Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Zinc Deficiency and Low Growth Hormone

For children who have low growth hormone, it's a good idea to check zinc levels to see if nutrient absorption is a factor. 

Just because you are gluten free doesn't mean you are absorbing nutrients. Many doctors miss this part of the equation. 

"Just go gluten free" is the prescription for celiac disease and gluten intolerance--often without much assessment of absorption of nutrients and gut function.

 A child with celiac or gluten intolerance who is not a great eater might easily be deficient in nutrients important for growth. My kids were both low in growth hormone and had growth issues, until we discovered that they were both low in zinc and we began supplementation which resulted in increased growth rates (and increased appetite--as low zinc can also contribute to picky eating.) 



In my experience, mainstream doctors and even our  endocrinologist, who I think is amazing, never checked zinc levels until I requested them to check the levels. According to an article in The Journal of Pediatrics "Mild to moderate zinc deficiency in short children" reports that "zinc supplementation is effective for inducing growth in short children with zinc deficiency." (1) Because low zinc levels can contribute to low growth rates,  checking the zinc level should be done as a first priority whenever growth in a child is a concern.



Checking nutrient levels is also beneficial because other systems like the reproductive system can also be affected by low nutrient absorption. If zinc deficiency or nutrient absorption is an issue, a  good nutritionist or alternative doctor can help put growth on the right track.

After zinc levels have been assessed, then supplementation might be necessary to improve zinc levels and see if growth picks up. My son takes this  Kirkman zinc product that is hypoallergenic and contains 15 mg zinc. This Klaire Labs multimineral product which contains 20 mg. of zinc was recommended for my daughter by our nutritionist.

I always recommend finding a good nutritionist/alternative doctor who will recommend and interpret blood work and oversee supplementation when necessary.  An alternative doctor or good nutritionist is usually trained to look at and assess nutrient absorption and recommend dietary intervention and supplements --but parents can also inform themselves and ask for basic nutrient testing from mainstream doctors  if they don't have access to an alternative doctor. Then, depending on results, they can decide whether nutrient absorption is a factor and find a nutritionist to help after testing has been done.

ASK THE NUTRITIONIST...

I asked Geri Brewster, a registered dietician and experienced nutritionist, about the relationship between zinc, nutrient deficiencies and growth and she added...

"Celiac and gluten sensitivity can lead to malabsorption of a number of nutrients but minerals, which tend to compete for absorption, are particularly vulnerable. While correcting for celiac or gluten sensitivity by eliminating gluten, that alone does not correct for nutrient deficiencies or insufficiencies as gut healing is a slow process and in a growing child demand for nutrients remains great. Thus, zinc deficiency can occur and it is associated with short stature, among other negative effects."

"However, a growth hormone deficiency can still be occurring as a second issue and may need to be replaced. When growth hormone replacement is called for, then the building blocks for growth need to be present. Those include enough protein, fats and adequate nutrient dense carbohydrates as well as vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Dietary sources of zinc include meats and shellfish as well as beans, nuts and seeds. When absorption is an issue, supplementation may be necessary while also measuring blood levels. If zinc deficiency or insufficiency is found it is probable that other nutrients may be low as well and working toward dietary and supplemental support to optimize growth is essential, even in the presence of growth hormone therapy."

Geri Brewster has an office in Mount Kisco and is also in NYC weekly or she can work by phone with clients to help parents figure out if nutrition is a factor in low growth hormone.

Geri Brewster, RD MPH CDN
491 Lexington Ave, Mt Kisco, NY 10549
(914) 864-1976
geribrewster.com

BLOOD TESTS TO CHECK NUTRIENT ABSORPTION...

These are the blood tests that our alternative doctor has done with my kids to check absorption levels. By checking these basic levels before going gluten free and yearly (or when blood work is being done), you can get an indication of whether nutrient absoption is an issue.

1) B12 panel
2) vitamin D
3) vitamin A
4) zinc
5) copper

RELATED POSTS:
Zinc is Important for Growth

(1) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022347605815380

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Skinny on the Skinny: Book Review

The Skinny, written by Dr. Aronne, a weight loss doctor in NYC,  is a diet book recommended to me  by my neighbor. The book includes a long scientific explanation of why certain people have increased appetites and super complicated hormone responses to food.

A lot of the book is typical of most diet books--suggestions to eat a whey or soy protein shake (which seems kind of old school and not at all cutting edge to me.)

The most interesting part of The Skinny was the recommendation for eating food in a specific order to increase satiety! If you are trying to lose weight or curb hunger hormones always eat lunch and dinner in the following order:

1) salad
2) vegetable
3) protein
4) starch/carbs

I have noticed that eating my meals in this order--and never skipping the salad and vegetable portion at lunch and dinner--does make me feel more satiated. Now when I go out I always make sure to order a salad to start and a side of vegetables and I always eat these items first. I notice that by the time I get to my sweet potato fries/rice/pasta finale I am surprisingly full. (I do make myself eat a small portion of healthy carbs because I don't do well on a low carb diet!)

