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Scientists Find Solid Evidence for Non-Celiac Wheat Sensitivity

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Tony Webster via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

In recent years the popularity of gluten-free diets has skyrocketed, even among people who don’t have celiac disease. Some people do it to lose weight* or because they’ve heard wheat is bad for you.** Then there are the people who say that even without celiac disease, eating wheat makes them sick. Those people have often been discounted. But now, Columbia University scientists say, they’ve been vindicated. The researchers found a weakened gut lining in people with non-celiac wheat sensitivity (NCWS). The results were published in the journal Gut.

"Our study shows that the symptoms reported by individuals with this condition are not imagined, as some people have suggested," co-author Peter H. Green, the director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center, said in a press statement.

For a supposedly imaginary condition, NCWS has some consistent symptoms: people who identify as gluten-intolerant typically report abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, depression, fatigue, inflammation, and cognitive issues shortly after eating wheat. And all of these symptoms, including depression and fatigue, have been linked to problems in the gut.

Researchers decided to take a very close look at the guts of people with NCWS. They recruited 80 people with the condition, 40 people with celiac disease, and 40 people with no wheat problems of any kind. Then they collected blood samples from everyone and tested them for various markers of immune activation.

They found that, despite the havoc celiac disease can wreak on the body, people with the condition showed no more immune response than the healthy controls. The NCWS group was not so lucky. Their blood showed significantly higher levels of systemic inflammation and reactivity, and markedly higher levels of a protein that signifies damage to the intestinal lining. Most compelling was the finding that people with NCWS who had cut wheat out of their diets showed far less inflammation than people who hadn’t.

The authors note that their study did not identify the trigger of inflammation in people with NCWS, only the inflammation itself. The culprit might not be gluten at all, but some other wheat compound.

Either way, the authors say, these results show that NCWS is a real medical issue that needs medical and scientific attention.

*This does not work.

**In moderation, it isn’t, unless you have celiac disease or non-celiac wheat sensitivity.

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Beyond the Label: How to Pick the Right Medicines For Your Cold and Flu Symptoms
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The average household spends an annual total of $338 on various over-the-counter medicines, with consumers making around 26 pharmacy runs each year, according to 2015 data from the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. To save cash and minimize effort (here's why you'd rather be sleeping), the Cleveland Clinic recommends avoiding certain cold and flu products, and selecting products containing specific active ingredients.

Since medicine labels can be confusing (lots of people likely can’t remember—let alone spell—words like cetirizine, benzocaine, or dextromethorphan), the famous hospital created an interactive infographic to help patients select the right product for them. Click on your symptom, and you’ll see ingredients that have been clinically proven to relieve runny or stuffy noses, fevers, aches, and coughs. Since every medicine is different, you’ll also receive safety tips regarding dosage levels, side effects, and the average duration of effectiveness.

Next time you get sick, keep an eye out for these suggested elements while comparing products at the pharmacy. In the meantime, a few pro tips: To avoid annoying side effects, steer clear of multi-symptom products if you think just one ingredient will do it for you. And while you’re at it, avoid nasal sprays with phenylephrine and cough syrups with guaifenesin, as experts say they may not actually work. Cold and flu season is always annoying—but it shouldn’t be expensive to boot.

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Why You Might Not Want to Order Tea or Coffee On Your Next Flight
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A cup of tea or coffee at 40,000 feet may sound like a great way to give yourself an extra energy boost during a tiring trip, but it might be healthier to nap away your fatigue—or at least wait until hitting ground to indulge in a caffeine fix. Because, in addition to being tepid and watery, plane brew could be teeming with germs and other harmful life forms, according to Business Insider.

Multiple studies and investigations have taken a closer look at airplane tap water, and the results aren’t pretty—or appetizing. In 2002, The Wall Street Journal conducted a study that looked at water samples taken from 14 different flights from 10 different airlines. Reporters discovered “a long list of microscopic life you don’t want to drink, from Salmonella and Staphylococcus to tiny insect eggs," they wrote.

And they added, "Worse, contamination was the rule, not the exception: Almost all of the bacteria levels were tens, sometimes hundreds, of times above U.S. government limits."

A 2004 study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that water supplies on 15 percent of 327 national and international commercial aircrafts were contaminated to varying degrees [PDF]. This all led up to the 2011 Aircraft Drinking Water Rule, an EPA initiative to make airlines clean up. But in 2013, an NBC investigation found that at least one out of every 10 commercial U.S. airplanes still had issues with water contamination.

Find out how airplane water gets so gross, and why turning water into coffee or tea isn’t enough to kill residual germs by watching Business Insider’s video below.

[h/t Business Insider]

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