Gluten-free: a diet for some, deadly for others

You’ve probably seen it in the grocery store or on a page of the restaurant menu: “Gluten Free” in bold letters. It’s a claim that for some people means a choice to help them lose weight or to live a healthier lifestyle. But for others it is truly not a choice and it can make all the difference to their long-term health. Is going gluten free a “choice” or a “must” for you? Your local Any Lab Test Now can help you decide.

Not a Fad but a Fact

For some people, the ingestion of gluten leads to a cascade of health problems that end with serious damage to the small intestine. These are the people who have celiac disease, a very serious autoimmune disorder. According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, 2.5 million Americans are living with the disease undiagnosed…and are at serious risk for long-term health complications. Complications like malnutrition, osteoporosis, infertility, even certain types of cancer can occur if the disease is left untreated.

Little Protein; Big Problem

So, what happens when you have celiac disease? The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has some helpful information. Basically, when a person with celiac disease ingests gluten, their body can’t digest it and it hangs around in their system triggering an autoimmune response. That’s when the body goes on the attack! Over time, that leads to the damage of the small intestine and other potential health problems. The only way to stop the damage at this point is to avoid ingesting gluten, which is easier said than done. Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye, so it shows up most often in bread, pasta, and baked treats. But this little protein is tricky! It can show up in lip balms, toothpastes, and even envelope adhesive.

Signs and Symptoms

Celiac disease is serious and you might wonder just how 2.5 million Americans can continue to live with this disease, undiagnosed? That’s because the symptoms can be so different for each person. We could fill a page with some of the different symptoms to look for in adults and children, but here are a few:

  • Anemia
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Numbness in hands and feet
  • Tiredness
  • Abdominal pain and bloating

You can take your health into your own hands if you suspect you have celiac disease. Any Lab Test Now offers tests to help you get answers:

CICA – Celiac, IBS, and Crohn’s ArrayWant to check for a wider range? Consider the CICA test, which measures gut health on the genetic, antibody, and cellular levels. This is a much deeper investigation that can point you and your doctor in the right direction.

Celiac Disease vs. Gluten Sensitivity

Be aware that celiac disease is different from gluten sensitivity. If you have gluten sensitivity, you may have symptoms similar to those of celiac disease, but gluten sensitivity does not damage the small intestine. Any Lab Test Now offers the ALCAT 50 Food Panel to test for food sensitivity and intolerance. Check here to find an Any Lab Test Now location near you.

Iron Deficiency

About three million of us suffer needlessly from a condition that seriously and negatively impacts our quality of life. But it doesn’t need to be that way.

The condition is called anemia. It is when your body lacks enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to your tissues. Anemia can sound frightening because it involves your blood. Yet the treatment can be as easy as changing what’s on your plate for dinner. And finding out if you are anemic can be done quickly and easily with a simple test from Any Lab Test Now! The answer to the test can help you and your doctor put you back on the path to feeling better.

Anemia Symptoms

The symptoms can often be so mild that they go unnoticed or seem like they are just “part of life.” Do any of these things sound familiar? Fatigue, weakness, pale or yellow skin, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness or lightheadedness, chest pain, cold hands and feet, headache, irritability — these symptoms of anemia are often dismissed or ignored. Often, the fatigue becomes overwhelming. Dr. Allen Nissenson, nephrologist and professor of medicine at UCLA, says it doesn’t have to be the norm for the millions with anemia.

Nutrition and Anemia

In order to make enough healthy red blood cells, your body needs an adequate supply of iron, folate and vitamin B-12. Of course, not everyone consumes the right quantity of these nutrients. For this reason, the most common type of anemia is caused by poor nutrition, according to Dr. Nissenson. Our increasing obsession with diets — and the growing number of strict vegetarians and vegans — is adding to the problem. That’s why the Anemia Panel from Any Lab Test Now checks not only your blood count, but also your iron, folate and vitamin B-12 levels.

Whether the anemia is iron deficiency anemia or vitamin deficiency anemia, the treatment is likely as simple as supplements and a change in diet. The best sources of iron are meat, poultry and egg yolks. To a lesser extent, you can get iron from eating green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, dried beans and peas, and enriched whole-grain cereals and bread. You need to also eat foods rich in Vitamin C, like citrus fruits, to help your body absorb the iron. The dark green leafy veggies are also your best source of folic acid. You’ll only get vitamin B-12 by eating animal foods — especially meat, fish, eggs and milk. That’s a real challenge to those following a strict vegan diet.

