March 25, 2017

Celiac Disease, Watch for Lymphoma

Gluten-free foods are in the news more and more lately. I have written blogs about the dangers of gluten-free foods. For people with celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disease, they have to consume gluten-free foods. This article really scares me, as often the people that develop lymphoma have been ignored by doctors because the doctors did not believe in celiac disease and believed that they maybe had stomach problems only.

Celiac disease affects approximately 3 million U.S. adults, or roughly 1 percent of the healthy adult population in the country. The disease is an inherited autoimmune condition. For people with celiac disease, the consumption of gluten - a protein found in cereal grains such as wheat, rye, and barley - causes their immune system to attack the small intestine.

If left untreated, celiac disease may lead to complications such as osteoporosis, infertility, some brain disorders, and even additional autoimmune conditions. In some rare cases, undiagnosed or untreated celiac disease may also cause cancer. A team of researchers at the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) in the Netherlands has recently shown that the body's immune cells triggered by the consumption of gluten in patients with celiac disease may also lead to a rare form of lymphoma.

The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

For a small number of people living with celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is not enough to stop the otherwise severe symptoms. These patients are classified as having refractory celiac disease (RCD), which usually affects between 2 and 5 percent of celiac disease patients.

In one type of RCD called RCDII, the white blood cells found in the wall of the small intestine divide and multiply in excessive numbers. In approximately half of the RCDII patients, these cells, called lymphocytes, go on to develop into a particularly rare form of lymphoma.

This rare and very aggressive form of white blood cell cancer is called enteropathy-associated T-cell lymphoma.

The body's T cells - a type of immune cell that controls the body's reaction to gluten, among other things - have a very strong inflammatory reaction to gluten. When they detect the protein, they produce cytokines, which in turn stimulate other immune cells. This leads to the extremely inflammatory and painful response typical of celiac disease, but in some rare cases, it also leads to

Researchers have known that the onset of this rare form of lymphoma depends on the cytokine IL-15, which makes malignant cells multiply. In this latest research, however, scientists in the Netherlands have now shown that three other cytokines - TNF, IL-2, and IL-21 - can also cause malignant cell proliferation.

These findings serve to further clarify how the body's immune system responds to gluten and how this can stimulate the growth of cancerous cells in RCDII.

Dr. Lara Bennett, science communications manager at Worldwide Cancer Research, comments on the significance of the findings: "This is another great example of the importance of early-stage, discovery research. This is a rare type of cancer, but the findings could be of real benefit to this small but important group of patients with refractory celiac disease."

LUMC researcher and Worldwide Cancer Research scientist, Dr. Jeroen van Bergen, explains why the next important step in this research is identifying where exactly in the development of lymphoma these three cytokines get involved.

"It is likely that at the time of lymphoma diagnosis, the patient has already experienced decades of intestinal inflammation," Dr. van Bergen says. "We need to determine the extent to which it would actually help to block these newly discovered growth factors with targeted drugs at the time of diagnosis. In the meantime, we have tested a large number of potential drugs in the laboratory, and two of them seem promising. But this is only interesting in terms of a new treatment if these growth factors still have a role to play in the growth and development of the lymphoma after diagnosis."

That 2 to 5 percent of celiac patients that develop lymphoma is still scary and the doctors that ignore this, need his/her license revoked.

March 24, 2017

Dog Haters

No, don't ever accuse me of this, as I love cats and dogs equally. This last week has been a real test of my will and having a judge that was willing to listen to someone without legal qualifications. I will only say that the person bringing the lawsuit against the owner of a mobility service dog almost got away with it.

The store owner from the town that my friend used for training mobility service dogs, my friend, and I were present for all four days of the trial. On the evening of the second day of the trial, my friend brought in another person with a mobility service dog. The judge and two local sheriff department officers knew of this and all three were ready for action. The person behind the lawsuit was not aware and the city police were not aware because they were holding the first dog and would not let it be brought into the courtroom at the request of the person.

The person with the mobility service dog entered the store and as soon as the store owner realized this, he removed the person and went to remove the dog. He did not realize that the judge and two sheriff department officers had slipped into the store and were waiting to see what would happen. As suspected, the store owner had a whip and was using it on the dog. At that point, they moved in and arrested the store owner and the judge asked the store owner if this is what he had done to the first dog. He of course denied this and the sheriff deputies were ordered to take him to the sheriff office and confine him for the night and report to the city police department with a local veterinary.

