Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chocolate Diet : Eat Chocolate, Stay Thin

Eat Chocolate to Lower Fat / BMI

More reasons to include chocolate in your gluten-free diet

I love chocolate! And when I read about the health benefits of including chocolate in my gluten-free diet, I can enjoy this delicious treat even more. The latest scientific study results that caught my attention were about how people who frequently ate chocolate had a lower body mass index (BMI) than people who did not. As always, exercise also helps with this outcome, but the contribution that dietary chocolate made to the BMI results is quite nice.

This research (published in the March 26 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine) comes from a study that enrolled more than 1000 healthy men and women, average age of 57 years (with no pre-existing heart disease, diabetes or cholesterol problems), to measure the effects of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, while a second study simultaneously assessed how often participants consumed chocolate.

The chocolate-consumption portion of the study showed that the typical participant consumed chocolate an average of twice weekly while exercising approximately 3.5 times per week. But, the interesting part is how those that consumed chocolate more frequently had lower BMI numbers. Perhaps this is my secret to staying thin? I exercise vigorously at least 3 days/week (weights, resistance-training) and try to walk, bike, hike or such on other days; and, I eat chocolate (or cocoa) nearly every day. I realize that my own results do not comprise a "scientific study", but it is working for me, which is great given my love of chocolate!

The first question about chocolate diet results is usually: what makes it work? Generally most research points to the abundance of antioxidants and flavanols and other compounds in chocolate that may promote weight loss. And, cocoa has caffeine in it as well as theobromine — a related, though slightly weaker, alkaloid that can act as both a stimulant and a vasodilator — perhaps those help as well. Whatever the root-cause for its diet assistance, the fact that cocoa-products taste fantastic are what matters most to me :)

Related Studies Promoting Health-Benefits of Chocolate

This is just one of many studies over the years showing scientific evidence that cocoa / chocolate (especially dark-chocolate) is beneficial to our health. And, this is just a few weeks after another (semi-related) study showed that eating chocolate and dessert items with breakfast helped people lose more weight. Chocolate remains the constant factor in many of these studies (accompanied by exercise, of course), and surely merits attention by anyone that is looking for beneficial diet items to include in their weight-loss plans.

I personally need no further incentive: I will continue to consume cocoa and/or chocolate along with my gluten-free diet and workout plans!

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Gluten-Free Diet Improves Autism Symptoms

Gluten-Free Casein-Free Diet Improves Autism Symptoms in Children

Autism Researchers Examine Link to Allergies — Gluten and Casein in Particular

For those readers that are looking to a gluten-free diet in hopes of improving the symptoms of autism, new research from Penn State College of Medicine is lending some scientific basis to what many suspect: that a gluten-free and casein-free diet may lead to improvements in behavior and physiological symptoms in some children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

As noted in their findings, "...autism may be more than a neurological disease -- it may involve the GI tract and the immune system." And, "Gluten and casein seem to be the most immunoreactive [allergens]", and were therefore the allergens chosen for further examination by this study.

Gluten-Free, Casein-Free, or Both: Which Diet Is Best for Autism?

Having followed this discussion for years, I have been looking forward to more in-depth scientific research on the subject. This particular Penn State study relied on information provided by 387 parents / primary-caregivers about their autistic children; a 90-item online survey on "GI symptoms, food allergy diagnoses, and suspected food sensitivities, as well as their children's degree of adherence to a gluten-free, casein-free diet"..

The study results did seem to indicate that the combination of gluten-free and casein-free works best:
"According to the researchers, some of the parents who filled out the surveys had eliminated only gluten or only casein from their children's diets, but survey results suggested that parents who completely eliminated both gluten and casein from their child's diet reported the most benefit."
The full results appeared online this month in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience.  But, i

But, I am glad the researchers also hinted at the following fact, since I consider the results a bit subjective even as they are quite valuable for spotting commonality and trends:
"While more rigorous research is needed, our findings suggest that a gluten-free, casein-free diet might be beneficial for some children on the autism spectrum," Pennesi said. "It is also possible that there are other proteins, such as soy, that are problematic for these children."
That is something to keep in mind. Although the results indicate that improvements were seen in GFCF diets, this study is not concluding that gluten and/or casein are the cause of autism or something that, if completely removed from the diet, will cure autism. Autism is a complex condition, and this is just one piece of the puzzle.  What the study definitely suggests, per the aggregate subjective feedback provided by parents of autistic children, is that a gluten-free/casein-free diet may help some children with autism improve their symptoms.

Remove Gluten and Casein to Improve Autism?

So, if you have a child with autism, should you move them to a gluten-free, casein-free diet? The researchers offered the following advice regarding this:
"If parents are going to try a gluten-free, casein-free diet with their children, they really need to stick to it in order to receive the possible benefits," she said. "It might give parents an opportunity to talk with their physicians about starting a gluten-free, casein-free diet with their children with ASD."

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, science-articles, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are availabl