Ask The Experts

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions


Question 1: I’ve had a lot of digestive and other health problems in the past year, but my doctors, including an allergist, haven’t diagnosed me with anything.  I’ve tried antacids and other drugstore remedies but nothing has helped.  I’ve read online about the benefits of a gluten-free diet but the information is confusing and I don’t want to give up foods containing gluten if I don’t have to.  Do you think a gluten free diet could help?
~ Steven V.

Answer 1: Hi Steven~

As you may know, gluten is the protein component of wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye, and oats (by contamination only). 

Most dread going gluten free, but changing one’s diet is not nearly as scary as the symptoms gluten can cause.  Those with gluten intolerance/sensitivity might suffer digestive discomfort, exhaustion/extreme sleepiness, brain fog, joint pain, severe muscle tension/spasms, allergy symptoms, and/or headaches.  (Some of these symptoms are also associated with Celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and dairy and yeast intolerances.)  Many people thus benefit from avoiding gluten even if they don’t have Celiac disease (an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine that can strike at any age and is believed to be inherited) or dermatitis herpetiformis ( an itchy, burning, stinging rash characterized by water blisters and red bumps).  Nutritionists generally recommend that those with certain other conditions (including IBS, ADD/ADHD, autism, multiple sclerosis, candidiasis, sinusitis, thyroid disease, autoimmune disorders, and obesity) also avoid gluten. 

The best way to determine whether gluten is causing any of your symptoms is to try a strict elimination diet.  Stop eating gluten completely (no cheating!) for 30 days and see how you feel.  Read the labels of everything you eat, keeping in mind that gluten can be hidden in all sorts of foods (in soy sauce, for example), and even a small amount can wreak havoc.  Keep a detailed daily diet log so you can track whether the diet is helping.  These nutritional supplements (most brands are gluten-free) can help address the inflammatory and allergic responses you may be experiencing:  aloe gel/juice; nettles; high-EPA omega-3 fatty acids; vitamin C; quercetin with bromelain; digestive enzymes; L-glutamine; and probiotics (with prebiotics, unless you have SIBO).

The great news is that gluten isn’t required in recipes for bread, crackers, pizza crust, cakes, pasta, or cookies, and the number of manufacturers seeking ways to produce great tasting gluten-free products keeps growing.  Their products might instead include tapioca, potatoes, rice, soy, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, or bean flour.  Delicious popular brands that we sell include Udi’s, Enjoy Life, Canyon Bakehouse, Suzie’s, Tinkyada, Jovial, and Explore Cuisine.  Gluten-free definitely does not mean calorie-free or low glycemic index, so be sure to check the calories and carbohydrates of all selected items.

Also, an increasing number of restaurants either have gluten-free menus or happily make gluten-free adjustments.   In the Hartford area, try Plan B and Bricco Trattoria (Glastonbury), Burton’s Grill (South Windsor), The Stone & Paddle and 21 Oak (Manchester), and P.F. Chang’s China Bistro and The Pond House (West Hartford).  Also take a look at the gluten free restaurant listings for any city you visit on tripadvisor.com  or yelp.com, or visit our store for more information and personalized guidance.


Erika Dworkin, Owner
Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition®


Question 2: I am in my 50s and have started having joint and back pains.  I haven’t had a chance to see a doctor yet, but could you suggest something that could help until I can get a diagnosis?  Thank you! 
~ Jessica R.

Answer 2: Hi Jessica~

As with any health condition, the best place to start is with your diet.  It would be ideal for you to begin eliminating pro-inflammatory foods and consuming mainly anti-inflammatory options.  A plant-based diet (not necessarily vegetarian or vegan) would be helpful.  Pro-inflammatory foods include those containing gluten, dairy (cow/goat milk products), and high amounts of sugar and salt.  Conventional beef, pork, and lamb also can be problematic because they are high in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.  Any other foods that cause a delayed food reaction also should be eliminated.  These might include corn, soy, nuts, or fish.  You might consider getting tested to determine which foods may be particular issues for you.

