What is gluten intolerance?

gluten intolerance


Gluten is a protein that is found in whole grains such as oats, rye, barley and wheat.  It is therefore also found in wheat products such as white flour, wholemeal flour, pasta, bread, cereal, biscuits and beer to name some examples.

Gluten is also found in processed foods that don’t actually contain grains such as fried foods, deli meats, salad dressings and ice cream cones.  It can also be found in lip balms and vitamins!


Gluten intolerance

Gluten intolerance, which can also be called gluten sensitivity, is a condition where someone’s body is not able to handle gluten.  The consumption of gluten therefore causes the symptoms mentioned below.

Coeliac disease can appear to be similar but it occurs due to the body’s immune system being triggered by the presence of gluten.  This condition is more severe and can cause permanent damage.


Signs of gluten intolerance

  • Bloating
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fatigue
  • Wind

These symptoms are uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing however the real problem is possible long term effects such as being unable to absorb nutrients properly.

Testing for gluten intolerance

Eliminating gluten from the diet is the only real way to test for intolerance.  If symptoms disappear and recur when you try and eat something containing gluten then gluten intolerance is highly likely.

If your Doctor also wants to test for Coeliac disease it is important not to stop eating gluten before this testing as it needs to be present to test for its effect.


Treatment of gluten intolerance

Avoiding consumption of gluten is the only way to avoid the symptoms that gluten cause.  Supermarkets have gluten free sections and many recipes and restaurants also offer gluten free options.

There are many foods that are naturally free from gluten such as fruit and vegetables, rice, corn, nuts, eggs and dairy.


Life after over the counter codeine

prescription only codeine

Prescription only codeine

As of the 1st of February 2018 all codeine containing medications in Australia will become prescription only.  This has come about due to the abuse of codeine containing medications by many people.  There are, of course, many other people who did not overmedicate themselves with these products who will now have to obtain prescriptions anyway.

Despite recording of codeine sales occurring in some pharmacies it did not happen in all which made it possible for some people to purchase from multiple locations.  It was also possible for multiple people to purchase for the use of one person.  Preferable to codeine becoming prescription only would have been a better recording and treatment system however that will not happen now.


Codeine overuse

The overuse of codeine seems to occur in two ways.

Taking a huge dose (much more than recommended) gives a euphoric high that was relatively cheap and easy to obtain.  It is obviously beneficial to the health of these excessive users that codeine will not be available to them as easily or in such high doses.

The other problem is people who are genuinely in a lot of pain who are using codeine containing medications for long periods of time without consulting their Doctor.  These people will also greatly benefit from a review of their pain and treatment.


What to take instead of codeine

Codeine is a strong pain reliever that was able to be purchased in combination with either paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin.  Purchasing of these pain relievers on their own has not changed.  In recent months it has also been possible to purchase paracetamol with ibuprofen as a combination product.  Despite these medications being used together already it is handy to have them available in a combination tablet for when more than one pain reliever is required.

There are still other anti-inflammatories available such as Voltaren for acute pain.  As with all anti-inflammatories it is important to speak with your Doctor or Pharmacist before taking these due to the potential for it to affect other medications and health conditions.

Are vitamins and supplements good for me?

vitamins and supplements

Taking vitamins and supplements

Taking vitamins and supplements is a very personal thing.  Some people take several and others wouldn’t dream of it.  There are some general practitioners who tell their patients to steer clear of these and there are those who incorporate them in to the medication regimen.

I believe a lot of hesitation surrounding the use of the things we term “complementary medicines” is due to lack of knowledge.  Vitamins, minerals, herbs and even nutrition in general are things that are not studied in enough detail during medical and pharmacy degrees.

Healthy eating                                                                                     

There is a theory that goes if we eat well we do not need to supplement.  This makes sense to some extent however there are times when people can not eat as they should whether this be to illness, travelling etc.

There is also a major problem with our food supply.  Due to changes in farming practices and food production over the years food just isn’t food anymore.  Not only do some foods potentially contain little nutritional quality but they can also contain pollutants that can contribute to illness.

Supplementing our diet with nutrients that we are missing out on with our food makes sense.  I do believe in using quality brands that contain natural and organically sourced ingredients where possible.

Are all vitamins and supplements good for me?

As with any medicine, and vitamins and supplements should be thought of as medicines, it is important to take them under the advice of a health care practitioner.  There are certainly some products that do not have any evidence from research that show that they are beneficial or necessary.  Weight loss is a big area where there are lots of products that may not have been shown to be effective but there are also other areas.  Conversely there are many complementary medicines that have a lot of research and evidence behind them showing how effective they are.

Aside from evidence of effectiveness some vitamins and supplements can interfere with the way prescription and other medicines work.  It is possible for them to make the prescription medicines more or less effective and increase the risk of side effects.  This is why it is very important to discuss with your Doctor or Pharmacist before taking anything new.

