Thursday, May 29, 2014

Your gluten problem might really be a carb problem

Americans and their sensitive bellies bought $10.5 billion worth of gluten-free food products in 2013, but a new study indicates that, with the exception of people with celiac disease, the real gastrointestinal culprit may be something else entirely.
Instead of gluten—a protein found in cereal grains like wheat and rye—researchers Peter Gibson and Jessica Biesiekierski are pointing the finger at short-chain carbs known as FODMAPs.
The fact that Gibson and Biesiekierski are behind the assertion is notable: Their 2011 research tied gluten to gastrointestinal distress in people without celiac disease, and helped spur the gluten-free trend, reports Real Clear Science.
But lacking an understanding of why gluten caused these reactions, they repeated the experiment in an even more exacting fashion: Participants were provided with every single meal, which was free of anything that could cause gastrointestinal distress, from lactose to preservatives.
What they found (the results were actually published a year ago) was that the presence or absence of gluten wasn't a reliable trigger, but FODMAPs—NPR specifically calls out the FODMAP fructan, which just so happens to be found in wheat—may very well be.
Says Biesiekierski of the study's participants, "Reduction of FODMAPs in their diets uniformly reduced gastrointestinal symptoms." For those who want to try a low-FODMAP diet, the Daily Mail has a guide to foods that are high and low in them.

US birth rate hits lows for teens, rises among older women

The birth rate among U.S. teens and young women dropped to record lows last year, while the rate among older women hit highs not seen in a half century, according to government statistics released on Thursday.

The general fertility rate overall in the United States reached a record low of 62.9 births per 1,000 women, said the report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

Overall, 3,957,577 babies were born last year in the United States, it said.

The birth rate for teens - ages 15 to 19 - dropped 10 percent to 26.6 births per 1,000, an historic low. The number of births to teens also hit a new low.

"Certainly the drop in the teen birth rate is pretty astounding," said Carl Haub, senior demographer with the Population Reference Bureau.

He said the drop was likely attributable to educational efforts to prevent teen pregnancy and that economic factors also affected the rate, which began to fall dramatically during the recession that began in 2007.

The report also showed that the birth rate and number of births among girls ages 10 to 14 hit historic lows.

The birth rate for women in their early 20s declined to a record low as well, it said.

Meanwhile, birth rates for women in their 30s and 40s rose. Among the 35-to-39 age group, the birth rate was the highest since 1963. Among women ages 40 to 44, the birth rate was the highest since 1966.

"We are going up the age ladder and have been for many, many years," said Haub, citing women opting to postpone childbirth to get higher education or establish themselves in their careers.

Statistics have been calculated and analyzed since 1940.

Sleeplessness, eczema and even heart palpitations... The women who don't realise they're WINE INTOLERANT

  • Thousands of British women are thought to be affected
  • However few realise the cause is their favourite tipple
  • It's so common doctors even give it a nickname: 'holiday heart syndrome'
  • In severe cases it can even cause heart failure

  • As she lay in bed after having dinner and sharing a bottle  of wine at a restaurant with her husband, Laura-Jane Barnell suddenly felt her chest tighten and her heart begin racing wildly.
    For the next ten, frightening minutes, she lay in pain, waiting for the palpitations to calm down. But when they didn’t, she staggered across to open the window to get some air, all the while hearing her pulse thumping loudly in her ears. 
    ‘I was terrified that I was about to have a heart attack,’ says Laura-Jane, 38. 
    Terrifying effects: Before she realised she was intolerant to wine Laura-Jane Barnell thought her symptoms were a heart attack
    Terrifying effects: Before she realised she was intolerant to wine Laura-Jane Barnell thought her symptoms were a heart attack

    ‘I went to see my GP because this was becoming a regular occurrence most Saturday nights.
    ‘I didn’t have a clue what was causing it but I was scared it was serious. I even stopped exercising, fearful that I might have an undetected heart problem.’

