How Come So Many No Longer Eat Gluten?

The numbers of people who have stopped eating foods made from grains that contain gluten is rapidly rising
The numbers of people who have stopped eating foods made from grains that contain gluten is rapidly rising


Are you Sensitive to the ‘G’ Word?

How many people do you know that have stopped eating gluten? Maybe you have done this yourself.

Increasingly, when people first come in to see me they say that they have taken themselves off gluten, or sometimes that they did so in the past but are now eating gluten once more. Some saw improvement in their symptoms, others not.

The incidence of Coeliac disease is on the rise. But in addition to those diagnosed with celiac disease there are many more with a gluten sensitivity, an inability to digest the protein gluten found in some grains. One study done by the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota showed that intolerance of wheat gluten is four times more common today that it was in the 1950’s. The way for the gluten sensitive to stop the effects on their body of the undigested gluten is, as with Coeliac disease, to avoid eating the foods.

Gluten sensitivity causes inflammation and an autoimmune response where the immune system starts to attack the body. The New England Journal of Medicine lists thirty-five diseases caused by gluten sensitivity including ADHD and depression and in these days of rising concern about the incidence of disease caused by inappropriate diet it is significant that gluten sensitivity increases your risk for Type 1 Diabetes, obesity, gastrointestinal cancers, brain disorders, autism and thyroid disease. Unfortunately, your risk of developing these diseases increases dramatically when there is a delay in proper diagnosis.

Modern wheat is different to old wheat varieties, as the proportion of gluten in wheat has increased enormously due to hybridization in modern wheat grains. Also, prior to the 19th Century wheat was always mixed with other grains, legumes or nuts when it was milled – pure refined white flour has only been around for about 200 years.

The modern Western diet is extremely grain heavy and so the consumption of gluten has also increased significantly. Many people may have developed their sensitivity to gluten because of overexposure. Gluten is added purposefully to products because it increases the hunger signals in the body and so you want to eat more of that product. I have heard, although haven’t verified, that up to ten times the amount of naturally occurring gluten is added to fluffy, white packaged bread.

When foods are in their natural state the components work synergistically, they balance each other and work together. But when one component is added or removed it becomes more difficult for the body to metabolise the food properly. This is why you are constantly encouraged to eat ‘Whole Foods’ – they are balanced.



Here are some signs that might indicate that you do.

  • The most obvious ones to look for are gastrointestinal and include bloating, wind, cramping, queasiness and nausea, constipation or diarrhea or both of them alternating.
  • Headaches and migraines can be caused by gluten
  • Connective tissue (tendons, ligaments) or muscle aches and pains
  • Dizziness, balance problems, tingling or numbness in your fingers and toes, or pain or weakness in the extremities.
  • Sudden mood shifts, chronic irritability, depression
  • Tiredness and fatigue, either chronic or occurring after every meal, chronic  fatigue syndrome (CFS)
  • Weight loss and weight gain
  • Eczema
  • Infertility, irregular menstrual cycles and miscarriage
  • Symptoms get worse with emotional trauma and stress

The difficulty is that these symptoms are common to lots of diseases which makes it difficult to definitely attribute them to gluten sensitivity. You don’t actually need to be diagnosed with any specific disease (like CFS or Fibromyalgia) or a gluten sensitivity to test out the possibility that your symptoms are due to gluten in your diet. If you are experiencing these symptoms it is worth investigating whether gluten is behind them.



If you are trying to work out if gluten is your enemy it is really important to do things systematically. Write down every symptom that you experience. Don’t dismiss any because you make assumptions about them – such as the aches and pains are because you sit too much. Include everything and don’t try and explain them.

Then go onto a gluten free diet for a couple of months. This can be harder than it seems because it doesn’t simply mean eating gluten free bread. Gluten is found hidden in many, many foods and it could well be worth consulting a Natural Medicine practitioner who has experience with food sensitivities to guide and support you through the process.

