Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wheat is a Threat to Your Health, Even if You’re Not a Celiac

Why Everyone May Want to Avoid Wheat

To say there’s been a lot of talk about wheat and gluten would be an understatement. It continues to be the largest growing facet of the food industry for the past several years. But with 1% of the population suffering from celiac disease and an unknown percentage (personally I think it’s about 30%) suffering from gluten sensitivity, the cynics contend that many people choose gluten-free items because they like being part of a fad or they’re simply enjoying a placebo effect’.

If you are one of us who DO spend a great deal of time, effort and money to avoid gluten, I think you’ll agree that it’s more about how you feel than any fad. But how do we explain the numbers of people who choose a gluten-free lifestyle despite a negative lab test?


Wheat contains "WGA" which has toxic effects on the body. Avoid it!

Dr. David Perlmutter wrote a brilliant article on the topic, citing the research of Sayer Ji, that I think will help to explain a lot.

Gluten is the protein that is mostly present in wheat, about 85% of all the protein present. However, there are, unbelievably, 23,000 different proteins present in modern wheat that can create inflammatory, negative reactions in the human body, according to Dr. Perlmutter. 

I will admit that this is a number far beyond any I have heard, but I do trust the source.

Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA)—Not Your Friend

One such protein is called wheat germ agglutinin, or WGA. WGA is a lectin. Lectins are interesting proteins in that they are produced by organisms to protect themselves from predators.

However, and we have discussed this many times before, WE—meaning humans—may also be a ‘predator’ when it comes to wheat. And as a predator the wheat we eat is attacking us. How?

The WGA protein has a liking for a protein in the human body called N-Acetylglucosamine and binds to it. Don’t worry about the long name. What’s important is where the protein is found: namely tendons, joint surfaces, cartilage, the lining of the entire digestive tract and the lining of the miles and miles of blood vessels within all of us.

When WGA ‘binds’ to this protein it can leave the cells of the particular structure, e.g. the cells lining the digestive tract, vulnerable. Whether it’s damaging the lining of the gut that could potentially result in leaky gut or damaging the lining of blood vessels putting them at risk to inflammation, it is thought that WGA has truly direct toxic effects on the heart, brain, immune and endocrine systems.

WGA Affects Everyone!

The real stunner in this research is that it INCLUDES everyone—not just those suffering from celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. The ability of WGA to damage human tissue requires no genetic susceptibility to gluten, but rather simply that you are human and you are consuming wheat! 

In my book, “The Gluten Effect”, I mention that historically, populations who consume wheat are at higher risk to certain degenerative and inflammatory disease. These diseases were not present prior to the introduction of wheat and are less present in those societies that do not consume it, even today.

Does this explain the vast numbers of people who can’t seem to tolerate wheat, despite negative lab tests? It certainly might. And it harkens us back to a truth that we’ve spoken of often: Man CANNOT digest wheat. 

It is an exceedingly complex molelcule with a high amino acid content of glutamine and proline, making it indigestible to man.

Between its indigestibility and its lectin content that destroys our tissues, perhaps wheat is best left in the fields for the animals that do have the ability to digest it—those with 4 stomachs!

And if wheat’s natural WGA content wasn’t bad enough, there is a move in the genetic modification community to increase the content of WGA in wheat—thanks, but no thanks, to that and GMOs in general.

There’s Already a Lab Test for WGA

I often mention that I use Cyrex Labs for my gluten testing. They have the most comprehensive testing in that they evaluate for many proteins present in glutinous grains. And I’m happy to let you know that WGA is one of those proteins tested. 

Here at HealthNOW in our clinical nutrition department, we have been evaluating our patients for a reaction to this protein for several years.

I hope you found this informative. If your health is not at the level you desire and you need some assistance, consider calling us for a Free Consultation: 408-733-0400. We are a destination clinic and treat patients from across the country and internationally.

