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What is DNA testing?

What is DNA testing?

The process of DNA testing is relatively new to the scientific community; however, it is a promising technique that hides enormous potential. After receiving a sample from your body tissue (e.g. hair, blood, saliva), technicians will isolate the DNA, using chemical reactions. The next step would be the sequencing of DNA, which is like reading the DNA to find certain patterns. The final step in this process is comparing your DNA to the database to look for any abnormalities. Now that you’re familiar with DNA testing, let’s see how this technique could help with your diet.

How can DNA testing help with your diet?

At first glance, the relationship between your DNA and the food you eat might seem vague. However, DNA is what makes you who you are; so, it makes sense that not all digestive systems handle food the same way. For instance, the way we metabolize food is different from one person to another, depending on their basal metabolic rate (BMR). Moreover, the ratio of macronutrients (e.g. carbohydrates, fat, protein) that makes us the healthiest is individual-based. When you send a tissue sample to the laboratories that provide this service, you should expect to get a personalized ratio of macronutrient intake that optimizes your health status.

How accurate is this technique?

While scientists are somewhat comfortable with DNA testing, the use of this technique to determine the type of food you should be eating is a novel procedure; thus, the sensitivity and specificity of the process are still a topic of controversy. If you have any questions about this topic, feel free to ask in the comment section below.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is a powerful immune response that your body launches after exposure to a foreign object; whether that object is a piece of metal, a bacterium, or a virus, the immune system will attack it by stimulating the inflammatory response. This biochemical reaction is part of the intrinsic immune system, which means it’s not specific for one particular germ, as it attacks anything that the body perceives as a threat. During an inflammatory reaction, those immune cells release proinflammatory substances, such as prostaglandins, leukotrienes, interleukins, and cytokines.

This will lead to the cardinal symptoms of inflammation:

    • Rubor (redness)
    • Tumor (swelling)
    • Calor (warmness)
    • Dolor (pain)

Now that we’re familiar with the concept of inflammation, let’s take a look at the adverse effects of this reaction and how to reduce it.

Why is inflammation bad?

Acute inflammation that launches after the body is under attack is crucial for our survival; however, once this reaction turns into a chronic condition, things start to get a bit messy! Chronic inflammation is believed to play a role in the vast majority of illnesses, including debilitating diseases, such as coronary artery disease, diabetes, and cancer. For instance, the chronic inflammation and oxidation of cholesterol that occurs inside the lumen of the coronary artery is the primary factor that triggers the obstruction of the vessel. Moreover, several types of cancers were linked to unusually high levels of cytokines in the bloodstream. In short, chronic inflammation is devastating to the body, and people should implement all the methods to taper it down.

What are anti-inflammatory foods?

According to Harvard Medical School, anti-inflammatory foods carry chemical substances that act as an antagonist to the aforementioned pro-inflammatory compounds. In other words, these foods act as the antidote to inflammation.

Here’s a shortlist:

    • Tomatoes
    • Olive oil
    • Green leafy vegetables (e.g. Spinach, kale, collards)
    • Nuts (e.g. Almonds, walnuts)
    • Fatty fish (e.g. Salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines)
    • Fruits (e.g. Strawberries, blueberries)

These foods are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which reduce the action of prostaglandins in the vessels, decreasing inflammation.

Conclusion

Chronic inflammation is a destructive phenomenon that can damage several organs and cause many maladies. Fortunately, there are some foods with inherited anti-inflammatory properties that may erase the action of prostaglandins and cytokines. If you have any questions about inflammation or anti-inflammatory foods, feel free to ask in the comment section below

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12

What is vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is an essential water-soluble vitamin. This compound plays an important role in DNA synthesis and the production of new red blood cells. Normally, vitamin B12 is found in animal foods, including meats, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy. Unfortunately, vitamin B12 deficiency is quite common despite the efforts of governments to include a fortified form in other food elements.

The benefits of vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 provides a diverse collection of benefits for our bodies, including being a crucial piece in the process of producing new red blood cells, reducing the risk of macular degeneration, improving symptoms of depression, and preventing major birth defects. This list is by no means comprehensive, as vitamin B12 is included in a multitude of physiological processes, which is similar to vitamin D. Fortunately, the body is able to store up vitamin B12 inside the liver. Therefore, even after the interruption of this vitamin’s absorption, patients do not present any symptoms until after a period of three years. Obviously, the most devastating effect of vitamin B12 deficiency is birth defects since these are usually irreversible. However, the most common clinical presentation is megaloblastic anemia, which can lead to dire consequences if left untreated.

