Friday, February 5, 2016

What is Stevia

Understanding the Growth and Origins of Stevia
Wondering where stevia came from and how it has become so prevalent? You're not alone. Stevia entered the national food scene at the perfect time and sales have grown dramatically. Americans have grown increasingly mistrustful of artificial sweeteners and weary of sugar consumption, leading to a desire for a healthier sugar alternative. The result was a budding love affair with stevia, an all-natural sweetener derived from the leaves of a tropical shrub.
Growing Sugar Fears
Research about the danger of a sugar has become table talk across the nation. The public's education about the consequences of the overconsumption of sugar was fueled by the plethora of documentaries (such as That Sugar Film) and newspaper articles publishing the dangers of sugar.  The Huffington Post said, “sugar is the true killer.” Livestrong, linked sugar to belly fat. Forbes reported that sugar contains addictive propensities saying, “research supports the theory that high-fat/high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do.” For the past decade, film-makers, journalists and scientists have been spreading awareness about our sugar addiction and its consequences.
Raising public awareness about sugar’s repercussions is critically important, as many widespread health hazards are linked to America’s eating habits. Obesity and diabetes have escalated to reach epidemic proportions. Nearly 1 in 10 Americans have diabetes and more than one-third are obese. We are beginning to learn that too much sugar is harmful and addictive. America is waking up to our dependence on sugar.
The public’s growing concern about sugar has coincided with its growing suspicion of artificial sweeteners. Calorie-free sweeteners that are developed in a lab are instinctively mistrusted. According to the Eater, “There’s something inherently mad scientist about attempting to replace an ingredient that’s naturally occurring with a synthetic material concocted by piecing together neutrons.”
Recent studies about artificial sweeteners not-so-sweet darkside, have have proliferated, compounding the public’s mistrust. Splenda for example, messes up the good bacteria in your intestines, leading to potentially grievous overall health concerns. Sugar alternatives can also disturb the body’s blood sugar controls, leading to metabolic changes and a harbinger for diabetes.
We know our sweet tooth addiction and overconsumption of sugar  is damaging our health, and many Americans are attempting to curb their sugar intake. But happens when you want something you can’t have? Often you want it more. People have been searching for a natural and healthier alternative to sugar, because saying goodbye to sweets for forever feels too overwhelming to achieve. This is when stevia took center stage.
Is stevia the perfect solution?
In 2009, The Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Stevia as sweetener in food products. Specifically, they approved of rebaudioside A (Reb A). Stevia is extracted from the leaves of Stevia rebaudiana, a leafy and green plant found in Paraguay and Brazil. Rebaudioside A is the purified component form of the Stevia plant, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Stevia has been used as a sweetener in South America for hundreds of years. According to LiveScience, it has been used in these regions as a “as a treatment for burns, colic, stomach problems and sometimes as a contraceptive.” The sweet-tasting compounds are extracted from the plant and are estimated to be 200-300 times sweeter than cane sugar. Despite being much sweeter, stevia is natural and has no calories, carbohydrates or sugar ( NBC News quoted a nutritionist as saying “stevia is no risk-free holy grail for dieters.”
There are two significant drawbacks to stevia. It has a different taste to cane sugar, so those wanting the sweet taste of cane sugar may be disappointed. Stevia may take some time to readjust and get use too. It can also have an unpleasant aftertaste. Finally, stevia is significantly more expensive than sugar, which may  make adding it to products cost prohibitive.
Despite these setbacks, sales of stevia have grown dramatically. There “was a 400% increase globally in new stevia-based products between 2008 and 2012,” according to BBC News.
If you are looking to cut sugar in your diet and on the hunt for sugar alternatives, Stevia may be helpful solution. Kay’s Naturals snacks and cereals are diabetic friendly, low-GI and low calories, in part because stevia is used as a natural sweetener. To learn more about Kay’s Naturals, click here.

Friday, January 29, 2016

What Causes Crohn's Disease?

What causes Crohn's Disease?

Crohn's disease is a chronic autoimmune disorder that affects the gastrointestinal tract. It is estimated that 700,000 Americans have Crohn's disease ( Crohn's affects women and men equally, and is usually diagnosed when an individual is a teen or in their 20's. The disease was first identified in 1932 by Dr. Burrill B. Crohn. A cure for Crohn’s has not been discovered.