To your good health,

Dr.  Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN

Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center

Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”


See Doctor bio here.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Two Things About Gluten: Indigestible and Nutritionally Useless!

In the fall of 2013, we enjoyed some wonderful presentations by many of the world’s leading gluten researchers at “The Gluten eSummit”.

If you missed the summit, I wanted to share with you some of the gems that were shared.
 

Dr. Alessio Fasano
In this post I wanted to share with you what Dr. Alessio Fasano had to say when interviewed. I have always called Dr. Fasano “my hero” and nothing has changed in that regard. If anything, I now have him on a higher pedestal!

Did you notice the title of this blog? While it’s not news that gluten is indigestible, it bears repeating—until more of our population understands that it’s not the nutritional “staple” that many believe.

7 Myths and Facts About Gluten

Let’s look at some common arguments leveled against those who avoid gluten, and counter them with the facts as we know them:

Myth 1: Wheat has been around forever. Of course it must be good for us!


FACT: For 99.9% of our evolution, our ancestors have been gluten-free. We did not evolve to digest gluten. It only arrived 10,000 years ago.

Myth 2: Ancient wheat was fine and didn’t cause any problems. It’s modern wheat that is creating health issues.

FACT: The above statement isn’t completely false, particularly as it refers to problems with modern wheat, but let’s break it down. Gluten as a protein is indigestible due to its odd composition of high amounts of the amino acids proline and glutamine. The composition or sequencing of these amino acids literally is unrecognizable to our enzymes such that we—all humans—(not just those of us who are intolerant to gluten) are unable to digest it properly. The indigestible quality of gluten has always been the case, regardless of how ancient the cultivar.
 

However, what is true is that modern wheat is worse. According to Dr. Fasano, the amount of gluten per dry weight of grain has been increasing over time. It’s doubled in a few centuries. The result is that the indigestible nature of the grain has worsened. Gluten now encompasses 30-40% of the total protein content of wheat, when in the past it was half that.
 

Of course the recent problem of GMO wheat adds yet another health risk, but more on GMO in a future post.

Myth 3: A gluten-free diet can be dangerous because it creates nutritional deficiencies.
 

FACT: According to Dr. Fasano (and this is a direct quote): “Gluten is nutritionally useless. We evolved as a species without gluten.” 

Those who warn that a gluten-free diet is dangerous cite a lack of fiber and vitamins, substances that are readily and more beneficially replaced in a truly healthy diet, regardless of its gluten-free status. The fact that many Americans don’t consume a healthy diet is a different issue. But blaming the lack of gluten as a component in malnutrition, is foolhardy and false.

Myth 4: Genetics dictates what diseases we get. If it’s in your genes and family tree, there’s not much you can do about it.


FACT: According to Dr. Fasano, it’s the environment that influences our genetics to either express a disease or have it remain dormant. And the gut is where genetics and the environment meet. When it comes to the environment, we don’t just mean your diet. In addition to gluten and other food sensitivities, problems also arise from antibiotic overuse, pollutants, chemicals, GMO foods and infectious organisms.

Yet none of these things would create problems if we didn’t have permeability issues in our gut—leaky gut. The health problems that ensue from a leaky gut include:
  • food allergies
  • autoimmune disease
  • inflammation (known to initiate ALL degenerative diseases)
  • stroke
  • cancer
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • and more!
Yes, Dr Fasano agrees with me that autoimmune disease often begins from a leaky gut. He considers that we are in the midst of an epidemic of autoimmune diseases such as asthma, diabetes, M.S., rheumatoid arthritis and celiac disease. This epidemic, he says, has been taking shape over the past 40 to 50 years as our lifestyle has gotten less and less healthy, resulting in compromised gut health.
 

Can genetic change be held responsible for this ‘epidemic’? No, the rapid increase of autoimmune disease sits squarely on the shoulder of our environment. The facts are that genetic change takes centuries, not years. It is our environment that is changing and challenging us with substances with which we cannot maintain a proper equilibrium.