Conclusion on B12

Providing your body with vitamin B12 supplements could be a great way to prevent all the adverse effects of its deficiency. If you have any questions about the health benefits of this vitamin, feel free to ask in the comment section below.

LCHF diet

LCHF diet

What is the LCHF diet?

The LCHF diet refers to a diet low in carb and high in fat, which is also called the “Banting diet”, in reference to a British man, William Banting, who lost a large amount of weight using this way of eating. This diet advocates the consumption of natural, whole, and unprocessed foods, such as fish, eggs, seeds, nuts, and vegetables. Additionally, moderate amounts of protein are recommended in this diet to help maintain your muscle mass, as the body tends to break down fat and muscle when it’s starving (a.k.a lacking sugar).

LCHF diet vs ketogenic diet

Most people get bogged down, trying to figure out the difference between all the low carb, high-fat diets out there, and the LCHF is often mixed up with the ketogenic diet (another low carb, high fat diet), which is understandable due to the great overlapping. The term LCHF is used as an umbrella term that covers a variety of diets, including the ketogenic diet and the Atkins diet. However, the main difference between the LCHF diet and the keto diet is that keto has restricted guidelines when it comes to how much carbs you can consume per day, whereas the LCHF diet doesn’t. You can think of the LCHF diet as a way of living that reduces carbs in fear of their several adverse effects. The ketogenic diet; on the other hand, is a metabolic state (ketosis) that switches the liver from using glucose as a primary source of energy to using ketone bodies, thus burning the extra triglycerides stored in your adipose tissues.

What are the benefits of the LCHF diet?

Weight loss

Numerous studies found that individuals who follow the LCHF diet experience weight loss more rapidly than other diet types. The mechanisms involved include appetite suppression, increased insulin-sensitivity of the cells, and partially utilizing fats as a primary source of energy.

Diabetes

Lowering the number of carbohydrates you consume per day has been shown to help regulate your blood sugar levels by increasing the cells’ sensitivity to insulin and reducing the frequency of glycemic spikes. Glycemic spikes are abrupt elevations of blood sugar levels that stimulate insulin secretion, predisposing people to type 2 diabetes, and worsening the condition of diabetic patients. One study found that following the LCHF diet for 24 weeks in diabetic patients has led to better control of blood sugar levels, as well as a reduction in the need for hypoglycemic medications.

Others

The LCHF diet also helps with the following conditions:

    • Heart disease
    • Blood hypertension
    • Some psychiatric disorders (e.g. depression)
    • Alzheimer’s disease
    • Parkinson’s disease

Conclusion

Whether your ultimate goal is to lose weight or improve your health, the LCHF diet might be the right fit for you. Moreover, if you tried the ketogenic diet and couldn’t stick to the severe carbohydrate restriction, you can switch to the LCHF diet, as it does not have any precise instructions on the amount of sugar you’re allowed to eat. Just remember, moderation is key!

The Atkins Diet – Everything you need to know

The Atkins Diet – Everything you need to know

Today, the epidemic of obesity is more prevalent than ever, with the world health organization (WHO) stating that obesity-associated deaths surpass the number of deaths caused by famine. Fortunately, more media outlets are talking about this problem with a special focus on the complications of obesity, such as diabetes, coronary artery disease, chronic blood hypertension, and other ailments. In a way, this helped people become more conscious about their weight, and eventually, health status. One type of diet that gained massive popularity is the Atkins diet, as it counters the effect of obesity and induces weight loss. This way of eating focuses on reducing carbohydrate intake as much as possible. In this article, we will cover the major benefits of the Atkins diet, as well as its potential side effects.

The benefits of the Atkins diet

Weight loss

One of the top reasons people follow the Atkins diet is to lose weight. The physiology of this weight loss is diverse and include decreased appetite, accelerated metabolism, and caloric deficit. Perhaps the most influential factor in the weight loss associated with the Atkins diet is appetite suppression, which is believed to be the result of the stimulation to produce hunger-suppressing hormones, such as ghrelin and leptin. Regardless of the mechanism that mediates this benefit, weight loss is prominently noted in people on the Atkins diet.

A more balanced lipid panel

High LDL and triglycerides can put patients at a higher risk for a multitude of diseases, including coronary artery disease, blood hypertension, and cognitive maladies.