Weight loss is not something I recommend focusing on too much because it is so hard to achieve meaningful weight loss and studies tend to report people gain weight after losing weight--but the health benefits of eating more vegetables and not craving sugar/carbs/desssert is certainly undeniable--and I have actually shifted my weight five pounds toward my lower set point weight very effortlessly by making a point of eating food in this order.



Monday, September 22, 2014

Sunwarrior Cinnamon Protein Shake Recipe (sugar-free/GF/Dairy Free/Vegan!)
















This cinnamon Sunwarrior protein shake recipe is gluten free, dairy free, raw, vegan and free of refined sugar! I was introduced to Sunwarrior natural protein powder when I was visiting a good friend who is vegan in Los Angeles this summer. Most protein powders I have seen  have too many ingredients and seem too processed to be part of a healthy diet. 

Sunwarrior natural protein powder is a cut above the other protein powders. It is vegan, raw and has  only four FOUR ingredients (a proprietary protein blend from Raw Organic Pea ProteinRaw Cranberry ProteinRaw Organic Hemp Seed Protein and Medium Chain Triglycerides from Coconut.) Sunwarrior natural protein powder is non-GMO and although it is not labelled organic, the website says it is 98% organic. 

Mostly, I fell in love with how I feel after I tried it! I have a scoop of sun warrior protein powder as part of my breakfast routine, it keeps me going until 1 pm  in the afternoon. This sugar-free, vegan shake recipe is sweetened with bananas and cinnamon instead of sugar. I am not usually a calorie counter but this shake only has 237 calories and really keeps you going for hours because of the protein blend which contains all essential amino acids in a complete, balanced profile.

SUNWARRIOR CINNAMON PROTEIN SHAKE RECIPE
  • 1 scoop Sunwarrior natural protein powder
  • 1 cup silk almond milk (Silk 30 calorie vanilla)
  • 1 banana
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1.5 cups ice 
Blend all ingredients except the ice in a Vitamix or blender  for 1-2 minutes gradually increasing the speed. When completely blended add the ice. Enjoy with a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg.

VARIATIONS:
• Coffee: Add ice cubes made from coffee for a delicious coffee shake!
•“Milkshake”: Add a tablespoon of your favorite sweetener (agave or maple syrup) if you want it to be more like a milk shake! When I first started making this shake I added extra sweetener, but then I discovered I didn’t even need extra sweetener!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Back to School Calendars!

















Other than my inability to tie a tie for my son's formal uniform day--the beginning of school has gone well. (I'm knocking on wood as I write this--as I always do when I say anything positive.) I have one child in third grade at a new K-8 school and another child who just started 8th grade which upper school.

It was my daughter's idea to make a calendar on her wall with sticky tape, but after we made her a calendar I realized that I'm the one who really needed a wall calendar to keep track of everything. After looking around, I finally decided to put my wall calendar on an underutilized round wall in my kitchen that I walk by a hundred times a day  on my way to my office where my computer is.

For families who have kids with allergies being organized is super important because food is involved in so many events. A large calendar is a great way to keep track of everything. Events that need extra thought or food preparation can be starred or highlighted.

Here is a link to a calendar you can make with vinyl washi tape that is just like the one we made!

In case you need something more portable, here is a link to my favorite AT-A-GLANCE FASHION MONTHLY PLANNER which goes from July to July a second AT-A-GLANCE academic monthly planner which is a January to December Calendar.

Happy Back to school everyone! (And make sure to put apple picking on your calendar if you have apple picking in your area!)







Wednesday, August 13, 2014













Join Erica Dermer of Celiac and the Beast for a Twitter Party tonight!!! There will be a bunch of free giveaways and Erica  is always super fun in person and online. I can't wait to be part of this fun event to kick off the Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest next weekend in Indianapolis.

Gluten Free and More Twitter Party
Date: Wednesday August 13th
Time: 5-6pm PDT (8-9pm EDT)


RSVP HERE to join and win prizes!!!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Gluten Free Superstar: Lynn Shuter of G-Free NYC


Lynn Shuter from G-Free NYC is our 1st Gluten-Free Superstar!  In 2011 Lynn opened her gluten-free store on the upper west side of Manhattan and she has been a positive and helpful part of the NYC gluten free community ever since. I got a chance to interview her this summer...


















What is your gluten-free story? How did you find out you couldn't eat gluten?
"I started to have stomach issues when I was in college in the early 80s. The doctors said it was IBS but they didn't give me any solutions.  I continued to have problems in my twenties.  In my late twenties I developed blisters on my elbows and face.  I went to a dermatologist and was diagnosed with Dermatitis Herpetiformis.  At that point, I started my gluten free journey."

What inspired you to open G-Free NYC?
"For almost 25 years I have been "gluten free" or as gluten free I could be at the time.  Back then, I had to constantly explain myself at restaurants, the work place and any where else I was eating outside my home.  I remember being glutened many times.  I also had to learn to cook and bake since I wasn't happy with the gluten free products available.  I'd say I've tried 90% of the gluten free packaged goods available today.  I ended up ordering products like Canyon Bakehouse because they were not available in NYC.  My belief was, and is, that I didn't have to eat bad tasting products.  There were ways around it."
















