Author Archives: Katie Sutton

September is Celiac Awareness Month

Infographic: Celiac Disease at a GlanceEven with the gluten-free diet fad that’s been sweeping the nation, not everyone who goes gluten free has Celiac. Celiac is a serious autoimmune disease that affects the body’s ability to absorb certain nutrients, which can ultimately lead to malnutrition.

Several common symptoms of Celiac Disease affect your gut and digestive tract, such as bloating, gas, constipation and diarrhea. And like many other autoimmune diseases, anxiety, headaches, fatigue and joint pain are also common.

The downside is that there’s no pharmaceutical or therapeutic cure for Celiac Disease – only a strictly gluten-free diet can prevent further damage and symptoms.

The upside is that living gluten free is easier than you might think. And it doesn’t require buying the often overpriced items at the grocery store that are labeled “gluten free.” Sticking to whole foods and cooking whenever possible is the clearest path to being successfully gluten free. Processed foods often have hidden gluten in their lengthy list of ingredients. However, rice, corn, potatoes, cauliflower, lentils, beans, and other whole grains are excellent substitutes for pasta and bread that aren’t just free from gluten, they’re much healthier overall. Looking up low-carb or Paleo recipes is another way to get ideas on what you can eat.

There’s ongoing research to find a cure for Celiac, or at least a way to curb its strength, including clinical trials for folks fighting through the disease.

BeyondCeliac.org has a robust resource for folks with Celiac or those who think they might have it. In the Living with Celiac section, you can find all sorts of resources for how to manage kids with the disease, how to go gluten free, and several other helpful bits of info. You can also learn what the organization is doing to increase awareness, raise funds, and push for additional medical research to eventually find a cure.

Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned you might have Celiac. And in the meantime, have a look at some gluten-free recipes to help ease your symptoms.

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Fall for foods that are good for you – with recipes

Image result for fall foodsFall is one of our favorite times to eat. When the weather cools off, nothing is cozier than a hot pot of soup of a nice casserole to accompany your snuggling.

Here we’ve got a few of our favorite fall foods that pack some nutritional punch with some recipes to make them even tastier.

Squash Casserole

This simple casserole is actually pretty decadent, with a cracker crust and a cheesy sauce to offset the earthiness of this root veggie.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups sliced yellow squash
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 35 buttery round crackers, crushed
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp butter

This one-pot dish comes together in a snap. See some photos and get the instructions.

Apple-Almond Farro Salad

We love this recipe because it’s super versatile and doesn’t have to be followed exactly. You can substitute any cheese, fresh herbs or vinegar that you prefer over what’s on the ingredient list. And, this keeps really well for lunches the next day.

Ingredients

  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Splash of white wine
  • 1 cup farro
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup blanched, chopped almonds
  • 2 apples
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup craisins
  • 1/3 fresh parsley
  • 6 oz. smoked mozzarella, cubed
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

This list might look lengthy, but keep in mind that you can substitute just about any of these ingredients. Learn the technique here.

Brussels Sprout and Hazelnut Salad with Goat Cheese

This salad uses the technique of “salt wilting” –  mixing raw sprouts with salt to soften them – to make this salad full of great textures and flavors. Combine that with tangy goat cheese, toasted hazelnuts and a tangy vinaigrette, and this will become a favorite around your house.

Plus it’s our favorite fall veggies – Brussels sprouts!

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 Brussels sprouts, sliced thinly
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tangerine
  • 1/2 shallot
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Black pepper
  • 3/4 cup skin-on hazelnuts
  • 4 oz. fresh crumbled goat cheese

Learn all about the salt-wilting technique and get the full list of instructions here.

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Crohn’s fighters share their stories

One of our favorite things to share is the stories from folks struggling with Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, ostomy bags, and other forms of IBD. The fight in them is such an inspiration to us that we feel compelled to share their strength to continue to spread awareness and hopefully to find a cure.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standingJessica,  Clinical Psychology Ph.D. student

“I wish others knew that people with IBD (and really all patients with chronic illnesses) deal with so much more than the physical symptoms of their disease. Having a chronic illness can take a huge mental and emotional toll. This doesn’t mean that all patients with IBD have a mental illness, but some report anxiety, depression, insomnia, and difficulty coping with their illness. On a side note, I wish patients with IBD knew that it’s OK to feel this way and that seeking help from a mental health professional is not a weakness, it’s a sign of strength. You are not alone!”

