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Leslie Ann Berg, MSPH

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Figuring out whether or not you have a sensitivity to gluten unrelated to celiac disease (CD) or wheat allergy can be a confusing and frustrating process. The scientific evidence is there supporting the fact that non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) does in fact exist, yet arriving at a definitive diagnosis isn’t always easy, and for most it’s a down right challenge. Read on to find out how to navigate a NCGS diagnosis and how to overcome the challenges you might face during the process. What Is NCGS? NCGS refers to an intolerance to gluten that results in intestinal symptoms, most commonly bloating and gas, and sometimes extra-intestinal symptoms like anxiety, behavioral changes, brain fog, depression, fatigue, headaches, joint pain, rashes, and tingling in the extremities – all of which subside when gluten is eliminated from the diet. To date, it’s estimated that between 0.6 and 6% of the population have NCGS.…

When we want to lose weight, most of us immediately start counting calories as our go-to method. But did you know it’s not the calories themselves that primarily cause weight gain? It’s much more about what kind of food you eat, not how much you eat. And one of the most harmful foods for an expanding waistline is added sugar. Why? Foods and diets high in processed and added sugar: are strongly associated with leptin-resistance (leptin plays a key role in regulating appetite and fat storage)increase sugar in the blood as well as the amount of time blood sugar remains elevated, creating insulin-resistanceencourage the growth of pathogenic gut bacteria that send signals to the brain via the gut-brain axis, making it more likely to crave and consume sweet foodsare low in fiber and nutrients, therefore they’re less filling and displace other nutrient- and fiber-rich foods in the diet that encourage…

At Gutbliss we consider the gut to be the innermost lining of your skin. Research supports the strong association between gut health and skin health, so it’s only natural that something we know to be unhealthy for the gut, most likely also negatively impacts the skin. Sugar, one of the most beloved food groups of the Western diet, is no exception. Many of us struggle with excessive sugar consumption, or even sugar addiction. When trying to give up a vice, it can be helpful to know exactly why it’s so bad for us. With that in mind, let’s dive into sugar’s impact on the gut and other biological functions in the body… and in turn, the skin. (The USDA recommends that no more than 10% of your daily calories should come from added sugar. Based on a 2,000-calorie diet, this would be anything over 200 calories, or about 50 grams…

Based on the article published in last edition’s Weight Loss column, we know there’s a strong link between weight management and our gut bacteria. We also know that probiotics have been associated with positively altering the gut microbiome. So, is it safe to say that supplementing with a probiotic can help us lose weight? Let’s take a look at the research. In 2015, a systemic review and meta-analysis published in Nutrition Research identified 4 of 368 studies that were randomized controlled trials with adequate data assessing the efficacy of probiotic supplementation as a weight loss treatment. Results found no significant effects of probiotics on body weight or body mass index (BMI) when compared to placebo. Yet, researchers called for more “rigorously designed” randomized controlled trials with larger sample sizes to draw more accurate conclusions. Fast forward three years to a review and meta-analysis study published in Obesity Reviews. The study…

Bloating is generally caused by gas (and sometimes fluid), and it usually ebbs and flows—you may have a flat abdomen in the morning but by evening, you look and feel 6 months pregnant. Bloating has become a rapidly increasing epidemic. For many, the symptoms are daily and relentless, but even when symptoms aren’t severe, they can still be extremely bothersome. There are lots of different causes of bloating, and one of the commonest is excessive sodium intake, which causes you to retain water not just in your abdomen but throughout your body. A study published last month in the American Journal of Gastroenterology looked at data from the DASH-Sodium trial. 412 participants consumed three levels of sodium intake – 50, 100, and 150 mmol/day. Each intake was consumed over a 30-day period with 5 days of rest between each period. Presence of bloating was recorded at baseline and after each…

The gut microbiome & its relation to weight loss There’s lots of hype surrounding the gut microbiome and weight loss. Studies show that when transferring microbial samples from obese individuals to germ-free mice, the mice gain weight, illustrating that the gut microbiome can play a role in determining weight. In fact, the more we study the microbiome, the more we realize that our gut bacteria hold the key to many functions and metabolic pathways associated with weight management. Gut bacteria: Influence how much dietary fat is absorbed by the intestines, affecting fat storage.Play a key role in inflammation, producing lipopolysaccharides (LPS). Mouse studies show that when mice are given LPS, they gain weight equivalent to the weight gain from a high fat diet.Protect against inflammation by helping to maintain a strong gut barrier. The specific species involved in gut barrier function include Bifidobacteria and Akkermansia. Increasing the integrity of the…

Ginger has a long history of medicinal use to treat a multitude of ailments due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antitumor properties, which have been documented in the scientific literature. Its benefits for gut health are widely publicized, and it is currently used as an integrative approach for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) relief, excessive gas, constipation, bloating, heartburn, motion sickness, gastric ulcers associated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs like ibuprofen and aspirin), and to improve nutrient absorption, among other conditions. But just how effective is ginger as a treatment and preventative agent for gastrointestinal diseases and conditions? While previous studies have highlighted the gastroprotective effects of ginger, a 2018 study conducted a systemic review of all clinical trials using ginger to treat GI disorders. Results showed that ginger is a safe and effective treatment at a 1500mg daily dosage for nausea relief, specifically nausea and vomiting related to pregnancy. All…

Does exercise help you lose weight? Of course it does… right? Well, maybe not. As the research piles up on exercise and its true contributions to weight loss, it turns out that while exercise has astounding benefits for health, it may not actually move us closer toward our weight loss goals – and too much exercise could in fact sabotage our goals altogether. Let’s delve into the research and find out more. Burning more calories than we consume (or the “move more, eat less” philosophy) is the gold standard for weight loss. Yet, studies show that this formula doesn’t always work. Exercise contributes only a small amount to our overall daily calorie expenditure, making it challenging to create a meaningful calorie deficit for weight loss. There are three components that contribute to energy expenditure: 1) Food digestion, 2) Basal metabolic rate (BMR), or the set amount of baseline calories your…

While often publicized as a healthful choice, a gluten-free diet (GFD) can have its drawbacks. Based on a talk given by gastroenterologist and celiac disease expert, Dr. Peter Green, studies show that a GFD can result in the following: not enough fiber, low levels of B vitamins, and low iron high salt, fat, and sugar intake gluten contamination (a potential issue for those with celiac disease) increased heavy metals (lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and tin) increased consumption of corn mycotoxin elevated food costs While these are legitimate concerns, Dr. Chutkan works with a number of celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) patients and has found that the majority of these drawbacks are due to a diet rich in packaged gluten-free foods. With some mindful dietary modifications and additions, these concerns can be addressed and overcome. Low fiber, B vitamins, and iron levels; high salt, fat, and sugar intake Most gluten…

Introduction Inulin is a soluble fiber that is not absorbed in the small intestine – it’s constructed of fructose molecules linked in a way that prevents breakdown. Instead, it acts as a prebiotic, meaning it feeds beneficial bacteria (including Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli) in the large intestine that play an important role in improving bowel and overall health. Gut bacteria convert inulin into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which act as the main energy source for the cells that line your colon. SCFAs also contribute broadly to disease prevention, immune function, and good health. The benefits of dietary inulin are well documented. Inulin has been associated with promoting microbial balance, improving weight loss (10 to 30 grams/day for 6 to 8 weeks), controlling diabetes, and relieving constipation (15 grams/day for up to 4 weeks). Studies also show that inulin may help increase calcium absorption (8 grams daily), prevent colon cancer, and treat…