What is the best thing about your GF life?
"Well, the fact that I don't need to go far for the best gluten free products is very nice.  Otherwise, I really don't think my life is different than anyone else.  That is part of the G-Free NYC philosophy...you don't have to change your lifestyle.  It's just a matter of adapting it and shopping at G-Free NYC of course :)"

What is the hardest thing about being gluten-free? And how do you handle it?
"When I was in my twenties it was very hard on a social level.  I never wanted to be difficult and bring up my diet.  When I went out to eat I would order things that were naturally gluten free.  If someone offered me a cupcake at work I would just say I wasn't hungry.  Nowadays, everyone knows what "gluten free" is.  When I hear people complaining about how hard it is to be gluten free I laugh."

What food/product would you take with you to a desert island? 
"I'm torn between Laurie's Bagels and Yummari Chia Chargers (these are two products I always have in my freezer and in my purse).  The Chia Chargers are healthier but the bagels are so good.  If the end was near I'd go with the bagels but if there was a chance of rescue I'd go with the Chia Chargers.  You only live once."



Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Benefits of Sleep Away Camp

summer, camp, lake, Adirondacks, New York, kids


I am still pinching myself that I have two kids on special diets at sleep away camp--and a much needed break.  My daughter is at her fourth year at a seven week girl's camp in the Adirondacks and my son did his first two weeks at a coed camp an hour south of Montreal. I'm thrilled my kids get to escape the city (and electronics) and sleep in a cabin on a lake with water skiing, tennis, swimming and all the usual camp activities.

Both camps have gone to great lengths to accommodate their special diets and provide gluten-free food.  Rebecca, a unit leader at my son's camp  even made sure that there was gluten-free, dairy-free food available for him “find” during the "kitchen raid" when the campers took over the kitchen! (It's a  well supervised camp that plans all sorts of crazy, fun activities.)

For me, sending them to camp is also a break from cooking and meal planning.

I haven't been blogging. Instead I bought a bicycle and have tried to relax as much as possible. It's been THIRTEEN years since I had this kind of vacation from raising kids.

While sleep away camp is not for every child, for social and independent kids it's a great opportunity. And for parents of kids who are on a gluten free (or gluten-free/dairy-free diet) it is an opportunity to relax and take time off from cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner. Giving kids with allergies  the opportunity to manage their diets with the support and supervision of someone else besides a parent is also an amazing preparation for college and life when they will be on their own.

And while I'm happy to get a break I'm actually even happier to get them back at the end of it!

Related posts:
Wendy in NYC at Camp Experts
2013 Sleep Away Camps for Kids on a Gluten-Free Diet
List of Sleepaway Camps for Kids on a GF Diet

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Fourth of July!












It is pouring rain today—which actually gives us time to make  glazed baby back ribs, homemade ice cream, brownies and chocolate chip cookies for our Fourth of July celebration. Fireworks in Amagansett  happen on Saturday, the fifth-- so we are headed to a beach barbecue and fireworks tomorrow.

Even if you aren’t making a big Fourth of July barbecue—you can still celebrate Fourth of July with a flag, decorations and Kraft marshmallows--which are naturally gluten free and dairy free. Kids love marshmallows and they are easy to find at most supermarkets and something kids with allergies can enjoy  makes them a great summer treat.

If you don’t have Fourth of July decorations—get out red and white crayons and markers and kids can make their own decorations using stars and stripes!


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Our GF Family FAVORITES: June 2014

Make your trip to the beach or the park (or your backyard!)  super special with these fun finds!
1. Jennifer's Way: My Journey with Celiac, Jennifer Esposito's first book, is an amazingly honest account of how Jennifer discovered she had celiac and how it changed her life.

2. This OXO Cherry Pitter makes eating cherries a fun summer activity for kids and adults!

3. Kids love straws and a glass of these fun red and white Paper! Straws makes a fun  summer centerpiece.

4. Dana's Bakery Watermelon Macarons don't "seem" gluten free but they are made with almond flour and naturally gluten free!

5. You can have Fourth of July all summer with this Stars and Stripes Table Runner from Sur La Table.

6. This Ribbon Braid Hat is stylish and lightweight  and folds up for travel.

7. Sanuk Yoga Mat Flip Flops are made from yoga mat material are SOOOOO comfortable!

8. This Green Goddess Sunscreen is available through Amazon Prime! Order a few bottles of this organic sunscreen to avoid the toxic ingredients in most sunscreens.

9. These Red and Blue Jacquard Star Napkins are a great hostess gift that don't won't up a lot of space in your suitcase.

10. Red Woven Plate Holders, on sale for $1.99, will brighten up any barbecue!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Fun Friday: Little Miss Glutenless GF Stickers!!!



















These Little Miss Glutenless Stickers are ADORABLE! My 12 year old  found this sticker from Red Bubble. Little Miss Glutenless is also available on t-shirts and hoodies! The scoop neck style t-shirt is my favorite style of t-shirt--but the stickers are a deal at $2.40. And if you buy more than 5 stickers you get 50% off!

For camp parents--great to stock up on stickers to send with letters and care packages! They have a bunch of cute designs at Red Bubble Stickers.

Happy Glutenless Friday!!!