 

Michelle Lynn Law

“My last link to show my fight and support”

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“My daughter 2 weeks ago at her Remicade Treatment. She has diagnosed 2 years ago 13 but We just started Remicade a year ago. Had no flares almost a year but now she’s experiencing what seems like an allergic reaction 10 minutes into the treatment last times. Been glaring since April so we are back on Prednisone Euceris. Hoping this isn’t a sign of Remicade failing.”

 

 

Kalee, NCCL Co-Chair

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, flower, outdoor and nature“I remember everything about the phone call from my doctor- where I was standing, who I was with, and what words my doctor chose when telling me about my diagnosis. I remember hurrying inside to look up the prognosis, treatment, and what my life might look like. To be honest, I was terrified and had no idea how I’d manage my disease in college. My Crohn’s Disease has brought me to some of my lowest points both mentally and physically, but it has also given me some of my biggest triumphs.

Life throws challenges your way but the Foundation and NCCL taught me several extremely valuable lessons. The first lesson is that you are not alone. I was introduced to one of the strongest and most incredible community of supports. The second lesson is that you are bigger than your disease and that your IBD does not define you. When I found out I was selected to be a part of the National Council of College Leaders, I was over the moon and originally visualizing what I could contribute to the council but it was the council that gave me the greatest gift possible- more than I could ever repay. The Foundation and council gave me the tools and confidence to recognize sub-par aspects of patient care and access to care and to actually do something about it. I’ve spoken to legislators about healthcare reforms, worked with FDA representatives and physicians about redefining the use of medical foods, and helped create calls to action.

These steps in the right direction and the hope that future IBD patients don’t have to travel the path I did are what have gotten me through some of my toughest moments in college. Now that I’ve graduated and am transitioning out of my role as council co-chair, I am forever grateful for the opportunity to be given a voice in the IBD community, to have been a part of a council that’s helped me grow more than I ever thought possible, and to start my journey as a future healthcare provider given all that I’ve learned through the Foundation.”

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The latest in digestive health news

Image result for digestive health graphicSo much is happening in the world of digestive health. Clinical trials and research are revealing new trends and treatments all the time; fundraisers are happening across the country; more people are learning about the risks and working to prevent colon cancer.

Here are a few interesting things happening in the digestive health world this week.

Michigan Fundraiser – Golf Fore Guts Silent Auction

If golfing isn’t your thing, you can still support this Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation initiative through their silent auction. You’ll find all sorts of signed sports memorabilia and even an in-home wine tasting for 12 of your favorite people.

“The 5th Annual Golf Fore Guts silent auction is open! Bidding will close at 5pm on Sunday, August 13th. You do not have to be present to win. Click the link below to see the list of silent auction items like a Miguel Cabrera signed baseball and TaylorMade golf drivers. To register click the Sign In button on the website or text fore17 to 24700. Happy Bidding!”

Dating with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Sahara Fleetwood-Beresford shares with The Mighty her and many others’ struggle to date with various forms of IBD – something that folks with healthy guts might not even think of. As if dating isn’t difficult enough, having the added pressure of numerous bathroom trips, frequent fatigue, or wearing an ostomy can create some obstacles that make dating seem unworthy.

“It is small things like this that could affect even the early on stages of dating that I like to get off my chest sooner rather than later. That way, it will soon become clear apparent whether there is any compatibility. These may be small things, but they occur regularly and could present a problem in terms of the outlook for the relationship.”

Read the rest of her heartfelt, honest, and eye-opening blog on The Mighty.