Myth 5: Autoimmune disease is an immune system disorder where the immune system gets "out of control" and begins attacking the body. There is no cure for these disorders; the only possible treatment is drugs to suppress the immune system.
 

FACT: While Preventional Medicine (steps that prevent the manifestation of the disease) far surpasses Interventional Medicine (treatment once the disease has already occurred), Dr. Fasano stated that you can arrest the development of autoimmune disease by addressing gut health, specifically leaky gut. 

Research has shown that the genes for a disease can be present along with the instigator of the disease (e.g. gluten in celiac disease) and yet the disease won’t manifest in the presence of a healthy gut.
 

The immune system only gets out of control in the presence of an unhealthy gut that allows the passage of "bad guys" from within the gut, where they should be annihilated and excreted out into the bloodstream where they can begin their destruction of various parts of the body.
 

It is the loss of the tightly controlled barrier function that initiates these illnesses by allowing unsafe passage of various molecules and substances.

Myth 6: Celiac affects 1% of the population. That’s significant perhaps, but certainly doesn’t explain the vast amounts of people (40% of population) who choose to follow a gluten-free diet and likely are just following a fad. There is no medical reason for the rest of the population, meaning 99% of them, to eat gluten-free.
 

FACT: According to Dr. Fasano, gluten creates a leaky gut in everyone who eats it. Gluten is ingested, it’s not completely digestible as we mentioned earlier, a substance called zonulin is released, and the result is a leaky gut. The consequence of gluten leaking into the bloodstream is inconsequential—for 70 to 80% of the population—those not reacting to gluten. But for 20 to 30% of the population, the consequences are quite severe—disease and earlier death, per research findings.
 

The point is that if 1% of the population has celiac (this percentage does increase with age at a rate of doubling every 15 years, according to Fasano’s research) then up to 29% has gluten sensitivity if you do the math. Personally I think the percentage is easily 30% of the population if not more, but this is the first time I’ve heard Dr. Fasano make a statement that went that high.

Myth 7: Gluten creates gut problems. If your digestion seems fine, you don’t need to worry about a gluten reaction.
 

FACT: Dr. Fasano cited that calling gluten a GI related disorder was “reductive”. The GI tract is where the immune system first encounters gluten, an enemy, but whether the reaction against gluten occurs there—or in the brain, the joints, the skin, the nerves, the thyroid, etc.—depends on the genetic makeup of the individual.
 

Gluten causes a wide variety of symptoms and conditions. Therefore if your doctor cites the myth above that gluten is solely gut-related, or he/she refuses to test you for a gluten reaction because you DON’T have any digestive symptoms, feel free to show him this article.

I hope you found this helpful. There exist many myths about gluten and hopefully this served to shine the light of truth on some of them. Feel free to share this with your doctor, friends and family, especially anyone who gives you a hard time about your gluten-free lifestyle.


To your good health,


Dr.  Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN

Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center

Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”


See Doctor bio here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Does Gluten Cause Acid Reflux, Heartburn and GERD?

Are You Amongst the Many Suffering from GERD?

Do you have acid reflux, heartburn or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)? If so, you are in very good company. Up to 20% of U.S. adults suffer with GERD—and children also join the ranks with up to 8% of adolescent children suffering. If you suffer from celiac disease, those numbers increase—30% of celiacs suffer from GERD and almost 40% of children with celiac disease suffer from esophagitis, an inflammation of the esophagus with heartburn.

Despite these conditions being more frequent in celiac sufferers, the symptoms haven’t been highly associated with gluten as a root cause. And not a great deal of research has occurred in the area.


Gluten IS a Cause

Here in our clinical nutrition department at HealthNOW, we see a high correlation between the two. Patients with these symptoms frequently improve dramatically and often to full resolution when they introduce a gluten-free diet, whether they have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

I recently found a few studies, one a very nice one, that not only did find a strong correlation with these symptoms and gluten, but they discovered an interesting association that I think you’ll find quite fascinating.