After you have been off gluten for a couple of months check out how many of the symptoms on your list you still experience. If a number of them have improved it might be worth sticking to the GF diet for a longer time. You may find that only a few have gone but if they are symptoms that cause you significant hardship or annoyance it will be worth keeping gluten free.

If you are sensitive to gluten, it is likely that after you have been gluten free for a while you will once more show the symptoms you had before going gluten free if you eat foods with gluten again.

Foods made from wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut (Khorasan), oats and triticale flours all contain gluten
Foods made from wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut (Khorasan), oats and triticale flours all contain gluten



Wheat is only one of the grains with gluten – others are barley, rye, spelt, kamut (Khorasan), oats and triticale. Other grains including buckwheat, millet, amaranth, rice, and quinoa are gluten free and you can use them freely.

If you decide that you can’t possibly go gluten free then it’s quite likely you are gluten intolerant. The foods that we are addicted to are usually ones that we have a problem with, as a chemical reaction occurs in our brain when we eat them causing us to crave them even more.

Do you suspect you may be gluten sensitive?


Would you some great Gluten Free (and Dairy-Free)  recipes? You’ll find lots of links to great recipes pinned here on my pinterest page.



All information and opinions presented here are for information only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before trying any of the treatment suggested on this site. 

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Drink Warm Lemon/Lime Water To Kickstart Your Day

lemon lime water


While most people know that it is really important to keep themselves hydrated but most don’t realise they can take that one step further for better health simply by drinking lemon water or lime water first thing in the morning.

Tomorrow, March 22, is World Water Day and while it is about water co-operation practices, what better day is there to start to improve our own personal hydration practices?



The way you begin each day is really important as it sets up whether you either increase or reduce your resistance to disease. Starting out each day being properly hydrated obviously stops dehydration, but it also has many other health benefits. These include kick-starting your digestion and toxin elimation for the day  and helping prevent adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is becoming far more common in these times of high stress living.

Adequate water intake is essential for the proper elimination of toxins from your body. When you’re dehydrated it becomes really difficult for your body to eliminate waste products which leads to a toxic buildup. You start to feel stressed, to get constipated, to develop arthritis, get outbreaks on your skin and many more problems.

In addition your body stores more fat when you’re dehydrated due to added stress on the kidneys and liver so they do not perform at their best.



One very simple practice to boost your intake of water that can be surprisingly helpful comes from Yogic or Ayurvedic practice, where it was used to stimulate the digestion and eliminate the toxic slime, called ama, that builds up in the gastro-intestinal tract.

It is the simple practice of drinking a mug of warm water with lemon or lime squeezed into it first thing in the morning. This helps to activate your body’s detoxifying process and also its natural cleansing processes.


Lemons and limes are one of natures great gifts and including them in your morning routine has huge health benefits
Lemons and limes are one of natures great gifts and including them in your morning routine has huge health benefits



1. Helps your liver eliminate toxins

Your liver loves warm lemon/lime water because it purifies and stimulates your digestion and toxin elimination by liquefying bile and inhibiting excess bile flow. The liver is able to produce more enzymes from lemon/lime water than from any other food to promote better digestion.

Your liver works very hard and is crucial to the function of many other body processes – a little lemon/lime support and nurture leads to a healthy and happy liver.

2. Helps digestion

Warm lemon/lime water increases the acidity of your digestive system as it’s very similar to saliva and the digestive juices in the stomach which break down food. It improves your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. An extra benefit of this process is to help with reducing hunger, great for weight loss.

3. Helps elimination of toxic wastes

Warm lemon/lime water helps your bowels to eliminate naturally and easily, reducing constipation. It also helps dilute accumulated the uric acid which causes arthritis or gout when it builds up in the body.

By supporting the liver in its detoxifying role it helps prevent acne.

It gently flushes your kidneys and cleanses your lymphatic system, another channel for the elimination of toxic waste products.

4. Balances pH

Lemon/lime water has an alkylizing effect in the body. Yes, even though they taste acidic they have an incredibly alkaline effect inside your body once they are metabolized! Even drinking lemon water just before any meal will help your body maintain a higher pH than if you didn’t drink it.

