CELIAC DISEASE

CELIAC DISEASE

Since this month is being recognized as celiac disease awareness month, I thought I would highlight and hopefully, heighten the awareness of CELIAC DISEASE.

Because there is lots of information out there on gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity and CELIAC DISEASE, it is not my intention here to regurgitate a bunch of facts and figures for you. Instead I will attempt to relate my personal journey to being aware of CELIAC DISEASE, and the horror that it is to the human body.

The first thing that we need to be aware of is that Gluten intolerance is not the same thing as celiac disease. Gluten Intolerance simply means that your body cannot tolerate GLUTEN, and it reacts in countless negative ways. Gluten is the protein found in grains and is the gluey sticky substance that gives wheat its pliability. One of the ways the body reacts is to cause disturbances in the intestinal system, causing a ripple effect of symptoms, disorders and results. Celiac disease is therefore an autoimmune digestive disorder usually caused by ingesting GLUTEN.

AWARENESS GIVES YOU POWER

Many, many years ago, I experienced what the medical community refers to an ectopic pregnancy. Before I was rushed to the hospital and surgery and later learned that I was a few minutes away from being dead, I had never heard the word ectopic. If I had, I would have been aware of my symptoms and done something about it. Afterwards, I told anyone who would listen, of my experience, hoping that it would make people aware and save someone from dying unnecessarily. Hopefully this article will help one of those millions who suffer from a GLUTEN related illness and are unaware.

It is believed that there are millions upon millions who suffer from these conditions and the resulting illnesses, but they simply don’t know it. Most people learn of their diagnosis while investigating some other illness. That is because Gluten Intolerance and especially CELIAC DISEASE leads (or contribute) to an unimaginable number of illnesses.

I recently came across research with a list of over 300 health conditions that are likely related to gluten ingestion and celiac disease. (click highlight to see the article). How? You ask…can one little thing called gluten cause so many health conditions?  As briefly as I can, let me try to put it in perspective for you. Gluten is the glue (protein) in plant foods.

Picture this process. Your digestive system and Immune system recognizes gluten as harmful to the body. When it senses it, the immune system goes into action. One of the defense mechanisms is to shut down the villi in the small intestines to prevent them from digesting and processing this harmful ingredient. Over time, the villi are damaged or remain inactive so as not to digest and process gluten. This means that your entire digestive system is compromised. In the process, many other nutrients are not digested and absorbed. The food therefore sits in the intestines, causing bloating, gas, constipation, occasional diarrhea and discomfort. Toxins and harmful bacteria multiply in the gut. This disturbance  produces inflammation in other parts of the body,which causes pain in the muscles and joints. You develop malnutrition, because very little of what you ingest is being absorbed. All kinds of disease conditions can be derived from malnutrition. It is much more complex than that, but I did promise to be brief. Over time, the conditions intensify and cause other conditions.

CELIAC DISEASE

CELIAC DISEASE

CELIAC DISEASE AND GLUTEN INTOLERANCE ARE REAL.

A Gluten free diet is not a fad, or a weight loss method. FOR YEARS I ENDURED burning in my feet and toes, joint pains, muscle pains, and other unexplained symptoms. The Doctors had no answers. After ignoring me when I told him about my burning feet and other strange symptoms, there came a new drug on the market for Restless Leg Syndrome. So I took a sample, and took it for about a week with some slight relief. After that my symptoms returned even while I was taking medication. You don’t have to ask. I dumped the rest because drugs are not my friends.

Over the years my symptoms became more intense, and the mental agony of not knowing what to think was as troublesome as the physical discomforts. My first clue should have been when I developed intense heartburn on a regular basis more than a decade ago. By a process of keeping track and paying attention to what I ate, I realized it was always when I are wheat. Over time, some other strange and unexplained things kept happening to my body.My fingers would become stiff and hurt like crazy. I imagined I had MS, fibromyalgia and anything that could explain the weird happenings. The bloated feeling was a constant, and added fiber did not relieve it. Needless to say, I suffered in silence, because- who wants to think that they can have all these things wrong with them?-and I couldn’t understand it, so I didn’t expect anyone else to. Meanwhile, I continued to shop for pastries. Few things could bring a smile to my face like fancy light, delicate pastries. So all I could do was continue to eat as healthy as I can, take natural supplements and  juice my greens.

I MADE IT

Two years ago, I accidentally discovered that my problems were directly related to something I was eating, when I went on an HCG diet. The first time that I went on the diet, I made my own grissini bread sticks; since I could not locate them in a store. The second time, I found some, but I think they were loaded with sea salt or something, that I could not stand. So on my third attempt at the HCG diet, I decided I am going to leave out this meager serving of sugarless bread, because it was more trouble than it was worth.             After about 5 days on the diet, (which consisted mainly of lean meat and green vegetables), I realized that my intestinal symptoms were somewhat relieved. So I monitored it, and it gradually got better. After I finished dieting and gradually added back regular food to my intake, my symptoms returned. That was when I concluded it had to be some kind of grain.