Presented in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the paper was entitled “Effect of Gluten-free Diet on Preventing Recurrence of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease-related Symptoms in Adult Celiac Patients With Nonerosive Reflux Disease”. As per most research papers, the title is a mouthful. [Note: gastro means stomach]. Basically the authors set out to discover if gluten had a role in causing GERD, acid reflux and heartburn.


The study involved 105 patients with GERD and celiac disease, plus a control group of 30 non-celiac patients with GERD. Both groups were treated for 8 weeks with a proton pump inhibitor—a classic drug to treat the symptoms of GERD. 

After withdrawal of the drug at the 8 week mark, patients were assessed as to their symptoms at 6, 12, 18, and 24 months following elimination of the drug. It is very important to know that for those with celiac disease, only those patients who were strictly gluten-free were allowed to remain in the study.

Symptoms Improve Permanently on a Gluten-Free Diet

The results were as follows:

At the end of the 8 week mark, GERD symptoms were resolved in 86% of the celiac patients and 67% of the control group. At the 6 month mark, recurrence of symptoms occurred in 20% of the celiac patients (and they were then excluded from future follow-up), but in the longer follow-up interval of 12, 18 and 24 months, there was no recurrence of symptoms found in any of the celiac patients.

The control group, however, revealed 30% recurrence at the 6 month mark, escalating to 60% at the 12 month mark, showing a further increase to 75% at 18 months and ending with a total of 85% at the 24 month mark.

Fascinating! 80% of the celiac group who maintained a gluten-free diet remained symptom free after 2 years, while the non-celiac group who did not follow a gluten-free diet continued to worsen the longer they were off the drug with only 15% being symptom-free.

What did the researchers think about this? Their conclusion was:

1) A gluten-free diet could be helpful in reducing the symptoms of GERD.

2) The elimination of gluten from the diet could act as a protection against GERD since gluten seems to precipitate symptoms in some people.

Based on the small rate of relapse—20% vs. 75% of the celiac patients vs. the control group—it makes good sense to conclude that following a gluten-free diet can help protect against GERD.

The researchers also cited another population-based study by Dr. Nocon and team who noted that consumption of sweets or white bread at least once per day acted as a risk factor for reflux symptoms. Sweets, in the typical U.S. dessert, equates to gluten, and of course so does white bread.


GERD, Acid Reflux or Heartburn? Get Tested for Gluten!

In summary, these research findings support what we see here at the clinic: patients with acid reflux, GERD or heartburn should be evaluated for gluten sensitivity. 


As a personal note, I would like to add that these studies only looked at those suffering from celiac disease and failed to test people with GERD symptoms for gluten sensitivity. In my experience, I think they would find an additional correlation with that population. We do here at the clinic.

Having these symptoms is not just annoying, frustrating and a cause of poor sleep, but they also signal poor digestive health, something that must be addressed when present in order to maintain good health.

I hope this was informative. If you or someone you know suffers from such symptoms, please alert them to this information. 


If your health needs to be improved, consider contacting us for a free health analysis. Call 408-733-0400. We are a destination clinic and treat patients from across the country and internationally. We are here to help!

To your good health,

Dr. Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of the eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What you don’t know may be killing you!”

References:

Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology,  Effect of Gluten-free Diet on Preventing Recurrence of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease-related Symptoms in Adult Celiac Patients With Nonerosive Reflux Disease.  Paolo Usai, Roberto Manca, Rosario Cuomo, Maria Antonia Lai, Luigi Russo, Maria Francesca Boi. 2008;23(9):1368-1372.
Diseases of the Esophagus, September 2011

Does Gluten Cause Acid Reflux, Heartburn and GERD?

on Oct23
by Dr. Vikki Petersen | Print the article |

Are You Amongst the Many Suffering from GERD?