Fortunately, the Atkins diet reduces bad cholesterol and triglycerides while also increasing HDL levels. All in all, this results in improved vascular health.

Reduced blood sugar level

Similar to the ketogenic diet, the Atkins diet significantly decreases blood sugar levels, reducing your risk of diabetes mellitus. This effect is so powerful that in a 2008 study, patients with type two diabetes were able to reduce or eliminate their hypoglycemic medications within six months of starting a low-carb diet. The Atkins diet also reduces insulin spikes, which is believed to be the primary culprit in the pathogenesis of diabetes; as a result, this diet may prevent diabetes in high-risk patients.

Lower blood pressure

Chronic blood hypertension is a devastating disease that damages blood vessels all over the body. Eventually, this leads to thin, fibrotic, and weakened vessels, increasing the risk of a hemorrhagic stroke. Moreover, the heart must pump blood against a higher than normal pressure, which leads to cardiac issues, such as left ventricular heart failure. The Atkins diet has been shown to reduce both the systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Side effects of the Atkins diet

The Atkins diet is considered to be relatively safe; however, people often report unwanted adverse effects, especially in the early stages of this diet.

These include:

    • Headache
    • Digestive symptoms (e.g. nausea, constipation)
    • Dizziness
    • Lethargy

Eventually, these symptoms disappear with time, as your body gets used to burning ketone bodies for energy instead of glucose.

Conclusion

The Atkins diet is a great tool to lose weight and adopt a healthier lifestyle; it is especially beneficial when combined with regular exercise.

Similar to other low carb diets, there is a lot of misconceptions roaming around the Atkins diet, so if you have any unanswered questions, feel free to ask in the comment section below.

DNA testing from home – does it work?

DNA testing from home – does it work?

DNA testing at home

DNA is a fascinating entity! It is a marvelous chemical sequence that makes us who we are; every physical and mental characteristic you have is the result of DNA expression in the form of protein synthesis. Mutations in DNA can lead to several debilitating maladies, such as sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis, and Tay-Sachs disease. In summary, the DNA is the genetic code that could tell you everything about anyone, hence the invention of DNA testing. In the beginning, this technique was solely performed by high-tech companies due to how complex the process was; however, nowadays, you can perform DNA testing from the comfort of your home. The entire process is super simple; all you have to do is collect a body sample from your blood, hair, or other tissue and send it back to the laboratory that offers this service. Once they complete analyzing your sample, you could log into the website and check the results. Note that all steps of this process are designed to guarantee full confidentiality to customers, so you don’t have to worry about that.

The reasons people seek this test are diverse and include:

    • Identifying the origin of their ancestors
    • Discovering any mutations that may cause diseases in the future (e.g. p53 gene mutation, BRCA mutation)
    • Looking for transmissible ailments

Conclusion on DNA testing

If you have any questions about DNA testing, feel free to ask in the comment section below.

Omega 3, Omega 6 and Omega 9

Omega 3, Omega 6 and Omega 9

Everything You Need To Know About The Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs).

What are PUFAs

Unfortunately, lipids have gathered a bad reputation over the past few years, which is mainly due to their association with coronary artery disease, diabetes, and other debilitating ailments. However, not all fats are created equal!

In fact, all fatty acids are essential for the body, but with moderate consumption. In this article, we will discuss some of the fatty acids that may improve your health status and decrease your risk of several diseases. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are a group of lipids that have many double bonds in their chemical structures. As a result, these compounds will act as an antioxidant, drastically improving your cardiovascular health, metabolism, and cognitive functions.

The types of PUFAs

Omega 3

Omega-3 is a PUFAs that can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and cardiac arrhythmias, and balance the levels of triglycerides.

Foods that contain omega 3:

    • Salmon
    • Cod liver oil
    • Mackerel
    • Herring
    • Oysters
    • Sardines

Omega 6

Omega-6 lowers LDL levels and increases HDL levels, which decrease your risk of coronary artery disease, ischemic stroke, and peripheral artery disease.

Foods that contain omega 6:

    • Walnuts
    • Safflower oil
    • Tofu
    • Hemp seeds
    • Sunflower seeds
    • Peanut butter

Omega 9

Omega-9 carries the same health benefits as the aforementioned compounds.