When your body has a higher internal pH, that is, it’s more alkaline, it’s far more resistant to most major (and minor) diseases which thrive in an acidic environment. Cancer cells for example breed better in an acidic environment.

5. Protects your cardiovascular and nervous systems

Lemons and limes are high in potassium which is a mineral that works alongside sodium and is vital for the smooth working of the nervous system and brain. Low potassium levels can lead to depression, anxiety, forgetfulness and brain fogginess as well as muscle cramps and heart arrhythmias. Potassium is crucial for heart health and can help prevent stroke.

6. Boosts your immune system

Lemons and limes contain good ratios of calcium and magnesium in plentiful quantities. These minerals work together to prevent many health problems. One lemon has 30.7mg of the antioxidant Vitamin C which is great for fighting off colds and chest infections. Lemons and limes have very high levels of the antioxidant Hesperidin which is anti-inflammatory and believed to have anti-cancer activity.

7. Helps weight loss

Lemons are high in pectin fibre which helps fight hunger cravings. By cleaning out toxins and internal waste they help speed up weight loss, and in addition promote quick bursts of energy. Because the effect works proportionally, the more you drink the more weight loss should speed up. If you replace your other drinks with lemon water you also have the advantage of a zero kilojoule drink.



Take lemon water first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, before eating or drinking anything else. Squeeze half a lemon or lime into half a glass of warm water, stir it and drink. The water will turn cloudy when you add the lemon or lime. It’s good to then wait between half to one hour before you eat to get the best results.

  • Don’t use bottled lemon or lime juice – use fresh fruit.
  • Make sure the water you use is pure – filtered or spring water
  • Make sure the water is warm – don’t use cold water as it is very hard on the digestion, slowing it down. Don’t use hot water either as it will kill the enzymes in freshly squeezed juice
  • Don’t add sugar or other sweeteners

If you want even more from your lemon/lime water you could really spice up your metabolism by simply adding a pinch of ground cinnamon and a pinch of ground ginger. The cinnamon is a great addition if you have any issues with blood sugars.


This is such an easy habit to adopt, it’s cheap, easy and certain to build your health. Try it out for a month and see how it can radically change how you start your day.

Which of the benefits that warm lemon/lime water offers would be the one to get you started on drinking it daily? Tell me in the comments below. Or is you already know and love lemon water what benefits have you noticed?

Warm lemon water to boost your health all day long
Warm lemon water to boost your health all day long


All information and opinions presented here are for information only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before trying any of the treatment suggested on this site. 


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Sure-fire Strategies to Stop The After-lunch ‘Sleepies’

Are you someone who finds that come mid afternoon it is all you can do to keep your eyes open? Well you most certainly are not alone as millions of others share your dilemma. But before you reach for that can of energy drink or cup of coffee to help you see out the day, it is possible to keep energy levels relatively stable throughout the day so you don’t end up simply staring off into space after lunch, and here are some ways to help you avoid getting that energy crash in the first place – there is bound to be one that works for you!

after lunch sleepies

Why You Crash

There are a number of reasons why you might be experiencing the afternoon slump just as there are a number of techniques you can do to snap yourself out of it when your eyelids start to drop. But if you want a significant change in energy fluctuations you need to make permanent changes to whatever it is that is acting as a trigger for your energy lows.

There are lots of ailments that can cause you to feel tired after lunch, such as allergies, insulin resistance, celiac disease or low blood sugar. But your tiredness may be due to something as simple as eating a big lunch. Digestion requires quite a lot of energy and as your stomach loads up with food extra blood rushes into your intestines from all over your body to help with the extra work. This leaves the rest of your body, including your brain somewhat deprived, with the result that you start to feel exhausted. Eat a big breakfast and opt for a smaller, light lunch.

Better Lunch Choices

There are many lunch choices that can lie behind afternoon ‘sleepies’. Avoiding meat at lunch may be a wise choice when it comes to fighting fatigue as meat is one of the hardest foods to digest. It takes two hours to digest meat compared with only thirty minutes to digest fruit. Eating a meatless lunch will place a lot less stress on your digestive system and keep that blood flowing to the brain and lungs.

