete opposite.  Even though we justify our activities/commitments because they are “good,” it’s imperative for our health and our sanity to practice the magic word, “no.”

Maybe these harmful effects of stress will motivate you to find ways to de-stress:

  • Weakened immune system
  • Weight gain
  • Acne or other dermatological issues
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Cancer
  • Insomnia
  • Back/neck problems
  • Heart disease
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Migraines
  • Fertility problems
  • Diabetes
  • Hair loss
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Chronic inflammation
  • And More!

How do I deal with stress?  As I said earlier, I’m slowly learning how to say, “no.”  I also spend much time in prayer and meditation.  Getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night is another goal of mine.  Finally, bikram yoga has been great in helping me de-stress.  A study performed by Boston researchers concluded that people who practice yoga 3 times a week report better mood and lower anxiety compared with people who walked the same amount of time.  Of course, ANY exercise is beneficial to help you beat stress.

What about YOU? What are some things that you can cut out so that you’ll be less stressed?  And what methods do you use to de-stress?

Naturally Yours,
xoxoxo
Kristen M. Pardue, RD, LDN

 

Eating Organic on a Budget

05 Apr
by Kristen, posted in Blog   |  16 Comments

Of course it would be ideal to be able to eat all foods organic, but I understand that is just not possible for everyone.  The major dilemma I hear from most people is that they cannot afford to buy organic foods.  While eating organic tends to be pricier, it will save you money in the long run due to less medical expenses later on down the road.  Pesticides, found on many of our foods, are said to be linked to cancer, hypothyroidism, ADHD, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple other health problems.

5 TIPS FOR EATING ORGANIC ON A BUDGET:

  1. Buy produce in season & buy local. When you purchase fruits and vegetables when they’re in season, you save a great deal of money.  Not to mention, the produce tastes better and lasts longer. (It isn’t sitting in a truck traveling across the country, before it gets to you.)  I love this time of year because the farmers’ markets begin to flourish with colorful foods for your plate.  Another great option is to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  Some CSA’s and farmers’ markets are certified organic, and some do not use pesticides or fertilizers but are not certified organic. The great thing about them is that you can actually speak to the person who produced the food, and ask them how they grow it.  To find out more about CSA’s and to find one near you, go here.
  2. Grow your own organic garden. I understand this isn’t an option for everyone.  For example, I live in a townhouse and our HOA doesn’t allow us to plant anything in the ground.  For those of us who cannot grow our own, a great idea is to have an indoor herb or small patio garden.
  3. Avoid buying processed food. It’s a lot more expensive than making things from scratch and storing/freezing in bulk.  It’s also much healthier to make your own foods, because you are able to control what goes in them.  Examples of things to make yourself: Breads, granola bars, trail mix, cookies, etc.
  4. Enjoy meatless Mondays. As you know, meat can be pricey, so a great way to save money is to celebrate “Meatless Mondays” with your family.  See what great recipes you can come up with together that do not include meat.  Great substitutes for meat are beans and lentils.  At our house, we love using black beans instead of meat in our spaghetti and tacos.
  5. Cut those coupons. Even the organic companies have coupons.  Check out sites like Faithfulprovisions.com and click on “Coupons,” then scroll down to “Natural & Organic Coupons.”  Another great way to find organic coupons is to visit the companies’ website. Here are a few: Stonyfieldfarms.com, Mambosprouts.com, WholeFoods, etc.  I actually emailed Amy’s, and they were so kind to send me a coupon booklet in the mail for their organic products.  Love me some coupons!

If you can’t buy all your produce organic, here is the list of the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables.  These are the ones that have the highest pesticide count, so consider these a must-buy organic:

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes (Imported)
  • Spinach
  • Kale/Collard Greens
  • Potatoes

Here is a printable version of EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides.

In my opinion, other foods that should be bought organic are meat and dairy.  Animal products have added antibiotics and hormones added to them, which is increasing antibacterial resistance in humans, and causing a host of other issues.  (We’ll talk about this on a different blog post.)  It’s important to know where your food is coming from.  (If you don’t believe me, watch the documentary, “Food, Inc.”)