Foods that contain omega 9:

    • Olive oil
    • Cashew nut oil
    • Almond oil
    • Avocado oil
    • Peanut oil
    • Almonds

Takeaway message

PUFAs are crucial for a healthy organism and should be integrated into everyone’s diet. These molecules can be found in fish oil, meat, and some nuts and needs. In a way, PUFAs act as an antidote to the destructive effects of cholesterol and saturated fatty acids. If you have any questions about this PUFAs, omega-3,6,9, or any other type of lipid, feel free to ask in the comment section below. We would be thrilled to answer them!

DNA ancestry – does it work?

DNA ancestry – does it work?

What is DNA ancestry?

DNA ancestry is a relatively new, cutting-edge technology that allows people to find out their origins by analyzing the DNA.You see, DNA is a fascinating entity that encodes everything that we are. It includes the genetic code that translates into protein, as well as the particular mutations that get passed throughout generations. Since DNA is transmitted from one generation to another, some mutations can be noted in particular regions that last for millennia. Therefore, scientists were able to collect a large database that allows us to pinpoint our geographic and ethnic origins. In short, DNA ancestry takes advantage of the technology of DNA sequencing and compares it with an existing database to determine your origins.

Does DNA ancestry work?

According to ancestry.com, the accuracy of DNA ancestry testing exceeds 99 percent! This advancement is due to how specific and sensitive DNA sequencing is becoming. Today, scientists can analyze thousands of nucleotides in a matter of seconds. In summary, DNA ancestry testing is very accurate, and the results are reliable.

DNA ancestry is useful to find origin

DNA ancestry testing is a powerful sign of the enormous advances we have made in the fields of biotechnology and medicine. Some people were really surprised to find out their origins, and many heartwarming videos that document these moments are available. If you have any questions about DNA ancestry testing or DNA in general, feel free to ask in the comment section below.

Keto Diet

Keto Diet

Over the past few years, the ketogenic diet has gained massive popularity because of its positive health effects. Most notably, the keto diet is getting popular due to the associated weight loss that comes along. However, a skeptic might wonder about the real effectiveness of this diet, which is a legitimate concern. Every year, hundreds of diets trend for a couple of months then gradually disappear; so, what makes the ketogenic diet any different? That’s what we will find out today. In this article, we will cover the basic principles of this diet and how macronutrients are modified.

What is the ketogenic diet?

The keto diet is a metabolic state that switches the body from using glucose as a primary source of energy to ketone bodies. As a result, you will be burning the fat in your adipose tissue effortlessly. To reach this metabolic state, one needs to modify their macronutrient intake by changing their portions. Let’s see what are the major macronutrients and how the keto diet alters their ratio.

The major macronutrients

There are three major macronutrients in the human body:

    • Carbohydrates (sugar)
    • Lipids (fats)
    • Protein

Each of these compounds plays different physiological roles. For instance, sugar is normally used to produce energy that mediates the millions of biochemical reactions that occur every minute. On the other hand, fat and protein are used as building blocks for cells and organs. Protein also plays a major role as a catalyzer of chemical reactions (enzymes).

Here is the usual distribution of the three macronutrients during a normal diet:

    • Sugar – 45–65%
    • Fat – 20–35%
    • Protein – 10–35%

As you can see, carbohydrates comprise the majority of your daily caloric intake because they’re the primary source of energy inside the cell.

Macronutrients during the ketogenic diet

The primary goal of the keto diet is to change the ratio of your daily macronutrient intake to modify the metabolism of your body. How? By reducing carbohydrate intake to a minimum and increasing fat intake.

Here is the modified ratio of the three macronutrients in the keto diet:

    • Sugar – 5-10%
    • Fat – 55-60%
    • Protein – 5-10%

Some people take this even further and reduce sugar intake to 1-5% of their daily calories. The new ratio will stimulate the liver to activate the “fat-burning” metabolic pathways to use triglycerides (i.e. fatty acids) for energy.

Final words on Keto Diet

The keto diet is gaining more followers every year; several celebrities and athletes swear by this diet, which contributed to its popularity. In this article, we covered the basic principle behind the ketogenic diet. If you have ever been on the ketogenic diet, feel free to share your experience in the comment section below.

The Vegan Diet

The Vegan Diet

The vegan diet has been gaining more followers every year. Experts say this has several causes, including health, ethical, and environmental motives. Unfortunately, the online community constantly spreads misinformation about the vegan diet’s benefits and side effects. For this reason, we decided to write this article and clarify those misconceptions. However, and before we proceed, we need to define the vegan diet.

