Tag Archives: health

One Step Forward…Two Back

The downside of being gluten free, aside from the complexity of eating out and cooking, is that there are people bound and determine to prove it is just a “fad”. I will grant that gluten sensitivity, and likely Celiacs as well, is a complicated pathology that involves more than just the gluten trigger.  This makes it no less real than say, schizophrenia, bipolar, major depression, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, or any number of diseases with complicated, hard to test pathology.

There’s currently articles going around claiming that non-Celiac gluten intolerance does not exist based on a paper published by a Dr. Peter Gibson who decided his prior published work was suspect and so repeated it, which reversed the results.

As a scientist, I’d like to point out a few things. His sample size was 37 individuals. Those individuals were divided into four groups and each got a different diet. Their diagnosis was mostly self-diagnosed and confirmed via questionaire. So basically, 37 people who maybe are gluten intolerant but could also have something else going on (yeast overgrowth, food allergy, parasites to name a few) were picked. On one hand it demonstrates the need for a definitive method of diagnosis, but also, that the experimental setup is questionable.

That’s a whopping nine folks in each category. What measures were taken to ensure patient compliance? Anyone who has attempted a GF diet knows how hard it is to avoid gluten. Also, two-weeks is not enough time for severe inflammation to reduce and for the body to heal. It often takes MONTHS. Wikipedia explains the whole FODMAP thing. Do some of the things on that list bother me? Yes. Do they send me into days of gastric distress like gluten and casein do? Nope. Many Celiacs and GF sensitive individuals, due to the nature of inflammation, have problems with many other foods that can exacerbate inflammation.

Were some of those patients likely not GF sensitive? Quite likely. This does not mean that gluten is not a problem for some people.

The important point is that non-Celiac’s gluten intolerance is not a new thing.

Read here or here for starters.

If you aren’t sick, don’t buy the hype. GF is not a fad diet. It isn’t the next new awesome weight loss trick. It’s a lifetime commitment required out of necessity.

I felt like puking up my guts for a solid year and at my worst was curled up in bed with debilitating migraines and intestinal cramps. My GI doctor told me to eat more fiber since I wasn’t a Celiac. Yeah, that didn’t really help. Trust me, if there’s a problem, you WILL know, as your body will make it pretty darn clear.

If you eliminate foods and find that you feel drastically better, don’t be afraid to trust what your body tells you, no matter what research gets shared around the internet.



So, a couple of weeks back I resumed exercising. I tend to feel very counter-productive when I work out. When I don’t work out, I’m fine with a plate that looks like this:


Well, maybe not THAT little, but you get the idea.

I work out and turn into this:

I call it an acute case of exernoms. Unlike the cookie monster I do not eat only cookies, either. To quote Soup King, I eat “all of the things.”  So I might have two servings of pot-roast and veggies, dessert, and then go back and nibble more pot-roast. Granted, I am doing weights and attempting to build muscle, but it never seems to quite work how I’d like it to. I have managed a teeny tiny increase in my arms and improved my leg strength marginally, but now my pants are mocking me. Oddly though, the scale doesn’t budge, at least not enough to count. Going up and down in a two pound range is water weight. I don’t really care all that much about the number on the scale, but I do like my pants to button. So if I make my “white girl” butt less flat, does that mean my pants won’t fit forever more, or will there eventually be some give somewhere else so that it all works out?

I try to feed my exernom urges with things like dry roasted edammamme or celery and peanut butter, or an apple, but the dark side is powerful.

Image You don’t know the power of the exernoms.


Humor Fail

A friend on FB tagged me in an article she linked. At first glance it is a humorous satire, but only on the surface.

Let’s look at a few assumptions the article makes:

  1.  Whole Foods is insanely expensive.– Yep, it is. So is the hospital, and healthcare, and higher education, and taxes. Cheap crap is so abundant that we’ve been sold the lie it’ll do just fine and anyone willing to pay more is a sucker. I don’t go to the hospital daily, and neither do most people go to Whole Foods daily. Usually it’s for specific items that are hard to find at the local grocery or pharmacy.
  2. The employees are asses trying to rob you blind.– So is the IRS, that dude on Craigslist, and the used car salesman, but we expect that it seems. The author describes hypocritical people, proclaiming hippie peace, but acting like thieving snakes. Clearly the store I go to was invaded by body double aliens who are polite, helpful, and don’t push me to buy anything I don’t want.
  3. The clientele are also hypocritical asses.- She mentions a dude in a Prius who nearly runs down a mother and child in the parking lot. I’m fairly certain the local grocery store has an equal number of jerkwads.
  4. Poor people don’t have food intolerance.- Tell that to the kid who attended daycare with my daughter as an infant. Tell that to the kids with milk and peanut allergies, the kids with psoriasis, the African American lady I met at the store whose grandson was diagnosed with Celiacs. I’ve met people in all walks of life with food allergies and intolerances. The poor simply have a harder time dealing with it. I’m living on a graduate student stipend and loans to feed the kiddos. I’m by no means rich, which means when my grocery bill doubled I felt it, and had to cut costs elsewhere. It’s that or be ill every day. To dismiss the concept as hypochondriac conditions made up by yuppies undercuts the struggles of all those people out there.
  5. The beauty isle will tell you how ugly you are and that you need to buy ten gazillion products to fix it. This is different from other stores how?

