Coeliac Disease and Gluten free diet

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Coeliac disease is a condition that affects about one per cent of the general population but about half of these people are unaware of it. This is because it causes a variable level of discomfort according to the dietary regime of those affected.
Essentially it is an immune disease that causes an inflammatory reaction to Gluten, a protein commonly found in wheat, barley and rye. When gluten is eaten the immune system reacts with variable levels of inflammation damaging the lining of the small intestine. The healthy surface shows small finger like projections, called villi, that are essential for absorbing nutrients. In Coeliac people they can be damaged, shortened or disappear altogether, causing a Syndrome called “Malabsorption”.

The typical symptoms of Coeliac disease are :
severe or occasional diarrhoea, excessive wind and/or constipation
persistent or unexplained gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting
recurrent stomach pain, cramping or bloating
sudden or unexpected weight loss (but not in all cases)
mouth ulcers
skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis)
liver abnormalities
neurological (nerve) problems such as ataxia (poor muscle coordination) and neuropathy (numbness and tingling in the hands and feet)

When a coeliac condition is suspected it is essential, before performing thr routine tests, that gluten is not eliminated from the diet, in order not to have unreliable results.
A simple blood test will show an elevated number of Antibodies to Gluten and the presence of the genes involved. In case of children this is usually enough to confirm diagnosis and establish the appropriate dietary regime. In adults patients a more invasive endoscopy is performed, together with a gut biopsy, to confirm the diagnosis and to establish the level of damage to the lining of the small intestine.

Once the condition is confirmed a strictly gluten free diet, meticulous on avoiding any cross contamination, allows those people to live a healthy and happy life.
All types of rice, potato, corn (maize), plain meat, fish, eggs, cheese, milk, most yoghurts, fruits, vegetables and pulses (peas, beans and lentils) are naturally gluten-free and are suitable for the diet.
And there is now a considerable market for products that are produced with alternative components for what is naturally gluten rich.

In recent years a gluten free diets has become increasing popular and somehow fashionable among the general population but there is no scientifically proven advantage in imposing such a restricted dietary regime to people who are not affected by this alteration of the immune system.

To learn more about Coeliac Disease and get help and advice click the link below:

Toothache symptoms and Root Canal Treatment

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Most of us have experienced some form of toothache, and some time in a very excruciating way.
But what are the main causes and what is the right treatment?

When a tooth is decayed, the vital part of it, called dental pulp, becomes inflamed. The level of inflammation depends on how deeply the caries has advanced into the tooth. A superficial cavity causes minor symptoms, such us increased sensitivity to hot, cold and sweet stuff. It is important not to underestimate this mild discomfort, which is a sign of an initial pathology of the dental pulp: a reversible pulpitis. Most of the times a simple filling will resolve the problem. If left untreated the process progresses toward the next stage, the irreversible pulpitis. Here the real trouble starts: toothache, throbbing pain, not well localized, often unbearable. It is due to a dramatic increase of the blood pressure into the dental pulp, a final attempt of the body to get rid of the bacteria, recruiting all the immune system defenses in the affected area. Unfortunately the tooth is like a rigid box and cannot expand. The increased amount of blood compresses the nervous fibres that are part of the dental pulp itself. At this stage the dental pulp cannot be saved but needs to be eradicated trough a procedure that we call  ROOT CANAL TREATMENT. The first step, often performed as an emergency, includes getting the tooth numb, accessing the deepest part where the vital tissue is located, and removing the fraction that is easily accessible. The tedious part is what gives the name to the procedure: removing the tiny pieces of tissue that are inside each root.

If Root canal is not performed, the dental pulp eventually dies, but this infected tissue harbour a lot of bacteria and toxins that gradually tend come out of the roots and colonize the surrounding bone. At a one point they can trigger another acute conditions, a periapical abscess, with severe symptoms and pus formation in the bone. Usually we have no sensitivity to cold or hot but a well localized tenderness to pressure on the affected tooth, and various degree of toothache. When the pus find a way out of the bone in the soft tissue, we can notice the typical swollen gum, or swollen face, according to the tooth involved and patient anatomy. Again a Root Canal Treatment is the therapy of choice.

It is important to look for the advice of a dentist as soon as possible in presence of even minor symptoms, or even better to get regular check ups in absence of problems, to identify possible trouble at an early stage.