Researchers don’t know know what is the cause of Crohn's. Like other autoimmune disorders, stress and diet play a role in the aggravation of Crohn's disease, but are unlikely the cause. It is currently suspected that a combination of heredity and a malfunctioning immune system are both required to cause Crohn's to develop.

Researchers know that genetics is a contributing factor of the development of Crohn's because one is more likely to develop Crohn’s if a first degree relative also the disease. Genetics is not guaranteed of the development of Crohn's, if two people share same genetic make up one may have Crohn's and one may not. This leads researchers to conclude other factors in addition to genetics, cause the autoimmune disease to develop.

It is thought that healthy bacteria or virus is mistaken by the immune system to be an invasive or toxic microorganism. Consequently, the body launches an immune attack. Cells from the blood rush to the intestine where the mistaken viruses or bacteria exist to destroy them. This immune attack causes inflammation. As the virus's and bacteria may be good and necessary for healthy human function, they are constantly present. With the that immune system continually attacking cells in the intestine, inflammation becomes chronic. It is believed that chronic inflammation, caused by the immune systems misidentification of a substance within the intestines, causes Crohn's to develop. Stress and diet exasperate the immune systems misguided attack, sparking symptoms to flare up or intensify.


Crohn’s is a chronic disease but there will be times when it is active and times when it is in remission. During remission no symptoms will be present. Crohn's can affect the enter gastrointestinal tract (from mouth to anus), but most commonly affects the lower small intestine and colon.

According to the Mayo Clinic that symptoms of Crohn’s disease are varied. If your Crohn’s is active you may have the following:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Fever and fatigue
  • Abdominal cramps and/or pain
  • Blood in your stool
  • Mouth sores
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss
  • Urgent need to move bowels
  • Perianal disease (pain or drainage around the anus)
  • Loss of a normal menstrual cycle
  • night sweats
Additional symptoms may occur or be varied based on where the disease takes place. Read ‘Types of Crohn's Disease and Associated Symptoms to learn more about the variations of Crohn’s and symptoms.  Diagnosis is made through proper testing, which often involves an endoscopy and biopsy of the intestines.

Treatment can be a combination of medication and surgery, depending on how the individual’s body responds to medication and the severity of the disease. Obtaining sufficient nutrients is also important, as the inflammation and damage to the intestine may block proper absorption.

Some with Crohn’s find that a gluten-free diet is beneficial to their health. Kay’s Naturals is completely gluten free, high-protein, and all natural. To learn more about Kay’s Naturals snacks and cereals, click here.

Any personal views expressed on this blog are the writers’ own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Kay’s Naturals, Inc. It is recommended that you seek independent medical advice before making any decisions that can impact your health.

Friday, January 22, 2016

How Celiac Disease is Diagnosed

What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac Disease (CD) is an autoimmune disorder that often affects multiple parts of the body, causing diverse complications and symptoms. When a person has CD, the immune system believes gluten to be a dangerous substance. It subsequently launches an attack to drive out what it mistakenly believes to be toxic to the body. During the immune system’s attack on gluten, the mucosa of the small intestine becomes inflamed. This leads to the tiny finger-like villi of the small intestines to become increasingly damaged by the consumption of gluten. .

Why diagnosis of CD is critical
It is often believed that the sole complaint of CD is pain and discomfort in the gastrointestinal tract, such as bloating and diarrhea. But this is far from reality. Celiac Disease has over 300 symptoms,  making diagnosis elusive. It is believed that CD is undiagnosed in 83% of celiacs.  There are a number of reasons why diagnosis is important to an individual's health, even if on a gluten free diet.

First, the consequence are often more severe than pain and discomfort of the intestines. Individuals with CD are more likely to experience fatigue, depression, joint pain, nutrient deficiency, osteoporosis, cancer and infertility (NFCA). The correlation to these health conditions is a significant reason why diagnosis of CD is so important.

Diagnosis of CD is also important because it is not uncommon for celiacs to suffer from multiple symptoms even if on strict gluten-free diet. Gastrointestinal disorders, neurological symptoms, and nutrient deficiencies can be ongoing post-diagnosis and need to be monitored and looked after.

Finally, diagnosis of CD is essential because cross contamination will easily occur without due vigilance. Even a few bread crumbs can cause damage to the small intestines and wreak havoc on the body from some individuals with CD. If one is undiagnosed, the celiac will not know how careful they must be to avoid gluten, which is often found in uncommon products such as soy sauce and medication.