A short book that I recommend you all read is “Food Rules” by Michael Pollan, who is featured in the above documentary.  This easy to read book has simple rules to live by when trying to eat wisely.

I hope this post helps you as you start eating more organic foods!

Naturally Yours,
xoxoxo
Kristen M. Pardue, RD, LDN


Celiac Disease Vs. Gluten Sensitivity (Part 2)

29 Mar
by Kristen, posted in Blog   |  6 Comments


Yesterday I posted about the difference between celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.  Check out Part 1 of today’s post
here.

Now that we know the differences between the two, the difficult part for many people is figuring out whether they could have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.  The first and most important thing that I could tell you in this entire post is this: Do not go on a gluten free diet until you have your doctor perform the “celiac panel” blood test on you. If you go gluten free before the blood test, then the results would be skewed.  As you remove gluten from your diet, your gut begins to heal.  Antibodies that were being triggered by gluten before the diet wouldn’t be triggered anymore, which could produce a false negative blood test.  Here are the recommended blood tests:

  • Anti-tissue transglutaminase antibody (tTG – IgA and IgG)
  • Anti-endomysial antibody (EMA-IgA)
  • Anti-deaminated gliadin peptide (DGP – IgA and IgG)
  • Total serum IgA
  • Anti-gliadin antibody (AgA – IgG and IgA)-Used for children under 2

If the antibody blood test is positive, then your doctor will most likely recommend a small bowel biopsy (endoscopically).  As of right now, the biopsy is considered the only way to truly diagnose celiac disease, as it assesses how much damage had been done to the villi of the small intestines.  Unfortunately, many people went gluten free before they were actually diagnosed, so the only way for them to get a true diagnosis is to start eating gluten again and then get the blood test/biopsy.  If you’re gluten free, you can imagine how nobody would want to start eating gluten again and put themselves through the awful pain that comes along with it.  For a lot of people, they are okay with not knowing specifically which one they have: celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.  Either way, they know that they have a problem with gluten, and the gluten free diet makes them feel better.

Unfortunately, some people get the blood test/biopsy and still get inconclusive results on whether they have celiac disease or not.  For these people, it may be beneficial to get genetic testing performed.  Two specific genese are said to be necessary for celiac disease to be present: DQ2 & DQ8.  People without celiac disease can have these genes, and it doesn’t mean they will necessarily develop the disease, rather that they have a genetic predisposition to it.  Please remember that genetic testing doesn’t diagnose celiac disease; yet, the absence of the DQ2/DQ8 genes means that you don’t have it. (You could still be gluten sensitive)

Some of you may have a similar story to mine.  I got the blood test, which my doctor said was negative; however, one of my antibodies was slightly positive, which the doctor failed to tell me.  This is another reason I always tell my clients to have their results faxed/mailed to them so that you can analyze them yourself or have your Dietitian analyze them for you.  A lot of doctors will say, “You’re Fine,” but in my opinion, when it comes to blood tests of any type, what is normal for one person is not normal for another.  All of my doctors thought I was crazy when I mentioned going on a gluten free diet to see if it would help.  (You can read my entire journey to healing here.)  So, since my blood test was negative, there was never a biopsy.  I took matters into my own hands after my blood work and did the elimination diet, which completely took away all my pain.  And when I do accidentally consume gluten, my joints swell up, my knees ache extremely bad, I get a headache for days, and sometimes the tingling in my fingers return.  I also get very moody if I’ve somehow gotten gluten.  (My symptoms depend on how much gluten I’ve gotten.)  Remember, everyone’s symptoms are different, and the degree in severity of symptoms vary as well.  For many people, the longer they’ve been gluten free, the more sensitive they become.

I want to end this post with this reminder: Do not go gluten free until you’ve had the “Celiac Panel” blood test done (and possibly a biopsy).  I hope you’ve found some answers to your questions.  My prayer is that everyone living their lives with undiagnosed celiac disease or gluten sensitivity can find the cure: a gluten free diet and a life free from pain.

