Sunday, July 21, 2013

What the heck is Gluten and why do I keep complaining about it? Plus a yummy Pesto recipe.

What a beautiful morning it is sitting on my brand new patio set listening to the birds chirping. In brain storming some new topics to write about, I thought I would write about gluten. Those who know me personally, probably get so sick and tired of me whining about my gluten related GI issues and probably wonder, what the heck is she even talking about?!

No it's not a new hippy dippy diet bandwagon I wanted to jump on. It really and truly is an actual health issue that dictates what I can and can't eat. Here is a little history about me and my weeny stomach issues. When I was 20 years old, I began noticing that whenever I would eat, I would feel like I had a brick in my stomach, nauseous and usually would end up with diarrhea. I eventually went to the Dr. and was told I had IBS, which made sense to me, and was given an anti spasmodic medication. This did help with the cramping, but obviously not the symptoms. So fast forward about 7 or 8 years. I go back to the Dr. with the same continued issues, only now they are way worse. I was advised to have a colonoscopy which,  a year later I ended up doing. It basically was normal and I was again told I had IBS and again given the same kind of medication. It was about 2 months later my mother read an article in a women's health magazine about gluten and brought it to my attention. I read up on it and did my own experiment eliminating all gluten from my diet for a week. Then on a Friday night, Brian and I had a gluten containing dinner and I was right back in pain, bloating, nausea and diarrhea. And such is my life currently.

Gluten is a protein composite that is in wheat, and grass related grains such as barley and rye. It is found in anything that is made with flour. It is also used in soy and many sauces, ketchup, BBQ sauce, etc as a stabilizing agent. It is used in many medications and vitamins as a binding agent. The gluten protein is what makes things stick together and hold. It give elasticity to dough to allow it to bind. About 15% of the current population is thought to have some sort of gluten sensitivity or allergy.

Gluten causes inflammation in the small intestines. The symptoms are abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, muscular, bone and joint pain, headaches, vertigo, depression, anxiety, exhaustion and poor dental health. Obviously if you have a true allergy to it you can have rashes, itching, hives and anaphylaxis. These are the people with celiac disease which goes way beyond just the sensitivity.

A gluten free diet basically consists of eating fresh, clean food. (you have never heard me enforce that, right ;)....). It's fruits, veggies, lean protein, beans, rice and most dairy.  There are many products these days that are gluten free such as bread, pasta, tortillas, cookies, etc. But be careful, just because it says "gluten free" doesn't mean it's healthy. If normally you don't eat cookies in your healthy diet, don't start just because they are gluten free. But it is nice to have options. I have tried many pastas, breads, pizzas and really they are tasty to me. The biggest thing is to avoid anything made with wheat, flour, barley and rye. This is why you can't drink regular beer. Any anything that is breaded will have flour in it. Basically if in doubt, I don't eat it. The biggest concern with a gluten free diet is that you may not get enough fiber and vitamins such as zinc, vitamin B, iron and complex carbs. This is because many wheat products are enriched with these. But I do use a gluten free fiber supplement most of the time and I take a B vitamin and multivitamin.

Now I am not perfect by any means, and again, those who know me sure know when I have slipped because it really is uncomfortable and I end up in the bathroom with regrets. The best way to describe how I feel when I have loaded up on gluten is like I have a hangover. I am very fatigued, have a headache and major stomach issues.

I hope this has helped increase your knowledge on the new and growing issue.

The recipe I want to share is one I found in the paper a few weeks ago. As I grow basil and mint in my garden, this was perfect!

Basil Mint Pesto:
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup toasted walnuts (sounds weird, but it's good!...spread on baking sheet at 350 degrees for 5-7 min)
2 cloves of garlic, cut in half
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 pepper
2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

Place mint, basil, nuts, garlic, salt and pepper in food processor. Pulse to finely chop. While running the processor, add oil in a steady stream. Process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in cheese.