The vegan diet originates from a concept known as veganism, which is a special lifestyle that prohibits the consumption of all foods that were made using animal exploitation or cruelty. This definition covers everything from food elements and clothes to esthetic products. Therefore, foods such as meat, poultry, and fish are all excluded from vegans’ diets.

The health benefits of the vegan diet

Weight loss

Oftentimes, vegans fall into the lighter side of the scale; this finding is not a coincidence! In a 2007 study, scientists found that the vegan diet is the most effective way to lose weight, surpassing all calorie-restricted diets. It is believed that the healthier lifestyle associated with the vegan diet and the accelerated metabolism are key in the weight loss department.

Diabetes mellitus

Diabetes is a chronic metabolic condition that’s characterized by persistent hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels). This condition is one of the major risk factors for coronary artery disease (CAD), and it could lead to dire consequences.

Fortunately, the vegan diet reduces the chance of developing diabetes by modifying its risk factors. One study found that this diet can lower your risk of diabetes by 78%.

Cardiovascular health

Coronary artery disease is an extremely detrimental condition, causing more death tolls than any other ailment worldwide. During a myocardial infarction (heart attack), the major blood vessel that supplies the myocardium with oxygen and nutrients gets irreversibly obstructed. As a result, patients experience chest pain, abnormal cardiac function, electrical arrhythmias, and eventually, death! The vegan diet reduces the risk of CAD by modifying its risk factors.

Cancer

In a 2017 meta-analysis, scientists concluded that adopting the vegan diet can decrease your risk of cancer by 15%.

So far, researchers are not certain of the exact mechanisms that lead to this result; nevertheless, the overall healthier lifestyle is believed to be the primary driving mechanism.

Conclusion on vegan diet

Regardless of the reasons that lead you to adopt the vegan diet, it is still a great way to improve your overall health and reduce your risk of several diseases.

Moreover, current research is constantly revealing new health benefits, which contributed to the popularity of this diet.

If you have ever tried the vegan diet before, feel free to share your story in the comment section below.

Prebiotics: everything you need to know

Prebiotics: everything you need to know

Prebiotics are taking a bigger share of the supplementation market every year. They are crucial for a healthy gastrointestinal system and an overall healthy organism.

While prebiotics can be found in foods, such as legumes, oats, bananas, and berries, people often don’t get sufficient amounts of these substances into their system.

Moreover, most people get confused when talking about prebiotics; so, to simplify the matter, you should think of prebiotics as substances (e.g. fiber) that cannot get digested by the human GI system but serve as food for the good bacteria in your gut.

What’s the difference between probiotics and prebiotics

Understandably, people tend to confuse between probiotics and prebiotics.

After all, the difference is one single letter. However, and as we explained in our probiotics article, these are live bacteria that help restore the balance of your gut flora, whereas prebiotics is the food to that bacteria.

Conclusion

Both probiotics and prebiotics are important for a healthy gastrointestinal system, and we should all be modifying our diet to include food elements that contain these compounds.

Nevertheless, if you don’t think you’re getting enough probiotics or prebiotics through your diet, there is always the option of taking dietary supplements, which is a reasonable solution to avoid deficiencies and promote your health.

If you have tried prebiotic supplements before, feel free to let us know about the results you witnessed

 

Probiotics: everything you need to know

Probiotics: everything you need to know

Probiotics stem from the Greek word “pro”, meaning to promote, and “biotic”, meaning life. As for the medical definition of this word, scientists describe probiotics as microorganisms that improve the health of the host (you and I) when given in adequate dosage.

Because of this definition, people often find it difficult to believe that consuming live bacteria can improve their health. It is after all the opposite reason you take antibiotics, which are made to treat you.

Moreover, we try to keep a high level of hygiene to clear up all the microorganisms that cause disease. Therefore, why would you willingly consume these microbes?

The answer to this question is complex and involves a deep understanding of the gut microbiota. However, let’s take a different approach to answer this question; we’ll discuss the major benefits of probiotics to comprehend why it’s a good idea to supplement your body with these microorganisms.

The health benefits of probiotics

Gastrointestinal health?

