We're nearing the end of the trimester. It's the calm before the
storm. Since my classmate Lexxi just reminded me, I'll remind you.
Did you: do your FAFSA? Taxes? Register for classes?
This week starts the last minute projects and presentations
before practicals and finals. Actually we have part of a practical
on Friday for PT. I'm going to rehab a knee with Rheumatoid
Arthritis -- which I'm finding as a bit of a struggle. How do you
give someone exercises for a degenerating joint, when they have to
move the joint? I've been pondering it quite a while. Here's hoping
I come up with something good.
This week and next week, our program hosts a cadaver lab
demonstration for the nursing, PA, and other health professions
programs that we share space with. For those who aren't familiar,
we share some campus space with the St. Petersburg College health
profession programs and Barry University PA programs. Since some of
our classroom space is at the St. Pete Caruth Health Education
Center, we see a lot of students from other programs running around
-- including RN, PA, EMT, etc. Unlike our program, they don't have
cadaver exposure, which always surprised me.
So, since we do, we host workshops toward the end of each
trimester to expose those students to what the body really looks
like. Several of our students will spend an hour or more in the lab
going through some general parts of the anatomy, and explaining
function, etc. I've always been surprised that the other programs
don't have cadaver exposure. I honestly feel that dissecting has
given me invaluable information that there's no way I would have
known otherwise. Even still, when someone asks me a part of the
anatomy, my mind automatically goes to the cadavers to visualize
it. I do this during classes; I've done this during boards. It
helps to actually SEE where the origins and insertions are, how the
vasculature and nerves surround and penetrate the muscles, and how
the muscles layer and invest in each other.
I haven't been in the cadaver lab since I finished that portion
of basic sciences several tris ago. I'm REALLY looking forward to
it. I think most of the other student-instructors will be from
basic science tris. It'll be fun to get to interact with them.
That's a privilege I don't often get.
On Saturday, I went to the Gluten Free for Life Expo. Last year
Grey and I went, walked through, and received a ton of samples,
coupons, and business cards from local gluten free businesses. This
year, I was by myself, as Grey was at an FBLA conference. I ran
into Julia, my classmate, and her daughter-in-law, Stephanie.
Beyond running into them and seeing my friend who runs a local
acupuncture clinic, the expo was a total waste. And it wasn't just
because of the samples and coupons -- which I guess were there --
it was because of the quality of products. If you've ever been to a
health food store (and I'm guessing all of us have), you've seen
that there's just as much junk food there, as there is at any other
store. It's labeled as "organic" or "all-natural" or "healthy", but
the difference is only that they use sugar instead of corn syrup,
organic versus conventional, and substitute refined with less
refined. That doesn't make any of it healthy.
So, I talked with the reps for a company (that I won't name),
because they recently reformulated their products. They are
dedicated to having gluten free, GMO free products. I respect this
tremendously, however, they still have some pretty big problems.
Previously, they were using sorghum flour -- which has been a
staple in gluten free cooking for a while. Even I have used it on a
regular basis (although not for several years). The rep mentioned
that they were having problems with their sorghum flour becoming
contaminated with GMO soy. So they changed formularies and started
using buckwheat and millet instead. The problem is, that these
other grains contain lectins, in very high quantity. Lectins, in
brains, beans, and potatoes, cause disruption of the tight
junctions in the gut -- leading to leaky gut. Leaky gut leads to
food intolerance, inflammation, and lipopolysaccharide invasion
(toxins from gram negative bacteria that naturally live in the
gut). Big problem. Check this out: The
Lowdown on Lectins. And if you're a real glutton for punishment
Dietary Lectins as Disease Causing Toxicants
for far more in depth information.
So, I talked to the rep about how the choices they've made in
substitutions are likely to affect their customers. The lady didn't
have a clue what I was talking about. But she seemed pretty scared
in response and said she'd pass it on to their recipe people. I'm
sure it won't go any further. I looked through the ingredient list
on EVERY product they had there. The few that didn't have millet or
buckwheat had TONS of sugar. *sigh* Gluten free isn't always healthy.
Since my "conversion" to mostly Paleo, I just can't look at food
the same way. I'm always thinking about the grain or carbohydrate
content, how much I'm allowing my gut to be exposed to the lectins
and sugar, and what it's doing to me. I'd say I'm about 80% Paleo
now. I go back and forth -- trying to only have rice a couple times
a week, and sugar maybe once. It IS a struggle sometimes,
especially when I'm stressed out. But I feel SO much better.
And before I go, I've wanted to share this guy with you all for
quite some time. He stands outside a defunct mini-golf turned car
dealership parking lot. I often wonder why he's still here -- maybe
it's because he's so awesome. I haven't come up with a name for him
yet. I'm willing to entertain suggestions. There are lots of
oddities around St. Pete.
Have a great week everybody.
