Thursday, May 26, 2011

Celiac Awareness Month

The month of May has been designated as National Celiac Awareness month.  According to Beth Hillson, President of the American Celiac Disease Alliance, the majority of Celiac research centers and organizations in the United States support and recognize this observance.  The month of May was chosen in the United States to coincide with The Association of Coeliac Societies which represents 26 European countries which has also designated May as a month to raise awareness about Celiac disease.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that is triggered in response to ingesting gluten.  It is the protein found in gluten that triggers an immune response and a multitude of health problems can ensue. Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye, and sometimes oats.  Wheat flour, starch and other forms of derived gluten are commonly used in commercially prepared products. Even ingesting very small amounts of gluten can have very serious implications for someone suffering from Celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

Celiac disease is usually characterized by damage to the small intestine that progresses over time.  The resulting damage can cause malabsorption issues and gut permeability which can lead to further health implications that can cause a wide range of manifestations and complications that can vary greatly from one person to the next. Celiac Disease can be triggered at any point in a person’s life but there is a genetic predisposition to the disease that is evident and relevant to a person developing the disease. 

Gluten Intolerance is intrinsically associated with Celiac disease, however, there are many people that suffer from gluten intolerance and related diseases and may not be suffering from Celiac disease.  The symptoms of gluten intolerance and Celiac disease can be very similar and both conditions can be treated by adhering to a gluten free diet.

Diagnosing Celiac disease and gluten intolerance can sometimes be difficult.  The tests that are currently used for diagnosis have proven not to be 100% conclusive and there is a high rate of false negatives reported in test result findings.  The good news is removing gluten from the diet can have a positive result in restoring digestive function and reversing related health problems.

Recognizing Celiac disease and gluten intolerance is becoming more prevalent thanks to numerous research groups and Celiac disease and gluten intolerance support groups.  The Gluten Intolerance Group of North America is a non profit organization whose mission is to support not only those suffering with Celiac disease but also provide support to those who suffer from other gluten intolerance and related diseases as well.

Through educational programs, events and alliances with research institutions, support organizations and industry representatives, GIG has become a leader in the Gluten Intolerance Community.    By providing support nationally and locally through its growing number of branches across the United States, GIG offers a wealth of tools and information for living a healthy, gluten-free lifestyle.  For more information visit the Gluten Intolerance Group website:

Friday, May 13, 2011

Living in Harmony with the Spring Season

Living in harmony with the seasons and cycles of nature brings us closer to living a healthy, balanced life.  As the season’s change we instinctively begin to change our behavior and modify our lifestyle to harmonize with the season.  When we don’t make those subtle shifts in behavior modification we often find ourselves suffering from a state of imbalance which may come in the form of illness or mental unrest.

Spring is a time to cleanse, revive and rejuvenate and play!  Moving away from heavy comfort foods and moving toward lighter more cleansing foods is appropriate in spring.   As the days grow longer and the temperatures grow warmer, our routines naturally begin to change.  We jump on the opportunity to get outside, soak up the sun and move our bodies.  From a mental perspective, our creative energies seem to take flight as we begin to envision ideas and initiate actions on a path towards an end.   When we make an effort to live in sync with the seasons life seems smoother and flows easier.

Becoming conscious of making seasonal food choices will help your body to more easily adapt to the changing season by providing proper nourishment for strength and support.  By choosing fresh produce in season we receive the benefits of peak freshness, taste and nutrition. The nutritional components of seasonal eating are also beneficial to our seasonal nutritional requirements. Celebrate with the fresh flavors of spring.  Experiment with new ways to incorporate the fresh bounty of spring into your cooking repertoire. 

Seasonal Produce /Spring Early Summer

Baby Lettuce                                      
Fava Beans
Fiddlehead Ferns                                           
Fingerling Potatoes                                        
Morel Mushrooms
Salad Greens
String Beans
Swiss Chard


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Love of the Garden

The irresistible urge to get out in the garden comes naturally in the Spring.  Once you’ve been bitten by the gardening bug it seems to stay with you forever.  It becomes an integral part of life.  Gardening is good for the body, mind and soul.  It creates the opportunity to get grounded and connect to nature.  It can be a meditative practice, a creative art and a practical discipline.  A garden can become a sanctuary and a personal bit of paradise.

Exploring nature and falling in love with it at a young age creates a childlike sense of awe and amazement that’s timeless.  Nature does a magnificent job creating an abundance of plants and wild flowers that can thoroughly keep the interest of any nature enthusiast.  But having backdoor access to nature’s gifts can be found when we create our own gardens.

 Planting flowers, shrubs and trees can add so much to a landscape. For many of us, our backyards and gardens have become an extension of our living space.  Beyond the aesthetics of a beautiful garden, the importance of an edible garden has found its way back into our hearts and on to our tables. We’ve discovered the pitfalls of convenience food and the impracticality of not obtaining food locally and seasonally. 

Whether it is big or small, a garden can be nourishing, healing or simply uplifting and beautiful.  Finding the time and space to start a garden is probably the greatest challenge but where there’s a will there’s a way.  Container gardening and rooftop gardening has become a popular alternative to traditional gardening.  Even just bringing some herbs onto the kitchen windowsill can stimulate the senses and inspire the many uses, both culinary and medicinal that herbs provide for us.  Take a moment to slow down and cultivate healthy, positive changes in your life today.  Happy Gardening!