Do you have acid reflux, heartburn or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)? If so, you are in very good company. Up to 20% of U.S. adults suffer with GERD and children also join the ranks with up to 8% of adolescent children suffering. If you suffer from celiac disease, those numbers increase – 30% of celiac suffer from GERD and almost 40% of children with celiac disease suffer from esophagitis, an inflammation of the esophagus with heartburn.
Despite these conditions being more frequent in celiac sufferers, the symptoms haven’t been highly associated with gluten as a root cause. And not a great deal of research has occurred in the area.

Gluten IS a Cause

Here at the clinical nutrition department at HealthNOW, we see a high correlation between the two. Patients with these symptoms frequently improve dramatically and often to full resolution when they introduce a gluten-free diet, whether they have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
I recently found a few studies, one a very nice one that not only did find a strong correlation with these symptoms and gluten, but they discovered an interesting association that I think you’ll find quite fascinating.
Presented in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the paper was entitled “Effect of Gluten-free Diet on Preventing Recurrence of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease-related Symptoms in Adult Celiac Patients With Nonerosive Reflux Disease”. As per most research papers, the title is a mouthful. [Note: gastro means stomach]. Basically the authors set out to discover if gluten had a role in causing GERD, acid reflux and heartburn.
The study involved 105 patients with GERD and celiac disease plus a control group of 30 non-celiac patients with GERD. Both groups were treated for 8 weeks with a proton pump inhibitor – a classic drug to treat the symptoms of GERD. After withdrawal of the drug at the 8 week mark, patients were assessed as to their symptoms at 6, 12, 18, and 24 months following elimination of the drug. It is very important to know that for those with celiac disease, only those patients who were strictly gluten-free were allowed to remain in the study.

Symptoms Improve Permanently on a Gluten-Free Diet

The results were as follows:
At the end of the 8 week mark, GERD symptoms were resolved in 86% of the celiac patients and 67% of the control group. At the 6 month mark, recurrence of symptoms occurred in 20% of the celiac patients (and they were then excluded from future follow-up), but in the longer follow-up interval of 12, 18 and 24 months, there was no recurrence of symptoms found in any of the celiac patients.
The control group, however, revealed 30% recurrence at the 6 month mark, escalating to 60% at the 12 month mark, showing a further increase to 75% at 18 months and ending with a total of 85% at the 24 month mark.
Fascinating –80% of the celiac group who maintained a gluten-free diet remained symptom free after 2 years, while the non-celiac group who did not follow a gluten-free diet continued to worsen the longer they were off the drug with only 15% being symptom-free.
What did the researchers think about this? Their conclusion was:
• a gluten-free diet could be helpful in reducing the symptoms of GERD,
• the elimination of gluten from the diet could act as a protection against GERD since gluten  seems to precipitate symptoms in some people.
Based on the small rate of relapse – 20% vs 75% of the celiac patients vs the control group, it makes good sense to conclude that following a gluten-free diet can help protect against GERD.
The researchers also cited another population-based study by Dr Nocon and team who noted that consumption of sweets or white bread at least once per day acted as a risk factor for reflux symptoms. Sweets, in the typical U.S. dessert, equates to gluten, and of course so does white bread.

GERD, Acid Reflux or Heartburn? Get Tested for Gluten!

In summary, these research findings support what we see here at the clinic: patients with acid reflux, GERD or heartburn should be evaluated for gluten sensitivity. As a personal note, I would like to add that these studies only looked at those suffering from celiac disease and failed to test people with GERD symptoms for gluten sensitivity. In my experience, I think they would find an additional correlation with that population; we do here at the clinic.
Having these symptoms is not just annoying, frustrating and a cause of poor sleep, but they also signal poor digestive health, something that must be addressed when present in order to maintain good health.
I hope this was informative. If you or someone you know suffers from such symptoms, please alert them to this information. If your health needs to be improved consider contacting us for a free health analysis – call 408-733-0400. We are a destination clinic and treat patients from across the country and internationally. You don’t need to live local to us to receive assistance. We are here to help!
To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of the eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What you don’t know may be killing you!”