As I have a ton of basil and mint, I plan to make a lot of this and freeze it in ice cube trays. Then transfer to individual freezer bags to have for this winter. It's great with chicken.

Stay Active
"like" me on facebook!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Sunscreen: The How's and Why's

Good Saturday morning. I first want to say that, the reason why I have had a "hiatus" from the blog, is because this spring and summer have been EXTREMELY busy. And since I have a desk job working at a computer all day, I found it hard to come home and get right back on the computer. But, things are slowing down a tad and I enjoy sharing my random health thoughts, so I want to get back to by blogging.

I wanted to talk about sunscreen since we are in the middle of summer and it is getting hot outside. I personally have been a huge sunscreen advocate most of my adult life, because let's face it. I don't want to be leathery and wrinkle up by the time I'm 40 and look like I'm 80. Don't get me wrong, I love being out doors, basking in the warmth of the sun, camping, gardening, walking the dog, etc. But, the many years as a teenager I slathered tanning oil on and baked myself for hours, is starting to show. Lot's of freckles on my body and brown spots on my face. What do we always say, if I knew then what I know now? But yeah right, you can't talk a teenage girl out of cooking her skin!!

I did some research and read that only 1 sunburn resulting in blisters as a child increases your risk of skin cancer, especially melanoma,  as an adult by 50%.  And most of us have probably had way more than 1 bad sunburn. This is why I feel sunscreen is so important. Properly wearing sunscreen will help prevent risk for skin cancer, pre-aging of skin, wrinkles, brown spots and dilated blood vessels just to name a few things.I don't know about you, but I definitely do not want to encourage all that.

So what do you look for when buying sunscreen? Well as of December last year, the FDA has started regulating the labels on sunscreen so you can feel better about what you are buying. It has been shown that an SPF of 15 or higher is adequate. If you plan to be in the sun for many hours, do at least 30. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, SPF 15 blocks out 93% of UV rays, 30 blocks out 97% and 50 blocks out 98%. So even 100 SPF will not block out UV entirely. The takeaway is, you don't really need the SPF higher than 50, BUT you will most likely see me with a bottle of 70 SPF, because...well, I like to be overkill. But totally not necessary.

You want the label to say "broad spectrum" for this will block UVA and UVB rays. UVB are the rays that give us the red sunburn. But the UVA rays silently and invisibly cause damage.They penetrate deep into the skin and that's where we get the wrinkled, leathery skin. UVA causes cell damage to our epidermis which is where skin cancer is mostly found. So you don't need to burn to be at risk.

Use a generous amount and apply 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. Reapply after 2 hours, no matter what SPF you are wearing. Also reapply after getting wet, sweating and/or toweling off. The highest sun exposure hours of the day are between 10-4 so be sure to wear sun screen during those hours. Also when it's cloudy outside, as 40% of UV rays make it to the earth, even when cloudy.

Now what about those people who say sunscreen is poison for our body and we shouldn't wear it? Well from what I can find, it is thought that the chemicals in sunscreen are absorbed into our skin, to our blood stream and liver. It is thought it can cause other diseases, cancers and hormone imbalances (although I could not find which ones). While, I do think this may be true, I read that it is a very slow absorption and I personally fear skin cancer a lot more. (I am a nurse, I have seen some very devastating cases.) But, to meet in the middle find a broad spectrum sun screen with zinc or titanium oxide as those are more natural ingredients and they sit on the surface of your skin and don't absorb deep into your skin therefore it doesn't make it to your blood stream.

Oh and be sure to use a sunscreen on your face and neck. I personally use a daily moisturizer, Cereve (you can get at any drugstore) that contains SPF 30 as well as my makeup has SPF in it. You want to have youthful skin for as long as possible and this will help!

I think that's it. Sorry for the long blog, but I had lots of info to share. Now go have fun in the sun, just protect your precious skin! :)

Stay Active
"Like" me on facebook!