The science is in: Unless You Have Celiac Disease, Gluten Sensitivity is Probably Just in Your Head.

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The science is in: Unless You Have Celiac Disease, Gluten Sensitivity is Probably Just in Your Head.

By now, you’ve probably heard of gluten-free diets. They’re a necessity for the estimated 2 million Americans with celiac disease. For them, eating gluten can trigger an immune response in their small intestines, damaging the organ’s villi that help absorb nutrients. Excluding the protein from their diets saves celiac disease sufferers from intense bouts of intestinal discomfort and other symptoms.

But for many other Americans, eliminating gluten probably does little to ease their symptoms.

bread

Bread made from wheat contains the protein gluten.

That finding comes from a new study led by Peter Gibson, a professor of gastroenterology at Monash University in Australia. Gibson is the same researcher who published a paper in 2011 that reported gluten sensitivity in non-celiac patients. The results of that paper didn’t sit well with him, so he designed a more rigorous study involving 37 patients who didn’t have celiac disease but reported feeling better when on a gluten-free diet.

Ross Pomeroy, writing at Real Clear Science:

Subjects would be provided with every single meal for the duration of the trial. Any and all potential dietary triggers for gastrointestinal symptoms would be removed, including lactose (from milk products), certain preservatives like benzoates, propionate, sulfites, and nitrites, and fermentable, poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates, also known as FODMAPs. And last, but not least, nine days worth of urine and fecal matter would be collected. […]

They were first fed a diet low in FODMAPs for two weeks (baseline), then were given one of three diets for a week with either 16 grams per day of added gluten (high-gluten), 2 grams of gluten and 14 grams of whey protein isolate (low-gluten), or 16 grams of whey protein isolate (placebo). Each subject shuffled through every single diet so that they could serve as their own controls, and none ever knew what specific diet he or she was eating. After the main experiment, a second was conducted to ensure that the whey protein placebo was suitable. In this one, 22 of the original subjects shuffled through three different diets — 16 grams of added gluten, 16 grams of added whey protein isolate, or the baseline diet — for three days each.

After the subjects moved off the baseline diet and onto one of the treatment diets, they reported more intestinal pain, bloating, gas, and nausea, regardless of whether the treatment diet was high-gluten, low-gluten, or placebo.

The placebo results were what really stood out to Gibson—patients who received the same diet in the baseline and treatment phases still reported a worsening of symptoms. Gibson says this is a nocebo effect—in other words, it was all in their heads.

So what’s causing these symptoms? Gibson and his co-authors Jessica Biesiekierski and Jane Muir think FODMAPs are a leading candidate. Gluten-free diets seem to help people who report gluten sensitivity because those foods often happen to be free of FODMAPs, the researchers report. Though FODMAP may be an ominous sounding acronym, compounds in the group are found in many everyday foods, nearly all of which are unprocessed and include apples, asparagus, artichokes, milk, pistachios, pears, and lentils.

Source: http://to.pbs.org/1Q7sJMT

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Nigeria (with 70% living in poverty) Unveils Largest Jesus Statue in Africa.

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Nigeria (with 70% living in poverty) Unveils Largest Jesus Statue in Africa. 

The largest statue of Jesus in Africa was unveiled on Friday in the country of Nigeria, with hundreds of spectators present.

According to Christian Today, the statue is nearly 30 feet tall and weighs 40 tons. It has been named “Jesus de Greatest.”

It was commissioned by a local businessman named Obinna Onunoha who had previously funded the building of St. Aloysius Catholic Church in Abajah, Nigeria. The statue was erected on the grounds of St. Aloysius.

When asked why he commissioned the statue Onunoha stated, “Asking why I constructed this statue is like asking how do I came to this world, I am a Christian and a Catholic and Jesus statue represents my faith. I believe we are here on earth for different purposes and each person moves with his/her instincts, and I was motivated to do this to build up the faith of this community.”

The population of Nigeria is almost evenly split between Christians and Muslims. The terrorist attacks of Muslim extremist group Boko Haram have caused unrest, especially in the northern region of the country.

Onunoha believes that the Jesus statue will bring tourists to the church to see the statue.

Bishop Augustine Tochukwu Okwuoma of St. Aloysius said the statue will be a “great symbol of Christian faith.”

Source: http://bit.ly/1ZqqHiu

One Year Later – Honoring Charlie Hebdo, and all who challenge society with a pen.