References:
Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology,  Effect of Gluten-free Diet on Preventing Recurrence of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease-related Symptoms in Adult Celiac Patients With Nonerosive Reflux Disease.  Paolo Usai, Roberto Manca, Rosario Cuomo, Maria Antonia Lai, Luigi Russo, Maria Francesca Boi. 2008;23(9):1368-1372.
Diseases of the Esophagus, September 2011
- See more at: http://www.healthnowmedical.com/blog/2013/10/23/does-gluten-cause-acid-reflux-heartburn-and-gerd/#sthash.0aXDdCwD.dpuf

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Truth About Alcohol and Gluten


How many times have I made the simplistic statement that when it comes to alcohol: “Wine and hard liquor are fine, beer is not”. It seemed simple and straight forward and I never thought twice about it.

But perspectives change and suddenly you realize that there’s more to a subject than you realized.

My youngest child just turned 21 and is now drinking alcohol. She called a few days ago complaining of rashes. She is very diligent about her diet which is gluten-free, dairy-free and mostly vegan. But knowing her as well as I do, I instantly knew some gluten was sneaking in.

We reviewed it for a few minutes and traced it down to alcoholic drinks. While she mostly orders wine when she goes out, as a “new drinker”, she frequently tastes what her friends are having. As she started describing the piƱa coladas and margueritas, I grew suspicious of additives. A little research revealed that gluten indeed was the problem.

Read on... there is more you should know if you like to drink alcoholic beverages beyond the simple glass of wine.


Not All Distilled Alcohols are Safe – Why?

This is annoying. We finally clarify that alcohols made from grains are safe due to distillation (which is still true), only to have companies ADD ingredients that may contain gluten after the distillation is complete!

Here are some examples:

Rum: Some dark rums may contain gluten if they are heavily spiced. The later additions of spices, after distillation, may contain gluten and some companies are not very forthcoming about their ingredients. If you’re a rum drinker, Captain Morgan rums are all gluten-free.

Coloring: Another problem is liquor that is darkly colored. The color could come from caramel coloring that is added after the distillation process. The caramel coloring could contain gluten, but not always. I’m sorry to be vague, but it’s difficult to find this out with certainty. Manufacturers often don’t know the source of their caramel coloring and therefore aren’t very helpful when asked.

I bring this up as a “full disclosure” point, but the caramel coloring is used in small amounts and when considering the amount of liquor consumed in a single drink, for most people the gluten exposure should be within the gluten-free guidelines. But… if you’re like my daughter and you KNOW you’re getting “glutened”, it’s good to know the possible sources of exposure and that’s why I included this.

The truth is that even 20 parts per million is too much gluten for some people’s immune systems.

There are some individuals who claim they react to grain alcohols (gin, vodka, whiskey, bourbon, scotch whiskey) unless they are triple distilled. As it turns out, the better brands ARE triple distilled, so when you partake, consider going for top shelf. It is certainly possible that a highly sensitive person could have a reaction, but in general, distillation is considered to remove all gluten.

Bottom line: Stay away from anything with flavorings. That’s where the gluten can sneak in.

Wine, brandy, champagne and cognac: These are all gluten-free. I mentioned in an earlier post that some companies use flour paste to seal their wine barrels but claim the finished product has below detectable amounts of gluten. That’s fine, but if you are one of those highly sensitive individuals, it’s good to know about this. Other companies use stainless steel barrels so try that if you seem to be reacting.

Wine is fine, but wine coolers are in a different category. They often contain malt and therefore have gluten. Read the label carefully.

Hard lemonade: It often contains malt and therefore gluten, so proceed with caution.