When they arrived, the chief of police would not release the dog they had, but did allow the veterinary to examine the dog. The dog had lost the sight in one eye and still had several large welts on its head and back. At that point, the judge called the sheriff and had him come and arrest the chief of police and several police officers for animal cruelty and not following court orders. The next day, when everyone was in the courtroom, the judge handed out sentences for the police officers and the chief of police.

Next, the judge addressed the store owner and asked him why when the dogs did him no harm, had he taken after them with a whip. All he would say was that the dogs were not allowed in his business and he could do what ever he wanted to trespassers.

Unknown to even us, the judge had asked a representative from the American Kennel Club (AKC) to be present. The judge asked my friend and me to take the injured dogs through the test for good citizenship. When the store owner saw the first dog, he pulled the whip out if his shirt and struck out at the dog. He was taken down by the sheriff officers and removed from the courtroom. My friend then started the test with the second dog and the AKC tester said that the dog passed the test. Then I brought the first dog to the front and started the test. When I completed the test, the AKC tester said that even with only one eye, the dog passed the test. The AKC tester said he had been make aware of the happenings and still these dogs could pass the test. He went down to one knee, invited both dogs to him, and petted both. Next he talked to my friend and asked if this was something we encountered on a regular basis.

My friend said no, but we no longer have a regular tester as that individual has passed and we now have to travel longer distances to have our dogs tested. I was then asked for my role in this. I explained that the dog that I tested was the first dog I had taken through the AKC test. I was an assistant to my friend and had worked several summers for him and with the dogs.

The AKC tester then addressed the judge and said for the abuse both dogs had been exposed to, they still were safe for their role as mobility dogs. My friend spoke up and said that if the current owner did not mind, he would like to replace the dog with one eye. The judge asked the current owner and he said that he would like to think about this, but was in no hurry, as he wanted to have the dog heal first.

The judge asked that both dogs be returned to the court room the following day and asked the sheriff officers to bring in the local store owner in the morning.  In the morning, the judge said that his lawsuit was dismissed and he would be sentenced to seven years in jail for animal cruelty. On top of this, add five more years for bribery of the city police officers.

Under federal law of not allowing the customers with service dogs to stay in the business, the judge added another year. This brought a complaint and a question about his rights as business owner. The judge said that under the American Disabilities Act, customers could not be denied access with service dogs. Under the circumstances and your lawsuit, be satisfied I did not add several years to the total sentence, because I could add four years for each officer bribed.

In addition, there has been nothing said about you being sued for the damages done to the service dogs, so be prepared to pay for any damages. At that point, my friend was asked about the cost of replacing each dog and the judge ordered him to place that cost into an escrow fund with the court, plus an amount for the veterinary fees, plus the costs for the witnesses and court costs for the case you lost.

We had a joyous trip home. The store owner asked my friend how he came up with the trap for the dog hater. He said that he had not, but had been in the meeting with the judge when the trap was hatched. He said the judge had asked many questions to insure that this would not be entrapment. When it was suggested that two sheriff officers be present to prevent the city police from being involved, that was when the judge agreed. The judge was also happy that no one was accusing anyone, but felt the store owner needed to be tested.

My friend said that once the store owner showed his true self and the veterinary was allowed to see the dog held by the city and explain the injuries to the judge, that is when the whole scheme broke down.

March 23, 2017

Another Reason to Avoid Fast Food

Most of us with type 2 diabetes have been warned about consuming fast food because of the added sugars and high carbohydrate content. Now we have an even more important reason- new research suggests that the packaging it comes in might be harmful as well. The study, which took place at the Silent Spring Institute in Newton, Massachusetts, found that the wrappers and boxes in which fast food is typically served are often sources of dangerous chemicals that can leach into your food.

For the study, more than 400 packaging samples were obtained from restaurants across the United States. An analysis of the material showed that 46 percent of the paper wrappers and 20 percent of the paperboard boxes contained fluorine. Fluorine - the most reactive nonmetallic element, a pale-yellow, corrosive, toxic gas that occurs combined, especially in fluorite, cryolite, phosphate rock, and other minerals.

Fluorine is a compound used in a number of chemicals including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) which were added to fabrics, carpeting, furniture, and more for many years to increase their stain resistance, and cookware to make it non-stick. While American manufacturers began to phase them out as of 2011, some countries have not. And clearly, from the results of this study, they are still being used in fast food packaging due to their ability to limit the spread of the grease from the food.

