Gluten is a particular kind of protein that is not found in eggs or meat but is in barley, rye, wheat and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). Going gluten-free means avoiding these grains. A gluten-free diet is essential for those who have celiac disease, a condition that causes inflammation in the small intestines, or gluten allergies.  Symptoms of celiac disease include anemia, constipation or diarrhea, bloating, gas, headaches, skin rashes, joint pain and fatigue.



Have you noticed? Look around and you’ll see a majority of Americans who are either overweight or obese. Look in supermarkets and you’ll see a plethora of food products, many of them processed or high-fat and/or sweet laden.  Consuming such a diet often leads to poor health and weight gain. It is not surprising that the leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease. A number of diseases, including pre-diabetes, diabetes, stroke and depression, are linked to how we eat .....



Just what is in the food we eat? Considering the food chain, did you know adding antibiotics to food dates back to the 1940s? Antibiotic use has led to a dramatic reduction in illness and death from infectious diseases, yet there is a downside to this practice. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others encourage health care professionals and patients to use antibiotics more wisely and seek education and understanding about both the risks and benefits of using them.


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Parents should be alert to changes in academic or social functionings of their children and other manifestations of depression, such as social withdrawal, long periods of sadness, frequent crying spells, angry outbursts and irritability, suicidal ideations or gestures and significant changes in appetite, weight and energy levels.

It is important to remember children model their parents’ behaviors, including those related to managing stress. Parents who deal with stress in unhealthy ways risk passing those behaviors on to their children. Alternatively, parents who cope with stress in healthy ways not only promote better adjustment and happiness for themselves, but also the formation of critically important habits and skills in their children. Parents know changing a child’s behavior, let alone their own, can be challenging. By taking small, manageable steps in the direction of a healthier lifestyle, families can work together toward meeting their goals of being psychologically and physically fit. Children are more likely to lead a healthy lifestyle and less likely to associate stress with unhealthy behaviors if the whole family practices healthy living and good stress management techniques. Local and national organizations (Kentucky Psychological Association, 2017) provide on-line information and educational materials about depression and its signs and symptoms. They also offer tips to get you and your family started down a healthy path.

Communication lines between parents and children need to remain open. Low levels of parental com- munication have been associated with poor decision making among children and teens. If you notice your children are looking worried or stressed, ask them what’s on their minds. Having regular conversations can help your family work together to better under- stand and address any stressors the children are experiencing. Talking to your children and promoting open communication and problem solving is just as important as eating well and getting enough exercise and sleep.

Create a healthy, uncluttered home environment that can help alleviate stress. Look around your home and even your car and ask yourself, “Does this space feel clear and relaxing?” Cleaning your home space is something you and your children can do together, and it teaches the children to focus on the things they can control when feeling stressed. Changing behaviors usually takes time. Do you remember the advice about how to eat an elephant – one bite at a time? By changing one behavior at a time, family members are more likely to experience success in managing stress.

If you or a family member continue to struggle with changing unhealthy behaviors or feel overwhelmed by stress, consider seeking help from a licensed, trained mental health professional. He or she can guide you in developing strategies to manage stress effectively, make behavioral changes to improve the family health environment and promote good health and wellness behaviors.

Sources and Resources:

•  Kentucky Psychological Association (2017) APA Consumer Help Center.

•  Merikangas, K.R., Burstein, M., et al. (2016) National Trends in the Prevalence and Treatment of Depression in Adolescents and Young Adults.

As the nation continues to face high levels of stressful experiences, families are susceptible to mounting pressures from numerous sources. Raising a family can be rewarding and demanding even in healthy social and economic climates, so stressful times can make it much more challenging.

The American Psychological Association (2016) says 73 percent of parents report family responsibilities as a significant source of stress. More than two-thirds of parents believe their stress level has slight to no impact on their children’s stress level. However, only 14 percent of teens reported they are not bothered when their parents are stressed. Furthermore, the connection between high stress levels and health may well be a red flag, with 34 percent of obese parents experiencing high levels of stress as compared to 23 percent of normal-weight parents. It is important to consider the way a parent’s stress and corresponding unhealthy behaviors affect the family.

Dr. Kathleen Ries Merikangas, a senior investigator and chief of the Genetic Epidemiology Research Branch at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), published an important study in a recent issue of the journal Pediatrics (2016) that addresses the prevalence of depression in adolescents and young adults. Her findings clearly indicate that depression among teens has increased in recent years.


For youth ages 12 to 17 years, the prevalence of depression increased from 8.7 percent in 2005 to 11.3 percent in 2014. Among adults aged 18 to 25 years, the prevalence climbed from 8.8 percent to 9.6 percent during the study period.

In the Ries Merikangas study, researchers asked participants if they had experienced a variety of symptoms that can point to depression; whether they had experienced an episode of major depression in the past year; and if they had seen a mental health professional about these symptoms or received treatment such as counseling or prescription medication to deal with their symptoms.

Compared to teens who didn’t report a major depressive episode, those who did were more likely to be older, not in school, unemployed, in households with single parents or no parents and have substance abuse issues. Among young adults, those with depression were more likely to be female, minority and have a substance use or abuse issue. Ries Merikangas notes trends in prevalence translate into a growing number of young people with untreated depression. The findings call for renewed efforts to expand service capacity to best meet the mental health care needs of this age group.


Thomas W. Miller, Ph.D., ABPP, is a professor emeritus and senior research scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut; retired service chief from the VA Medical Center; and tenured professor in the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Kentucky.

more articles by Dr thomas w. miller