Medical Prescription: Vitamin D

Vitamin D is one of the few vitamins that can be produced in the body, but it can also be absorbed via dietary measures. If your gut is in good condition, foods like salmon, egg yolks, and milk are some great ways to give yourself a dietary boost of this fat soluble vitamin. Alternatively, one of the easiest methods of staving deficiency is to simply kiss the sun….think: human photosynthesis! It works like this: UV rays convert a type of cholesterol that is found in skin into something called Vitamin D3. The D3 form then gets processed further by your liver, then kidneys, into an active form of vitamin D called calcitriol. The most popular role of this vitamin is linked to calcium levels and bone health maintenance. However, less know that vitamin D also plays an important role in taming the immune system, which has likely gone haywire in people who can’t tolerate gluten. For these people, sunlight plus supplements may be the solution.

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Coming from California, getting enough sun was never an issue…because back on the best coast…getting sun just happens. It wasn’t until I started paying attention to the quality of my skin that I realized: no sun + gluten intolerance = zilch Vitamin D. I had to do something about it.

As with all things in life, balance is key. Too much sun invites skin cancer, and although it is rare to have too much vitamin D supplementation, toxic levels can lead to damage of the kidneys. So how do you approach this balancing act of risks and benefits? Before slathering on goops of anti-UV, allow 10-15 minutes for the sun to do its thang so that you don’t have to pop these ginormous pills…but if you do decide to supplement, make sure you aren’t overdoing it, and as always, let your doc in on the plan so that vitamin D levels can be monitored properly!

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Safety First: How to Handle the Over-Ripe Avocado

Avocados have secured a title among the firmament of great super foods because of its high content in folate, potassium, vitamins E, C and K. It serves as a good antioxidant because it is an excellent source of glutathione, a molecule primarily used by the liver to sop up free radicals. In addition, the buttery fruit is high in monounsaturated fat which helps lower bad LDL cholesterol and increase good HDL cholesterol—it is too good, and so true.

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Avocados can be had savory or sweet, but is most commonly found in the ever-popular guacamole dip. In preparing the fruit for any purpose, most people slice the fruit in half and approach it with a spoon. I’ve found that the best way to extract the meat is to quarter the avocado and peel the skin away from it like a banana. I do this because an avocado can have bruises or be affected by plant pathogens just under the skin. If you scoop the meat out, it’s harder to assess the quality of the fruit.

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It’s unsightly….but is it still safe to eat?

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According to Christine Bruhn, an avocado expert from UC Davis, cosmetically flawed parts– browning flesh or unsightly patches under the skin–does not mean that the entire avocado needs to be sacrificed. Salvaging the unaffected portions of the avocado is perfectly acceptable practice. Plant pathogens that affect avocados, such as Botryosphaeria and Fusicoccum fungi are generally not known to cause disease in humans. However, if the fruit becomes so overly ripe that the taste morphs toward unfamiliar territory, or is obviously moldy and rotten, you’re better off tossing it. Christine also debunked the widely held belief that if you leave the seed in your guacamole it would keep the dip from browning. She explains that the browning is due to oxidization. Once the fruit has been festively mashed up, the seed doesn’t keep the meat from coming in contact with the air. It’s best to eat all your guacamole in one sitting while it’s fresh, but if you must save it, sealing the dip with plastic wrap (with the plastic making direct contact) may be used for the short-term.

Avocados are a permanent item on my grocery list so that I could incorporate it in my diet daily, but keeping them fresh can be tricky. As a rule of thumb, I only buy the fruit when it is still firm, and I allow them to ripen at home. When they appear ready to consume, storing them in the fridge extends the shelf life for up to a week. Steve Dreistadt, an agricultural expert from the University of California explained that avocados are often imported from various regions of the world; Mexico, Chile, Dominican Republic, and California just to name a few. Generally, these regions take turns in harvesting the fruit so that avocados are available year round. Lucky us!

Safety First: how to handle rice.

One of the key staples in a gluten-free life is rice. Because it finds its way into most meals, it is good to know that washing these grains before cooking is important for your health. Now the question is why?

Rice and other starchy foods are commonly contaminated with a fungus called Aspergillus. When rice is stored for a long period of time–which it often is–the fungus may produce a substance called aflatoxin, which can cause liver cancer. But this does not mean you need to cut rice out of your diet! Simply remember to give it a good wash, cook thoroughly, and enjoy as usual!

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