People think it is great that the chicken nuggets and French fries will not leave a grease stain on the seat of the car or on your clothes, but the problem is that these chemicals are absorbed into our bodies. We are exposed to them regularly, as we breathe them in our air and drink them in our water. They also leach into our food through contact with these wrappings and boxes.

Fluorinated chemicals have been detected in blood samples of approximately 98 percent of adults and children, and even in umbilical cords. They have been linked to such conditions as kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease, fertility problems, arthritis, and immune system disorders. Plus, these toxins are known to remain in our bodies for several years. Needless to say, it seems pretty obvious that we now have one more excellent reason for eliminating fast food from our diets, as well as one more excellent reason for regularly detoxing.

Don't let yourself fall into the trap of saying you’ll only have fast food every once in a while. After all, it’s so convenient, with drive-throughs practically on every corner and pizza places that deliver dinner to your doorstep. But you just have to think ahead so you won’t have to fight the urge to give in.

If your issue is a certain night or two of the week that you’re extra busy and don’t have time to cook, make a plan. You can cook a double batch of food the evening before and have leftovers ready. Or buy easy-to-prepare items you can throw together for a quick meal that’s still nutritious such as a salad with veggies, nuts, and hard-boiled eggs or wraps with strips of vegetables and chicken. For those nights when you think you’ll be too hungry to wait until you get home, keep a baggie of homemade trail mix in your car to get you over the hump.

If, on the other hand, you opt for fast food sometimes because you just love the taste of it, try to make healthier versions of your favorites at home. You can make pizza with a whole-grain dough or cauliflower crust, fresh veggies as tasty toppings, and keep the mozzarella to a minimum. If it’s a burger and fries you crave, make a turkey or chicken burger using organic meat. It may not offer the same greasy consistency as a fast food beef burger, but if you top it off with onion slices, lettuce, and tomato, you’ll still enjoy plenty of flavor. And you can slice up sweet potatoes, season them with paprika or a little cayenne pepper, and bake them for a lower-calorie, more nutritious side dish.

March 22, 2017

What Role Will Rare Sugars Play?

Rare Sugars? Where did they come from? And the study was done using rats and not humans.

In an era when the label "natural" hits a sweet spot with consumers, some uncommon sugars emerging on the market could live up to the connotation. Preliminary animal studies have suggested that allulose and other low-calorie, natural rare sugars could help regulate glucose levels. Now, researchers are investigating how they might exert such effects. They report their findings in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

It is unfortunate that only one rare sugar is mentioned and the only rare sugar even considered.

Sucrose is the natural sweetener most labels refer to when sugar is on the ingredient list. It's abundant, and manufacturers figured out long ago how to extract it on a large scale from sugar cane and other sources. Allulose, which is 70 percent as sweet as sucrose, and other rare sugars also can be found in fruits and vegetables but in very small amounts.

Recently, however, researchers discovered an industrial way to produce allulose in large quantities from high-fructose corn syrup, which contains about equal parts glucose and fructose. Some studies have suggested that allulose can help control weight gain and glucose levels, but no one knew why. Tomoya Shintani and colleagues wanted to confirm that allulose - and potentially other rare sugars - yield these results and to take a step toward understanding why.

To investigate, the team of scientists gave three groups of rats plain water, water with high-fructose corn syrup, and water with rare-sugar syrup (RSS) containing glucose, fructose, allulose, and other rare sugars for 10 weeks. The rats drinking RSS-infused water gained less weight, had less abdominal fat, and had lower blood glucose and insulin levels compared to the high-fructose corn syrup group.

The study also showed that the liver cells' nuclei in the RSS rats exported to the cytoplasm higher amounts of glucokinase, an enzyme that reduces blood-sugar levels by helping convert glucose to its stored form, glycogen.

Although further testing is needed, the researchers say, the findings suggest that rare sugars could be a good alternative sweetener.

The authors acknowledge funding from the Matsutani Chemical Industry Co. and Meijo University.

March 21, 2017

Are You Living with Tinnitus?

Do you have tinnitus? That ringing in your ears is probably tinnitus. It can affect your hearing and cause certain sounds to be difficult to hear. Tinnitus can be caused by many things, but the most common is loud noises. Doctors can attempt to find the cause, but most are smart and refer you to a doctor specializing in hearing problems.

