Going Gluten-Free


from HealthyWomen’s e-newsletter, HealthyWomen Take 10

What’s up with gluten? You might not have even heard of gluten until recently when foods without this grain protein started being promoted on store shelves.

People with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder, suffer difficult gastrointestinal symptoms that are triggered by gluten. Those individuals must avoid eating or drinking any gluten, which isn’t easy.

Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye and spelt. (Never heard of spelt either? It’s a grain from ancient times that’s highly nutritious.) Gluten occurs in a wide range of foods. Some of these you might expect, such as baked goods and pizza, and some you might not, like ice cream (gluten is commonly used as a thickening ingredient). Food labels now must state if a product contains gluten or was made in a facility that processes wheat.

In addition to those with celiac disease—which is being diagnosed more frequently as doctors become more aware of the condition—others don’t have celiac but do have a heightened sensitivity to digesting gluten. They, too, are helped by avoiding gluten foods.

Fortunately, there are many naturally gluten-free foods, such as fruits, vegetables, poultry, eggs and more. Grains and starches that can be eaten on a gluten-free diet include corn, amaranth, flax, buckwheat (not a wheat), rice, quinoa, potatoes, soy and teff (an Ethiopian grain used for flour).

When eating gluten-free, it’s helpful to consult a registered dietitian to achieve a good nutritional balance in your food selections. Your healthcare provider or a local hospital’s nutrition counseling department should be able to refer you.

For more on nutrition, visit: www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living/diet-and-nutrition


Harvard Medical School . “Getting Out the Gluten.” Harvard Health Letter. http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Health_Letter/2009/June/Getting-out-the-gluten.

American Dietetic Association. “Do I Need to Follow a Gluten-Free Diet for Life?” http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=10594&terms=gluten. Accessed April 20, 2010.

American Dietetic Association. “Celiac Disease.” http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=5542&terms=celiac. Accessed April 21, 2010.

American Dietetic Association. “If You Have Celiac Disease: Grains and Plant Foods to Include on Your Grocery List.” http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=4294967395. Accessed April 21, 2010.

© 2010 HealthyWomen All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll-free). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.


Too many adults and children unaware of their blood pressure


 Just got back from a community blood pressure screening and was surprised how many people were unaware that their blood pressure was elevated. When asked if they wanted their blood pressure checked numerous people said “I don’t have any blood pressure problems” but admitted they had not had their blood pressure checked for several years.   

They were surprised with the elevated readings and said they thought their blood pressure was okay because they felt fine.  We even found numerous teenagers with higher than normal blood pressures.  The kids especially were shocked when we told them their blood pressure was high and wanted to know what they could do to help control their blood pressure.

High blood pressure is called the “silent killer” because most people do not have any symptoms when their blood pressure is elevated. Remember the only way to know if your blood pressure is elevated is to get it checked on a regular basis.

Salt or sodium has been receiving a lot of attention lately in the media – excess salt or sodium in the diet has been proven to elevate blood pressure readings.  Salt is in everything especially processed foods.  Salt intake recommendations are less than 2,400 mg per day of sodium for people with normal blood pressures and less than 2,000 mg per day of sodium for people with elevated blood pressure readings.  Cutting back on salt intake can have a dramatic impact on lowering blood pressure especially in African Americans and postmenopausal women.

 Other things that can help control blood pressure include:

  • Weight loss, if overweight
  • Routine exercise (remember walking counts and is one of the best exercises)
  • Increasing fruit and vegetable intake (current recommendations are 5 to 7 servings of fruits/vegetables every day)
  • Increasing fiber in your diet

 Home blood pressure machines are a good way to help you keep track of your blood pressure readings – do not just rely on getting your blood pressure checked when you go to your doctor/healthcare provider.  If you are going to purchase a home blood pressure machine select one for the upper arm.  Blood pressure readings from the wrist and finger are not as accurate, the further the blood pressure cuff is from the heart level the less accurate it is.  Also take your home blood pressure machine to your doctor/healthcare provider at least once a year to make sure it is giving you accurate readings.

Goal blood pressure readings are less than 120/80 – that is for men, women and children.  If you haven’t had your blood pressure checked recently – what are you waiting for??  What about your family members and friends – remind them how important it is to get regular blood pressure monitoring.

