Its May already

I can’t believe that it is May already! I hardly posted last month (April) at all! This is directly related to the fact that I’m depressed, and when I’m depressed I just don’t feel like cooking/baking. Of course I did cook/bake but only because I had to feed myself, there was no joy in my kitchen. I’m still miserable and I relate this directly back to my horrible job. Its getting worse and worse every day, and they have broken my code of ethical conduct. I must get another job because I cannot remain with a company that treats their employees like crap and breaks my ethical boundaries soley for the love of money. Unfortunately summer (and a recession) are approaching and I fear it will take more time than I would like to get a new job. So I’m stuck in a rut with no way out (I really need money, especially this month)! I wish people would stop getting married and having christenings and birthdays all in the same month. Spread them throughout the year a little would ya! We’re looking at over $1000 in gifts alone this month, not to mention new clothes (I’ve gotten wider, he’s gotten thinner) and a vet visit (my poor Miles had an abscess on his back we didn’t know about and it suddenly burst around midnight on Friday! We had to take him to the emergency vet clinic on Friday, that cost $250. I love my Miles and there is always money to be found for my kitties. That is what savings are for!).

So why am I writing now? First of all I wanted to make sure I try to write more this month, maybe if I force myself I won’t feel so down. I know I love to cook/bake, so if I force myself to blog I might actually start enjoying the kitchen. I really need enjoyment.

Secondly, I need some advice. How do you tell family members (his family, not mine) that going out of their way to make food for me specifically for their baby’s Baptism party makes me very uncomfortable, and at the same time angry? Never mind the fact that I think its a disgrace to serve guests frozen lasagna and store bought cake (that is their planned menu) but to go ahead and insist on making me something special for me, even though I insist that I don’t want special treatment is crazy. You’re not making anybody else anything special (frozen lasagna is very much not special), so why me? Plus they don’t know what their doing! They actually asked me if pasta contained gluten. Pasta! What do you think pasta is made with, cheese, bacon, oranges!? I fear they are going to make me something that I have to refuse, and to have somebody go out of their way to make me something specific and then not eat it is beyond rude, but there is nothing I can do about that! I have to risk being rude in order to prevent poisoning myself. I’ve already offered (more than once) and Brett has already offered (more than once) and Brett’s mother has already offered (more than once) to make food for the party. Now, Brett’s mother can’t cook worth a damn, and I’m likely to get food poisoning of another sort from her cooking, but the point is that Brett’s sister-in-law refuses to let us bring anything and insists on making something special for me while serving processed crap to the other guests. AND she doesn’t know the first thing about celiac disease, even though we’ve told her I seriously think she belives that this disease is just an allergy! I sent Brett a bunch of pdf’s regarding the celiac diet to forward to his brother in the hopes that his brother and his wife realize how serious a problem gluten can be and realize that you can’t just open a cheap can of pasta sauce and pour it on rice pasta and assume I won’t get sick.

I am seriously considering not going to the christening. First of all I’m atheist and find going to church and pretending to believe in god just so that his family won’t discover that neither of us are Christian is very uncomfortable. I don’t have any problem with people practising the religion they choose, it is their choice, everyone must do what they feel is right for them, but nobody (at least his family) seems to want to give us the right to not believe. Still, I have dealt with this in the past and the religious aspect is only a small part of the problem. The real issue is that the dinner situation makes me so very upset. All I could do last night was think about it, and think about ways to actually tell them no. I already have, but they just won’t listen! I don’t know why she won’t let me at least bring homemade Cesar salad or dessert. I have a garden full of yummy lettuce just waiting to be eaten! I have no problem sharing my garden. I love to share my garden!

Anyway, I better not continue rambling, its making me upset. Any suggestions/comments let me know. I’m at a loss about what to do at the moment.

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Horrible

I had such high hopes of updating my blog at least every other day. Instead I’ve had two horrible, horrible weeks from hell which was topped off this morning with a doctor’s appointment.

I’m too tired, cranky and upset to go into details at the moment. But rest assured the blog is still here, its just tired cranky and too upset to bake. Via la chocolate bars and pre-packaged comfort food.

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I broke my blog!

I managed to break my blog layout somehow. It might happen again, I’m in the midst of updating the css. Finally I have time to do things! I’m on night shift this week so I have the whole day to update css, cook, bake, read journal articles and post recipes. So get ready for a flood of new gluten-free things! And I apologize that the site may look like crud for awhile. I’m not a great css-er.