This doctor will do hearing tests and help you find ways to minimize the ringing in your ears.

But whether you find the cause or not, there are things you can do to ease the sound and even keep it from getting worse.

Protect yourself from loud noises: They can both cause tinnitus and make it worse. Avoid concerts, sporting events, and noisy machinery. If you can't stay away or if the noise is part of your job, take care of your ears. Wear earplugs or earmuffs when exposed to them. If you use headphones to listen to music, keep the sound turned down low. There are some earmuffs that are much more effective than others and these can often be adjusted for the noise you need to mute.

Get enough sleep: Fatigue can trigger tinnitus or make the ringing seem worse. Make sure you get enough shuteye. That’s around 8 hours a night for adults. If you need help, ask your doctor for tips to help you sleep. If you have sleep apnea, you may need to use a machine to help you breathe.

Try white noise: You can get a machine that plays a constant low-level background sound. It covers the ringing in your ears. You can listen while you’re trying to go to sleep. You can also get a gadget called a sound masker. You wear it in or behind your ear. It makes a constant noise to help block the ringing.

Wear your hearing aids: Many people need them but won’t wear them. But they can help you tune out tinnitus.

Ease stress: It can make tinnitus worse. Find ways to relax and manage your worries. Deep breathing, exercise, and biofeedback might all help. So could massage or acupuncture. If you have trouble, your doctor can give you relaxation ideas.

Switch to decaf: Do you rely on high-octane coffee, soda, or energy drinks to get through the day? Cut back on caffeine and see if the ringing gets better. Some people say it make their tinnitus worse. But one study found that women who drank more caffeine were less likely to have tinnitus. See what works for you.

Kick the habit: Nicotine in cigarettes and other products often makes tinnitus worse. Smoking affects the blood vessels that bring oxygen to your ears. It can also boost your blood pressure.

Cut back on alcohol: Booze spikes your blood pressure, too. That can make the ringing easier to notice. Limit or quit alcohol. See if that helps.

See your doctor: Often tinnitus is a side effect of a medication or a symptom of some other condition. It could be something as simple as too much earwax. Or it could just be a result of allergies or a sinus or ear infection. Your doctor can help figure out if there's something else going on. A medicine change or ear cleaning might be all it takes to stop the noise.

If you have things that work for you, continue using them and talk to your doctor.

A doctor who specializes in problems of the ear, nose and throat are normally called an ENT or an Otolaryngologist. If the doctor has additional training in the medical and surgical management of dizziness,hearing loss, and tumors of the ear they may be called an Otologist.

Hearing is a complex sense with lots of different causes and treatments. Sometimes it’s difficult for patients to determine what type of hearing health professional can best handle their hearing problem. Take time to learn the difference between an audiologist and an ENT and the other types here.

March 20, 2017

About Your Pancreas

The pancreas is an abdominal organ that is located behind the stomach and is surrounded by other organs, including the spleen, liver and small intestine. The pancreas is about 6 inches (15.24 centimeters) long, oblong and flat.

The pancreas plays an important role in digestion and in regulating blood sugar. Three diseases associated with the pancreas are pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer and diabetes.

The pancreas serves two primary functions, according to Jordan Knowlton, an advanced registered nurse practitioner at the University of Florida Health Shands Hospital. It makes “enzymes to digest proteins, fats, and carbs in the intestines” and produces the hormones insulin and glucagon, he said.

Dr. Richard Bowen of Colorado State University’s Department of Biomedical Sciences wrote in Hypertexts for Pathophysiology: Endocrine System, “A well-known effect of insulin is to decrease the concentration of glucose in blood.” This lowers blood sugar levels and allows the body’s cells to use glucose for energy.

Insulin also allows glucose to enter muscle and other tissue, works with the liver to store glucose and synthesize fatty acids, and “stimulates the uptake of amino acids,” according to Bowen. Insulin is released after eating protein and especially after eating carbohydrates, which increase glucose levels in the blood. If the pancreas does not produce sufficient insulin, type 1 diabetes will develop.

Unlike insulin, glucagon raises blood sugar levels. According to the Johns Hopkins University Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center, the combination of insulin and glucagon maintains the proper level of sugar in the blood.

The pancreas’ second, exocrine function is to produce and release digestive fluids. After food enters the stomach, digestive enzymes called pancreatic juice travel through several small ducts to the main pancreatic duct and then to the bile duct, according to the Medical University of South Carolina’s Digestive Disease Center. The bile duct takes the juice to the gallbladder, where it mixes with bile to aid in digestion.