The Gluten Challenge

It is recommended to be tested for CD before going gluten-free.  CD diagnosis is only possible if an individual is consuming gluten. It is not uncommon for individuals with suspected celiacs to be a gluten free diet. This is problematic however, because their body will not be producing the antibodies used to screen for CD in a blood serum test, resulting in a false negative. Therefore, before an individual on a gluten-free diet can be diagnosed for CD, they must undergo a Gluten Challenge.

The optimum duration and dosage of a Gluten Challenge has not been agreed upon and more research is needed. For example, the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, recommends eating a half a slice of bread or a cracker for 12 weeks before a blood test.  This is in contrast to a  literature review published by was the NCIB.; which states, “A 3-month high-dose gluten challenge should be suitable to diagnose the majority of CD patients. In some cases prolonged challenge may be needed to verify diagnosis. Combination testing for antibodies and mucosal histology may fasten the diagnosis.” According to studies cited within the NCIB article, no more than 50% of diagnosed celiac patients created antibodies within 6 weeks to 3 months of a gluten challenge. Authors in another study published in the same NCIB article found that there was a direct increase in the amount of antibodies created and the amount of gluten consumed, indicating that a cracker or a half slice of bread is insufficient. As a result, family doctors and practitioners  will recommend two slices of gluten laden bread, while others may suggest consuming as much gluten as six slices of bread.

The Celiac Disease Foundation's medical experts recommend a different approach altogether. According to their website, patients should complete a gluten challenge, by the “daily consumption of gluten equivalent to at least four slices of bread for one to three months followed by an endoscopic biopsy” and no blood tests done. This is because damage to the villi of the small intestines occurs more rapidly than the creation of antibodies measured in a blood test.

Due to the confusion surrounding the Gluten Challenge, and the likely pain and discomfort it will cause the patient, it is recommended to be tested for CD before going on a gluten-free diet.

Blood Serum Test  and an Endoscopic Biopsy is Required

When a Gluten Challenge has been completed, or if the individual was not previously gluten free, they will most likely receive a  tTG-IgA Test. This is the most sensitive and accurate blood test for diagnosing CD. The tTG-IgA blood test measures the amount of Tissue Transglutaminase Antibodies found in the blood. These antibodies are not found in individuals with normal immune function and are almost exclusively found in individuals with CD.  According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, “There is a risk of a false positive especially for people with associated autoimmune disorders like Type 1 diabetes, chronic liver disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, psoriatic or rheumatoid arthritis and heart failure, who do not have celiac disease.”

If the test results suggest CD, the common procedure is to have an endoscopic biopsy of the small intestine. The biopsy is used to confirm that there is damage to the small intestine in a manner that is consistent with celiac disease, and the blood test was not a false positive. A diagnosis may be confirmed with the patient sees improvement when on a gluten free diet, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation.

Once on a gluten free diet, individuals with celiacs will feel better within weeks or months. For many healing to the gut will start to occur within six months, but for some it will take two years or longer for health to the gut to be restored.

Kay’s Naturals knows how sensitive individuals with celiac disease are to gluten. Our entire product line is made in a completely gluten free facility to cross contamination is impossible. To learn more about Kay’s Naturals snack and cereals, check out our website.

Any personal views expressed on this blog are the writers’ own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Kay’s Naturals, Inc. It is recommended that you seek independent medical advice before making any decisions that can impact your health.

Friday, January 15, 2016

What is Dermatitis Herpetiformis

What is Dermatitis Herpetiformis?

Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH), also called Duhring’s disease, is most likely an autoimmune reaction to gluten. Individuals with DH have celiac disease, and their immune reaction to gluten manifests as a painful rash on the skin.

DH is more common in men than women (3:2) and individuals from northern Europe, according to American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. DH is a rare and extremely itchy. The rash is most commonly found on the back, elbows, knees, head, and buttocks.

Symptoms and Signs of DH:

  • Burning sensation
  • Stinging
  • Intense itching
  • The formation of small red clusters of boils/bumps

The rash consists of small red boils, bumps or lesions. Before the bumps or boils form, there is a burning sensation. The bumps can scab over and heal after a few weeks and new spots will likely reappear. The burning and itching can feel intense and intolerable at times.

Causes of DH

It is theorized that certain genes make people susceptible to developing the disease. According to National Organization of Rare Disorders,  “approximately ninety percent of people with this disease are positive for HLA-B8 gene, a marker that may indicate a predisposition to this disease.”