I could probably tear apart that article paragraph by paragraph. It comes down to the author possessing a highly judgmental attitude toward those she perceives as “hippies” and that it’s all a bunch of BS designed to drain your bank account. Nevermind that TV, internet and other stores hit you with ads convincing you, yes, you really do need another Swiffer product or the latest greatest cell phone, or a new car, etc. No, since Whole Foods sells organic food and specialty foods, clearly they are worse. She seems to miss the point that maybe not everyone fits in her picture, that perhaps some people are not gullible fools willing to buy anything, and that many of the products sold are available for a reason.

It’s taken three years for my local grocery store to carry most of the flours I require to bake gluten free, but they still don’t carry them all. Of all the doctors I saw, not one could prescribe or suggest anything to make me feel better. I read research articles and tried various supplements until I found ones that work.

Did you know, that the vast majority of modern medicine comes from natural products? Things like curcumin (tumeric) and quercetin are being heavily researched because they DO work, but the bio-availability is low, and of course they can’t make money off of it unless they come up with a patentable semi-synthetic version. NIH is stingy with funds these days. They wouldn’t fund it if the studies were lying about the natural products doing things like slowing cancer and killing microbes.

Sure, some of it is BS, but some isn’t. Maybe the author should wonder whether something is wrong with our general diet and healthcare approach if people have to turn to high priced supplements. Then again, I’m just a medicinal chemist. What would I know?

Dear Abby Normal Innards,

Dear Abby Normal Innards,

I stopped eating gluten. Why are you still pissed?

-Ms.  Noms-hate-me

Dear Ms. Noms-hate-me,

Here’s the thing. We’ve been pissed for YEARS. You just ignored it or chalked it up to something else. Do you really expect us to move on as if nothing has happened? Sorry, no can do. If you truly want to apologize, here are some things you can do:

  1. Follow a modified BRAT (no toast, no dairy, lots of fresh or steamed veggies) type diet for two weeks. Recovery takes time. Eating icecream and bacon is not conducive to happy innards. Yes, one can only eat applesauce for so long, but think of it as a test of commitment.
  2. Take probiotics. Do you have any idea how the neighborhood in here has gone down? These anaerobic guys are totally fouling up the place. Send in some decent residents please. Just be forewarned that the first day or two the low-class bacteria may put up a stink about being kicked out.
  3. A little chamomile tea or aloe juice can ease intestinal cramps and speed healing. You wouldn’t slap rubbing alcohol on a sunburn, would you? So don’t drink coffee or sodas for a couple of weeks.
  4. You know that whole an apple a day saying? Well, there’s validity to it. Quercetin is a supplement, a bioflavanoid, naturally found in apples (also Brussels sprouts, broccoli and green beans). It calms cranky innards down rather well. That’s why the applesauce sits so well. 🙂
  5. Healing requires energy and building blocks. Drink lots of water and take a good (gluten free/dairy free) multivitamin. It doesn’t hurt to add in additional B12 and magnesium as these are commonly malabsorbed in Celiacs.
  6. Tumeric: Think of it as anger management therapy for your body. It’s a potent anti-inflammatory agent used as a spice and taken in pill form. It takes time, but reversing years of inflammation is worth it.
  7. Be patient. Just because I’m Abby Normal Innards, doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.

Image from ThinkGeek.com



Abby Normal Innards


Gluten WTH List

For those who might not have seen my posts on the subject, I suffer from gluten intolerance. I cannot, without a doubt, say that I have Celiacs, as I did not do the biopsy. In either case, the symptoms and the treatment are the same.  AVOID GLUTEN.

One of the most common complaints of the newly diagnosed Celiac patient or gluten intolerant individual is that it is exceedingly difficult to be certain all sources of gluten have been eliminated and that shopping is a pain. Depending on where you live, sources for gluten free food can be minimal and pricey. Instead of buying that box of ramen for five bucks, one spends thirty on fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat. One can’t really argue that the ramen is better for you though. Most of the gluten free nutrition information sites stress avoiding processed foods. That$6.00 box of gluten free cookies is no healthier than gobbling a fistful of Oreos.

Over time it gets easier to shop once you know what brands to buy. No matter what, always take a quick glance at the ingredients to ensure they have not changed. Most of the times that I got glutenated on accident with food that I fixed it was because I did not carefully read the label. Also, depending on one’s tolerance level, cross-contamination can be a huge problem and drive that grocery bill even higher.

One would thing that cutting out bread, pasta and baked goods would take care of gluten. If only.

