Monday, April 30, 2012

Celiac Disease Foundation Conference 2012

I had the opportunity this past weekend to attend the Celiac Disease Foundation Annual Conference and Food Show in Los Angeles.

As I study to become a Gluten Free Coach, it is my intention to learn as much as I possibly can about this disease and the potential damage that can be caused by this insidious little protein. I personally suffer from non celiac gluten intolerance and have been gluten free for 12 years since beginning my Low Carbohydrate/Paleo journey. Check out my page on gluten intolerance here. If you have any of the symptoms, you might consider testing and at the very least, trying to eliminate gluten for 30 days to see if you notice any marked improvement.

I will say that while I took a few points away, I was slightly disappointed with this conference. There were four featured speakers and I gained the most from one which happens to be a RD specializing in advising the celiac on diet and nutrition.

I was particularly disappointed with one of the speakers, Peter H. R. Green, MD.

Dr. Green is the Director of The Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University. He is a Professor of Clinical Medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University and Attending Physician at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital. He is also a Member of CDF Medical Advisory Board.

Dr. Green made what I believe to be an irresponsible statement for the innocent patient suffering intestinal damage. "Probiotics are un-necessary and even dangerous" and "Just go to Costco and pick up a cheap multi-vitamin".

As a Nutrition Educator, I have personal experience with both sides of the coin. Dr. Green made the reference to "lack of clinical data of the efficacy of probiotics in celiac disease". Interestingly enough, the first speaker, Stefano Guandalini, MD spoke of the potential relationship between reduced microbes and celiac disease being a potential cause. Our increase in C-Sections and lack of breast feeding could be one of the factors but more evidence is still needed. Now this made me feel like Dr. Green is disconnected from the ever important steps it takes to repair the gut and gain improved health considering "Celiacs have a higher mortality rate" as quoted by the good Dr. Talking out both sides of his mouth perhaps?

While so many gluten intolerant and celiacs are suffering without diagnosis by Gastroenterologists, one would think that this particular Dr. would be well versed in the healing of the villi that is damaged by the gluten protein considering his position. I would like to know if Dr. Green has spent any time advising on diet and repair of gut permeability?

The second speaker that I truly appreciated was RD, Shelley Case. A registered dietitian, Shelley Case is a leading international expert on celiac disease and the gluten-free diet. She is a member of the Medical Advisory Boards of the Celiac Disease Foundation, Gluten Intolerance Group and Canadian Celiac Association, as well as the Scientific Advisory Board of the Grain Foods Foundation.

We had the opportunity to ask questions of the speakers and mine of course was devoted to Dr. Greens statement. I appreciated the fact that Ms. Case so eloquently pointed out that Physicians are usually clinical data driven and stated: "I have and do use quality probiotic and supplement treatment with my clients with great success." That question and statement received the only ovation of the entire day. Shelley Case has published what I think one of the most complete guides to living with Celiac you will find. Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide- Expanded and Revised Edition

Again, I have personally witnessed the efficacy of quality probiotics and quality whole food supplementation on celiac/gluten intolerance clients as well, I have watched celiacs suffer a couple of years post diagnosis with no gut treatment. This, referred to as continued TTA (Tissue Transglutaminase Antibody) elevation. This, one of the markers of inflammation in the gut.

Never mentioned during this entire conference, the ensuing damage of phytates, lectins and sapponins contained within all grains and legumes nor the cross reactionary potential of these toxins to maintain inflammatory responses in the gut. To top it off, phytates bind to minerals and in the already deficient individual, this can cause further mineral depletion. My point? A Paleo diet along with a gut healing protocol will elevate the health of the Celiac.

I thought to myself, "If only Prof. Loren Cordain, Robb Wolf or Nora Gedgaudas had been there, I know my time spent would have garnered more information than I would even known what to do with."

Consistently, in modern medicine, we look for cures to what seems to affect an increasing number of people. As Dr. William Davis points out in his book Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health, our modern wheat supply has changed so much we barely recognize many of the proteins. Mentioned at this conference was the possibility of a vaccine.


So rather than stand up against big food processing, we manipulate? We allow big food to force us to change the evolutionary biology of the human body? I refuse to believe that this is a solution for long term health and fear this only panders to our addictions and the profit of the food processing industry.

Speaking of the food processing industry. Let's just say that all of the big guys are sponsoring this event. I was hard pressed to find real food options at this event. Fortunately, the breakfast supplied had fresh fruit and hard boiled eggs. Now I'm pretty picky about the food I will put into my body and I knew that some of the cleaner natural food producers were going to be there. I'm a grain free girl but not all of my clients are so it is important to me to know the options that I can safely recommend to my grain consuming celiac/gluten intolerant friends. I did taste test a few things and as I expected, left with a stomach ache.

In my opinion as well as many of my colleagues, we are trading one problem for another. High carb food for high carb food. The president of the CDF clearly stated "We need food so be sure to support our sponsors". Sorry folks, that is not food these processors are providing you. As a celiac with damaged villi, or gluten intolerant sufferer with IBS, you need nutrient from real whole foods to assist in healing that gut and reducing your mortality rate (as stated by one of the speakers).

I located one vendor that not only tickled my taste buds but really caught my attention with advertising at their booth "Low Carb". This was a local restaurant in Los Angeles called Chili Addiction. One taste and I was addicted!. Owners Johnny and Rick won my loyalty with their knowledge of good food, Paleo, Low Carb and quality. More about this establishment in my next blog post because they have mail order! Let's just say they use Prime Rib cut in their chili and burgers and one of the ingredients in my favorite chili is rosemary.

All in all I enjoyed my time at this conference and while there is still a great deal of work to be done with education of the benefit of whole, real foods and overall health, word is spreading and the needs of this very special group are becoming increasingly met.