DH is a lifelong condition that is caused by an intolerance to gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. DH is not a typical allergy, like hay fever or hives. DH is caused when consumed gluten causes the immune system to produce immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies in the lining of the intestines. IgA is produced to attack gluten, because the immune system has misidentified gluten to be a dangerous or toxic substance. The IgA antibodies attach to gluten, and together they enter the body through the intestinal lining and circulate the blood stream. Eventually, tehy clog up in the small blood vessels of the skin, causing another immune reaction. White blood cells come to the scene to help fight the gluten and release complements. Complements are a powerful chemical that causes the rash ofDH to form on the skin.  Iodine is required for a reaction to occur, therefore, those with DH should not come in contact iodine or consume iodized salt.

DH is commonly referred to as a manifestation of celiac disease. About 15-25% of individuals with celiac disease have DH. Individuals with DH rarely have the classical gastrointestinal symptoms usually experienced with celiac disease, according to an article published on the website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service. In short, individuals with DH have celiac disease, but most with celiac disease do not have DH. An autoimmunity ot gluten is the cause, but the symptoms are different.

Diagnosis and Treatment

DH is diagnosed via direct immunofluorescence testing of skin tissue directly adjacent to a lesion or boil. A positive test will show the presence of the IgA antibody, which is not normally present on skin tissue.  

For most, a strict gluten-free diet will partially or completely eliminate the rash. Often improvement from a gluten free diet can take weeks or months. Even tiny amounts of gluten can cause a reaction. Sometimes, the rash will come and go without explanation.

Dapsone is an antibiotic drug that is highly effective and can improve symptoms within 2-3 days. Unfortunately, it can have uncomfortable side effects. Therefore, the initial dosage is small and is gradually increased to ensure it is well tolerated by the body. Dapsone dosages will increase until the symptoms of DH are eliminated. Sulfapyridine and tetracycline are alternative drugs that are less effective, but can be used if an individual is intolerant of Dapsone.

Kay’s Naturals goal is to make low-sugar, gluten-free snacking convenient, affordable and accessible. We create healthy, low-sugar, and gluten-free snacks and cereals. To learn more about Kay’s, please visit our website!

Any personal views expressed on this blog are the writers’ own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Kay’s Naturals, Inc. It is recommended that you seek independent medical advice before making any decisions that can impact your health.


Friday, January 8, 2016

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes “pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of function in your joints. It can affect any joint but is common in the wrist and fingers,” according to U.S National Library of Medicine. Unlike osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis that develops as we age, RA is an autoimmune disease.  Like most autoimmune diseases, RA is more common in women than men. The disease usually develops in middle age and is more common in older people.

What is an autoimmune disease?
According to Medline Plus, an “autoimmune disorder occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys healthy body tissue by mistake.” The prevalence of autoimmune diseases is increasing and there are over 80 kinds of autoimmune disorders.

The bodies immune system is designed to protect the body from foreign and harmful substances. Dangerous substances that enter the body are called antigens. Antigens range from fungi, parasites, bacteria, cancer cells, virus, and toxins. To prevent these substances from spreading and damaging the body, the immune system launches an attack through the white blood cells to destroy antigens that have entered the body.

The immune systems creates antibodies to identify and locate antigens. Occasionally, the antibodies begin to misidentify antigens. Instead of identifying harmful foreign substances, they begin to target the body’s own cells. If a person’s antibodies mistake the body's cells for antigens, it will launch an attack on the body itself. This can result in body tissue being destroyed, abnormal growth of an organ, and changes in an organ’s function. The misidentification of antigens is an autoimmune disease.

The catalyst that triggers antibodies to attack the body is unknown. Certain genes make the body more prone to autoimmune disease, but do not cause the development of an autoimmune disease. Some theorize that bacteria, viruses, or drugs may confuse the immune system and trigger the disease. It is generally believed that genes, hormones, and the environment all play a factor in the development of an autoimmune disease.

RA Symptoms and Treatment
Symptoms of RA are variable. The feet, hands and wrists are usually the first joints affected. Symptoms can include one or more of the following:
  • Swollen and tender or painful  joints
  • Stiffness of difficulty moving joints (particularly in the morning)
  • Fever
  • Red and swollen hands
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Rheumatoid nodules (hard bumps near joints, under the skin).
RA can affect all joints and develop in other body parts., such as the lungs, mouth and eyes. The disease can be short lived or last a lifetime, and symptoms can come and go.