Always read the product label for vitamins and supplements

The product label will give directions for how much to take, how often and what to be careful about.

It is very important not to take more than the recommended dose.  As I mentioned before vitamins and supplements are like medicines in that the correct dose must be adhered to.  Taking more than the recommended dose will not result in you getting better quicker, but can result in side effects and even overdose.

Vitamins and supplements can certainly be of benefit in many cases and often with less side effects than prescription medicines but it is very important to incorporate these under the guidance of your qualified health practitioner.

Back to school time!

back to school

Healthy back to school        

My nephew (pictured) in QLD had his first day of big school today and the rest of the country’s children start back over the next two weeks so it’s a good time to look at making a healthy start back.

There are a plethora of websites and Facebook pages with recipes for healthy school lunches and snacks so I will not even attempt to discuss healthy eating! I like The Healthy Mummy for healthy and easy recipes.

Drink water

Staying hydrated is very important at this time of year.  Buy a drink bottle that will hold enough water for your child’s day at school and let them know that is how much they should drink.  I have a child who forgets to drink so I remind her every day to have the contents of the bottle.  She likes to tell me that she drank from the bubbler so I tell her that’s fine but the drink bottle still needs to be emptied!

Water is obviously best.  Cordial and juice contain a lot of sugar regardless of whether it is natural sugar or not as do flavoured milks.

Sun safety

Staying safe in the sun is something we are all familiar with and all schools now have school hats as part of the uniform and a “no hat, no play” policy.  Applying sunscreen is still important especially to the arms, backs of hands, neck, chest, ears and face.  Using a zinc sunscreen is best such as MiEssence Reflect Outdoor Balm, Billie Goat Soap Sunscreen or Little Urchin Natural Sunscreen.  See my sunscreen article to read more on this.

Head lice

Hopefully these little guys died out over the summer and won’t make a comeback for a while but it is still best to be prepared.

  • Tie long hair back, which is usually a school requirement anyway). I prefer a plaited ponytail for girls as there is less hair flying around to come in to contact with lice.
  • Spray hair with hair spray or one of the commercially available or self-made essential to your child’s hair.
  • It seems that lice prefer clean hair however this is not always desirable! I prefer to just tie hair back!
  • Make sure hats are labelled clearly with your child’s name so that hats are not worn by the wrong child which can transmit lice.


It is not necessary or recommended to use a treatment to prevent worms.  Treatment is only needed if worms are found or suspected.  Read more about worms.

Good hygiene is generally the best way to prevent worm transmission.

  • Handwashing before eating and after using the toilet is the most important prevention technique. It’s a good idea to remind even older children as they start back at school.
  • Keep fingernails short to prevent eggs from being picked up and then transferred.

Asthma at school

If your child has asthma make sure their school has a copy of their asthma action plan and that their inhaler prescription is renewed and inhalers are labelled correctly.  Read more about asthma medications here.

Good sleep habits

A lot of children stay up a bit later in the holidays particularly if they do not have to get up early in the mornings.  I find that I begin to reign in my children’s bedtimes starting about a week before the back to school day so that they are going to bed at school bedtimes for a few nights before school starts.

We have a “no technology” rule in the last hour before bed to reduce stimulation and sleep troubles.  My children are allowed to watch some tv and then read in this time.  There is always one who tries to push the limit but this just results in a reduced technology time the next day!


Benefits of turmeric

benefits of turmeric

Turmeric or curcumin


When looking at the benefits of turmeric it is important to remember that most studies are carried out using curcumin which is the most active component of turmeric.  What this means is that it is very difficult to get the benefits by just consuming turmeric itself and it is best to take a quality curcumin supplement.

Curcumin is a great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compound.  Let’s look at what this actually means.


Curcumin as an anti-inflammatory

A small amount of inflammation is needed in our bodies to fight illnesses etc.  Chronic or long term inflammation is what is undesirable.  Chronic inflammation, it appears, is involved in many chronic health conditions.

Curcumin works in many different ways to reduce inflammation and has been shown in studies to be as effective as pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory medicines without the side effects.


Curcumin as an antioxidant

Molecules called free radicals can react with substances in our bodies (a process called oxidation) and cause damage that can cause disease and aging.  Antioxidants are so important in our bodies as they protect us from free radicals.

Curcumin is so important as it works to block free radicals as well as improve the way our bodies own antioxidants work.


Curcumin can help to prevent/treat

  • Arthritis (osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Depression
  • Heart disease
  • Alzheimers disease
  • Cancer
  • Aging


Any medicine can cause side effects.  Turmeric and curcumin generally cause no side effects at the recommended dose.  People prone to kidney stones should be cautious as there may be increased chance of this.  Headache and diarrhoea can occur at high doses.

As with any food or supplement it is important to choose one that is organic or comes from a reputable manufacturer.