    But she didn’t. In fact the pain and palpitations had a different explanation: Laura-Jane was experiencing an adverse reaction to the wine she so enjoyed. Her GP explained that while thousands of British women are thought to be affected, few realise the cause of their distress is their favourite tipple because the problem is not widely written or talked about.
    Yet it’s so common, doctors have even given it a nickname: ‘holiday heart syndrome’. Why? Because people who rarely drink at home will reach for a glass on holiday and suddenly suffer an unexpected reaction. In severe cases, it can even cause heart failure. 
    A lack of research means we do not know why wine can have the effect and there’s no cure, except to give it up.
    Relieved: Laura-Jane hasn't had a drop of wine since her diagnosis
    Relieved: Laura-Jane hasn't had a drop of wine since her diagnosis

    The problem is quite distinct from the well-known issues surrounding excessive consumption of alcohol, such as liver damage, reduced fertility, high blood pressure and increased risk of various cancers and heart attack. 
    For, in this case, rather than many years of heavy drinking leading to problems, even relatively small amounts can lead to immediate — and terrifying — consequences. Many complain they suffer from palpitations after less than a single glass of wine. 
    Laura-Jane, an administration manager for a retailer, hasn’t touched a drop since she was diagnosed with holiday heart syndrome five years ago and hasn’t had another incident since.
    ‘I had my first attack about a decade ago after dining at a friend’s house,’ says Laura-Jane, who lives in Hartwell, Northamptonshire, with her husband Jon, 40, and their children Lexie, five, and Lennon, three. ‘I assumed I’d just drunk too much white wine.
    ‘But over the next few years it reached a point where it didn’t matter whether I had several glasses on a Saturday night out or a couple of mouthfuls at the end of a stressful day — the physical reaction was always the same.
    ‘I was surprised but relieved when my doctor said it was a common reaction to wine since the irony is that, like millions of women, I often used to have a glass to unwind or to relax before bed. I haven’t touched a drop of wine since as I never want to feel so poorly again.’
    Consultant cardiologist Zaheer Yousef says the condition is becoming increasingly prevalent among those over 30 because nowadays we drink wine to relieve stress, as well as when we’re out socially.  
    ‘Alcohol can trigger heart palpitations, arrhythmias — where the heart beats too slowly or too quickly,’ explains Dr Yousef. ‘If sustained for long periods of time, a racing heart can cause heart failure. 
    Meanwhile the arrythmias can lead to the development of blood clots which can cause a stroke.’
    Dr Yousef, from the University Hospital of Wales, says it’s not known why alcohol — particularly wine — is to blame, but it’s quite common to suddenly develop an intolerance.
    ‘As we get older,’ says Dr Yousef, ‘our body becomes more intolerant of alcohol, our heart changes, and our blood pressure and hormones alter. This is a complicated cocktail that can increase a person’s susceptibility to palpitations and arrhythmias. 
    ‘You could experience this reaction to alcohol for a couple of years and then it might pass. Again, it’s not known exactly why.’
    Holiday heart syndrome: Many people who do not usually drink at home suffer an unexpected reaction when they have wine on holiday
    Holiday heart syndrome: Many people who do not usually drink at home suffer an unexpected reaction when they have wine on holiday

    Heart palpitations aren’t the only problem that wine can cause. 
    Even the smallest amounts have been linked to causing extreme nausea and exacerbation of chronic skin disorders such as eczema and rosacea — a reddening of the facial skin. 
    If Sarah Rowlands, 29, has so much as a sip of wine, the rosacea that’s plagued her from the age of 14 goes into overdrive.
    ‘Within five minutes, I can feel my face burning up,’ explains Sarah, a business development manager for a technical company. The first time Sarah, from London, noticed the problem was during her final year studying languages at Oxford University. 
    ‘My friends and I drank a lot of wine to calm our nerves as we revised for our final exams,’ she says. 
    ‘My skin was particularly problematic at the time and there was barely a day when the redness and sore lumps weren’t raging but I didn’t connect the two things at the time. 
    ‘Then, when I started work, I quickly got into the habit of having a glass of wine to unwind at the end of the day, only for my skin to flare up dramatically. I’d also feel nauseous after a couple of mouthfuls.’
    Lack of research: Despite the problem being a common one no one knows why wine has this effect on so many women and there is no cure
    Lack of research: Despite the problem being a common one no one knows why wine has this effect on so many women and there is no cure

