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What you should know about a gluten-free diet

Will “gluten-free” trigger a dietary craze akin to no-fat, low-sodium or carb-free trends?

While most dietary trends — some more healthful than others — focus on prevention or offer a “quick fix” promise, the gluten-free movement is somewhat different.

In fact, gluten-free continues its rise in popularity largely due to the ever-increasing amount of individuals diagnosed with celiac disease, a disorder that can cause a dangerous immune response when gluten is ingested.

The condition, marked by symptoms including diarrhea, anemia, gas and bloating, can significantly damage or destroy a sufferer’s small intestine. This can lead to nutrient malabsorption, leaving the person deficient in nutrients such as vitamin B12, calcium and vitamin D.

In addition to celiac disease, many people believe they are sensitive to gluten — found in wheat, barley, rye and other grains — and therefore avoid products containing the protein. Some consumers associate gluten consumption with digestive problems, while others believe a gluten-free diet can help reduce symptoms of autism.

Whether a person is intolerant or sensitive to gluten, the only surefire way to prevent gastrointestinal problems and other symptoms is to avoid the protein altogether. Safe foods include fruits and vegetables, quinoa and rice.

Unfortunately, accidental ingestion happens, and it’s unlikely that even the most careful consumer can guarantee a gluten-free diet 100 percent of the time.

Given the potential risk of ingesting gluten, even in “gluten-free” products, it might make sense for intolerant or sensitive individuals to take a good DPP IV digestive enzyme supplement that focuses on breaking down the protein and relieving inflammatory responses.

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Are refined carbs responsible for cancer?

Esophageal cancer, associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and Barrett’s esophagus, increased at an alarming rate from the 1990s to the late 2000s.

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals of Cleveland assert esophageal cancer is “strongly correlated” with carbohydrate consumption, Reuters reports. Their study compared about 30 years of esophageal cancer data with food consumption patterns during the same period.

The story mentioned that GERD is linked to obesity and a high consumption of carbohydrates. In the study, refined carbohydrates with low nutrient levels, as opposed to those carbohydrates found in whole grains, were to blame for the cancer increase.

While it’s advisable to limit intake of refined carbohydrates, they sometimes cannot be avoided in our modern diets. A digestive enzyme supplement with high levels of amylase can help people properly break down and digest carbohydrates.

Further, digestive enzyme supplements and soothing herbs might help people who suffer from gastrointestinal disorders.

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Boswellia found to increase walking tolerance

A contributor to MyOsteoarthritisCentral.com, Dr. Grant Cooper, has championed boswellia as an herb that might alleviate pain associated with osteoarthritis.

Cooper wrote about boswellia’s anti-inflammatory properties, which might aid osteoarthritis sufferers. He cites a 2004 study that found a form of boswellia extract provided significant reductions in pain and swelling, as well as increased walking tolerance, in subjects with knee osteoarthritis.

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FDA approval of Nexium for children step in wrong direction

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of a drug for children in a category that has been linked to serious long-term side effects, including bacterial infection, nutrient deficiency and cancer, is a poor decision.

The FDA approves Nexium for children ages 1 to 11.

Nexium, a proton-pump inhibitor, suppresses acid production in the stomach with the goal of healing erosions in the esophagus. Other proton-pump inhibitors include Prilosec and Prevacid.

Although the FDA recommends Nexium for short-term treatment (eight weeks), starting children on the drug, even at low potencies, should be cause for alarm. If doctors prescribe Nexium throughout a person’s childhood, or if use continues into adulthood, there could be serious consequences.

Drugs that inhibit natural acid production are associated with increased risk of hip fractures, likely because calcium is not sufficiently absorbed, according to a story from MSNBC. Impaired calcium absorption could be detrimental for children, who rely on the nutrient for healthy growth.

In addition, restrained acid production could increase the risk of intestinal infection and bacterial overgrowth in the stomach and small intestine. According to MSNBC, the overgrowth of bacteria in the stomach could lead to pneumonia, vitamin B12 deficiency and stomach cancer.

H2 blockers such as Zantac, Pepcid and Tagamet also suppress acid production. Some of these products, along with traditional antacids, can be purchased over the counter.

Antacids, such as Tums and Rolaids, can cause problems with protein digestion and vitamin B12 absorption. Long-term use can interfere with absorption of other nutrients, including iron and calcium.

Acid blockers and antacids simply mask the symptoms of gastrointestinal problems and provide temporary relief. Enzyme-based digestive supplements, on the other hand, help address the root cause of stomach problems, which is improper digestion.

Safe, effective digestive enzyme supplements work naturally with the body to relieve digestive problems. They appear to decrease distension of the stomach, which might help relieve symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), according to MSNBC.

Digestive enzymes can improve nutrient absorption while they help with indigestion, gas, bloating, reflux and other symptoms of improper digestion. For those with damage to the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, licorice, marshmallow and aloe can help soothe and protect the gastrointestinal lining.

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