Beer: As you may know, is not gluten-free unless you purchase a brand specifically stating otherwise. Some gluten-free options are:

  •     Bard’s Tale
  •     Ramapo Valley Honey Beer
  •     Redbridge by Anheuser Busch
  •     New Grist by Lakefront Brewery
Vodka: Potato based vodka, and in fact the vast majority of vodkas, is safe. It’s the flavored ones you should be wary of.

The Smirnoff company offers an “FMB” line, meaning “flavored malted barley”. As we know, the protein from barley is considered gluten and therefore these specific products are all gluten-containing alcohols: Smirnoff Ice, Smirnoff Ice Triple black, and Smirnoff Twisted V.
Absolut vodka, on the other hand, has confirmed that all their flavors are gluten-free.

“Godiva” liquor products, just like their line of chocolates, are also not gluten-free. For some reason this company just refuses to get on the gluten-free bandwagon. (There’s always See’s).

Vermouth: This is safe, as is Mead made from honey.

Mixers Can Spell GLUTEN!

Here’s another place we get into trouble—mixers. Many are gluten-free but several are not.


Now if you were buying the mixer in the liquor store you could easily read the ingredients and make the correct decision. Ordering a drink at a bar, let alone a busy, noisy bar, is another story altogether. Is the waitress or waiter really going to ask the busy bartender what’s in the mixer? And is the busy bartender going to take the time to find out?

You start to see the problem.

I have heard that some bars have a high-end mixer that typically contains just sugar and pure fruit without any of the yucky gluten additives. However, one can only get this high-end mixer when purchasing high-end, top shelf alcohol. It’s worth asking about.

If you know the brands that are okay and not okay, that should help, so they are provided below. Or… order wine!

What’s What in “Mixology Land”

A popular mixer company is “Mr & Mrs T’s”. They are a safe brand EXCEPT their Bloody Mary Mix which does contain gluten.

“Jose Cuervo” mixes also appear to be safe—but always read the label.

The “Master of Mixes” brand has several mixes to avoid. ALL of the following contain gluten:

  •     Strawberry Margarita
  •     Pina Colada
  •     Sweet and Sour
  •     Tom Collins
  •     Whiskey Sour
“Rose’s Mojita” mixes ALL contain gluten, so avoid that brand altogether.

“Holland House” mixes are mostly safe, but you need to avoid their “Teriyaki Marinade” and “Smooth & Spicy Blood Mary”.

Ciders: These vary in their safety. Many have added barley for flavor. “Spire” ciders are gluten-free.

Helping You Avoid Mistakes

Bottom line: If you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, it’s mandatory to avoid gluten completely.

It’s just silly to make such efforts to be perfect and have it ruined during a social activity. We just can’t afford any such mistakes with your health.

Sadly, alcoholic beverages are not required to display an ingredient label. The mixes are, but not the alcohol itself, which is why the flavored alcohols have resulted in illness for some.

All in all, there are many safe options for those following a gluten-free diet. While reading through many ingredient lists to write this post, it would be impossible, as a clinical nutritionist, to avoid mentioning that the mixes, even though gluten-free, are far from healthy. They typically contained high fructose corn syrup, artificial coloring and the like—definitely not something you should partake of beyond the very rare occasion.

And of course I must also mention that alcohol is not particularly good for the body, excepting the high anti-oxidant content of a nice red wine (ingested in a responsible manner). So drink responsibly, in moderation—and for the most part—avoid mixed drinks unless you are very sure of the ingredients used.

We Are Here to Help You!

I hope this was helpful. It goes to show that we must look everywhere for hidden gluten sources if we are to remain healthy.

If your health is not at the level you desire, consider contacting us for a FREE Health Analysis: call 408-733-0400. We are here to help.

You don’t need to live local to us to receive assistance. Our Destination Clinic treats patients from across the country and internationally.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Saving Money on a Gluten-Free Diet


Is It Worth Spending More Money on Gluten-Free Food?