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On the anniversary of the attack on Charlie Hebdo we must defend the right to blaspheme.

The names of the victims of the attack on Charlie Hebdo’s office which occurred a year ago today, are at the beginning of a long and bloody list of people who faced violence in 2015 for supposedly blasphemous speech.

Similarly-motivated attacks were not uncommon.

Four secular bloggers were slaughtered with machetes in Bangladesh because of their writing; a woman wrongly accused of blasphemy was beaten to death, run over with a car, and set on fire by a crowd in Afghanistan; gunmen targeted events critical of Islam in Denmark and Texas.

Even more alarming is the prevalence of violence against blasphemers perpetrated not by vigilantes, but by governments. A 2012 study found that almost a quarter of the world’s countries maintain blasphemy laws. These laws—often deployed to silence critics of government as well as religion—are dangerous even when they’re not enforced. Their very existence inspires self-censorship from people who rightly fear violent consequences for expressing themselves freely. Unfortunately, such laws have been used to do much more than simply chill speech.

Only days after the attack on Charlie Hebdo, Saudi Arabia—a leading country on a United Nations human rights panel—began the flogging punishments of blogger Raif Badawi for “insulting Islam.” The lashings have been halted, but could begin again at any time, and Badawi remains in prison. Saudi Arabia also sentenced another man to death for ripping up a Koran and hitting it with a shoe, and arrested an Indian man for ‘liking’ a post with “blasphemous content” on social media.

In Pakistan, two men were given the death sentence for blasphemy, and more were arrested for the same crime.

Nigeria sentenced Muslim cleric Aminu Abdul Nyass and eight of his devotees to death for—you guessed it—blasphemy.

Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait considered or passed laws strengthening their ability to punish speech that insults the sensitivities of gods and their adherents.

Poland, upheld its blasphemy law in October, reaffirming that it would punish “whoever offends religious feelings of other people by publicly insulting an object of religious cult.”

Last January, the world witnessed numerous declarations of unwavering support for the principles of freedom of speech. But as we look back at how religious dissent was suppressed in the past year, those words ring empty. Dissidents around the world are still being violently silenced simply because their mere words about the divine depart from the views of the majority. That’s not a state of affairs we should find tolerable. The right to voice opposition to other people’s gods is as important as their right to express belief in them.

The best way to honor the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack is to renew our condemnations of threats to freedom of expression, whether those threats strike close to home or far away, and to call on leaders to stand firm against violent censorship, whatever its form.

Source: http://ind.pn/1kPRXEf

Freedom of speech fails in India after 800+ social media pages are blocked to protect “religious sensibility”

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Freedom of speech fails in India after 800+ social media pages are blocked to protect “religious sensibility” in 2015. 

The number of social media pages blocked by the government for carrying objectionable content rose to 844 till November 2015, the Parliament has been informed.

Out of the total, the government blocked 492 web pages under Section 69A of Information Technology Act, 2000 based on recommendation of a committee set up in this regard, compared to 10 blocked in 2014, telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.

Under Section 69A of IT Act, the government has power to block any information in any computer resource in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, national security, friendly relations with foreign states or for maintaining law and order.

“A total of 136, 13 and 10 and 492 URLs of social media websites were blocked in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, till November 30, 2015, respectively under Section 69A through the Committee constituted under the rules therein,” Prasad said.

The social media links that were blocked on court orders stood at 352.

“Further, a total of 533, 432 and 352 URLs of social media websites were blocked in compliance with the directions of the competent courts of India in 2013, 2014 and 2015, till November 30, 2015,” Prasad said.

The minister said that the government does not separately maintain data on web pages blocked for anti-religious content.

He said that in 2014, a total of 4,192 cases were reported under Section 66A of IT Act which had provision of jail term for sending offensive messages online, but the section is no longer valid since Supreme Court annulled it in March 2015.

As per data of 2014 shared by Prasad, 2,423 persons were arrested, out of which 1,125 were charge-sheeted and 42 were convicted under Section 66A of IT Act.

Source: http://bit.ly/1Z4NQH6

Homeopathy could be banned from UK’s Public Health System.

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Homeopathy could be banned from UK’s Public Health System.

Doctors could be banned from prescribing homeopathy on the NHS under a consultation set to be launched by the Government.