“The pancreas is located in the upper abdomen behind the stomach,” Knowlton said. The right end of the pancreas is wide and called the head. From the head, the organ tapers to the left. The middle sections are called the neck and body, while the narrow end on the left side of the body is called the tail.

The Hume-Lee Transplant Center at Virginia Commonwealth University described the pancreas as “j-shaped.” The portion of the pancreas called the uncinate process bends backward from the head and underneath the body, according to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Intense pancreatic pain is usually associated with acute pancreatitis. It can be hard to identify pancreas pain and evaluate pancreas diseases because the organ sits deep in the abdomen, according to The National Pancreas Association. Other signs that the pain may be pancreatic include jaundice, itchy skin and unexplained weight loss. If you are experiencing pancreas pain, consult your doctor.

The National Institutes of Health defines pancreatitis as inflammation of the pancreas, happening when “digestive enzymes start digesting the pancreas itself.” It can be acute or chronic, but both forms should be taken seriously and may lead to additional health problems.

“Chronic pancreatitis is a persistent inflammation (greater than three weeks) of the pancreas that causes permanent damage,” Knowlton said. The condition is often caused by “heavy, ongoing” alcohol consumption, but she added that there are other causes, including “those that cause acute pancreatitis attacks.” Other causes may be cystic fibrosis, high levels of calcium or fat in the blood and autoimmune disorders.

Symptoms include upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and oily stools. According to Peter Lee and Tyler Stevens, in an article for the Cleveland Clinic, “clinically apparent” oily stools (steatorrhea) do not appear until “90 percent of pancreatic function has been lost.”

“Chronic pancreatitis requires dietary modifications including a low-fat diet and cessation of alcohol [intake] and smoking,” Knowlton said. Chronic pancreatitis does not heal and tends to worsen with time, and “treatment options are mostly for pain relief.” She added that treatments “may include a pancreas stent or, for severe cases, surgery (either a lateral pancreaticojejunostomy, or a Whipple procedure).” Pancreatiocojejunostomies are designed to decrease pancreatic leakage while the Whipple procedure removes the head of the pancreas where, according to the Mayo Clinic, most tumors occur.

There may be a link between chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. According to the University of California Los Angeles Center for Pancreatic Diseases, “Recent studies reveal a 2-5 times increase in the incidence of pancreatic cancer in patients with chronic pancreatitis from a variety of causes.”

“Acute pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas (lasting less than three weeks), that is most often caused by gallstones,” said Knowlton. It usually comes on suddenly and disappears within a few days of treatment. In addition to gallstones, Knowlton said that causes “may include medications, high triglycerides, high calcium in the blood and high alcohol consumption.”

Pancreas pain is the chief symptom of acute pancreatitis, according to Medscape. The pain is usually severe and sudden. It increases in severity until it becomes a constant ache. This pancreas pain is felt in the upper abdomen. The Mayo Clinic noted that the pain can radiate through to the back, and Knowlton pointed out that it might be worse after eating. Other symptoms of acute pancreatitis include nausea, vomiting, fever and diarrhea.

According to Knowlton, “This patient often looks acutely ill, and requires hospitalization (typically for three to five days), intravenous (IV) hydration, nothing by mouth (for bowel rest), pain medication, treatment of underlying conditions, and possibly a radiologic procedure called an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), which can more specifically target the problem.” If the acute pancreatitis was caused by gallstones, doctors may recommend removing the gallbladder.

It is hard to diagnose pancreatic cancer early. The Mayo Clinic noted that symptoms typically don’t occur until the cancer has advanced. Knowlton said, “Unfortunately, symptoms can be vague, but can include abdominal pain, jaundice, severe itching, weight-loss, nausea, vomiting, and digestive problems.”

Making matters even more complicated is the pancreas’ deep-in-the-abdomen location. The NIH pointed out that as a result, tumors cannot usually be felt by touch. Because of the difficulty of early diagnosis and the rapidity with which pancreatic cancer spreads, the prognosis is often poor.

Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include smoking, long-term diabetes, and chronic pancreatitis, according to the National Cancer Institute.

According to the American Cancer Society, pancreatic cancer usually begins in the cells that produce pancreatic (digestive) juices or in the cells that line the ducts. In rare occasions, pancreatic cancer will begin in the cells that produce hormones.

