Celiac is a politically unbiased autoimmune disease. It seems both Chelsea Clinton and Elizabeth Hasselbeck have it and can’t stomach the same things. Gluten-containing foods — wheat, rye, barley, some oats and many prepared foods — are off their menu.
Celiac is 40 times more common than docs used to think, possibly affecting as many as one in 133 in North America. And if your parents, sibs or kids have celiac, there’s a one in 22 chance you do, too.
Celiac is woefully underdiagnosed. Millions are at risk for its complications, including GERD and osteoporosis (in adults), and anemia, abdominal pain and growth deficiencies (in children), not to mention epilepsy and irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation).
Celiac disease damages tiny villi lining the small intestines, which normally shuttle nutrients from food into the bloodstream. When they can’t, you get nutritional deficiencies, diarrhea, cramping, vomiting, weight loss, even skin rashes.
If you suspect gluten is causing your digestive distress:
1. Talk to your doc about a blood test for gluten auto-antibodies. Positive results? A biopsy will confirm the diagnosis.
2. If diagnosed, eliminate gluten from your diet (and avoid other gluten-hiding substances, even makeup).
3. Get folate levels tested: Supplements may be essential to healing.
4. Eat lots of whole grains (without gluten): amaranth, buckwheat, chia, corn, millet, quinoa, rice, sorghum and wild rice.
You’ll feel better with your gluten-free advantage.
Pope Pius XII had them. Animals get them; kids too. Even a fetus can rat-a-tat-tat them. We’re talking hiccups, involuntary spasms of your diaphragm (the muscle at the base of your lungs that rises and falls as you breathe) that trigger sudden closure of your vocal cords. And up comes “hic.”
Fortunately, these spasms are usually harmless and temporary, triggered by everything from overeating to carbonated drinks, excess alcohol and stress. But if they persist, they can signal an underlying medical condition, such as GERD (chronic acid reflux) or an intestinal blockage. The longest recorded siege was 40 years — with the guy having spasms 20 to 40 times a minute. But these days, docs knock out most persistent cases with medications, anesthesia and ventilation. Even acupuncture.
For a passing hic-fest, alas, there’s no proven cure. We suggest you try relaxing or —BOO! (Suddenly screaming at the victim is Dr. Mike’s favorite.) Did that do it? If not, here are the weirdest home remedies that someone somewhere swears will work:
• Stand on a chair in a crowded restaurant and shout, “I have hiccups!”
• Pull on your tongue or ears.
• Put your head on the ground and blow into your thumb.
• Put your face in ice water.
• Scream for as long as you can (another favorite).
Life has its hiccups, but trying one of these remedies may make it all seem funnier, and people who laugh regularly have a healthier heart, less stress and a better outlook (hic) on life!
The long, slow burn
Since Arnold Schwarzenegger flaunted his bulging biceps and quads in 1977’s “Pumping Iron,” the rule of thigh (if not thumb) has been that to get strong, you need to lift weights that are uber-heavy — or collapse trying.
Well, in 2012 we have a new mantra: Pump less and flex more. We’ve said it before: Start light. There’s no shame in using weights that are one, two, three or five pounds. The point is to do what you can until the muscle you’re using is fatigued.
Now proof positive has arrived that working out at 30 percent of your maximum strength until you are too fatigued to do one more rep is the smart, safe way to do strength training. (Best case: Fatigue happens within two minutes.) That means you’ll be using weights that are just a third of the heaviest weight you can safely manage. For example, if you can do one preacher’s curl with a 10-pound weight (you curl the weight up to your shoulder), three pounds would be the new, smart weight for reps until you can’t do any more.
That approach builds serious muscle strength and keeps the whole body humming at a higher burn rate for longer than if you pumped fewer but heavier reps.
What will this newer approach do for you? Plenty. It helps fight off extra pounds, keeps diabetes at bay and avoids injury to tendons and ligaments. So if you want to banish belly fat and chase away anxiety, take the light and long road to muscle tone and power.
Putting the ‘pop’ back in popcorn
The once-noble munchable popcorn’s reputation has been badly damaged. First, we find out that a bag of popcorn and a soda at the movies delivers more than 1,600 calories and a nuclear bomb of saturated fat (60 grams). Second, we discover that we’ve fallen for a chemical-laced toxic treat called microwave popcorn. (The packaging sheds perfluorooctanoic acid, a carcinogen that lingers in the body.)
Well, we’re here to declare the return of popcorn, the 100 percent whole grain goodie that — when prepared correctly — delivers the highest dose of heart-protecting phytonutrients of any grain around. It’s high-fiber, too, and that helps control your lousy cholesterol levels (LDL), smoothes digestion and makes your heart younger. And four cups of fat-free popcorn have only 100 calories. So if you’re yearning for a tasty snack:
• Opt for organic popcorn, if you can find it. That may help you avoid genetically modified corn.
• Prepare the popcorn in an air popper, which uses heat, NOT oil to fluff up the crunchy kernels.
• And, finally, decorate your bountiful bowlful with healthful flavorings: garlic (helps reduce the risk of some cancers and control blood pressure), cinnamon (stabilizes blood sugar), hot paprika and red-pepper flakes (may ease joint pain), curry (blocks Alzheimer’s and stomach problems) and fresh basil (it just tastes so good). Your imagination is the only limit to the fat-fee, sugar-free, health-bestowing flavors you can enjoy.