Ministers say they will consult next year on whether the controversial practice should remain as an option for GPs.

Homeopathy is a “treatment” based on the use of highly diluted substances, which practitioners claim can cause the body to heal itself.

The bulk of scientific opinion however considers homeopathy to be a pseudoscience with no grounding in fact.

“With rising health demands, we have a duty to make sure we spend NHS funds on the most effective treatments,” George Freeman, the Minister for Life Sciences, told the BBC.

“We are currently considering whether or not homeopathic products should continue to be available through NHS prescriptions. We expect to consult on proposals in due course.”

The ban would see the practice added to “Schedule 1”, a blacklist of drugs GPs are not allowed to prescribe.

Homeopathy is not currently available on the NHS in all areas of the country, but there are several NHS homeopathic hospitals. Some GP practices also offer homeopathic treatment.

A 2010 House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report on homeopathy said that homeopathic remedies perform no better than placebos, and that the principles on which homeopathy is based are “scientifically implausible”.

This is also the view of the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies.

The NHS website says: “There is no good-quality evidence that homeopathy is effective as a treatment for any health condition.”

Homeopathy is usually practised privately and homeopathic remedies are available from pharmacies. The price for an initial consultation with a homeopath can vary from around £20 to £80. Homeopathic tablets or other products usually cost around £4 to £10.

The total NHS spend on the practice, including GPs and homeopathic hospitals, is relatively small: around £4m.

There is no legal regulation of homeopathic practitioners in the UK. This means that anyone can practise as a homeopath, even if they have no qualifications or experience.

Source: http://ind.pn/1PDoGJF

Exposing the hypocrisy of “moral superiority” and rampant child abuse in many Muslim countries.

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Exposing the hypocrisy of “moral superiority” and rampant child abuse in many Muslim countries.

Some Muslims are fond of condemning western morality – alcoholism, nudity, premarital sex and homosexuality often being cited as examples. But Muslims do not have a monopoly on morality. In the west, child marriages and sex with children are illegal. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for many Muslim countries.

The love of young boys is not a phenomenon restricted to Afghanistan; homosexual pederasty is common in neighbouring Pakistan, too. In my view, repression of sexuality and extreme gender apartheid is to blame.

And in the Middle East, it’s young girls who are considered desirable and men are able to satisfy their lusts legally through child marriages. In Yemen, more than a quarter of girls are married before the age of 15. Cases of girls dying during childbirth are not unusual, and recently, one 12-year-old child bride even died from internal bleeding following sexual intercourse. In another case, a 12-year-old girl was married to an 80-year-old man in Saudi Arabia.

So why is the practice of child marriage sanctioned in Muslim countries? Unfortunately, ultra-conservative religious authorities justify this old tribal custom by citing the prophet Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha. They allege Aisha was nine years old when the prophet married her. But they focus conveniently on selected Islamic texts to support their opinions, while ignoring vast number of other texts and historical information, which suggests Aisha was much older,putting her age of marriage at 19. Child marriage is against Islam as the Qur’an is clear that intellectual maturity is the basis for deciding age of marriage, and not puberty, as suggested by these clerics.

Whatever one’s view on the prophet’s marriage, no faith can claim moral superiority since child marriages have been practised in various cultures and societies across the world at one time or another. In modern times, though, marrying children is no longer acceptable and no excuse should be used to justify this.

I find the false adherence to Islamic principles and the “holier than thou” attitude of some Muslim societies similar to the blatant hypocrisy and double standards of 19th-century Victorian Britain, where the outward appearance of dignity and prudishness camouflaged an extreme prevalence of sexual and moral depravity behind closed doors. In those days, too, there were many men willing to pay to have sex with children – until a plethora of social movements arose that resulted in changes in laws and attitudes in society.

A similar shift in social attitudes is also required in traditional Muslim societies. Having boy sex slaves or child brides should not be seen as badges of honour. Instead, Muslims need to do more to attach shame to such practices; otherwise, acceptance of this behaviour will make them complicit in the sexual exploitation of children. I fail to understand why Muslims are so vocal on abuses by the west in Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo, Iraq and Afghanistan, but display moral blindness when it comes to children? It’s about time this silence was broken, so these violations of innocence can be stopped.