    It was only when she sought help from specialists a few years ago that wine was diagnosed to be the cause of her problems.
    ‘I’ve seen many skin experts and the one thing they all agree on is that wine exacerbates rosacea considerably, possibly as a result of the amount of refined sugar it contains,’ she says. Sarah now sticks to vodka and soda as it doesn’t irritate her skin.
    Consultant dermatologist Dr Bav Shergill says: ‘You’d think spirits and other alcohol would have the same effect but there seems to be something about wine, and red wine in particular, that many rosacea sufferers report as causing a big flare-up.
    ‘This could be down to some of the additives in the wine or the fermentation process, such as the tannins, sulphites or colourants used. 
    ‘We don’t currently understand why, but we do know that alcohol dilates the capillaries in the face and therefore the circulation. 
    ‘This could be responsible for exacerbating flare-ups in rosacea sufferers as well as those with psoriasis and eczema who find their skin condition becomes almost instantly inflamed and itchy. 
    Again, we don’t know exactly why, but it could be linked to alcohol dehydrating the body and skin.’
    Maybe this is why wine sales have dropped three per cent in the past year while those of spirits and liqueurs have soared by up to 20 per cent. Or it could be because wine can stop you from sleeping too. Natasha Collins-Daniel, 30, gave up her favourite tipple, white wine, after suffering from severe insomnia — as well as a racing heart — every time she indulged.
    The first time it happened was in her early 20s, when she found she couldn’t sleep after drinking even one glass. After many similar experiences over the years, Natasha, a manager for the Soil Association, realised wine was causing the problem. 
    ‘It was the only rational explanation as the sleeplessness and racing heart only ever happened when 
    I drank white wine,’ explains Natasha, who lives in Bristol with husband James and their five-month-old baby, Nina. 
    ‘I now stick to gin and tonic but at a friend’s wedding recently, I forgot myself and had a glass of wine.’ 
    Scared: Laura-Jane initially thought she had an undetected heart problem
    Scared: Laura-Jane initially thought she had an undetected heart problem

    That night,  she couldn’t sleep and found herself standing outside in the early hours with raging insomnia. Dr Yousef explains that although many women drink wine in the evening to help them unwind in the belief it will encourage restful sleep, wine — and alcohol in general — is a well-known cause of sleeplessness.
    ‘The human body produces an essential amino acid called glutamine which is a natural stimulant, almost like your own in-built caffeine, but alcohol suppresses its production,’ he explains. 
    ‘So when you first go to bed after a few drinks, the alcohol may have a sedative effect, but then there is what’s called “rebound awakening”, where the amount of glutamine being produced suddenly increases, stimulating you to such a degree that you simply cannot sleep.’ 
    Dr Sarah Jarvis, a GP and medical adviser to Drinkaware, says that perhaps we need to call time on the culture of ‘wine o’clock’. 
    ‘The great irony is that wine has become the drink of choice for women in the belief that a few glasses will help them to relax, and feel more sociable,’ says Dr Jarvis. 
    ‘But actually it’s leading to a rise in those women suffering health problems such as palpitations, insomnia and exacerbation of skin conditions, although many of them have yet to make the link between the two.’

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    The great myth about breastfeeding and weightloss: New mothers are told breastfeeding will shift that post-pregnancy tum. In fact, it did the OPPOSITE for these women...