Treatment includes lifestyle changes, medicine and surgery. Treatment is designed to halt or slow joint damage and reduce swelling and pain caused by RA. A good resource to learn more about the treatment of RA is this article, by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

For some individuals, diet can help reduce symptoms and pain. Some studies show that there is a connection between gluten and arthritis. The article published by the Arthritis Foundation states, “According to Dr. Rosian, inflammation outside the gut is especially likely to affect the joints. She adds that many of her RA patients who are sensitive to gluten notice less joint pain when they don't eat it.”

Kay’s Naturals provides a healthy, low-sugar, and gluten free snacks and cereals. To learn more about Kay’s, visit our website. Any personal views expressed on this blog are the writers’ own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Kay’s Naturals, Inc. It is recommended that you seek independent medical advice before making any decisions that can impact your health.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Giardia as a potential explanation for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

New research: Giardia can cause chronic gastrointestinal disorders and IBS

As research into Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and parasitic infections have become more comprehensive, our understanding of the gut is changing in profound ways. For example, we were previously unaware of the potential chronic gastrointestinal complications that can develop from a giardia infection. A recent study documented the persistent health effects that can result post-infection. Even after the removal protozoan Giardia (also known as Giardia duodenalis, Giardia lamblia or Giardia intestinalis) from the body, the majority of patients had long-term gastrointestinal disorders. This article will briefly discuss the possible outcome of ongoing IBS symptoms after a Giardia infection.

What Is Giardia?

Giardia is spread when hands or water become contaminated with the feces of infected animals or persons. This happens most frequently from poor sanitary conditions or untreated water.

Symptoms of a giardia infection include:

  • gas and bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • fatigue
  • weight loss
  • lactose intolerance while infected

Giardia is diagnosed by examining the feces under a microscope or through a PCR test in a pathology lab. Giardia can be spread from a person as long as the organism is present, even if they do not have symptoms. Antibiotic treatment generally stops the symptoms and makes a person non-infectious within a few days.

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is diagnosed in patients who have long term disorder of the gastrointestinal tract. It is a collection of symptoms such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and pain in the abdomen. It may or may not be in relation to food digested, and can occur in bouts. IBS is a common disorder that affects 1 in 10 Americans, according to the Internal Foundation of Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. Though painful and uncomfortable, IBS does not damage digestive tissue or increase your likelihood to develop colon cancer, unlike Irritable Bowel Disease.  If you believe you have IBS the possibility of Celiac Disease should be ruled out. It  is not uncommon of those with celiac disease to be wrongly diagnosed with IBS.

Long-term health effects post-infection
A recent study, “Development of functional gastrointestinal disorders after Giardia lamblia infection,” sheds emergent knowledge on the correlation between IBS and Giardia. The article was published in 2009 by the journal BMC Gastroenterology. It has been known that functional gastrointestinal disorders can develop after acute gastroenteritis (inflammation of the GI tract as a consequence of a virus or a bacterial infection in the intestine or stomach). Researchers are beginning to find that on-going abdominal symptoms can also be a reaction of a Giardia infection.
The study interviewed and questioned 82 patients with “persisting abdominal symptoms elicited by the Giardia infection. All had been evaluated to exclude other causes.” All had been declared Giardia free for at least six months prior to the study.
They found that 80.5% of patients had symptoms, “consistent with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and 17 (24.3%) patients had functional dyspepsia (FD) according to Rome II criteria. […] Bloating, diarrhoea and abdominal pain were reported to be most severe. Symptoms exacerbation related to specific foods were reported by 45 (57.7%) patients and to physical or mental stress by 34 (44.7%) patients.” The researchers concluded that an acute Giardia infection may cause functional gastrointestinal diseases, with similar food and stress related symptoms of functional gastrointestinal diseases. The cause of chronic symptoms similar to IBS and gastrointestinal diseases after a giardia infection is unknown. Severity and duration of the infection appear to have an impact if a chronic GI disorder develops.

Additional research is needed to understand the long-term impact of a giardia infection and the causes of IBS and gastrointestinal diseases. This research is a mighty step in the right direction to help researchers and the public develop a greater understanding of the complexity of the human gastrointestinal biome of the GI tract. It can also potentially help millions who suffer from IBS and gastrointestinal disorders.

Kay’s Naturals hopes to help to improve health and wellness by making accessible scholarly research. We also provide healthy, low-sugar, gluten-free, high-protein snacks and cereals! Learn more about Kay’s Naturals here.