Who is at Risk?

Your diet isn’t the only thing that can put you at risk of an iron deficiency. You may eat all the right foods but have an intestinal disorder — like Crohn’s disease or celiac disease — that keeps you from properly absorbing the nutrients you eat. Other causes of anemia include:

  • Significant blood loss
  • Heavy menstrual periods
  • Possible reactions to birth control
  • Kidney disease

Importance of Treatment

Anemia may not sound threatening, but there can be complications if you don’t treat it. In addition to severe fatigue, anemia can cause pregnancy complications. And if left unchecked too long, it can eventually lead to heart problems because the heart needs to pump more blood to compensate for the lack of oxygen in the blood. That can ultimately lead to an enlarged heart or even heart failure.

Finding out if you have an iron deficiency takes just a few days. The professionals at your local Any Lab Test Now location can help you find out if you need to take the next step with your doctor to boost your iron and change your health for the better.

The 5 Best Tests to Use Your FSA On

altn-dec-newsletter-sized-fsaHSA and FSA accounts can help you budget for your healthcare, and ensure you always have the money you need to pay for any unexpected health events. But if you still have money in your FSA, it will expire at the end of the year. Instead of letting your money vanish, put it to use by getting some testing or immunizations you’ve been putting off. Wrap up lingering health concerns now so you can start fresh in the new year.

Allergy Test
The holidays coincide with peak cold and flu season, but if your sniffles won’t go away, you might look into allergy testing. Up to 50 million Americans suffer from allergies. If you experience emotional or physical reactions after you eat, or if you frequently have symptoms like a stuffy nose or trouble breathing, you might have an allergy to something you ate. The Allergy Test goes through as many as 45 different foods and 45 environmental triggers to identify the root of your symptoms.

Intolerance Test
If you’ve been noticing symptoms that aren’t associated with an allergic reaction, then you might have a food intolerance. If you experience fatigue, gas or diarrhea, depression or anxiety, weight gain or a general chronic discomfort, you may want to get a food intolerance test. This becomes especially important as you grow older, because you can develop new food sensitivities or intolerances later in life.

Blood Cortisol Test
If your stress levels are through the roof, the holiday season will likely only make it worse — it can seem like your to-do list never ends! To see if your stress is starting to cause problems for your body, get a blood cortisol test. High levels of cortisol are dangerous, because over time they can lead to high blood pressure, inflammation, compromised immune response and weight gain.

Thyroid Test
The holiday meals sure are delicious, but do you know what isn’t so great? The holiday pounds. If your weight gain tends to stick around a bit too long after the holidays, you should get your thyroid tested. Your thyroid controls metabolic activity, which is vital for maintaining a healthy weight. Poor thyroid health is associated with symptoms like fatigue, short attention span, weight gain and numbness or cold intolerance. Thyroid disorders can also cause conditions like osteoporosis and heart disease.

Proof of Immunizations
Are you traveling for the holidays or early next year? The first thing on your list should be to make sure your immunizations are up-to-date, which you can do by getting a proof of immunization test. These tests ensure that you have gotten the immunizations you need and provide valid paperwork to prove that you are immunized, which can be helpful if you’ve lost any documentation.

Don’t wait for the new year to address your lingering health concerns. If you have an FSA that is going to expire soon, get the important lab tests you need before 2017! For more information, visit your local Any Lab Test Now.

The Top 5 Things To Avoid This Holiday Season

What do you do when your food won’t treat you right? From causing digestive problems or headaches to giving you long-term health concerns, sometimes the simple act of eating what we love can make us feel horrible. And while there are about 40 foods that are known to cause reactions for people, the five on this list are the most notorious trouble-makers. If you don’t feel so hot after consuming some of these foods, you might want to avoid them over the holidays. And if you’re not sure what food is making you feel ill, visit your local Any Lab Test Now for an ALCAT test that will pinpoint your food sensitivity!

Dairy
Dairy foods are notoriously hard to process. According to Medline Plus, a division of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, about 30 million Americans have some degree of lactose intolerance by the time they reach age 20. The most common symptoms of lactose intolerance are gas, bloating, diarrhea and cramping, beginning within 30 minutes of consuming dairy. You can work around lactose intolerance by consuming different types of dairy products, by consuming them in smaller amounts or by consuming products made with soy or nut milks. You can also use supplements of the enzyme lactase to help you digest dairy more easily. The ALCAT panel offered by Any Lab Test Now can help you pinpoint whether your digestive distress is caused by lactose intolerance.