10 Not so obvious pitfalls (all of which I learned the hard way):

  1. Dry roasted nuts.- Some brands dusted with starch or flour
  2. Flash frozen salmon- coated with food starch
  3. ANY Oats not certified gluten free– Often cross-contamination during processing is the problem, but cross-pollination can also be the culprit. Barley, one of the gluten grains, belongs to the oat family. Barley and oats if grown in vicinity of each other can cross pollinate, resulting in oats which express the barley gluten.  Oats do have a type of gluten naturally and it varies from person to person whether or not they can be tolerated.
  4. Aunt Jamima Corn Meal, and any other “regular” brand- The only ingredient listed is cornmeal, but internet searches pull up complaints of cross contamination. Most of their products contain wheat, which likely means the meal is processed in the same facility and perhaps even on the same equipment. Depending on one’s sensitivity, this is something of which to be cognizant.
  5. Anything with “natural flavorings”- That term can cover about anything under the sun and until new FDA guidelines pass, avoid foods with this label unless it otherwise states that it is gluten free.
  6. Pork– Nearly all pork is injected with preservatives and whatnot. Read the label, as there is gluten free pork, but again, avoid any with “natural flavorings”. Another factor to be aware of is that pork is high in arachadonic acid, which can aggravate inflamed intestines.
  7. Store prepped rotisserie chickens. Some have flour mixed with the spice mix that is basted onto the bird.
  8. Seasoning mixes, soy sauce, and bouillon.- They toss in that “natural flavorings” and sometimes even list wheat as an anti-caking agent. Stick with individual herbs and spices or GF labeled brands. Some bouillon mixes label wheat, others don’t, but further research reveals them to contain wheat. Stick with brands that label their bouillon and broths as gluten free. Some brands of soy sauce only list soy, failing to mention that the alcohol used to ferment is sourced from wheat. Only true Tamari or special gluten free labeled brands are safe.
  9. Store prepped deli products- I’d never put flour in my potato salad, but I picked up every type at a deli one time, read the labels, and they all contained wheat. Never assume that because your homemade recipe doesn’t call for it that store made stuff is safe.
  10. Frozen Seasoned veggies or meats- Beware, as natural flavorings abound and the things that wheat or food starch go into can be deceiving. Stick with plain and season it yourself.

Analyze this…

People write books on dream interpretation. There are even people who make a living telling you what your dreams mean. Sure, sometimes dreams have complex hidden messages, but sometimes they’re pretty darn obvious. My brain plays movie mishmashes from time to time, or tries to work out why my darn experiments aren’t working in the lab. Those are pretty much no brainers. Last night’s dream was sparked by a poster on the kid’s after-school care center that looked like this:


I acted nonchalant, but my inner self resembled this:

I managed to make it all the way through childhood without ever experiencing the horror that are lice. Unfortunately, in the past two years my kids brought them home twice. Contrary to what I was told as a kid, lice are not something that “dirty” children get. In fact, the cleaner your hair, the more likely one will say, “Hey, Bob, Barry, Susy, Flo, this head is awesome. Bring the gang!”

Needless to say, as soon as I walked into the center, I checked each child’s head (currently bug free) and reiterated the spiel about not sharing hats, combs, clothes, barrettes, ponytail holders, scrunchies, heck, even personal space if I had my way. Those bugs are evil. Many are immune to the stuff they sell at the store. I had to use a combination of olive oil (smothers the adult lice) and flea and tick shampoo (to kill eggs) to kill those suckers. Even after you rid yourself of them, the mere thought that they might be creeping around in your hair makes you itchy and paranoid, or well, at least it made me paranoid.

So what did I dream? You guessed it! Lice. They weren’t mutant lice or world overthrowing lice; just plain old lice, but that was nightmare enough for me. I spent the entire dream slathering my head and the kids’ in olive oil and combing out nits. That wasn’t the most horrific part. In the dream, Soup King got a buzz cut!!!!

Not the hair!!!!

Not to slight him in the least, and hey, even in the dream I told him I loved him even without awesome long hair. I’m just not a big fan of buzz cuts unless you’re in the military. So, on the bright side, at least my brain found humor in a potentially horrific dream!

An imaginary conversation

While trekking around campus I often muse open random ideas. Here’s what I imagined a conversation between my brain and various body parts would go:


“Listen up folks. I don’t like the lack of cooperation I’m seeing.” Brain points to wrist. “You, what is up with all the complaints?”

“I don’t like pipetting for five hours. And push-ups? Pft, I refuse to do them.”

“Work needs doing, so suck it up.”

Wrist glares back with a mutinous scowl.

Brain goes over to the intestines, having to veer around a bickering progesterone and estrogen.

“It’s my turn.”

“Uh-uh, MINE.”

“No mine.”


“Shove it ladies,” Brain says, but with little heat as the fight between them is old and not really very interesting. Huddled in the corner, Intestines seem a bit perkier than a couple of days ago. “So, how you feeling?”


“Can you try not to get all worked up over the smallest bit of gluten or casein? I mean, really. How much milk could have possibly been in those vitamins?”

Intestines peers around and whispers, “They’re out to get me.”

Immune system is blatantly eavesdropping nearby and snickers. Brain scowls at Immune system. “I don’t see how any of this is funny.”

Intestines growls at Immune system. “She started the war.”

Immune system howls with laughter and runs away yelling, “Attack!” She leads a battalion of IgE cells which unleash a flurry of antibodies upon a bit of dust floating by and totally ignores the cold virus sneaking up.

Brain groans. “This is what I have to work with? I need chocolate.”