  • According to the NHS the average woman gains 22-26lb while pregnant
  • The body lays down 8lb of fat close in preparation for breastfeeding
  • Breastfeeding propganda promises it will burn up to 750 calories a day
  • Heidi Klum credited breastfeeding to her rapid weight loss
  • However many women experience weight gain while breastfeeding

  • Weight gain: Breastfeeding Hannah has piled on the pounds since becoming a mother to Edwin
    Weight gain: Breastfeeding Hannah has piled on the pounds since becoming a mother to Edwin

    Pulling on her size 10, pre-pregnancy skinny jeans less than a fortnight after giving birth last year,  Hannah Newman-Evans couldn't contain her delight at regaining her figure so quickly.
    Rather than using pregnancy as an excuse to put up her feet and gorge for two, she'd continued to eat healthily and walk up to six miles a day - determined to avoid putting on unnecessary pounds.
    In fact, she only gained just over a stone, which was almost all bump.
    However, eight months after having her son, Edwin, it's a very different story. She has piled on 16lb, gone up to a size 14-16 and hides her body inside baggy tops and stretchy jeggings.
    The cause of this dramatic weight gain? Hannah believes it's down to breastfeeding.
    Even though much of the breastfeeding propaganda extols its figure-shrinking virtues - promising it will burn up to 750 calories a day while flattening the stomach by encouraging the uterus to contract - Hannah says: 'I'm as big as I was at nine months pregnant.'
    Like Hannah, I also have an eight-month-old baby - but I chose not to breastfeed, much to the derision of several midwives who tried to persuade me that feeding would encourage my body to snap back into shape.
    And Hannah, a former marketing manager, who runs a country pub in the New Forest with her husband Malcolm, 35, tells me: 'When I was 12 weeks pregnant, I got a leaflet on breastfeeding from my midwife. Inside, a cartoon depicted a pregnant woman telling her midwife she was unsure whether to breastfeed.
    '"Well, you should, because you will get your figure back and your husband will like that!" declared the nurse.
    'The message that breastfeeding would help me lose pregnancy pounds was also pushed in the classes I went to with the National Childbirth Trust and La Leche League (a pro-breastfeeding group).
    'Even though I chose to breastfeed because I believed it would be best for my son, being slim has always been important to me, so I can't deny this made it even more appealing.'

    The average woman gains 22-26lb while pregnant, according to the NHS, and the body lays down around 8lb of fat close to birth in preparation for breastfeeding.
    Hannah in her pre-motherhood days when she was slimmer, left. She believes breastfeeding is to blame for her size now

    The benefits of nursing for mums are listed everywhere, from ante-natal leaflets to NHS websites. They include reduced risk of developing some types of ovarian and breast cancer, lower risk of hip fractures and diabetes when older - and faster weight loss.
    Leading breast-pump manufacturer Medela claims studies show that breastfeeding mums could lose almost double the weight in the first three months compared with those who bottle-feed.
    Celebs who've pedalled the 'breastfeeding makes you slim' message include celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson, who has worked with Gwyneth Paltrow and Kim Kardashian, and supermodel Heidi Klum, who was back on the catwalk in a bikini six weeks after baby number four. She credited breastfeeding for her rapid post-natal weight loss.
    But is promising that nursing leads to weight loss actually little more than a cynical government strategy to reach breastfeeding targets - by preying on women's insecurities about their post-partum bodies?
    Hannah's experience of getting fatter the longer she breastfeeds is certainly not unusual. Her sentiments are echoed by Emily Chilton, 30, a childminder who lives in North London with her husband Mark, an engineer who's also 30.
    Used to be a size 8-10: Emily Chilton with her baby Holly, left, and with her husband Mark when she was slimmer