Don’t forget to chew your lunch really well as saliva is loaded with enzymes that start off the digestion process. The more broken down by saliva that the food is when it reaches your stomach, the easier it will for your body to continue the process through the gut, and the less likely it will be for you to feel tired.

Gluten Intolerance

An intolerance to gluten, the protein found in some grains, can cause after-lunch fatigue in anyone suffering from coeliac disease after they have eaten foods containing gluten at lunch. But many people who have a gluten intolerance without actually having coeliac disease also benefit from removing gluten from their diet. It may be worth having this checked out if you suspect gluten intolerance is behind your tiredness.

Another reason for many people experiencing low energy level between one and four hours after eating is hypoglyceamia. Eating a lunch high in refined carbohydrates causes the blood sugars to rise rapidly, or spike, and this is followed a few hours later with a crash in blood sugars that results in fatigue, often with dizziness or shakiness. The onset will often be faster if you exercise as well. A lunch of vegetables and protein is a much better choice than refined carbohydrates. Low GI food alternatives you could look at include most fruits and vegetables, lentils, beans, hummus, quinoa, nuts and seeds. You can find a list of the GI Index rating of lots of foods here

Insulin resistance

Another sugar related cause of fatigue after eating may be insulin resistance. When excess sugar or carbohydrates are eaten the body produces more insulin, but over time your cells start to resist the insulin which leads to all sorts of health conditions, including fatigue.


One cause of afternoon tiredness that is often overlooked is caffeine. Drinking two or three cups of coffee in the morning may get you going during the morning but you pay for it later. As well as the short-lived burst of energy that caffeine provides to you, it also contributes to dehydration, a leading cause of fatigue. Think of coffee as ‘credit-card’ food (eat now, pay later) Studies show that a single cup of coffee is sufficient to keep long-haul truck drivers more alert so replace that second coffee with a large glass of water. And more importantly, don’t use caffeine as an afternoon pick-up. If you find you absolutely must have some caffeine drink green tea instead. As well as the mild dose of caffeine it contains you will receive all the other wonderful benefits green tea has to offer. Tulsi tea is another great afternoon energizer especially if adrenal fatigue is playing a part. Don’t forget that caffeine is like any drug and your body will develop a caffeine tolerance, so that where you only needed one cup originally after time you might find you need six or even ten to get the energy burst you need.


Most people working in an office will sit hunched up over their computer for most of the day and as fatigue hits in the afternoon they tend to slump down over their desk even further. Sitting up straight – shoulders back, eyes forward and lower back arched slightly -and taking some good deep breaths right down into the bottom of the lungs can re-energise you very quickly. Stand up and add a few stretches for even more benefit.

Electro Magnetic Fields

It’s worth remembering that being surrounded by EMF’s (often called electromagnetic radiation) can cause fatigue and these are always high around any electric equipment. EMF’s are especially high where there are wireless devices such as computers, wireless phones, printers, laptops, mobile phones, baby monitors, internet connections etc. so getting away from your desk or taking steps to lesson the effects will help keep you more alert.

Body Clock

If you are living in places where the sun sets during the afternoon in winter it may also be due to your own body clock. As the day starts to get dark about mid-afternoon your body temperature drops and the hormone melatonin, which makes you feel sleepy, is released. Circadian rhythms contribute to how alert you feel so open the curtains to let in the sunlight or else simply turn on more lights if it is dark outside.

Watch your sleep routine. Sleep recharges your body physically and mentally. Get yourself into a regular routine of going to bed and waking up at the same time and stick to it. You need seven to eight hours sleep a night. Studies have shown that ‘Binge Sleeping’ for one or two days a week does not counteract the sleep debt from the other nights of the week. If you don’t get enough sleep fatigue is likely to be the result. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends, for more energy.