It's raining again. It looks like the Florida winter might be
over. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know that for every other place in the
country the weather has been a LOT worse than it has here. It's
been, I think, the coldest winter that I've experienced since I've
been here (since 2005). The crazy thing about living in Florida is
that for about 5 months out of the year, it doesn't rain hardly at
all. It's very, very dry (as far as rainfall goes). Of course, the
humidity is still 5000%, but it doesn't rain. Come May/June it
rains EVERY-SINGLE-DAY. Sometimes it only rains for 15 minutes in a
day, sometimes all day, and sometimes for hours/the whole day. But
it's fairly predictable.
So today, it's rained all day. And after all of the
months of sun (even when it was cold), I find myself a little bit
depressed. So, I went home and took my vitamin D. Vitamin D has
been a buzz-study subject for a few years now. Running a quick
search on Pubmed on "benefits of vitamin D," returns
about 840 articles. But searching for just vitamin D yields over
58,000! Shortage of vitamin D has been linked to Multiple
Sclerosis, Depression, Obesity, and Cancer. Whoa! So, what we're
finding out is that the vast majority of people are deficient in
vitamin D, ESPECIALLY here in Florida. For those of you coming out
of a cold, cold winter up north -- I feel for you. I really do. You
probably need some vitamin D too. Here's an article on Vitamin D and Depression from the Vitamin
In other news, I have finals for the Master's in Nutrition and
Functional Medicine this week: Nutritional Biochemistry -- which
has been completely different than what I had at National; and also
Clinical Nutrition, which has been completely different as well.
I've been pleased that there's been some overlap with the
information. And I have found that the background that I've
received here at National has helped me with the master's at UWS.
I've already registered for classes next quarter, there. I'm taking
Immune Imbalances and Inflammation and the Botanical Medicine
elective. I can't wait to see what shows up.
This next week brings last minute quizzes, papers, and
presentations. I'm doing a presentation for PT on therapies for
Raynaud's phenomenon (which I've had since I was a kid). I have yet
to decide what I'm going to do my Botanical paper on. I'm leaning
toward Oregon Grape Root -- but I may choose an adaptogen instead.
I need to prep for a practical on knee rehab. No rest for the
Some of my good friends and classmates are taking boards this
weekend. Good Luck to them (and to you, if that's your weekend
adventure). We have the weekend off from acupuncture, and I'll be
visiting the Gluten Free for Life expo. If you're in the
area, it's usually quite worth it.
Last year, Grey and I went and filled up bags and bags of gluten
free goodies from vendors. I think we had GF snacks for months. I
may have to find a partner in crime to go with me this time. Note
to self: it's always better to go towards the END of the expo.
Vendors are less worried about running out of supplies and visitors
feel less guilty about taking a couple extra.
And lastly, I hope everybody had a GREAT St Patrick's Day. My
granny, whose birthday was 3/17 (although I can't remember what
year), would've been somewhere around 100 years old right about
now. She's been gone quite some time. Little Irish woman, red hair
and freckles -- was born on St Patrick's Day. Happy Birthday Granny
-- whatever plane you're on.
Well, you wouldn't know it by looking outside. We've had a few
really nice days, but it's expected to be in the 50s one day this
week. It's almost April! What is going on? I know everybody up in
the Midwest has had snow. I just keep looking out the door
bewildered and checking the Weather Channel on my phone. I never
know what it's going to be! Bundle-up or flip-flops, or my personal
favorite, blue toes in flip-flops? We just take it day by
I thought for sure that I'd make it outside for something this
weekend, but it didn't happen. I did, however, make a cameo at the
Gluten Free Expo at the St. Petersburg Coliseum. Grey and I showed
up about an hour before it was over, wondering if they'd have some
great speaker at the last minute or some new revolutionary
products. There were, of course, TONS of giveaways and coupons and
brochures. I did grab a few business cards from vendors and talked
to a health coach while I was there.
I must say, though, that I was disappointed. While I'm grateful
that I now have free snack fodder for the boys' lunches for the
next month plus, I'm not sure how healthy it all is. There's just
so much processing going into gluten-free products these days.
Nothing they were giving away or selling was anywhere near simple
or resembling anything homemade.
I talked to a baker about Paleo cooking. She said that the
biggest problem for them was cutting out the sugar. She wanted to
substitute Stevia--which in some Paleo circles is forbidden (no
artificial sugars or regular sugars). Although I'm not sure what
other ingredients she was going to substitute, the sugar, I think,
was the least of their worries.
In Diet and Nutrition, Dr. S has been teaching us all the
pathways and extolling the dangers of grains, sugars, and
indirectly, processing. We've linked all these starches, Omega 6s,
and sugars to everything from heart disease to Alzheimer's. Of
course that doesn't make it all so easy to give up, but the
argument is getting more and more persuasive. So I have to
think--just because something is gluten-free, that doesn't make it
healthy. Whether it's the canola oil, the high fructose corn syrup,
or the ingredient that I can only dissect with a piece of paper and
a chemistry textbook, it may still be gluten-free, but it's also a
science/health experiment. I know for a fact, that gluten-free can
still be simple. The more ingredients, the more likely that there
might be a problem, and that doesn't work for anyone.
