Friday, May 14, 2010

Gluten Freedom: May 2010

For many individuals on a gluten free diet, digestive issues are all too familiar. Digestive disturbances such as diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, abdominal cramping and nausea, are the most common symptoms of Celiac disease. Others that suffer from gluten intolerance or sensitivity are faced with the unpleasant consequences of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). When sensitive to gluten, gluten can damage the villi (small fingerlike projections) of the small intestine. These villi are crucial for nutrient absorption. When damaged or weakened, nutrient absorbing surface area is decreased and some level of malnutrition may take place. Calcium and/or iron deficiencies have been observed among Celiacs and diseases such as osteoporosis and anemia can arise.

Eliminating gluten from the diet is the first step to repairing the gut. Some individuals may benefit from gut rebuilding supplementation.
1) L-glutamine – an amino acid that supports the healing of gut tissue. Available in powder or capsules. Try incorporating the powder into your favorite breakfast smoothie. Dosage can range from 1000- 5000 mg.
2) Digestive enzymes – Supporting the body’s ability to break down food properly is an important piece of improving digestion.
3) Probiotics – These friendly bacteria support ideal gut flora. Most common strains are acidophilus and bifidus . Foods containing probiotics: yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and miso. And now even chocolate! Look for our newest probiotic supplement in the form of a chocolate bar in the vitamin room.
4) Apple cider vinegar – Consuming 1-2 tsp of apple cider vinegar mixed with 8 oz of water 15-20 minutes before meals stimulates the digestive process and also provides an overall alkalizing effect on the body. Look for an organic raw unfiltered variety such as Bragg’s. Bragg’s now also makes ready to go apple cider vinegar drinks available in the cold drink cooler.

CALCIUM Food sources of calcium include: green leafy vegetables such as kale, collard greens and spinach, dairy products, almonds, sesame seeds, figs, tofu, garbanzo beans and sardines with bones. Blue green algae such as hydrilla and spirilina are great sources of bio-available calcium as well. Food based, liquid or powdered calcium supplements tend to offer highest absorption.

IRON Food sources of iron include: red meats, dark meat turkey and chicken, dark green leafy vegetables, kidney beans, blackstrap molasses, raisins, pumpkin seeds, dulse seaweed and hemp seeds. Iron supplementation can have side effects such as constipation and may not be appropriate for everyone. It is best to have iron levels tested before proceeding with supplementation. Menopausal woman and men should be especially cautious. Floravital is a gluten free liquid herbal iron supplement with high absorption.

Making your own hummus is easy! Try this iron and calcium rich dip with fresh cut veggie sticks, your favorite gluten free crackers or as a nutrient dense sandwich spread.
Spinach Hummus (Makes about 4 cups)
3 cups cooked garbanzo beans, or about 2 cans beans (30 ounces total)
2 cups fresh baby spinach, washed and dried
½ cup sesame tahini½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ to ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 -3 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
1-2 teaspoons sea salt
¼ cup water for desired consistency
Drain beans and set aside. Place garlic, lemon juice and olive oil and sea salt in a food processor and blend until creamy. Add sesame tahini and blend. Add ½ the beans and ½ the spinach and blend. Add the other ½ of the beans and spinach and blend until desired consistency is achieved. If you like a very creamy hummus you may need to add a little water or a bit more lemon juice or olive oil. More water will provide a thinner consistency.
Tip: Hummus freezes very well, so you can make a large batch in advance.

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