According to The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, to diagnose pancreatic cancer, doctors typically conduct physical exams, blood tests, imaging tests, endoscopic ultrasounds and tests and biopsies. Treatment options include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and therapies targeted to attack cancer cells without harming normal cells.

March 19, 2017

Our Second March Meeting

On March 18, Brenda called our second meeting to order and said Allison would have the presentation. This time everyone was present plus one guest that A.J introduced.

Allison said she had wanted to have this last meeting, but with all the flu, she felt that should be covered instead. Now she felt that gluten-free foods needed to be covered. She asked how many knew about gluten-free foods. Of the 26 present, only three hands were not raised. Next, she asked if anyone had celiac disease. No hands were raised and she commented that was understandable. Next, she asked if anyone had not read Bob's blog on February 19 about arsenic and mercury poisoning. Five hands were raised and Allison said that she was happy there were so few.

She said she had found the same article from many sources from many countries. She felt this indicated that the study was important and people around the world were concerned about the possibility of arsenic and mercury poisoning.

She then had Brenda bring up a slide with this paragraph - The way I see it, this research doesn’t mean that going gluten-free will automatically increase your intake of the heavy metals. However it's an important reminder that how you eat gluten-free matters, both in terms of arsenic and mercury, and your overall nutrient intake. Here are three key ways you can optimize your health if you eat gluten-free.

Next she asked if anyone was gluten sensitive and trying to eat gluten-free. Two hands were raised and one of the two asked how serious this could be and she felt she was gluten sensitive and was eating more gluten-free foods. Allison asked her to remember her question and asked for the next slide.

The next paragraph said - You can find gluten-free versions of nearly any food these days, including bagels, bread, wraps, baked goods, and crackers. Many are made with rice flour, but what they also have in common is that they’re all highly processed. If you need to follow a gluten-free diet, yes, it’s nice to be able to eat pizza or a cookie if you really want it. But these foods should be occasional treats, not daily staples. And it’s important to note that simply being gluten-free does not make a product healthy. Many processed gluten-free foods are made with refined flour (stripped of fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants), as well as added sugar, sodium, or other unwanted additives. Make whole, fresh, and minimally-processed foods your go-tos, not gluten-free versions of packaged, multi-ingredient products.

Then Allison said she had several more slides and would read them before discussion. Brenda started the slides, which are here:

Rice is just one of many gluten-free grains. Others include quinoa, buckwheat, millet, oats, sorghum, teff, corn, and amaranth. Pulses (the umbrella term for beans, lentils, peas, and chickpeas) are also gluten-free, as are starchy vegetables, including sweet potato, yams, fingerling potatoes, and squash. When planning meals, include a wide variety of these whole foods that are naturally gluten-free.

For example, instead of whole wheat toast at breakfast with your veggie and avocado omelet, opt for sweet potato toast, or a side of black beans. In place of a sandwich or wrap for lunch, make a salad and add a small scoop of quinoa or lentils for a healthy source of carbs. At dinner, replace pasta with spaghetti squash. And snack on roasted chickpeas or hummus with veggies rather than chips, pretzels, or crackers.

Consume low-mercury seafood. We don’t know the precise source of the mercury that caused the elevated levels detected in this study, but seafood can be a significant contributor in people's diets. One resource to help you figure out which seafood to avoid is the Environmental Working Group’s Consumer Guide to Seafood.

Generally, low-mercury options include wild Alaskan salmon, Atlantic mackerel, rainbow trout, shrimp, and clams. Varieties with moderate mercury levels include cod, crab, canned tuna, lobster, mahi mahi, and sea bass. High levels of mercury are found in shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and grouper.

As with any eating plan, this simple motto can help you strike a healthy balance: Keep it real, mix it up, and don’t overdo it.

After reading each slide, Allison went back to the question. She stated that most gluten-free foods in grocery stores have many added ingredients and are often loaded with sugar.

Then she opened it up for more questions and several people asked for a repeat of the slides, which Brenda did with discussion on each paragraph. Another 40 minutes were spent in discussion and many good questions were raised and when the last question was answered, a round of applause happened and the woman that had asked the first question said she was happy with the discussion. Several others also said thank you and felt that this was near the top of the discussions presented to the group. Several of the members that had been with the group since the early days, agreed but said there were a couple of meetings that had been more valuable.