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Why Go Dairy Free?
Saturated Fat and Heart Disease
Milk and other dairy products are the top sources of artery-clogging saturated fat in the American diet. Milk products also contain cholesterol. Diets high in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease, which remains America’s top killer. Cheese is especially dangerous. Typical cheeses are 70 percent fat.
Infants and children produce enzymes that break down lactose, the sugar found in breast milk and cow’s milk, but as we grow up, many of us lose this capacity. Lactose intolerance is common, affecting about 95 percent of Asian Americans, 74 percent of Native Americans, 70 percent of African Americans, 53 percent of Mexican Americans, and 15 percent of Caucasians. Symptoms include upset stomach, diarrhea, and gas.
Regular consumption of dairy products has been linked to prostate cancer. Dairy is also associated with increased risk of lung cancer, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer in people with lactose intolerance.
Why Go Gluten Free?
People with gluten sensitivity experience gastrointestinal distress – ranging from diarrhea, gas and bloating to constipation and irritable bowel symptoms – when they eat gluten. (People with celiac disease, on the other hand, may experience these symptoms, or may have no symptoms at all.) With gluten sensitivity, it doesn’t appear to be as critical to long-term health to avoid gluten – it’s more a matter of choice to avoid symptoms. The occasional slice of pizza may cause some short-term digestive discomfort, but it isn’t believed to increase the risk of serious long-term consequences. Future studies may reveal more about this relatively new diagnosis and its potential risks.
In people with this autoimmune disease, gluten triggers the immune system to attack the small intestine. Even trace amounts of gluten can cause significant damage. With repeated attacks, the small intestine loses its ability to absorb vital nutrients, such as calcium and iron. Over time, people with untreated celiac disease can develop severe nutritional deficiencies, such as osteoporosis and iron-deficiency anemia, as well as other autoimmune disorders, extreme fatigue, infertility, neurological problems and, in a very small percentage of cases, lymphoma of the small intestine.
DH is a form of celiac disease that triggers the immune system to attack the skin, rather than the small intestine. It causes a chronic itchy, bumpy rash that can be quite painful. A telltale sign of DH, besides the fact that it shows up after eating gluten, is that the rash is usually symmetrical – if you develop a rash on your left elbow, you’ll most likely have a similar rash on the right elbow. If people with DH continue to eat gluten, they also may run an increased risk of developing intestinal cancer. Once diagnosed, however, people with DH are usually highly motivated to stick with a gluten-free diet to steer clear of these painful rashes.
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