Food additives
Food additives can be any substance, natural or man-made, that brings about a certain change to taste, texture or nutritional content. These can include vitamins and minerals, flavorings, colors, preservatives and chemicals that change the acidity or texture of foods. The adverse effects of food additives can be as varied as the additives themselves. Eight additives are responsible for most adverse reactions: sulfites, parabens, nitrates, BHT and benzoates, which are preservatives; monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartame, which are flavor enhancers; and tartrazine, a yellow dye. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, some symptoms of adverse reactions can be hives, difficulty breathing, digestive troubles and nausea.

High Saturated Fat
Foods that are high in saturated fat can contribute to high cholesterol and heart disease. High cholesterol is a gradual, chronic condition that makes your heart work a lot harder to pump blood throughout your body, but doesn’t present very many noticeable symptoms at first. But foods with high saturated fat contents can also cause some immediate digestive distress if you’re sensitive to it. Inflammation is a likely result of eating too many foods high in saturated fat, because they irritate your stomach as you digest them. You can experience heartburn, coughing and even shortness of breath after eating these foods. Foods like butter, fatty meat products, lard and full-fat dairy products, and foods made with any of those products, are all foods you might be sensitive to. In addition to the ALCAT panel, which will let you know if these foods irritate your digestive system, the lipid panel or Lipoprotein Particle Profile at Any Lab Test Now can show you your risk of high cholesterol and heart disease.

Wheat
A growing number of people are being diagnosed with wheat sensitivity or celiac disease. Celiac disease is a relatively recent discovery in the field of digestive health, and many who have struggled their whole lives with confusing symptoms are finally getting the answers they’ve sought. According to Beyond Celiac, while about 3 million Americans suffer from celiac disease, it is estimated that six times that amount have some form of gluten sensitivity. Gluten sensitivity involves an immune response a few hours or days after eating gluten and the symptoms can include confusion, joint pain, numbness of the arms, legs or fingers, and headache.

Red Wine
Some people have reactions when they drink alcohol that go beyond the typical symptoms of drunkenness. Experiencing anything from trouble breathing to flushing and headaches, people with a sensitivity to alcohol do not enjoy a night of drinking as much as some others might. The sensitivity could be brought on by the alcohol, or by a specific drink, like red wine. Additionally, the alcohol could simply be triggering a food sensitivity, rather than causing the reaction itself. The only way to know for sure is to get tested!

The holidays are a time for fun, family and of course, lots and lots of food. This holiday season, don’t let your food sensitivities make mealtimes a pain. Visit your local Any Lab Test Now for a lipid panel and ALCAT food panel to find out what foods don’t sit right with your body!

Celiac Disease: Do You Know the Facts?

What is Celiac Disease?

Estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide, celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system directs antibodies to attack the body against gluten, a protein found in grains. When a person with celiac disease eats a food containing gluten, their body mounts an immune response to damage the small intestines causing improper absorption of the gluten nutrient.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of celiac disease include, but are not limited to:

  • Digestive problems (diarrhea, gas pain, abdominal bloating)
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis, a severe skin rash
  • Muscle cramps
  • Joint and bone pain
  • Mouth sores or ulcers
  • Fatigue
  • Weight Loss
  • Missed menstrual periods

What are the long-term health effects?

If left untreated, celiac disease can lead to serious long-term health problems including anemia, osteoporosis, infertility, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, neurological conditions and intestinal cancers.

What are the treatments?

At this time, the only treatment for those living with celiac disease is a lifelong adherence to a strict gluten-free diet. This means avoiding any foods containing wheat, rye and barley; all of which contain the protein, gluten.

Do I have celiac disease?

The only way for a person to truly know if they have celiac disease is to get tested. The test will detect if antibodies (triggered by the presence of gluten) are present in the body. If so, that person is said to have tested positive for celiac disease. Because of this detection process, in order to receive proper testing, a person needs to have been ingesting gluten products for several weeks prior to the test.

If you think you may have celiac disease, contact your local Any Lab Test Now® today and schedule a Celiac Disease Panel. Our quality testing services and trained staff will help you begin to Take Control of Your Health® and equip you to live a healthy, gluten-free lifestyle if needed.