A too-passive attitude in dealing with child abuse has rubbed off on Muslim communities in Britain, too. I have heard many stories at first hand of child sexual abuse and rape, which show that the issue is not being addressed at all. Those who have had the courage to speak out have been met with reactions of denial and shame. Such attitudes mean that children will continue to suffer in silence. Sexual abuse of children happens in all communities, as has been revealed by the recent Catholic church scandal. At least, they have finally started to take action. Muslim communities should learn from this and also start being more open, instead of continuing to sweeping the issue under the carpet.

I am finding that more and more Muslims feel it is their duty to criticise others for actions they consider sinful – quoting the following popular saying of Muhammad to justify their interference:

“If you see something wrong, you should correct it with your hand and if you are unable to, then speak out against it and if you cannot do that, then feel that it is wrong in your heart.”

I wonder how, then, Muslims can remain silent when it comes to the sexual abuse of children?

 

Source: http://bit.ly/1YWgRPK

Everything Doesn’t Happen For A Reason.

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Everything Doesn’t Happen For A Reason.
Written by Tim Lawrence

I emerge from this conversation dumbfounded. I’ve seen this a million times before, but it still gets me every time.  I’m listening to a man tell a story. A woman he knows was in a devastating car accident; her life shattered in an instant. She now lives in a state of near-permanent pain; a paraplegic; many of her hopes stolen.

He tells of how she had been a mess before the accident, but that the tragedy had engendered positive changes in her life. That she was, as a result of this devastation, living a wonderful life.

And then he utters the words. The words that are responsible for nothing less than emotional, spiritual and psychological violence:

Everything happens for a reason. That this was something that had to happen in order for her to grow.

That’s the kind of bullshit that destroys lives. And it is categorically untrue.

It is amazing to me that so many of these myths persist—and that is why I share actionable tools and strategies to work with your pain in my free newsletter. These myths are nothing more than platitudes cloaked as sophistication, and they preclude us from doing the one and only thing we must do when our lives are turned upside down: grieve.

You know exactly what I’m talking about. You’ve heard these countless times. You’ve probably even uttered them a few times yourself. And every single one of them needs to be annihilated.

Let me be crystal clear: if you’ve faced a tragedy and someone tells you in any way, shape or form that your tragedy was meant to be, that it happened for a reason, that it will make you a better person, or that taking responsibility for it will fix it, you have every right to remove them from your life.

Grief is brutally painful. Grief does not only occur when someone dies. When relationships fall apart, you grieve. When opportunities are shattered, you grieve. When dreams die, you grieve. When illnesses wreck you, you grieve.

So I’m going to repeat a few words I’ve uttered countless times; words so powerful and honest they tear at the hubris of every jackass who participates in the debasing of the grieving:

Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried. 

These words come from my dear friend Megan Devine, one of the only writers in the field of loss and trauma I endorse. These words are so poignant because they aim right at the pathetic platitudes our culture has come to embody on a increasingly hopeless level. Losing a child cannot be fixed. Being diagnosed with a debilitating illness cannot be fixed. Facing the betrayal of your closest confidante cannot be fixed.

They can only be carried.

I hate to break it to you, but although devastation can lead to growth, it often doesn’t. The reality is that it often destroys lives. And the real calamity is that this happens precisely because we’ve replaced grieving with advice. With platitudes. With our absence.

I now live an extraordinary life. I’ve been deeply blessed by the opportunities I’ve had and the radically unconventional life I’ve built for myself. Yet even with that said, I’m hardly being facetious when I say that loss has not in and of itself made me a better person. In fact, in many ways it’s hardened me.

While so much loss has made me acutely aware and empathetic of the pains of others, it has made me more insular and predisposed to hide. I have a more cynical view of human nature, and a greater impatience with those who are unfamiliar with what loss does to people.

Above all, I’ve been left with a pervasive survivor’s guilt that has haunted me all my life. This guilt is really the genesis of my hiding, self-sabotage and brokenness.

In short, my pain has never been eradicated, I’ve just learned to channel it into my work with others. I consider it a great privilege to work with others in pain, but to say that my losses somehow had to happen in order for my gifts to grow would be to trample on the memories of all those I lost too young; all those who suffered needlessly, and all those who faced the same trials I did early in life, but who did not make it.

I’m simply not going to do that. I’m not going to construct some delusional narrative fallacy for myself so that I can feel better about being alive. I’m not going to assume that God ordained me for life instead of all the others so that I could do what I do now. And I’m certainly not going to pretend that I’ve made it through simply because I was strong enough; that I became “successful” because I “took responsibility.”

