May is Celiac Awareness month and our family can attest to the overwhelming need for just that…celiac awareness. So…what is celiac? I’ll attempt, in this post, to give a brief overview of celiac, what it can do/does and the seriousness of the disease.
Celiac is an autoimmune disorder of the digestive system. It affects 1 in 133 people (celiac.com). I found a rather simple explanation of it on the Mayo Clinic’s website: Celiac (SEE-lee-ak) disease is a digestive condition triggered by consumption of the protein gluten, which is primarily (this does not mean only) found in bread, pasta, cookies, pizza crust and many other foods containing wheat, barley or rye. People with celiac disease who eat foods containing gluten experience an immune reaction in their small intestines, causing damage to the inner surface of the small intestine and an inability to absorb certain nutrients.Celiac disease can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea. Eventually, the decreased absorption of nutrients (malabsorption) that occurs with celiac disease can cause vitamin deficiencies that deprive your brain, peripheral nervous system, bones, liver and other organs of vital nourishment.
Gluten can also be found in beauty and hygiene products. A person with celiac cannot consume food that has had ANY contact - no matter how small - with anything containing gluten. Complications from celiac disease, especially when it goes un-managed, include: malnutrition, loss of bone density, lactose intolerance, intestinal cancers, neurological complications, and dermatitis.
By itself this is a complicated, frustrating disease. Combined with type 1 diabetes, and it is…well, more complicated/more frustrating (???). Combine those factors with 14 year old hormones and it’s a tough road to be assigned. In short, celiac is a very serious autoimmune illness. You cannot have “a little celiac” and it is not a food allergy. There is no cure. No magic pill or shot. You cannot eat “just a little” gluten (well, I suppose if you are a fan of intense abdominal pain you could). It can only be controlled through diet. Check out Celiac.com or Celiac.org to find out more.
All for now - and remember…EDUCATE, INVESTIGATE, INCORPORATE…you never know who you’ll help by doing so!
I’ll be posting another bit of writing in the next day or so. Sharing some very special words, from some very special and unforgettable little people.