After the conference, my husband made an excellent observation. He stated "There is a vast difference between the physical health of the attendees at this conference as opposed to the attendees at the Ancestral Health Symposium." I have to agree with him. Imagine if every celiac adapted the Paleo/Primal/Low Carb Lifestyle. Their health would soar and as a result, their physical appearance would be greatly improved. Our physical appearance is so frequently influenced by our inner health.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Raw Liver Smoothie

In my quest for optimal health, I have realized through my study of whole foods that offal meats were an integral part of our evolutionary history. Previously, generations consumed the whole animal or as we say "Snout to Tail" and this includes offal meats. This brings new light to the saying "waste not want not". Never in history have we been so wasteful as we are today and consequently, more ill than ever before.

I speak to so many who have horrid thoughts of being forced to eat liver in their childhood. Fortunately or unfortunately for me, my Mother never liked liver so it wasn't a chosen cuisine in our household. Consequently, it was never something I served my own children and yes, I have regret for that.

Due to the nutrient profile of liver, I thought it important to begin consuming it in some form. I first began with a saute of a little chicken liver from one of my birds I was planning to put on the rotisserie. This was a difficult meal for me to get down. Rubbery, rich in a flavor I didn't care for, I just did not see myself forcing this. People have asked "why force something you don't like?" I answer, "for the potential health benefits I can obtain, I will continue to find a way"!

Body Builders have known the secret of liver for many years through the consumption of Desiccated Liver Tablets. These liver tablets are known to produce massive energy results thereby allowing the athlete to push his/her energy levels to that next level.

Desiccated Liver tablets are freeze dried, defatted bovine liver that is free of hormones and antibiotics. I have used Solgar Brand in the past and love the effect. However, since the tablets are defatted, I felt like I wasn't gaining the benefit of the fat soluble vitamins, most particularly Pre-formed Vitamin A which is different from Beta Carotene. Unfortunately, Beta Carotene does not efficiently convert to the pre-formed Vitamin A and newer research has shown that the absorption of provitamin-A (carotenoids)which we find in our yellow/orange produce is only half as much as previously thought.

Why am I so interested in Pre-Formed Vitamin A? let me count the ways!:

  • Healthy Vision
  • Healthy Bone Growth & Regeneration
  • Healthy Reproduction
  • Cell Division, and Cell Differentiation (in which a cell becomes part of the brain, muscle, lungs, blood, or other specialized tissue.)
  • Immune System Regulation, which helps prevent or fight off infections by making white blood cells that destroy harmful bacteria and viruses including cancers.
  • Vitamin A also may help lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) fight infections more effectively.
  • Vitamin A promotes healthy surface linings of the eyes and the respiratory, urinary, and intestinal tracts. When those linings break down, it becomes easier for bacteria to enter the body and cause infection. Vitamin A also helps the skin and mucous membranes function as a barrier to bacteria and viruses.

Vitamin A in foods that come from animals is well absorbed and used efficiently by the body. Sadly, the majority of the general public relies on fortified foods for this valuable nutrient.

Liver is rich in Arachadonic Acid and DHA as well as Lipoic Acid not to mention the many vitamins & minerals:

  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin C
  • Thiamin
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin
  • Pantothenic Acid
  • Vitamin B6
  • Folic Acid
  • Biotin
  • Vitamin B12

No wonder animal liver is recommended as one of baby's first foods! After the hunt, indigenous people cut out the liver and immediately shared it among the tribe as a sacred practice. High in Vitamin C, the Inuit avoided scurvy with the consumption of raw livers.

Liver is our absolute best iron source and I have had a great deal of success raising iron levels of anemic women with desiccated liver tablets. Many have reported an increase in energy in a matter of 2 short days. If you've ever suffered anemic low energy, you know what I'm talking about.

Interestingly enough, Beef Liver has twice the amount of Vitamin A as Chicken Liver so this is the form I have chosen to use.
As I mentioned above, I have tried cooked chicken liver and just can't stomach the long process of chewing this food no matter how I cook it.

I then began blending it with a little coconut milk and that nearly came back the same way it went down. The combination was utterly repulsive and if you've ever forced something for a period of time, you know the gag reflex just becomes stronger each time.

I then decided to freeze it and chunk it up in small pieces and swallow these like supplements as you see in the photo. However that started to become as difficult as the coconut liver blend so I thought "one more try" and have now transitioned to the most tolerable way possible for me personally. Once I blend my morning smoothie, I take approximately 6oz. of my smoothie and blend with it 4 tbs. of frozen,raw beef liver and just "chug it". It's easy, there is very little after taste and the energy surge I feel from this lasts the entire day. Yes, I am actually noticing the biggest difference ever of any food I have ever incorporated into my diet.
My husband on the other hand finds the frozen chunk supplementation process his best delivery and cannot stomach blending it. We are all different! Find what works for you. Be sure though to freeze your liver for 14 days prior to consumption to kill any pathogens that might be present and always choose organic and preferably, grass fed.

It's an interesting point but when I added frozen peaches to my smoothie, the taste of the liver was even more neutralized than with frozen berries alone. You can find my smoothie recipe here. Do be careful with the sugar content though because if your weight loss journey is new, you suffer insulin resistance or other metabolic disorders, that higher glycemic fruit might not be the superior choice for you.

Jack Lalane reportedly took desiccated liver tablets during his workouts and really ramped them up prior to a competition.

There really is no more a sacred food than that of liver. I encourage you to try it and see what I mean by the surge in energy. It's an amazing feeling really.

I'll let you know when I become brave enough to figure out how to get heart in my diet for that surge of natural CoEnzyme Q10 or "Ubiquinol".

I'll close for now because I think my liver smoothie just kicked in so I'm going to take advantage of the extra energy on this unusually warm April afternoon!