What’s Gluten & Who Should Avoid It?

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Today the word gluten is BUZZING. Gluten free (GF) is often equated to healthy living, and is largely trending in the market place. So what is it, and why are so many people avoiding it?

Gluten refers to the proteins glutenin and gliadin found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, and other forms, such as triticale and einkorn. It is responsible for giving baked goods a doughy and elastic structure, and is commonly used as a thickening agent and flavor enhancer. The name GLUten, not coincidentally, refers to its glue-like properties.

An awareness of the negative effects of gluten is spreading and more people are realizing that it could be the culprit of their ongoing issues. When gluten hits the digestive tract and is exposed to the cells, it is commonly mistaken as a foreign invader.

Celiac disease (CD) is an autoimmune disease that effects about 1% of the population. It causes the most severe gluten reaction, with symptoms including gastrointestinal disrupt, rapid and unexplained weight loss, anemia, dental and bone disorders, mouth sores, skin rashes, and tingling in the hands and feet.

When people with CD consume gluten, an immune response is triggered and initiates an attack on the intestines. Over time, the villi of the intestines become damaged, making it impossible for the body to absorb nutrients. Consequently, this leads to malnourishment and the development of many other chronic illnesses.

People with CD should never eat gluten. If you’re concerned that you may have CD, a blood test can be done to reveal antibodies, and an autopsy can show the intestinal damage for a diagnosis. It is important to note that you must be currently eating gluten for these tests to be accurate.

Having a wheat allergy is another reason why people could be having adverse reactions after consuming gluten, as wheat is the most commonly used grain. If an allergy is present, the immune system triggers an IgE mediated response. Symptoms will most likely be immediate, and can include swelling, itching, hives, watery eyes, difficulty breathing, and anaphylaxis.

Another category of people who should avoid gluten are those with Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS). They can experience many of the same symptoms as a person with CD, except their intestines stay in tact and their body doesn’t produce the antibodies to gluten. About 40% of the population carries the gene for NCGS, but not all develop a sensitivity.  Currently, there is not a sure way to test for this, but the best way to find out if you’re effected is to try an elimination diet. 

As you can see, diagnosis can be difficult, but if you’re suspicious, I highly recommend experimenting with a GF lifestyle. While 10 years ago GF living was close to impossible, GF options are now widely available in mainstream grocery stores nationwide.

One thing I want to highlight is that while GF options are now available for almost everything, it is important to focus mainly on food sources that are whole, unprocessed, and naturally gluten free. This includes grains and flours such as millet, teff, amaranth, rice varieties, quinoa, buckwheat, sorghum, certified GF oats, corn, nuts, and beans. *Oats are naturally gluten free, but you must shop for oats specifically labeled gluten free because gluten is often added to commercial oats as a binding and flavoring agent.

Like any changes in life, dietary changes can be stressful and challenging. Try to be patient with yourself and take it one day at a time. Remember, sometimes it’s our greatest challenges that make us shine the brightest!

Please share this with someone you love, and do something kind for yourself today.

With Love & Gratitude, 

Brittany 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Steps To Beautiful, Glowing Skin!

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For years, I struggled with breakouts. It made me self conscious, lowered my self esteem, and drove me CRAZY.

In my twenties, I thought there must be a wash, cream, or toner that can solve my problems. I tried many of the popular (and expensive!!) facial care systems on the market, used creams prescribed by my dermatologist, and even tried organic washes and lotions, but nothing worked. Each product I tried promised great results, so what was I doing wrong?

To my amazement, it had very little to do with what was being applied externally, and everything to do with what was going on internally. It just so happened that throughout my skin issues, I was also dealing with a lot of belly issues, including bloat, stomach upset, and constipation/diarrhea. When I began to discover the cause of my digestive troubles, my skin began to improve dramatically as well.

Skin is the largest organ of the body. If our lifestyle impacts all of the internal organs in our body, it makes complete sense that the largest organ would also be effected. You know when people are sick and you can see it in there face? Our skin is a looking glass into what is happening inside. It is important to take note of when things occur to pinpoint the cause and find a solution.

After years of trial and error with food, monitoring my lifestyle, and observing my moods, thoughts, and feelings, I finally came to understand the triggers that were causing my skin reactions. I hope my experience can save you a lot of time, money, and wasted energy.

And now…

The 5 Steps to Beautiful Skin

1. Eat nourishing foods for your body

Why do I say your body? Well, that’s because each one of us is unique and require different forms of nourishment. What is your diet like? It is highly processed, high in fat free/low fat products, overloaded with added gluten, sugar, and/or dairy? While everybody is different, there are certain items that seem to be linked to skin issues for the masses. In order to figure out what your personal triggers are, clean up your diet by getting rid of anything processed and artificial, begin eating mostly plant based (meaning eat more foods from the earth than anything else), and monitor high allergen foods. This may take time, but I promise it’ll be worth it.

2. Drink plenty of water

Drinking adequate water is crucial for our vital organs to function. Water flushes out the toxins from our bodies, cleans out dirt and bacteria, and can help us shine from the inside out. It also helps moisturize and replenish the skin cells with essential nutrients. By adding more water to your diet, you will experience whole-body changes and many positive side effects that go far beyond your face.

3. Manage your stress

We are all susceptible to levels of stress, and the impacts it has on our bodies is astounding. Stress produces the hormone cortisol, which can cause the body to produce more oil, cause inflammation and flare ups, and interfere with the bacteria in the gut. All of these factors can lead to acne symptoms. It is important to find ways to combat stress, such as meditation, deep breathing, developing a routine, and scheduling more time for fun in your life. Let’s stop stressing and start living!

4. Get more sleep

It’s not called beauty sleep for nothing! You know that morning glow you have when you wake from a long and restful night? That is the result of an increase in blood flow to the skin while you are sleeping. As we sleep, functions like breathing slows and blood pressure drops, so the blood supply can work to repair the muscles and tissues. When good sleep isn’t happening, the benefits of overnight renewal can’t occur. Most adults should aim for about 7-8 hours each night. I know this can be challenging (I’m definitely talking to you moms out there!), but more is better than perfect. Aim for more than you are currently getting, maybe by going to bed an hour earlier each night, and you will feel the difference.

5. Moisturize

While the natural functions of the body take care of the skin wonderfully, moisturizers are a great add-on. They help treat and prevent dry skin, and act as a barrier between the skin and the environment. So many toxins, dirt, and bacteria fly on to our skin every day and it helps to have an extra layer of protection. I use coconut oil to moisturize, and often add a drop of essential oil (such as frankincense or lavender) for increased benefits.

Well, there ya have it!

I hope you’ve found this list to be helpful, and I hope you implement these key factors of healthy, glowing skin into your daily life. If you do, I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Thanks for reading. Have a great day!

 

With Love & Gratitude,

Brittany