Studies have shown that deep breathing can relieve general fatigue


image: Shawn Rossi
image: Shawn Rossi

Natural Strategies To Adopt

If, in spite of taking measures to address what may be contributing to your tiredness, you still find yourself falling asleep during the after lunch meeting here are some strategies that may help in the moment:

  1. Research shows that the aroma of peppermint is a natural remedy for boosting memory, focus and concentration. It is just as effective whether it is fresh leaves, essential oil or brewed tea. Enjoy a cup of peppermint tea, spray a mist of a few drops of peppermint essential oil in a cup of water about your workspace, or even place a few drops of the oil on a handkerchief to sniff, or keep a pot of mint nearby and crush a couple of leaves during the afternoon
  2. If your tiredness is related to blood sugar imbalance chewing a cinnamon stick might help as it has been shown to have a significant influence on regulating blood sugars
  3. If you are able to get away briefly a quick power nap in your car could be just enough to revive you
  4. Listening to music has been shown to raise endorphin levels which makes you feel happier. Play your favourite music or sing out loud to get you motivated again.
  5. Dehydration causes fatigue so drink some water, or even eat some foods with a high water content like lettuce or watermelon, and combine it with a walk to the water cooler to get away from your desk.
  6. Protein from nuts or yoghurt makes a good snack when you start to slump in the afternoon
  7. Get up and run up the stairs or around the block if you can. It starts the blood pumping and gives the brain a boost.
  8. Meditate – yes seriously, just a five minute meditation at your desk is enough to clear out your head and revive, refresh and recharge you.
  9. Just as animals hibernate when the weather turns cold, getting too cold can make you feel sleepy too, so throw on a jumper or turn up the heating to wake yourself up (this is usually a big help for me!)
  10. And if you are lucky enough to work from home or your workplace is a little more free you could do some exercises or hit the gym, turn the music up really loud, take a short cold shower or do some yoga

What are some of the ways that you manage the mid-afternoon ‘sleepies’?


sleepy after lunch


All information and opinions presented here are for information only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before trying any of the treatment suggested on this site. 


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Crazy In The Coconut? Coconut Oil To The Rescue

The amazing therapeutic benefits of this humble food, particularly the oil, have been recently recognised
The amazing therapeutic benefits of this humble food, particularly the oil, have been recently recognised

Yesterday I needed coconut oil while I was out driving, as my bare shoulder got sunburnt through the car window. A layer of coconut oil, which has an SPF of 4 would have probably been just enough to stop the burn. The smell of coconut oil always brings back the memory of childhood beach holidays for me, but it’s use went out of favour when the ‘slip, slop, slap’ campaign began. It’s only recently come back into favour.

Right now, the biggest buzz word in natural health is coconut, and the amazing therapeutic benefits of this humble food, particularly the oil, have been loudly touted of late.

In fact coconuts are not nuts at all, and unlike nuts they are a relatively low-allergenic food, although in spite of this some people may have an allergy to coconut. The flesh and milk of the fruit are nutrient rich, particularly potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc, so it’s no surprise that coconuts were traditionally considered a good tonic food. In addition to the minerals the extra-virgin coconut oil also has high levels of antioxidants, which help to mop up free radicals in the body and slow down the aging process. Cold-pressed extra-virgin coconut oil has the most therapeutic value and is the one to use.

But, as I mentioned, it is the coconut oil that makes this fruit such a treasure. For years coconuts sat at the top of the ‘bad fats’ list and were shunned because their oil is a saturated fat. But, recently it was recognised that unlike the long-chain saturated fats of animal origin, coconut oil works very differently in the body, and is highly beneficial.

Coconut oil is one of the very few dietary sources of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) which are absorbed, transported and metabolized in your body very differently from other fats. It is a rich source of lauric acid which stimulates metabolism, helps with energy production and speeds up the rate that your body burns fat. If you are trying to lose a few kilos then make coconut oil your friend – even though you usually gain weight when you consume animal fats and some vegetable fats, it is actually possible to lose weight when you eat coconut oil. Importantly, unlike saturated animal fats it does not have a negative effect on cholesterol and actually protects heart function and cardiac tissue, reducing the risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis.