A different strategy to lower cholesterol: Plant Sterols and Stanols

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What is Cholesterol

The body uses cholesterol to help build cells and produce hormones. Too much cholesterol in the blood is widely accepted as a major cause in developing anomalies inside arteries, known as plaques that increase your chances of having a heart attack or a stroke. Cholesterol  is carried in the blood stream in the form of lipoprotein, mainly two types:

  • HDL (high-density lipoprotein) the “ Good Cholesterol” because HDL may also reduce inflammation and a high HDL level is linked with a lower risk of heart disease.
  • LDL (low-density lipoprotein). A certain level of LDL in your blood is normal and healthy because LDL moves cholesterol to the parts of your body that need it. But it is sometimes called “bad cholesterol” because a high level may increase your chances of developing heart disease.

How to lower cholesterol

High levels of cholesterol, especially in the LDL form, require treatment with powerful cholesterol lowering drugs, called statins. Mild form of Hypercholesterolemia can be treated with diet, exercise, and some selected natural foods, particularly those containing plant sterols and stanols. Plant sterols and stanols are substances that occur naturally in small amounts in many grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Since they have powerful cholesterol-lowering properties, manufacturers have started adding them to foods. You can now get stanols or sterols in margarine spreads, orange juice, cereals, and even granola bars.

On a molecular level, sterols and stanols look a lot like cholesterol. So when they travel through your digestive tract, they get in the way. They can prevent real cholesterol from being absorbed into your bloodstream. Instead of clogging up your arteries, the cholesterol just goes out with the waste.

One important study of people with high cholesterol found that less than an ounce of stanol-fortified margarine a day could lower “bad” LDL cholesterol by 14%. The results were published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

A more recent study from the University of California Davis Medical Center looked at the effects of sterol-fortified orange juice. Of 72 adults, half received regular orange juice and half the fortified OJ. After just two weeks, the people who drank the stanol-fortified juice had a 12.4% drop in their LDL cholesterol levels. The results were published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology.

The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that people who have high cholesterol get 2 grams of stanols or sterols a day.
“Supplements that are fortified with sterols have been marketed but are not yet backed by evidence based science and do not offer as many benefits as getting sterols and stanols as they naturally occur.”

You have always to consult with your doctor before deciding what approach is indicated to lower your cholesterol levels.

Back or neck pain: Osteopath or Chropractor?

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Due to the very high number of hours we all spend in sedentary activities, and the increasing level of daily stress we have to cope with, the health issues related to back and neck pain are becoming epidemic. After an initial short term fix based on regular use/abuse of painkillers and anti inflammatory drugs, most patients start searching for a more durable approach at treating what are often chronic conditions. Invariably they end up visiting a Chiropractor or an Osteopath, with no clear idea of what is the difference and who suits them best.

Here are few hints about differences and common grounds.

Both disciplines require a degree level qualification and are regulated. In UK Osteopathy and Chiropractic are both governed by their own act of parliament and each have their own regulatory body – General Osteopathic Council (GOC) or General Chiropractic Council (GCC).
Both treat musculo-skeletal/biomechanical problems (i.e. backs, necks, feet, hips, knees etc) and the underlying causes. This requires thorough evaluation of the whole skeletal frame and it’s posture, using orthopaedic and neurological examination skills, similar to those of traditional medical practitioners. Both osteopaths and chiropractors use manual medicine to treat a person. This means they will use predominantly hands-on techniques or external electrical therapeutic machines like ultrasound, interferential therapy or laser therapy . They will all teach patients a variety of exercises to be carried out at home to reinforce their care between treatment sessions.

Although Osteopaths and Chiropractors are very similar, they are each derived from independent schools of thought and the main differences lie in treatment styles.

Osteopaths, having completed a thorough examination and arrived at a diagnosis, use a range of techniques including gentle soft tissue techniques (massage, stretching, muscle energy, inhibition etc) through gentle joint mobilisation, through to the more powerful manipulation known as high velocity thrust or HVT. There is also cranial osteopathy which is a very different subtle and gentle technique. Each session with an osteopath would typically be 45 minutes for the first treatment and consultation and 30 minutes for each follow up. In addition to treatment there will aslo be advice on lifestyle issues, injury avoidance, posture and exercises given.

Chiropractors tend to use quick thrust, short lever spinal manipulation techniques. Chiropractors like to term this, an adjustment. This means to click your lower back the would place their hands on that spot where movement is needed. Osteopaths and certain physiotherapist trained in post-graduate manipulation techniques will do the same.
Chiropractors might also use what are termed low force techniques with an instrument spinal manipulation tool like the activator. The aim is still to provide the quick thrust movement with a lower force than used with a hands on manipulation. You won’t hear the typical joint clicking sound with this type of manipulation.
Chiropractors are trained to take and read x-rays which may be appropriate in cases such as trauma or pathology.

Anyway, the most important aspect is to find a practitioner you trust and feel comfortable with, because a positive the doctor/patient relationship is the base of any healing process.