Colon Cancer Rates Rising in Younger White Folks

In the United States, the black population has faced historically higher rates of colon cancer than any other ethnic group. However, the recent rates of colon cancer have increased in the white population – especially in those under 50. This presents a problem since most doctors agree that screening for colon cancer and other digestive issues isn’t necessary until the age of 50 for most. Those with a family history of the disease are encouraged to get screened earlier, but if you’re not aware of your history, you’re at a higher risk.

” The number of whites being diagnosed with colorectal cancer and their mortality rates are rising, even as blacks are seeing a decline in both categories,” says Kaiser Health News. “Despite those declines, however, blacks still have higher rates of death from the disease.”

So while the community is rallying to make sure people are taking as many preventive measures as possible, it might be time to look at the age in which we’re doing so.

The best way to protect yourself is to learn your family history, get to the doctor, and to be open to as many preventive methods as possible.

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Heartburn and age: It really does get worse

Image result for heartburnGetting older has its perks, like learning life’s lessons, knowing what you want (and how to get it), and feeling comfortable in your own skin. That is, unless you suffer from heartburn.

Studies have shown the irritating truth that this esophageal irritation gets more intense as you age.

“First, the sphincter on top of your stomach, which opens to allow things you swallow to go into your stomach, tends to relax a bit more with time,” says Self.

That’s a medical way to say that even your internal muscles can’t fight Father Time. When that flap doesn’t open or close as quickly, stomach acid can creep back up and cause your esophagus to burn.

Another cause for more heartburn as you age is that your stomach doesn’t digest your food as quickly. And when your food sticks around longer, there are more chances for problems. Couple that with a slight weight gain that a lot of folks experience later in life, and your stomach acid has the perfect storm for irritating your esophagus.

Most folks experience heartburn from all the usual culprits: Fatty foods, sugar, peppermint, booze (basically anything fun). If that’s the case for you, limiting your intake along with using an over-the-counter heartburn med should probably take care of the problem.

However, if you have more severe problem that happens more frequently or doesn’t have a food trigger, you should definitely let your doctor know. With frequent heartburn comes a higher risk for esophageal cancer because of the acid wearing away at your throat. A stronger medication or more stringent course of action might be necessary, but your doctor can help you figure out what you should do.

“Heartburn is one of many possible symptoms of GERD. GERD means reflux of stomach contents into the esophagus,” says our very own Dr. Anezi Bakken.

She walked us through the symptoms and risks associated with heart burn the last time we sat down with her. She also told us how there comes a point when your heartburn could be something more serious. GERD typically shows more severe symptoms, such as nausea, sore throat, difficulty swallowing and even a cough. “Just” heartburn can turn into a more severe condition.

What else can you do?

Stop smoking, lose weight and drink lots of water – pretty much the standard prescription for getting any condition under control.

You can also use some food-tracking apps to monitor which foods are the worst for your gut. And gum and baking soda are a couple of home remedies that work for some people.

Talk to your doctor regarding any stomach discomfort to keep things in check and to avoid a more serious condition from developing.

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Can one diet change ease Crohn’s?

Image result for plant based good fatsCrohn’s is a disease that hundreds of thousands suffer from in silence. An autoimmune disorder, the symptoms are different from person to person and just as difficult to treat.

Food is another challenge to folks fighting Crohn’s, with flare ups stemming from all types of sources. But a new study is linking an uptick in consumption of plant-based fats with a decrease in bad bacteria and inflammation in the digestive tract of mice.

“The finding is remarkable because it means that a Crohn’s patient could also have a beneficial effect on their gut bacteria and inflammation by only switching the type of fat in their diet,” said Alexander Rodriguez-Palacios, DVM, DVSc, PhD to EurekAlert.

The research seems rather promising, given that patients with Crohn’s could begin to see the benefits simply by swapping coconut oil for butter or using cocoa butter as a substitute.

Another positive aspect is the insight this offers medical researchers into what makes good fats, well, good.

“Ongoing studies are now helping us to understand which component of the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fats make the difference,” Rodriguez-Palacios said. “Ultimately, we aim to identify the ‘good’ fat-loving microbes for testing as probiotics.”