I'm beginning to explore the ins and outs of the Paleo diet and
trying to marry it with my own sense of nutrition. I suspect I'll
be more restrictive in many ways than what the standards are. I
still can't see/justify eating huge amounts of bacon. Something
just doesn't seem right about that. I'm not sure whether it's the
huge amounts of fat, the salt, or the nitrates. Yes, I know that
all of those are available nitrate-free, but last time I
checked--we were all students, yes?--I also know that I will never
eat beef or eggs again. I think there has got to be a way to
balance nutrition and our evolutionary developments with the limbic
system. Otherwise, we'll all end up eating only 35 cups of Romaine
lettuce with steaks wrapped in bacon. And between you and me, none
of that sounds all that appetizing.
Last but certainly not least, I want to congratulate everyone on
making it through midterms. We finally had our last one on
Thursday. I'll spare you all the drama involved, but I know we are
all extremely glad that that is over. I want to offer Dr. Ott my
undying gratitude for being, perhaps, the coolest-headed professor
I've ever come across. I must find for you, Dr, Ott, 5 million gold
toilet stickers. You deserve them. (And if you want to know the
story about the gold toilet stickers, you can email me).
Everyone also deserves congratulations for making it through
Mercury retrograde. Thankfully, Mercury went direct on St. Patty's
Day--and not a moment too soon. I was tired of fixing everything,
fighting and mediating fights, and just generally being in a
Happy First Full Week of Spring to everyone and Happy Easter,
Ostara and a Blessed Passover to all who celebrate.
This week's pictures are from Lake Maggiore--which is not far
from my house. I was hoping to get some gators in there, but it was
a bit too cloudy. If you enter through Boyd Hill and take the
trails, I PROMISE you'll see some BIG gators. To my classmate
Lauren, here's where you (don't) want to go. :)
On Easter, this year, while everybody's eating their dark
chocolate Paleo-friendly bunnies (I like to bite the ears off
first), I'll be celebrating 15 years of being gluten-free. It's
hard to believe. "Back in the day", things were a whole lot
different than they are now. It seemed that few people had celiac
(or were gluten-free) or knew anything about it--including the
professionals. The testing was different--biopsy and IgG
anti-gliadin or anti-endomysial blood tests. The pre-made food was
a lot harder to find (and surprisingly less expensive) and the
education of the medical community was nearly non-existent. My how
things have changed! There are sensitive and specific blood tests
now (tissue trans-glutaminase), everything seems to have a
gluten-free label on it, and docs--especially those in our
profession, seem to know more and more about the benefits of going
My household has been gluten-free--exclusively--for the last 5
years. It's so important that the whole house be in support of the
diet. For me, it was a no-brainer. Both Grey and I are Celiac, and
Forest has never purposely had gluten. All the support groups
stress how important it is to avoid contamination (and NOT cheat!).
In order for a product to be considered gluten-free, it has to have
less than 200 ppm of gluten.
For Celiacs, even small/accidental exposures are dangerous.
People might not have an overt reaction to contamination amounts,
but they might still cause sub-clinical symptoms--flattened villi,
malabsorption, deficiencies, and constant damage to the
GALT--leading to lymphoma and GI cancers. Yikes, right?! These
small amounts can remain in cooking utensils, porous cooking pans,
and shared equipment. So, after a major move and shift within the
family, we started over with new utensils, new pots and pans, and a
completely clean house. Other than the occasional poison-carrying
visitor and the cats (whose food smell reminds me of wheat bread
toast), we don't even allow lickable envelopes (Did you know that
glue contains wheat?).
I can't begin to say how much of a difference going gluten-free
has made in my life. Besides feeling infinitely better, I've
experienced a number of benefits--from clearer thinking to better
skin and hair (and most importantly, a happier gut!). For Grey, the
benefits were a lot more dramatic. He was born at the
95th percentile, and before being diagnosed,
dropped to less than 5th percentile. Of course,
that was a long time ago--and now he's bigger than I am!
I've been asked if I'd endorse a gluten-free diet. I absolutely
would. I'm not so sure that I'd endorse all the pre-packaged foods
being sold on store shelves right now. Processing is pretty much
always bad. But, with all the research that's coming out about
lectins, gliadin, and grains, it's making more and more sense for
pretty much everyone to be gluten-free. So, I'll leave all of you
with this: Educate yourselves about what you CAN put into your
body--and what effects it might have. If you're not doing it for
yourselves, do so for your patients. Remember that not all cases
are textbook (in fact most cases of Celiac aren't). If you need
help, feel free to contact me. And for some other resources, check
And one last thing: I'll leave you with some "crack" containing,
non-Paleo, yet gluten-free yummies--just in case you're going
gluten-free and missing something sweet. (Don't hate me, Dr.
These are gluten-free, can be made egg-free and dairy-free, are
vegetarian (but not vegan) and are most definitely NOT
Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
No baking adventure is complete without flour all over the
kitchen LOL. Please do your part to continue the tradition.
Next Food Adventure: Converting gluten-free to Paleo. I accept
Have a GREAT week everybody!
• After the DC Degree
• Botanical Medicine
• 1 Year at National
• Marketing Project
To read older blog posts, scroll to the bottom and click the "Older Posts" button.