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Where am I and why am I not writing?

So, why haven’t I updated my blog regularly this month?

Good question, and the answer is: I have been sick. First with some sort of cold, then with some sort of virus, and this week I was glutinated by something. I don’t know what. When I’m sick I don’t write coherently, and I don’t want to cook or take photos of my food. I’m just grumpy and you don’t want to be anywhere near me!

Previously I mentioned that I didn’t get intestinal distress from gluten, just the rash. Well, apparently being gluten-free for the last while has changed that fact. Not only did my stomach revolt but I had a severe, severe, severe headache for 2 days straight (you try using a microscope and counting chromosome aberrations all day long with a headache. Its not pleasant).

Now that my stomach is better, the dermatitis herpetiformis has again erupted with gusto all over my elbows, knees, scalp, back of the neck and in the scar I have on my right cheek. I’ve had to wrap my elbows in bandages just so I cannot scratch because my new insane short term goal in life is to scratch off all 30 layers of dead cells on my elbows and destroy the underlying basal lamina. Will this result in permanent scarring? Hell yeah, but at least I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that I stuck it to the man! Or rather, my elbows. My knees are also itchy, but since it snowed AGAIN last night I will be wearing jeans again today, and its really hard to scratch knees while wearing jeans. I am going to work, and I should maintain some sort of decency. Plus its a biology lab, and not wearing pants in a little dangerous.

And no, I don’t know what I ate. This makes the whole situation even worse.

Any road, as previously mentioned it snowed again last night. So I must go clean off my car and get to work. Hopefully I won’t feel like mud and I’ll be back to the kitchen soon. I’m getting a little tired of Lara bars. But not the cherry pie Lara Bar *bliss*.

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Gluten-free shampoo

When I was diagnosed with Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH) I immediately looked up the ingredients in all of my health care products (soap, shampoos etc) in order to determine if they contained any gluten containing products. I had to change my soap and my moisturizer but my other regularly used personal hygiene products were gluten-free! Hurrah!

Getting rid of the gluten-filled products and eliminating gluten from my diet vanquished the DH on my knees, elbows and face, but the DH on my scalp continued to worsen. Last week I had had enough and once again looked up the ingredients in my shampoo and conditioner. Low and behold those a**holes had decided to change the formula of my favourite shampoo and conditioner to include a wonderful gluten-filled thickening agent.

So I switched to Dove, which is supposedly gluten-free (I hope).

But Dove doesn’t keep my hair in check. The frizz free formula makes my hair frizz like there is no tomorrow (I have hair that is wavy to curly, it never does just one, parts of my head will be really curly, and others will just be limp and straight). I’ve had a really, really big afro all week. Its horrible. My hair is nice and clean and soft but POOF!

If any of you know a gluten-free shampoo that actually gets rid of frizz please let me know. I can’t take my hair being this big. I wish it were the 80s, I’d be so cool.

Please see this photo: http://www.nirvanix.org/hair80s.jpg

That is what my hair looks like AFTER I try to straighten. Maybe I should just cut it all off.

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Latest Celiac Research publish March 2, 2008 linking celiac and diabetes

I have taken this article from a press release published by Queen Mary, University London. The article in question was published in the March 2, 2008 edition of Nature Genetics.

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Scientists uncover further steps leading to celiac disease

Scientists who last year identified a new genetic risk factor for coeliac disease, have, following continued research, discovered an additional seven gene regions implicated in causing the condition. The team, lead by David van Heel, Professor of Gastrointestinal Genetics at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, have further demonstrated that of the nine coeliac gene regions now know, four of these are also predisposing factors for type 1 diabetes. Their research sheds light not only on the nature of coeliac disease, but on the common origins of both diseases. It is published online today (2 March 2008) in Nature Genetics.

Professor van Heel and his team, including collaborators from Ireland, the Netherlands, and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, first performed a genome wide association study in coeliac disease. Genetic markers across the genome were compared in coeliac disease subjects versus healthy controls. They then assessed around 1,000 of the strongest markers in a further ~ 5,000 samples. Their results identified seven new risk regions, six of which harbour important genes critical in the control of immune responses, highlighting their significance in the development of the disease.