    They have three daughters: Leah, nine, Lucy, two, and 3½ month Holly. Their first baby died aged eight months from meningitis.
    Emily is about to stop breastfeeding Holly because she's desperate to lose the 1½ st she's gained since giving birth.
    'I've always been a size 6-8, and with each of my four pregnancies I continued to eat healthily and remain active in a bid not to pile on weight,' says Emily, a former underwriter for a shipping-insurance company. 'I gained almost 3st during each pregnancy but much of that was fluid retention. The weight melted away after the births but crept on again when I started feeding.
    'I only fed Leah for four weeks, so the impact was minimal. With Lucy I breastfed for eight weeks, during which I gained half a stone. Since breastfeeding Holly I've been gaining around 2lb a week, and I now have at least 20lb to lose.
    'Although the reason I wanted to breastfeed was the belief that it was best for my children, everything I read about breastfeeding during my last pregnancy included the message that it would help me lose weight. This was endorsed at my NCT class, where there was a huge poster outlining all of the incentives to breastfeed, including weight loss.
    'I'm not one of those women who enjoys pregnancy. I hated looking and feeling fat, and pinned a lot of hope on breastfeeding helping me to lose the weight more quickly this time. But the opposite has happened.'
    Emily with her daughters: She hoped breastfeeding them would help her lose the baby weight but she's bigger now than she's ever been
    Emily with her daughters: She hoped breastfeeding them would help her lose the baby weight but she's bigger now than she's ever been

    So are the maternity mafia guilty of misleading women into breastfeeding, with the promise of getting their figure back, or are new mums to blame by simply eating too much?
    Sioned Quirke, a dietician who advises women on nutrition during and after pregnancy and a spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association, says the problem is that women are only told half the story. 'Essentially it's hype used to make breastfeeding appealing to women who want to get their figures back and might not otherwise breastfeed,' she claims.
    'But breastfeeding is a very sedentary activity, women commonly experience ravenous hunger while feeding, and hormone changes can lead them to hang on to pregnancy pounds or gain new ones.
    'And many believe that because they're being told their body will burn all these extra calories, it's a licence to eat more.'
    Bigger now than then: Emily when she was eight months pregnant
    Bigger now than then: Emily when she was eight months pregnant

    Although Hannah intends to continue breastfeeding her son until he's a year old so he'll get the maximum benefits, she despairs about the impact on her body.
    'As someone who's always taken a pride in having a slim figure, it's heartbreaking that my waist is now three inches larger than pre-pregnancy and my dress size is a 14-16,' she says.
    'Although all my main meals are healthy, I wasn't prepared for the ravenous hunger that means I get through three or four packets of biscuits a week, or for being tied to the armchair for up to five hours a day feeding my son.'
    Heather Neil, an NCT breastfeeding counsellor, concedes: 'There is no guarantee that breastfeeding will lead to weight loss.'
    But she adds: 'Several studies show that, generally, breastfeeding women get back to their pre-pregnancy weight more quickly than women who don't or who breastfeed for a short time.'
    The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is equally defensive. 'We don't advocate our midwives using weight loss as an incentive to get women to breastfeed - the focus is on the health benefits to mum and baby,' says Janet Fyle, RCM’s professional policy adviser.
    Sioned Quirke says more needs to be done to warn women that while breastfeeding burns calories, other factors mean they'll want to eat loads more too.


    Breastfeeding should begin within one hour
    of birth, according to World Health Organisation guidelines
    'Because the hunger that comes with breastfeeding can be all-consuming, many mums use it as an excuse to eat more,' she explains. 'Their calorie intake is then too high and they gain weight.
    'Lack of routine and sleep can also contribute to overeating. Then there's the hormone prolactin, released by the pituitary gland during pregnancy and breastfeeding, which triggers milk production and encourages the body to lay down 5-10 lb of fat in preparation.
    'Some research suggests that if you have a higher level of prolactin, it can suppress your metabolism and lead to the development of obesity.
    'Generally, breastfeeding burns around 500 calories a day, the equivalent of a shop-bought sandwich and a small packet of crisps. But that doesn’t mean you should be eating that to compensate. Ask yourself: "Am I overweight?" If the answer's yes, you don't need the extra calories.
    'Women who are breastfeeding should improve the quality of the food and snacks they already eat, rather than increasing the amount.
    'Snack on yogurt or fruit, not biscuits and cake. And keep your fluids up, as many mums are often so busy that they forget to drink and then mistake raging thirst for hunger.'
    Craved fatty foods: Lauren, with son Harry, piled on the pounds when breastfeeding as she was always hungry and didn't watch what she ate
    Craved fatty foods: Lauren, with son Harry, piled on the pounds when breastfeeding as she was always hungry and didn't watch what she ate