Heartstrong wants to try and help you control your blood pressure and other risk factors for heart attacks and strokes.  Visit our website www.heart-strong.com for more information and to find out how to obtain our books “Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” and “Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthy Heart”.

Women and Heart Disease Across the Lifespan Part 1 (Young Women)

This is the first of a three part series titled “Women and Heart Disease across the Lifespan.”  On this show we will concentrate on heart conditions that are more likely to affect young women. We will discuss the following conditions: palpitations, tachycardia, pericarditis, conditions that may occur during pregnancy, and premature heart disease.

Stroke Symptoms Checklist


from the Stroke Health Center

A stroke happens when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot (ischemic stroke) or ruptures (hemorrhagic stroke). When this occurs, part of the brain no longer receives the oxygen it needs, and the tissue in that area starts to die.

Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) consist of stroke-like symptoms, which go away shortly after starting and produce no lasting damage. Even if your symptoms disappear entirely, it is critical that you follow up with a health care professional to address your risk for future stroke.

Warning signs of stroke

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding others
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden dizziness, loss of coordination or balance or trouble walking
  • Sudden severe headache with no obvious cause

What to do if you think you’re having a stroke

If you experience any of the warning signs above, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital as soon as possible. Don’t wait to see if your symptoms improve or disappear. Treatments are available, and the sooner you can get to the hospital, the better your chance of a positive outcome.

Risk Factors for stroke

Risk factors are cumulative, so reducing even one will lower your overall risk of having a stroke.

  • Age: The chance of having a stroke approximately doubles for each decade of life after age 55. In addition, researchers have noted a surge in strokes among women between 40 and 55 that can be tied to metabolic risk factors including increased abdominal weight and diabetes. There are also certain risk factors that apply directly to women under 55 (see below).
  • Family history: If a parent, grandparent, sister or brother has had a stroke, you are at increased risk of having one too.
  • Ethnic background: African Americans have stroke earlier in their lives and are twice as likely to die from stroke than are Caucasians, according to the National Stroke Association. Hispanic Americans and Native Americans also have increased risk for stroke. For these groups, higher rates of stroke risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity, may be responsible for higher rates of stroke.
  • Prior stroke or TIA
  • High blood pressure : High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke and the most important controllable risk factor.  
  • Heart disease or prior heart attack: Heart disease, including arterial disease, coronary heart disease, heart failure and atrial fibrillation, can contribute to an increased risk of stroke.
  • Smoking: Cigarette smoking on its own is a significant risk factor for stroke. When oral contraceptives are used in combination with cigarette smoking, stroke risk is greatly increased.
  • Poor diet: Diets high in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, and/or sodium can increase stroke risk. In contrast, a diet containing five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day may reduce risk.
  • Also: Diabetes, drug or alcohol abuse, high cholesterol, obesity, physical inactivity or sickle cell anemia all can increase risk for stroke.

Risk factors especially important for women younger than 55

  • Migraines: Women who suffer from migraines with visual disturbances can be up to 10 times more likely to suffer a stroke.
  • Oral contraceptives: Women who take even a low-estrogen birth control pill may be twice as likely to have a stroke.
  • Other risk factors: Autoimmune diseases including type 1 diabetes or lupus, clotting disorders, taking hormone replacement therapy, increased abdominal weight, multiple miscarriages or pregnancy.

For more on stroke, visit: www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/stroke

© 2010 HealthyWomen All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll-free). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.

Women Unaware of the Warning Signs of a Stroke


On average in this country it takes a woman 45 minutes longer to seek care for a heart attack or stroke. A new online survey may help explain why…

 Only one in four women aged 25 to 75 could name at least 2 symptoms of a stroke.

Women surveyed weren’t aware that women suffer more strokes than men.

One-quarter of the women surveyed were unaware that stroke could happen at any age.

Black and Hispanic women knew fewer facts about stroke than white women.