Studies have shown that coconut is useful to the body in many ways. It can help balance blood sugar levels in diabetics and reduce sugar cravings; improve thyroid function: improve digestive function by reducing or relieving the symptoms of pancreatitis, gallbladder disease, Chrohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis, malabsorption syndrome and stomach ulcers; reduce or relieve epileptic seizures: reduce prostate enlargement; relieve symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and chronic fatigue syndrome. It is also thought to strengthen the immune system and stop the spread of cancer cells, especially breast and colon.

It has also long been recognised that coconut oil will kill the bacteria that cause throat infections, gum diseases as well as other bacterial infections, and coconut oil pulling can reduce tooth decay and improve oral health. More recently coconut has also been found to be antifungal and can be helpful treating candida and athletes foot.


There has always been a problem with many of the oils used for cooking as many oils, including olive oil, are damaged when they are heated even at relatively low temperatures, turning rancid and oxidising, resulting in higher levels of free radicals being produced in your body. Coconut oil has stepped in to fill the much needed role of an oil that is suitable for cooking at high temperatures. It can be heated to 120ْ C before it is damaged so is perfect for frying and baking and in addition it does not turn rancid and oxidize when heated.

Try out these cooking ideas for yourself.

Roll vegetables in a mix of liquefied coconut oil and cumin in equal quantities before baking them for a yummy healthy treat. Or roll cut potatoes (organic) in straight coconut oil and bake for delicious crunchy home-made wedges.

Coconut oil can be used in place of butter in recipes and mixes beautifully with raw cacao. Here is a yummy recipe for Raw Cacao Bliss Balls using coconut oil.


Coconut oil has long been revered throughout Asia and the island nations for its wonderful moisturizing effects on the skin. According to nutrition author Christine Cronau, who regards coconut oil as a great youth elixir, coconut oil benefits the skin when it is consumed as well as when it is applied externally. She says that when quality fats like coconut oil are used on the skin they plump up the cells and keep them hydrated. When we remove fat, especially saturated fat from our diet our skin starts to shrivel up. Consuming vegetable oils ages your skin faster than consuming saturated fats like coconut oil and in recent years the trend has been to eat more vegetable oils and fewer saturated fats, so our skin is suffering as a result.

During a recent massage the practitioner told me she was trialing coconut oil as her massage oil base and finding it fantastic to work with. It certainly glided on and my skin felt amazing afterwards. It would make a great whole body moisturizer or add some to your bath for a lovely all-over soft skin.

Recently I tried coconut oil on my hair to tame the ‘natural dry frizz’ and the result was great. I left it on my hair for an hour before washing it and the oil left it silky smooth. You could also rub some between your palms and then just work it through your hair.

It seems that massaging the oil into your scalp is good for dandruff, although luckily I don’t suffer from that.

coconut oil Phu Thinh Co


Look for organic, unrefined, cold pressed coconut oil. Coconut oil needs to be stored in a glass jar, preferably a dark one, to prevent spoiling. At room temperature it is solid, but over 24ْ C it will liquefy. I use one called Oil 4 Life in an amber bottle.

Coconut oil is generally regarded as having no known side effects other than if you are used to a low-fat diet you may get diarrhoea. Start slowly with a small amount.

Although in countries where coconuts are produced they are considered beneficial to pregnant and lactating women, in the West, where low-fat diets rule the day, it is recommended not to introduce coconut oil into your diet at this time unless you have been consuming coconut regularly with no adverse effects.

Although many nutritionists and other health professionals recommend including coconut oil in your diet, it is worth noting that the Heart foundation does not support eating it because it is a saturated fat, in spite of the fact that the fats are of the healthy MCFA type. It seems that the conservative response to the growing popularity has been to either advise not to eat it or else to use it in moderation. But up against this is the positive experience of many coconut oil devotees as well as the positive findings of the studies that have been conducted.

Have you got any ways that you love using coconut oil? Share them in the comments below.


All information and opinions presented here are for information only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before trying any of the treatment suggested on this site. 


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