  • When you take dietary probiotics, you’ll restore the balance between the good and bad bacteria inside your gut. This process leads to the following benefits:
    • Improved gastrointestinal motility
    • Enhanced digestion
    • Detoxification of the intestines from chemicals and toxins
    • Decreased risk of digestive infections caused by E.coli, Salmonella, Shigella, and Campylobacter
    • Decreased risk of digestive diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease

General health

The effect of a healthy microbiota is believed to influence all organ systems of the body, which has a direct impact on the host’s health status. While the mechanism is not fully understood, scientists theorize it’s the cause of boosting the immune system while keeping it at check.

After all, you don’t want to boost the immune system too much since it may be counterintuitive and cause autoimmune diseases (e.g. lupus erythematosus disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis).

Like I said earlier, finding the right balance will have tremendous beneficial effects on your health, which is exactly what probiotics provide

Conclusion on probiotics

Probiotics are a great tool to improve your overall health; moreover, we are seeing new exciting data that supports the benefits of a healthy gastrointestinal flora on the entire body.

 

Vitamin D – An Essential Compound To Our Health

Vitamin D – An Essential Compound To Our Health

What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a crucial compound that mediates several physiological functions in the body. This vitamin is unique since it functions more like a hormone, and every cell has its receptor.

The process of producing vitamin D in the body is absolutely fascinating and involves multi-step physiology that starts at the level of the skin

Here’s a summary about this process:

How vitamin D is produced?

Step one 

    • when the body synthesizes cholesterol, it will get converted at the skin level by a chemical reaction that involves sunlight exposure (i.e. photons).

Step two 

    • once the cholesterol is transformed into an active form of vitamin D, the liver will produce a special enzyme that catalyzes a second metabolic reaction.

Step three 

    • finally, the kidneys release an enzyme to produce the active form of vitamin D, which is known as 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol.

The active form of the vitamin provides several benefits to the body, including:

    • Improves bone mineral density and decreases the risk of osteoporosis
    • Facilitates hormonal regulation in both males and females
    • Helps manage blood sugar levels
    • Boosts the immune system
    • Reduces oxidative stress
    • Improves cardiovascular health
    • Sharpens memory and improves cognitive functions

 

Takeaway message

As you can see, vitamin D affects a multitude of organs and its deficiency can lead to dire consequences. Unfortunately, most people don’t get enough sunlight exposure, hence the low levels of vitamin D in their bloodstream. This is especially true for individuals living in cloudy areas, such as Europe and North America.

To counter this issue, experts recommend taking vitamin D dietary supplements to meet your daily needs.

Lactose Intolerance vs Lactose Sensitivity

Lactose Intolerance vs Lactose Sensitivity

Most people get confused when the subject of lactose intolerance and lactose sensitivity comes up. Both conditions sound quite similar, and it’s really difficult to distinguish them clinically.

In this article, we will cover the basic concepts of these two ailments and how to tell the difference between them.

What is lactose intolerance?

When we consume dairy products, the different components of those products will get broken down by various enzymes in the gut. The most prevalent carbohydrate in dairy is lactose, which is normally metabolized by an enzyme called lactase.

The deficiency of lactase is what produces all the signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance; these include:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating and gas
  • Dehydration

Lactose intolerance affects a significant portion of the population, with some scientists estimating that 75 percent of people have it!

What is lactose sensitivity (dairy allergy)?

We should first establish that the term “lactose sensitivity” is a misnomer, and not many people use it. When you hear this term, people are probably talking about lactose intolerance or dairy allergy.

Unlike lactose intolerance, dairy allergy is not caused by an enzymatic deficiency, but it’s rather the result of an immune reaction against some protein components of dairy.

The signs and symptoms seen during an allergic episode could be quite severe, and in some cases, patients may develop a life-threatening medical condition known as anaphylaxis.

Final words

Whether you have lactose intolerance or dairy allergy, it is important to perform allergic testing to identify the exact cause of your symptoms since most of these diseases share many clinical features.

Pinpointing the exact cause of your symptoms is a crucial step to adjust your diet accordingly.

What is Home Testing?

What is Home Testing?

Before allergy tests became readily available, patients who had allergies, food intolerances, and some diseases had to identify the substance that’s causing their symptoms the hard way!

Patients used to exclude a food element and wait for a couple of days/weeks to see if their symptoms improve. This technique was extremely ineffective, time-consuming, and delays proper treatment for patients.

Nowadays, allergy testing is available at public hospitals and private clinics. Moreover, home testing is gaining massive popularity because of how convenient it is. You can get yourself tested today, using a hair or a blood sample, and get results in a timely manner.