Naturally Yours,
xoxoxo
Kristen M. Pardue, RD, LDN

 

Source: Celiac Disease Foundation

 

Celiac Disease Vs. Gluten Sensitivity (Part 1)

28 Mar
by Kristen, posted in Blog   |  12 Comments


You’ve probably heard about celiac disease and the gluten free diet.  As people are becoming more aware of this disease, people are asking their doctors for the blood test and biopsy and getting the proper diagnosis.  But are you one of MANY people who tested negative for celiac disease, but all your symptoms went away on a gluten free diet?  Or are you living with painful symptoms, but you can’t seem to figure out what’s wrong, and you need some answers.  I hope this post gives you those answers.  I know how frustrating it is to live in pain when doctors can’t seem to figure out what’s wrong, and you just feel hopeless.  Read my story
here.

Researchers from the Center for Celiac Research have identified key pathogenic differences between celiac disease and gluten sensitivity “at the molecular level and in the response it elicits from the immune system.”  “We found differences in levels of intestinal permeability and expression of genes regulating the immune response in the gut mucosa,” says Alessio Fasano, M.D., who is the director of the Center for Celiac Research.  When people with celiac disease consume gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, barley), their body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissue.  Gluten causes antibodies to harm the villi of the small intestines, which are needed to absorb nutrients from food.  If the disease is not treated with a gluten free diet, then other autoimmune diseases can develop, as well as infertility, neurological conditions, osteoporosis, and even cancer.

According to studies, one of the main distinguishing factors between these two conditions is that people with gluten sensitivity show no signs of damage to the small intestine, unlike those with celiac disease.  (More studies need to be done on this)  Gluten sensitive individuals do show some of the same symptoms as people with celiac disease, which makes it even harder for us to distinguish between the two.  Why does there seem to be more and more people who have celiac disease and gluten sensitivity? Joseph A. Murray, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic, says that the rise isn’t just due to greater awareness.  He states that people at the age of 70 are being diagnosed who ate gluten safely their entire lives.  Dr. Murray thinks that one possible culprit of the rise in gluten intolerance is the agricultural changes to wheat that have boosted its protein content.  Wheat today has far more gluten in it than the wheat of our ancestors.  Our bodies are being overexposed to this protein.

So you may be asking yourself, “Could I have celiac disease? Could I be sensitive to gluten?”  The symptoms vary so greatly and do not have to be gastrointestinal, which is another reason some doctors don’t think to check for celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.  Please know that just because one person has a certain set of symptoms doesn’t mean that you will have the same ones.  In fact, some people show no symptoms for years.
Gastroenterology 2001 found: “…for every symptomatic patient with celiac disease there are eight patients with celiac disease and no gastrointestinal symptoms.”  Here is a list of possible symptoms from the Celiac Disease Foundation:

Classic Symptoms May Include:

  • Abdominal cramping, intestinal gas
  • Distention and bloating of the stomach
  • Chronic diarrhea or constipation (or both)
  • Steatorrhea – fatty stools
  • Anemia – unexplained, due to folic acid, B12 or iron deficiency (or all)
  • Unexplained weight loss with large appetite or weight gain

Other Symptoms:

  • Dental enamel defects
  • Osteopenia, osteoporosis
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Fatigue, weakness and lack of energy
  • Infertility – male/female
  • Depression
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Delayed puberty
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
  • Migraine headaches

Some Long-term Conditions That Can Result From Untreated CD

  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Early onset osteoporosis or osteopenia
  • Vitamin K deficiency associated with risk for hemorrhaging
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • Central and peripheral nervous system disorders – usually due to unsuspected nutrient deficiencies
  • Pancreatic insufficiency
  • Intestinal lymphomas and other GI cancers (malignancies)
  • Gall bladder malfunction
  • Neurological manifestations

Now the difficult part for many people is figuring out whether you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.  Come back tomorrow for more information on this.

Naturally Yours,
xoxoxo
Kristen M. Pardue, RD, LDN

Read complete study here. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/9/23