Health Buzz: Gluten-Free Dieters Unsure What Gluten Actually Is

Making the Most of Your Fitbit; Protein: the Trendy Nutrient

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Many People with Sensitivity to Gluten Not Properly Tested

The majority of people who claim to have a sensitivity to gluten have not been properly tested to rule out celiac disease, according to a new study published in the journal Nutrition in Clinical Practice. Australian researchers surveyed 147 women who followed a gluten-free diet, and found that 72 percent of them did not meet the criteria for gluten sensitivity, and 44 percent of them started a gluten-free diet without speaking to a doctor.

People often diagnose themselves with a gluten sensitivity after unsuccessfully trying to figure out what’s causing their digestive issues – but a true gluten sensitivity manifests in ways other than just stomach issues.

“We’re talking about skin rash, headaches, foggy minds, joint (pain), anemia and diarrhea – not just irritable bowel syndrome,” Alessio Fasano, director of the Center for Celiac Research at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, told Reuters. “They start to Google their condition, and they come across this idea that they may have this gluten sensitivity.”

And it turns out that some people who are gluten-free aren’t entirely sure what gluten actually is. (For the record, it's a protein found in wheat, grain and barley.) The "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" show interviewed people who avoid gluten to see if they could define gluten. Watch the comical results:


Making Sense of the Gluten-Free Food Frenzy

U.S. News Twitter Chat: the Gluten-Free Diet

Making the Most of Your Fitbit

Wearable sensors, such as the Fitbit, Nike FuelBand and Jawbone UP, have become a mainstay of the fitness world and a growing $330 million industry, according to NPD Group, which tracks digital fitness devices. While they offer users an easy way to track their movement, passively using these wearables won’t help boost your fitness or overall health. There are steps you need to take to ensure you make the most of them.

Making Sense of the Numbers

Here’s how they work: Slip the sensor into your pocket or around your wrist, and it will track your steps, distance traveled, calories burned and, depending on the brand, your sleep patterns. The sensor then uploads that information online or to an app, giving you the opportunity to track your progress over time. 

Paying attention to how much you move is crucial for getting in shape. A 2009 study published in the journal BMC Public Health found that having a step goal and being able to immediately see results helped overweight and obese middle-aged women move more. Those given pedometers increased their daily step count by 36 percent in 12 weeks, which was enough to significantly lower their blood pressure. Meanwhile, the activity level of women not using pedometers didn't change. [Read more: Making the Most of Your Fitbit.]

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Protein: the Trendy Nutrient

Back in the 70s, fads like the Atkins and Stillman diets were based upon a solid foundation of protein foods – while shunning carbs as if they were poisonous. Protein developed a reputation as the nutrient that contained calories you didn’t have to count; you could eat all you wanted without gaining weight. This, of course, is not the case. The weight loss that resulted from these diets came more from the carbs that were ditched than the protein that was ingested. Yes, protein does have calories, and a steak bigger than the size of your plate, even when not accompanied by a baked potato, can pack on the pounds as easily as any other food. The old "eat your meat and leave the potatoes" approach may not have been the best advice parents gave us. Today, protein plays a great role as a side dish – accompanied by whole grains, with veggies and fruit as the stars of the plate.

Research still underscores the importance of protein in the diet, but the problem is that many of us are confused about why we need protein, how much we need, where it appears in our diet and the best sources. So let's break it down:

What is protein?

Every body part contains protein, one of the main, or macro nutrients that gives your body energy. Different proteins are made up of combinations of amino acids that are regularly broken down and reassembled to repair and replenish cells. [Read more: Protein: the Trendy Nutrient.]

Why and How to Consume Plant-Based Protein

Protein: Sure, You Get Enough. But Are You Using It Properly?