Who could use home testing?

Home testing is indicated for everyone who suspects having an allergy or intolerance to identify the substance that’s causing their symptoms.

You could either offer a hair sample or a blood sample to be tested for different allergens, depending on the symptoms you present with, as well as the region you live in. As you may know, some regions in the world are more susceptible to certain allergens than others.

Final words

This is an easy, quick, and affordable technique that will save you a lot of trouble.

Moreover, home testing’s accuracy has increased over the past couple of years, adding more to its credibility.

Once you identify the allergen that’s triggering your immune system, there are approaches:

  • Exclusion therapy – you exclude that particular food/substance from your daily routine.
  • Desensitization therapy – this is done by a trained immunologist or an allergist who would expose your to the allergen in small concentrations until your body adapts to it and tamper down its hyperreactivity.
What is Histamine Intolerance?

What is Histamine Intolerance?

Histamine is an important chemical that’s responsible for several functions in the body; it is one of the main substances released during an immune reaction. Histamine intolerance refers to the buildup of histamine inside the body, which can cause a variety of signs and symptoms.

Causes of histamine intolerance

Normally, the body breaks down ingested histamine, using an enzyme called diamine oxidase (DAO). Once histamine is inside the cell, another enzyme known as histamine-N-methyltransferase (HNMT) will break it down. Any condition that alters the activity of these two enzymes can lead to a buildup of histamine inside the bloodstream, and eventually, histamine intolerance.

Here is a shortlist of some causes:

Drugs that decrease DAO and/or HNMT levels

  • Theophylline
  • Antibiotics
  • Heart medications
  • Painkillers
  • Diuretics
  • Tuberculosis drugs
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (e.g. aspirin, diclofenac)

Other factors

  • Alcohol
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Vitamin B6 deficiency
  • Physical trauma
  • Extreme temperatures

Some dietary choices have also been documented to cause histamine intolerance (e.g. chocolate, yogurt, green tea). For a more comprehensive list, take a look at this article.

Symptoms of histamine intolerance

The frequency and severity of symptoms vary greatly from one patient to another; however, the typical clinical presentation tends to be similar to that seen during an allergic reaction. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Flushing
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Dyspnea (shortness of breath)
  • Hives
  • Very itchy skin
  • Abdominal pain
  • Chronic constipation
  • Digestive symptoms (e.g. Nausea, vomiting, bloating, gas)
  • Lethargy (severe exhaustion)
  • Dizziness
  • Eczema
  • Tachycardia (high pulse)
  • Severe menstrual pain

Treatment for histamine intolerance

There are many therapeutic options for individuals with histamine intolerance; however, not all patients respond the same to one treatment.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Dietary changes
  • Antihistamine drugs
  • Supplementation in DAO enzyme
  • Taking corticosteroids

Conclusion

When histamine intolerance is suspected in patients, immunological testing becomes a must to determine whether they have a concurrent food allergy that’s exacerbating their condition. In the end, histamine intolerance is a challenging condition to deal with, and identifying the triggers is crucial to improve your symptoms.

Gut Health Check

Gut Health Check

Scientists keep discovering new health benefits of the gut microbiome, as well as its potential involvement in several disease processes.

In the past, the bacteria in our intestinal flora was believed to be merely a tool to digest fiber and other indigestible compounds; however, recent research suggests that the gut microbiome can play a major role in several ailments.

With that being said, the gut microbiome is similar to your DNA in its uniqueness. In other words, each one of us has a different composition of their microbiome; some people have types of microorganisms that others don’t, and the ratio between different microbes varies from one person to another.

This had led to the invention of gut health testing, which analyzes your gut microbiome to design an individualized plan to improve your health.

How to improve your gut health?

Companies that offer the gut microbiota test will also provide you with a diet plan and supplement recommendation to reach optimal health.

Following these tips, you should expect the following health benefits:

  • Improved sleep
  • Balanced weight
  • Optimized brain
  • Improved digestion
  • Bright, youthful skin

Many scientists believe that microbiome testing will become an integral part of diagnostic testing and therapy in the near future.

In summary, the gut microbiome is involved in more physiological and pathological processes that we initially thought.

Therefore, testing your gut microbiome to opt for a personalized diet is an incredibly effective method to improve your overall health status and some maladies.