Some anti-inflammatory foods to concentrate in your diet include:  (1) wild-caught fish (not from the Atlantic Ocean) high in omega-3 fatty acids; (2) organic vegetables, apples, and berries; (3) organic ginger and turmeric; and (4) organic nuts and seeds (almonds, flax seeds, chia seeds).

As you eliminate the specific foods that cause inflammation in your body, it can also be helpful to try dietary supplements that scientific studies have proven to combat pain and inflammation.  Options and dosing vary according to the cause of your joint and back pains, so it would be ideal to get a diagnosis of the underlying cause from a holistic practitioner.  (Possible causes include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune conditions, candidiasis (yeast overgrowth), and fibromyalgia.)   While it is important to be aware of drug interactions and other contraindications, anti-inflammatory and joint-supporting supplement options include high-quality and properly dosed:  (1) turmeric/ curcumin (especially Curamin by Terry Naturally); (2) fish oil (especially Parkade Health Brand’s clinically proven Ultra Omega); (3) ginger; (4) boswellia; and (5) glucosamine with chondroitin, MSM, and hyaluronic acid.  Please visit our store for more information and personalized guidance.

Erika Dworkin, Owner
Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition®


Question 3:  I have a lot of health issues and have been told that they are likely all related.  Some of them include brain fog, chronic sinus infections, and rashes, including eczema.  A friend suggested that I might have something called candidiasis, but my doctor doesn’t believe in it and won’t test me for it.  I tried researching how to treat it, but there is so much information out there, and some of it is conflicting and therefore confusing.  Do you know anything about this condition? 
~ John K.

Answer 3: Hi John~

Although I am not a practitioner, I have extensive experience with addressing candidiasis, systemic yeast overgrowth.  Michael Dworkin, PD, CCN, my father, a Registered Pharmacist, and our founder, diagnosed me with it when I was in my 20s and, with his guidance, I have since kept it under control with a candida-supportive lifestyle.  I have also helped many of our customers combat it.

Having a firm diagnosis is ideal, but not required, to begin healing.  Your symptoms certainly suggest that candida could be a cause of your health issues.  As I did, you can begin a candida dietary and supplements program without testing.  If you start feeling better, then you will know you are on the right track.  It can take approximately 12 months for a man to get yeast overgrowth under control, though it is never “cured” because yeast naturally exists in the intestinal tract.

To start, I would suggest that you read my 17-page chapter “Systemic Candidiasis In Women - A Practical Guide to Controlling It,” published in the book Essential Remedies for Women’s Health (2014).  The principles and guidelines in my chapter apply to both women and men.  You might also read my blog/article on this website, “Systemic Candidiasis - The Cause of Too Many Ignored & Unresolved Health Problems, which includes this quote from Beyond the Yeast Connection (2013), by Warren M. Levin, MD and Fran Gare, ND:

A healthy immune system is number one in any healing process. [A] yeast infection known as Candida . . . [is] key to an imbalanced immune system, severely complicating all healing, and dramatically contributing to many of the complaints doctors hear in their offices.  Without addressing CRC [Candida-related complex], physicians have few remedies to correct the reported maladies. 

The bottom line is that candidiasis (also known as candida) can be controlled through an essential 4-step process:  (1) kill the yeast with appropriate dietary supplements; (2) starve the yeast with a strict candida diet; (3) replace the good bacteria that the yeast has crowded out; and (4) manage yeast-promoting stress.  It is also advisable to use certain dietary supplements to heal the gut and address various complications from candida.

Since addressing candidiasis on one’s own can be overwhelming, I would encourage you to stop into the store to speak with me.  If desired, I can also consult with you in private by scheduled appointment.  I hope this information is helpful!

Erika Dworkin, Owner
Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition®


Do you have a question about nutrition or your health? Do you need guidance or support in your effort to improve your quality of life? Our experienced Nutrition Consultants are here to help.  Our owner, Erika Dworkin is Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition®, and our Shoppe Manager, Kyle Ledonne, is a Culinary Nutritionist.