    These are rules Lauren Woodward bitterly regrets not following. She stopped breastfeeding her second child five months ago and estimates she now has 3st to lose before she can ditch her size 16-18 clothes and return to the size 12-14 she was immediately after giving birth.
    'We're sold this myth that we'll lose weight while breastfeeding, so it's a bit of a shock to find yourself putting on the pounds,' says Lauren, 28, who lives near Lowestoft, Suffolk, with her husband Jonathan, 38, a company director, and their sons Charles, five, and Harry, two.
    'Most women think the danger time for gaining weight is during pregnancy, not afterwards.
    'I was a size 12 before I had kids, and wore size 12 non-maternity clothes during both pregnancies. When I was expecting Charles, I only gained just over a stone and weighed less after I'd given birth than before I got pregnant.
    'But that changed when I started breastfeeding. I actually stopped when I discovered I was three months pregnant with Harry. But by then I'd gained around half a stone and didn't get the chance to lose it.'
    Lauren breastfed because she believed it was best for her babies, but the idea of it helping her slim down was a big draw, too - sold to her at ante-natal classes and reinforced by her local breastfeeding support team.
    Feels misled: Lauren was told she would snap back into shape after childbirth of she breastfed
    Feels misled: Lauren was told she would snap back into shape after childbirth of she breastfed

    'While I was feeding both times, support workers made comments such as: "Oh, you're breastfeeding so you'll soon be back to your pre-pregnancy weight."
    'While pregnant with Harry I gained almost a stone more than I had with Charles. Most of that fell away within weeks of giving birth. But then I gained more than 2st while breastfeeding.
    'I'd assumed that breastfeeding would burn so many calories that I wouldn't need to worry about what I ate. And my midwife told me I'd ping back into shape if I was breastfeeding - but didn't warn me about the insatiable hunger.
    'I bitterly regret thinking that I didn't need to eat sensibly. I used it as an  excuse to eat man-size portions, take-aways and cake.
    'I fed Harry till last December when he was 29 months, and stopped mainly because of my weight. But my body has got used to eating fatty foods and take-aways so they are what I find myself craving. It's going to take a long time to get back to sensible eating habits.'
    Emily Chilton also wishes there was more honesty about the impact of breastfeeding on a woman's body, and says she feels cheated.
    'If the experts told you that just because you burn extra calories while feeding it won’t necessarily translate into weight loss, maybe I wouldn't feel that my weight gain is so disastrous.
    'Breast might be best for baby, but I'm a big believer that mums still matter, too, and I feel no shame for wanting to be a bit selfish and have my body back. After all, a happy mum equals happy children.'
    And Sioned Quirke says: 'Instead of offering false hope in thinly veiled marketing messages, women deserve a more realistic picture of breastfeeding.
    Breast is best for baby: But mothers shouldn't see if as a quick fix for weightloss if they don't also consider their diet
    Breast is best for baby: But mothers shouldn't see if as a quick fix for weightloss if they don't also consider their diet

    'They need to be prepared for the tiredness, hunger and hormones that can mean they hang on to 5-10 lb of excess weight while feeding, and they should be armed with advice on how to eat for energy while also squeezing exercise in around their baby.
    'It's the same simple equation - eat too much and you will get fat. Breastfeeding doesn't have a magic ability to cancel out excess calories or pounds gained, despite how some of the propaganda is worded.'

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