Gluten intolerance (sensitivity)

Gluten intolerance (sensitivity)

Gluten intolerance is described as the digestive adverse effects patients experience after ingesting gluten-rich foods, such as wheat, rice, and barley.

Gluten intolerance should be distinguished from non-celiac gluten sensitivity, which is another condition that presents with milder symptoms.

What causes gluten intolerance?

Unfortunately, we do not have a complete understanding of gluten intolerance’s pathophysiology. However, we are sure that gluten intolerance is entirely different from the infamous celiac disease.

This is because the intestinal wall lining seems to be intact in patients with gluten intolerance, which is not the case in celiac disease.

Symptoms of gluten intolerance

After ingesting gluten-containing foods, patients may experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal discomfort or pain
  • Headaches
  • Lethargy (fatigue)
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Iron-deficiency anemia
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Arthralgias and myalgias (articular and muscular pain)

Treatment options

The treatment of gluten intolerance is very straightforward; you simply have to adopt a gluten-free diet.

I know that it might sound easy to do; however, this task could be quite challenging in reality since most foods contain gluten.

Fortunately, the continuous education of individuals and industries about this disease has paid off. Now, you could clearly read on the label whether a product contains gluten or not.

Conclusion

Gluten intolerance used to be a hassle to deal with. Both patients and physicians had a difficult time controlling the symptoms.

Thankfully, inventing allergic testing and gluten-free foods helped patients live a normal life without any long-term complications.

Food intolerance

Food intolerance

According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, food intolerance is defined as having difficulties digesting a certain food element that may cause symptoms, such as abdominal cramps, bloating, and gas.

A food intolerance is different from a food allergy, with the latter being more serious. If you want to learn more about the difference between the two conditions, check out this article (insert link of intolerance vs sensitivity article).

The most common food intolerance is lactose intolerance, which we have covered in greater detail in our other article (insert link of lactose intolerance article).

Causes of food intolerance

There are many causes of food intolerance, including:

Enzyme deficiency

Most macronutrients are metabolized by specific enzymes secreted by the stomach, liver, and pancreas. When one of these enzymes is deficient, the body is no longer able to digest that food element. As a result, symptoms of indigestion occur.

Food toxins

Some foods are rich in chemical substances that irritate the intestinal lining, leading to symptoms of diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

This is often the result of undercooking our food. For instance, beans are a rich source of chemicals known as aflatoxins, which can cause serious digestive symptoms.

Histamine intolerance

Histamine intolerance is the result of consuming foods rich in histamine; this process could lead to symptoms similar to food intolerance, including hives, skin rash, and indigestion.

For more information about histamine intolerance, check out this article (insert link of histamine intolerance article).

Treatment options

The only viable treatment option for food intolerance is to identify the exact element that’s causing your symptoms. This could be done via allergic testing at a clinic or from the comfort of your home.

 

What is the difference between allergy and intolerance?

What is the difference between allergy and intolerance?

People often confuse between allergies and intolerances, and this is perfectly understandable. The two conditions share many similarities, including triggers, causes, and symptoms.

However, the main difference between these conditions is the underlying pathophysiology.

In this article, we will briefly define the two conditions and highlight their differences.

What is an allergy?

As we discussed in our previous article about allergies, an allergy is caused by a severe immune reaction towards a food, drug, and even objects.

The hypersensitivity reaction launches after the immune system encounters the allergen for a second time. Signs and symptoms are diverse and include hives, skin rash, congested nose, itchy eyes, and digestive symptoms (e.g. nausea, vomiting, diarrhea).

Researchers estimate that 32 million Americans have some sort of food allergy.

Food allergies are triggered by the ingestion of the allergen regardless of how much you consume. One peanut could be enough to start a full-blown anaphylactic reaction.

What is an intolerance?

The best example of food intolerances is lactose intolerance, which affects a large portion of the general population.

The exact pathophysiology of food intolerances is inherently different from food allergies, as there are many causes that don’t involve an immune reaction.

The most common causes of food intolerances include:

  • Enzymatic deficiency
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Celiac disease
  • Chronic stress

Conclusion

As you can see, these two conditions are quite different, even though they share many features. Another similarity between allergies and intolerances is that both conditions can use the help of antigenic testing to identify their cause.

Of course, if the intolerance is caused by an enzymatic deficiency, the main way to make the diagnosis is by removing that food element from your diet and document if your symptoms improve.