Yes, it is! And here is why: If you’ve been diagnosed with either celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, you’ve noticed the additional expense associated with gluten-free breads, pastas and baked goods. As a clinical nutritionist, I frequently hear the complaint that gluten-free products are so much more expensive than their gluten-laden relatives. This is true.

But let’s look at the big picture. If you had a choice of buying cheaper pizza but feeling sick as a result (not to mention the long term negative health ramifications), what would be the best decision? I know that seems to make it overly simplistic, but it’s the truth.

So let’s decide that you WILL stick to your gluten-free diet and I’ll give you some helpful hints to save some money.

6 Ways to Save Money on a Gluten-Free Diet

1. Buy in bulk. If you find something you like, see if the grocery store will let you buy a case of it (at a discount) to save some money. I know Whole Foods does this, but check with your grocery store.

2. Buy online. When I find a product I enjoy, I see if they’ll sell directly to me. It’s often much less expensive than buying at the grocery store. If the amounts they’ll sell to you seem too much for you to consume in a timely manner, consider sharing with a friend or family member who’s also eating gluten-free. (And hey, if you need someone to go in with you on a product, maybe we can help you here at the clinic. We can create a little buying co-op!)

3. Bake your own “goodies” instead of buying the pre-packaged ones. Pre-prepared baked goods are very pricey. Making your own is definitely healthier and less expensive because you are providing the labor. Please remember to keep these desserts and highly refined treats to a minimum.

4. This tip may sound strange, but… keep your receipt. I frequently hear patients complain that not only was the loaf of bread they tried super expensive, but they didn’t even like it and ended up throwing half of it away. Have you ever done that? Bought something that was gluten-free or dairy-free and then you didn’t like it? Did you throw it away?

Let me tell you a little secret. This is true at Whole Foods, it’s true at Safeway, and it’s likely true wherever you shop: Hold on to your receipt and you can return pretty much anything. Why? You actually don’t need a reason beyond, “I didn’t like it.”  

Honestly. I can only speak for Whole Foods from the level of personal experience, but I did a little research and Safeway has newly launched their “Gluten Free Eating Right” line where a 100% money back guarantee is guaranteed if you’re not happy with your purchase. Don’t be shy. I do this often. I’m frequently trying new products for my personal use as well as a way to let patients know about new things. I keep my receipt and have often made returns. The stores want you to do this so that you’ll continue to experiment until you find the brands you love.

5. Start a garden. No, you won’t be growing your own gluten-free grains, but the money you save from growing your own organic vegetables can be quite a help on your overall budget. It’s fun to have your own garden and, if you’ve got a nice relationship with nearby neighbors, consider getting together and growing different vegetables that can be shared. It’s often the case that you grow more than you can possibly eat (think zucchini!) and sharing with a neighbor who is growing different crops in abundance can really save on the grocery bill.

6. Consider eating less meat. What does this have to do with saving money? The types of animal products you should be eating are very expensive. Grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chickens and wild or healthfully-fed farm-raised fish are pricey. Beans, on the other hand, are quite cheap. I noticed that when I became a vegan, my grocery bill diminished dramatically. Yes, organic vegetables can be pricey too, but not compared to the salmon I used to buy for over $20 for two people.

I have found some patients lessening their animal protein ingestion and saving money with a few meals per week that contain protein in the form of beans, whole grains, nuts and greens. These meals can be fun to make, are quite delicious, and you may notice feeling less full and better overall after eating this way. If you need some recipes, let me know!

I hope this was helpful. We want to provide whatever help you need to attain your goal of optimal health. Sometimes practical suggestions can go a long way towards that.

If your health is not at the level you desire, or you are having trouble despite being on a gluten-free diet, consider contacting us for a FREE HEALTH ANALYSIS with a doctor. 

Just call us to schedule the appointment: 408-733-0400

If you don’t live locally to us, that’s fine too! Our Destination Clinic treats patients from across the country and internationally. We are here to help!

To your good health,

Dr. Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN

Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”

Author of the eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”