A spiritual experience convinced me that I was gluten intolerant.  After about a week of research. I came to the informed conclusion that I was both gluten intolerant, and suffering from CELIAC DISEASE. I immediately cut out wheat,oats and barley from my intake. I have been asked if it was not hard to stop eating wheat. Yes it was. But so was the unexplained agony I had endured for years. Once my mind was made up, it was smooth sailing.

CELIAC DISEASE CAN BE MANAGED

Fortunately, I always loved to bake, so experimenting with baking Gluten Free was a journey, to say the least. All flour is not created equal!! There were some disasters, and some delights along the way.. There were some crumbly messes, and some muffins and cakes that developed deflation when they were cooling. But now by sheer persistence, I have got the hang of it. It is now much easier to bake Gluten Free delights, and much healthier I may add.

Perhaps the worst decision that I have made in my journey was going against my better judgment, and going back on wheat so I could be tested.  I later learned that the test is a waste of time, because they test for anti-bodies to one strain of gliadin to determine if you have celiac disease.Apparently,there are several strains, and that makes the tests almost always inconclusive and misleading.

This is a journey of education, awareness, and experiences. Once I started eating wheat again, it was much harder to quit the second time around and also harder to be relieved of my symptoms, once I went Gluten Free again. I learned that there could be several reasons why you are not healing even though you are eating Gluten Free. Restoring the bacterial balance in your gut is one of them.

Word to the wise!! Going gluten free is not a weight loss strategy. Most Gluten Free flours don’t have the stretch and pliability of wheat and are therefore denser when baked. So by volume you consume more calories when eating gluten free baked goods. I actually gained weight when I first transitioned. That was the physical component. The other component is emotional. Because I could no longer go to the supermarket and come back with a variety of pastries, I felt like I needed to make a variety of cakes and muffins, so as not to feel deprived. In short, I over did it. Big time!!

Most of the world thinks that gluten is in wheat, barley, and rye. Have you ever cooked oats, or over cook rice (as in rice pudding)? We celiacs know that corn starch is concentrated corn gluten, and that any grain that gets sticky when it is cooked well, has gluten, because that is what glue does. Some people can tolerate some gluten while others can. But it is important to not restrict your thinking to the commercial explanation of gluten.

Most Gluten Free breads are made from rice flour, and so buying GLUTEN FREE preparations are not for me.  But there are much healthier alternatives such as almond meal, bean flours, (like chick pea and white bean), green pea, black bean, quinoa and amaranth flours. The key is getting the right proportions of each.

If you know someone who needs to go on a GLUTEN FREE regimen, tell them to start by reading labels. This was my lesson learned after making the mistake of adding small portions of gluten laden ingredients without thinking. I would say that at least 70 -75 percent of products that come pre-packaged from the supermarket are contaminated with gluten. Things like barbecue sauce, ketchup, prepared mustard, Chili seasoning, and other places that you would not imagine. If a food is not in its natural state, it is probably made with wheat flour or corn starch. For instance: I always thought that pringles potato chips were made of potatoes, until I read the label. Recently, I had a bad relapse from eating a single peppermint patty. From the time I bit it, the texture told me that it had gluten inside the chocolate, bu;t in a temporary lapse of judgement, I messed up. Reading labels is a must. Gluten is lurking everywhere, waiting to attack you.

I am not going to get into the debate about how the quality of wheat has declined over the years, making your body reject it, or what is the cause for the gradual rise in people whose bodies cannot tolerate wheat and other forms of gluten. What I can tell you is that I have been consuming gluten my whole life. Almost every meal consisted heavily of one of these grains that now make me sick. Go figure!!

I don’t feel like I’m sick. Because I’m only sick if I eat gluten. I don’t feel deprived in anyway. Sure I miss having danishes and croissants etc. But when you weigh the temporary delights with the constant pain and suffering they cause, I feel Blessed to have been made aware, and be able to manage my Celiac Disease. As a matter of fact, the more I learn about the dangers that lay await in most grains, including, corn, rice and wheat, I feel blessed that I no longer have the “privilege” of making them a part of my “nutritional” repertoire.

I would like to invite you look at this video which highlights some natural products that will enhance your overall health NATURALLY.

You can also complete the info to get the free e-book which is loaded with insightful health information.

TO YOUR HEALTH AND WELLNESS.

 

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