In other words, this cross-referencing of research could start to pinpoint the magic potion for sufferers of Crohn’s. Since each person and their lower tract is unique, however, it’s not likely there will be a one-size-fits-all solution that comes out of this line of study. But getting closer to understanding what makes these good fats reduce inflammation and symptoms in any way is a positive step for patients.

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Our HOT LIST of good foods for digestion

Image result for leafy greensEating right for your digestive health doesn’t have to be a crazy health-food-store-expensive-ingredient journey. You probably have a lot of the foods that can help digestion and are also good for folks struggling with different forms of IBD.

Here’s our HOT LIST of foods that are great for your gut and not super fussy.

Good Fats

Avocado

This creamy goodness comes equipped with soluble fiber, which is much easier on your digestive tract than the insoluble stuff. And, once they’re ripe, they’re easy to prepare. Simply cut in have, twist out the core, and scoop into your dish.

Add some salt, garlic powder and black pepper, then mash together for a quick guacamole spread for sandwiches. Or scoop it into your blender, and add some lemon juice or vinegar, your favorite seasonings and herbs, and some Greek yogurt for a creamy green goddess dressing.

Smooth Nut Butters

The crunchy stuff can irritate your bowels if you struggle with Crohn’s, diverticulitis or other similar issues. The smooth stuff offers just the same amount of good fats, protein and fiber, but allows your body to do less work.

Add almond butter to a smoothie with blueberries, spinach and almond milk. Or dip carrots into peanut butter for a crunchy afternoon snack. Cashew butter works as a butter substitute if you’re in the mood for some baked good.

Salmon

This healthy-fat fish is a fan favorite. The oils are great for everything from your lower tract to your skin. Add some salt, brown sugar and pineapple and roast in tinfoil for a sweet and salty dinner. If fish isn’t your forte, order the salmon next time you’re out to eat, and let someone else do the cookin’.

Soft Leafy Greens

Spinach

Popeye’s favorite green is such for a reason. It’s loaded with vitamins, and the leaves aren’t as tough on your gut as kale or the tougher greens are. Spinach is a great vehicle for flavor. Saute a bag in a bit of olive oil with salt and fresh garlic for a super simple side dish. Add it to your smoothie since the flavor and texture will blend right in. Or add a handful to your next salad.

Arugula

Arugula is a really flavorful green that’s got a peppery bite that’s a wonderful addition to most dishes. Throw a handful into a pita pocket with some tuna fish, onion and Greek yogurt for an easy lunch. Or stir this into some warm rice and add olives, diced bell peppers and crumbled feta.

Watercress 

This super food has been named the most nutritious of all the greens. It’s a delicate and soft leaf that won’t irritate your stomach, and mixes in with any salad recipe you can think of. Same goes for smoothies – add some watercress with strawberries, peanut butter and coconut milk for a yummy breakfast or afternoon snack. And watercress goes well with your favorite veggies, diced and dressed the way you like. Add some salmon for a well-balanced meal.

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Take Steps for Crohn’s, Colitis and IBD: This Saturday in Royal Oak

Around 1.6 million Americans suffer from some type of IBD, including Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis. The worst part about these numbers is that there is no cure, just treatment plans that aren’t guaranteed. And of all those plans, every person fighting a form of IBD reacts differently.

So what can we do?

First thing’s first: Take Steps! The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America hosts walks all across the country to raise awareness and funds for all forms of IBD. This Saturday, June 10, 2017, you can participate in our very own walk in Royal Oak.

Join the Center for Digestive Health as we sponsor a Take Steps walk for the cure in Meininger Park. Along with the walk is a festival full of activities and sponsors with additional information. Check in and the festival begin at 9am, the walk itself starts at 10:30am. All age levels are welcome.

What will the walk support?

Groundbreaking research, empowered patients, and wise investments, all with the goal of furthering research and getting closer to a cure.

“Our research is unprecedented and has significant potential to directly transform IBD patients’ well-being. We are incredibly proud of the work our researchers do each and every day,” says the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. “Our national and local programs and services are designed to provide patients of all ages and their loved ones with helpful information to better manage their disease while providing a supportive forum to share experiences and concerns, and connect with others.”

