National Celiac Disease Awareness Day

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This being my first year gluten-free, I was surprised to find out that in 2010 the senate had passed R605: A resolution designating September 13th as "National Celiac Awareness Day". This resolution had been first proposed in 2008 and again 2009 before finally passing on August 3, 2010. The date that was chosen for this awareness day commemorates the birth of English physician, Samuel Jones Gee. Dr. Gee is responsible for writing the first full clinical picture of celiac disease back in 1888.

What is celiac disease? It is an autoimmune digestive disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. What does this mean? Essentially the body is attacking itself every time a person with celiac consumes gluten.

You may have heard about the latest food trend "going gluten-free", but not understand why gluten-free food is so important. Gluten is the elastic protein found in the grains: wheat, rye, barley, durum, einkorn, graham, semolina, bulgur wheat, spelt, farro, kamut, and triticale.

When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging the finger-like villi of the small intestine. When the villi become damaged, the body is unable to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream, which can then lead to malnourishment. Left untreated, people with celiac disease can develop further complications such as other autoimmune diseases, neurological problems, osteoporosis, thyroid disease, and cancer. It is estimated that 1 out of every 133 people have celiac disease, roughly 3 million people, 97% of which are still undiagnosed.

What are the symptoms? Celiac disease mimics a lot of other common ailments so that is why it is so hard to diagnose. If you experience any of the following symptoms you may have celiac disease and should consult with your physician.

  • Bloating or gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Itchy Skin Rash
  • Tingling/numbness
  • Pale mouth sores
  • Joint/muscle pain
  • Delayed growth
  • Poor weight gain
  • Thin bones
  • Infertility
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Discolored teeth

Everyday is really a Celiac Awareness Day if you are gluten intolerant, but it's nice to know that our common cause can bring awareness to those who misunderstand what it means to live gluten-free and for those who are undiagnosed.This year join with the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness on the 13 Ways to Celebrate Celiac Awareness Day.

So what are you going to do this September 13th? I've decided I'm going to make some awareness flyers to share with the baked gluten-free goodies I'll be taking into work that day. I'd love to hear what you'll be doing that day. Remember "if you want things to be different, perhaps the answer is to become different yourself". What does that mean? Don't be afraid to share your experiences with others, because you may never know who is listening and how the information you give them may impact their lives.

 

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