The main symptoms of a stroke are:

  • Sudden difficulty speaking, understanding speech, or confusion
  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the limbs, particularly on one side
  • Sudden facial drooping or numbness and weakness on one side of the face
  • Sudden balance problems, dizziness or trouble walking
  • Sudden difficulty seeing with one or both eyes
  • Sudden severe headache (the worst headache you’ve ever had in your life)

When someone has a stroke they may only experience one or two of these symptoms or may experience several symptoms depending on the location of the brain being affected.  A stroke is also called a “Brain Attack” so just like a heart attack you need to get to the hospital as quickly as possible in order to prevent permanent damage. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms call 911 and get to the hospital as quickly as possible!

Uncontrolled high blood pressure is one of the leading causes of stroke. Remember high blood pressure is called the silent killer because most people do not have any symptoms when their blood pressure is elevated. The only way to know for sure that your blood pressure is elevated is to get it checked on a regular basis.  Just because you are taking blood pressure medications does not mean your blood pressure is controlled. Goal blood pressure numbers for men and women are less than 120/80. If you do not know your blood pressure – what are you waiting for get it checked today.

For more heart healthy information please visit www.heart-strong.com

This online-only survey included 2,000 women in the United States, and was undertaken on behalf of HealthyWomen in conjunction with the American College of Emergency Physicians and National Stroke Association.

May is National Salad Month


 Well I have to admit this is the first time I ever heard of “salad month” – seems like everyone and everything has a month these days.  I am a fan of the salad so I figured why not write a short post to help celebrate National Salad Month.

Not all salads are created equal. Choose lettuces that are darker in color than ordinary iceberg lettuce. Romaine, Boston, baby spinach and other leafy greens can give a salad a nutrient boost as well as variety.

Be careful about salad dressings, though. Some dressings can pack a calorie and fat gram wallop. Choose lower fat and lower sodium dressings, or use a sprinkle of good olive oil and vinegar. Even simple lemon slices squeezed over a fresh salad can give it a special twist, as well as the extra nutritional boost that a quick shot of vitamin C can give you.

So why not join us and celebrate National Salad Month, here are a few healthy salad recipes to try…

White Bean Salad

Serves 7
Serving Size:  1/2 cup

1-15 oz can navy or cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
4 oz Red Bell Pepper, diced
2 Tbsp Parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp Scallions, sliced
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Clove Garlic, minced
Salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together.  For the best flavor, let salad sit in refrigerator for an hour.

Calories:  77
Fat:  0.3g

Grilled Asparagus & Sweet Pepper Salad

Servings – (4)

1 pound of fresh asparagus spears
1 medium orange bell pepper
1 small or medium red onion
1 lemon
1 lime
1 orange
1/4 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons of dijon mustard


·         preheat grill to 375 degrees

·         prepare vegetables for grilling by trimming off rough ends of asparagus, cutting the pepper in half and removing the seeds, and slicing the onion.

·         grill asparagus for only 2 or three minutes. (you still want it crunchy).continue grilling the onion and the pepper until they are flavored but still crunchy. place in refrigerator to cool down.

·         zest the lemon, lime, and orange and set aside.

·         squeeze juice from the lemon, lime, and orange and set aside.

·         combine vinegar , dijon mustard, salt, pepper, citrus juices.

·         chop the onion and pepper then cut the asparagus into thirds.

·         combine dijon vinaigrette, citrus zest, and vegetables, then toss until evenly coated.

64.25 Calories
3.18 grams Protein
.78 grams Fat

Egg Salad


8 ounces Egg Beaters
2 ounces Fat Free Mayonnaise
1/8 tsp White Pepper
½ tsp Red Wine Vinegar


1.        Scramble egg beaters according to package directions

2.        Cool eggs for 30 minutes

3.        Combine egg beaters, FF Mayonnaise, white pepper, and red wine vinegar.

Yield: 5 – 2 ounce servings

Nutritional Information:

30 Kcalories
4 grams Protein
.06 grams Fat
2.75 grams Carbs:

Keeping your family happy and health is important, and at Wellspring, they make it easy to enjoy a delicious meal without the guilt!  This May for Salad month, try these healthy salads or visit the Wellspring website for more delicious recipes!

For more heart healthy info visit www.heart-strong.com

Quick 3 Minute Overview on Blood Pressure


This is a video I filmed discussing high blood pressure, what your blood pressure numbers mean and things you can do to control your blood pressure. Why not take 3 minutes to learn the blood pressure basics…