There’s a lot of “take responsibility” platitudes in the personal development space, and they are largely nonsense. People tell others to take responsibility when they don’t want to understand.

Because understanding is harder than posturing. Telling someone to “take responsibility” for their loss is a form of benevolent masturbation. It’s the inverse of inspirational porn: it’s sanctimonious porn.

Personal responsibility implies that there’s something to take responsibility for. You don’t take responsibility for being raped or losing your child. You take responsibility for how you choose to live in the wake of the horrors that confront you, but you don’t choose whether you grieve. We’re not that smart or powerful. When hell visits us, we don’t get to escape grieving.

This is why all the platitudes and fixes and posturing are so dangerous: in unleashing them upon those we claim to love, we deny them the right to grieve.

In so doing, we deny them the right to be human. We steal a bit of their freedom precisely when they’re standing at the intersection of their greatest fragility and despair.

No one—and I mean no one—has that authority. Though we claim it all the time.

The irony is that the only thing that even can be “responsible” amidst loss is grieving.

So if anyone tells you some form of get over it, move on, or rise above, you can let them go.

If anyone avoids you amidst loss, or pretends like it didn’t happen, or disappears from your life, you can let them go.

If anyone tells you that all is not lost, that it happened for a reason, that you’ll become better as a result of your grief, you can let them go.

Let me reiterate: all of those platitudes are bullshit.

You are not responsible to those who try to shove them down your throat. You can let them go.

I’m not saying you should. That is up to you, and only up to you. It isn’t an easy decision to make and should be made carefully. But I want you to understand that you can.

I’ve grieved many times in my life. I’ve been overwhelmed with shame and self-hatred so strong it’s nearly killed me.

The ones who helped—the only ones who helped—were those who were there. And said nothing.

In that nothingness, they did everything.

I am here—I have lived—because they chose to love me. They loved me in their silence, in their willingness to suffer with me, alongside me, and through me. They loved me in their desire to be as uncomfortable, as destroyed, as I was, if only for a week, an hour, even just a few minutes.

Most people have no idea how utterly powerful this is.

Are there ways to find “healing” amidst devastation? Yes. Can one be “transformed” by the hell life thrusts upon them? Absolutely. But it does not happen if one is not permitted to grieve. Because grief itself is not an obstacle.

The obstacles come later. The choices as to how to live; how to carry what we have lost; how to weave a new mosaic for ourselves? Those come in the wake of grief. It cannot be any other way.

Grief is woven into the fabric of the human experience. If it is not permitted to occur, its absence pillages everything that remains: the fragile, vulnerable shell you might become in the face of catastrophe.

Yet our culture has treated grief as a problem to be solved, an illness to be healed, or both. In the process, we’ve done everything we can to avoid, ignore, or transform grief. As a result, when you’re faced with tragedy you usually find that you’re no longer surrounded by people, you’re surrounded by platitudes.

What to Offer Instead

When a person is devastated by grief, the last thing they need is advice. Their world has been shattered. This means that the act of inviting someone—anyone—into their world is an act of great risk. To try and fix or rationalize or wash away their pain only deepens their terror.

Instead, the most powerful thing you can do is acknowledge. Literally say the words:

I acknowledge your pain. I am here with you.

Note that I said with you, not for you. For implies that you’re going to do something. That is not for you to enact. But to stand with your loved one, to suffer with them, to listen to them, to do everything but something is incredibly powerful.

There is no greater act than acknowledgment. And acknowledgment requires no training, no special skills, no expertise. It only requires the willingness to be present with a wounded soul, and to stay present, as long as is necessary.

Be there. Only be there. Do not leave when you feel uncomfortable or when you feel like you’re not doing anything. In fact, it is when you feel uncomfortable and like you’re not doing anything that you must stay.

Because it is in those places—in the shadows of horror we rarely allow ourselves to enter—where the beginnings of healing are found. This healing is found when we have others who are willing to enter that space alongside us. Every grieving person on earth needs these people.

Thus I beg you, I plead with you, to be one of these people.

You are more needed than you will ever know.

And when you find yourself in need of those people, find them. I guarantee they are there.

Everyone else can go.

Source: http://bit.ly/1mRy5lC