Coeliac disease is common in the West, afflicting around 1 per cent of the population. It is an immune-mediated disease, triggered by intolerance to gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley and rye containing foods), that prevents normal digestion and absorption of nutrients. If undetected it can lead to a number of often severe problems among them anaemia, poor bone health, fatigue and weight loss. Currently only a restricted diet can diminish symptoms.

Professor van Heel said: “So far our findings explain nearly half of the heritability of coeliac disease – now studies with many more samples from individuals with coeliac disease are needed to identify the precise causal genetic variants from each region, and understand how these influence biological processes.”

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Celiac disease and intestinal parasites

Last week I wrote a post about the latest research in celiac disease. Today I received a comment about that that post from Kristina:

“I just read your summary of the latest CD research and am wondering what your thoughts are on this- my fiance and I lived in Nicaragua for two years. I drank water from the tap, from wells, whatever, no intestinal parasites, no giardia, no nothing for the entire time- whereas he (a non-celiac) was sick all the time (and he was careful about boiling his water). Our theory is that being a celiac, I have some sort of protection against amoebas and what not. What do you think?”

I thought this was extremely interesting. I wrote her back:

“I think that its possible that celiac protected you, but celiac disease is not the only explanation for your lack of tummy troubles. Consider:

– Many parasites would need something to latch onto in order to grow and inflict disease. If your intestines were not healed, there might not have been enough villi for the parasite to create a home, thus your illness may have prevented another illness.
– your digestive system may also have developed a unique way of dealing with changes to the intestine because of your celiac. Its amazing how your body will work around problems. Perhaps your unique work around helped you say healthy
– your stomach might have been sick, but you’re so used to feeling sick that you didn’t actually notice being ill. Your boyfriend who hasn’t had years of illness would never have experienced this type of feeling and therefore extra sensitive to the problem

– However —

- there is the possibility that you may never have actually ingested a live parasite. The incidence of parasites are actually quite low, its just the few that float about in the water are really good at causing disease and you usually only need one to get sick. Statistically you might have been lucky.
– you may have done a better job of disinfecting the water you drank than your boyfriend. My boyfriend is lazy and impatient — there is no question in my mind that he would have made himself sick!
– you may have genes coding for super parasite killing proteins or cycles that genetically pre-dispose you to survive parasitic attack.
– your stomach acid may be stronger than your boyfriend’s and you killed the parasites before they actually invaded your intestines.”

I also told her I’d do some digging to discover the real scoop. Here’s what I discovered:

Behera et al. Dig Dis Sci. 2008 Mar;53(3):672-9.

“The pathogenic parasites detected in (celiac) adults were Giardia lamblia 12 (24%), E. histolytica / dispar 5 (10%), Ancylostoma duodenale 4 (8%), H. nana 2 (4%) and Cyclospora cayetanensis 1 (2%). The pathogenic parasites detected in children with malabsorption syndrome were Giardia lamblia 8 (16%), Cryptosporidium 7 (14%), E. histolytica / dispar 3 (6%), Ancylostoma duodenale 3 (6%), Isospora belli 1 (2%), and H. nana 1 (2%). None of the stool samples from healthy controls were positive for Cryptosporidium spp., Cyclospora and Isospora belli. All the patients infected with intestinal coccidia were HIV sero-negative. Conclusion: Celiac disease is the most common cause of malabsorption syndrome in both adults and children. These people harbour significantly more pathogenic parasites and are more frequently colonized with harmless commensals as compared to healthy controls.”

I also found a study that suggests that the T cells that cause the villi to flatten in celiac disease are not the same T cells that flatten the lining in a giardia infection. Same symptoms, different pathway.

Unfortunately, that is all of the evidence I could find. This does not lead us to any conclusion, but it does give us another hypothesis to explain why Kristina was not ill — Kristina may have already had a giardia infection! If the numbers in this study are statistically correct, she has a 24% chance of being infected with giardia as I type. In fact, if the stats are correct, I have a 24% chance of being infected as I type! There is also a chance she has another intestinal parasite that was not allowing the parasites from Nicaragua settle.

I would like to point out that the study was small, and that the statistics might be much higher or lower than 24%.

This whole thing brings home something I’ve already said — I really have to get my microfora back in order! This can easily be accomplished through diet and by taking high quality probiotics on a regular basis. Please note that yogurt, cheese and other foods containing probiotics are NOT good probiotics.

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