The fundraising is as easy as it comes. Register for the walk, and convince a few close friends to give as little as $16 each. You can also organize a team for the event, to up the awareness and the cash flow to the organization. Bring your kids, friends and pets to enjoy the day’s festivities.

For more information, visit the CCFA’s FAQ page regarding the race, learn more about what Crohn’s and Colitis are, and have a look at specifically where the money goes, so you can rest assured that your efforts are in the right place.

We hope to see you there!

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Inspiring stories from survivors of Crohn’s

Living with a bowel disorder is not a task for the weak. Folks who are surviving and thriving are a constant source of inspiration to us. As part of a regular series, we try to highlight those fighters out there to both celebrate their successes and raise awareness around their struggles.

Here are a few of our favorite stories.

18671186_1452587181467460_525827228929541125_n“This is my 15 year old niece, Audrey. She was just diagnosed with Crohn’s a week ago after being at Children’s Hospital in Nashville for 12 days. She had lost 15 pounds in 2 weeks and had to get two blood transfusions. I am her legal guardian for 6 years now and it broke my heart to have her sent home with a feeding tube and a pic in her arm for antibiotics. She is getting better now with all that gone but is on Prednisone, Pantesa and omeprazole, iron and has back pain and fewer flare ups. She is still weak and had a way to go which is very depressing for her. She had to miss summer, band camp and being with her friends. She has changed the way she eats and knows what irritates her stomach. No more fast food, dairy, some bread and fried foods. It has been a rough road. She has a check up in August and they may put her on Humira. I pray it will help her. My heart goes out to everyone who suffers through this daily and is parents who have to see our children go through pain. Prayer is powerful and I believe my Audrey is healing due to prayers.”

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“I have severe Crohn’s disease that I have been battling for 20 years, this is my Crohn’s tattoo”

 

 

 

stephanie-hughes-hospital-e1432075627501“Today is World IBD Day and I am reminded of a lot of parallels from two years ago. In 2015, I was pregnant for the first time and on May 19 I was admitted to the hospital for the first of four admissions before I was induced four weeks early due to an intestinal blockage. I am so thankful that I am not spending another World IBD Day in the hospital, but I am very aware of how quickly things can go downhill for me if I am not careful about the foods I eat. Remember today that IBD is not just a bathroom disease. IBD does not mean one thing, but can lead to so many different complications for different people.”

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“I got the purple ribbon with a dragon. Never stop fighting.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Women’s Health Week: Colon cancer isn’t just for men

Image result for women's health week 2017

From May 14 – 20, the Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, works to raise awareness around and provide recommendations for women’s health.

The mission of this initiative is to “Provide national leadership and coordination to improve the health of women and girls through policy, education, and model programs.”

Although there are several issues that primarily affect women – cervical, ovarian and breast cancers, mammograms, osteoporosis – women also face risks with digestive issues. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Colon Cancer are just a few of the health concerns of which Women’s Health Week works to increase awareness.

And while the risk for colon cancer is slightly lower in women than in men, almost 5% of women will face a diagnosis this year alone. However, those risks have been decreasing steadily over the past several decades, due almost exclusively to advanced screening capabilities and treatment options.

But we’re not out of the woods just yet: Colon cancer is still the third leading cause of cancer deaths in women in the United States.

“The old message was that colon cancer was a man’s disease. We have to be careful not to regress in our message to women.” says Sidney J. Winawer, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, to MedPage Today.

So what can women do? Two words: Get screened.

Advancements in technology, research and treatment are only good if we actively opt to utilize them. Most medical professionals recommend that women start their regular colonoscopies at age 50. However, if you have a family history of the disease, or other potential factors such as obesity, smoking and certain ethnicities, your doctor may recommend an earlier start.

For more information on women’s health issues, and National Women’s Health Week in general, WomensHealth.gov. There, you’ll find out how you can get involved, and a comprehensive list of topics that affect women’s health, with information and additional resources for each.

Call to book your colonoscopy today. And remember, screening saves!

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