The awareness theme for this month hits close to home, having a family member with this condition. Thanks to the active support community, more people know about i, and more businesses are receptive to improving the quality of life of afflicted individuals. May is National Celiac Awareness Month .
While you may hear it described as an allergy, celiac disease is actually an auto-immune disorder. Instead of viewing gluten-containing foods as something nutritious, the body attacks the gluten in their system, typically harming the villi of the small intestine. These ridges increase the surface area of the structure to optimize nutrient absorption. Once they become damaged, their ability to extract nutrients from food is impaired.
This malabsorption can lead to nutrient deficiencies and all of the complications that they can bring. Most nutrient absorption occurs in the small intestine, making this impairment especially serious. In children, celiac disease will manifest itself in stunted growth, gastrointestinal issues and irritability. It can also lead to more harmful long-term conditions, such as neurological dysfunction and infertility.
As serious as the condition is, the cure is surprisingly simple. Eliminate gluten from your diet, and your body will heal. The trick is identifying the gluten. You can easily remove the obvious sources by not eating bread or pasta. They are other things to consider as well. Condiments such as soy sauce contain gluten, as do some additives and flavorings.
Some can come from varied sources, making identifying the bad ingredients difficult. Other times, a food or beverage may become contaminated simply because other gluten-containing foods are produced in the same facility. Gluten may also lurk in vitamins and even prescription drugs. Some individuals may experience more classic allergy-like symptoms from personal health products that contain gluten.
The best tool for celiac disease sufferers is awareness. This means pushing the FDA to mandate gluten labeling for any food, beverage or drug meant for human consumption. At present, it is voluntary. While some companies have embraced it anyway, eating and drinking remains a potentially harmful activity for someone with this condition. Consider this for a moment. Anything you eat or drink may hurt your body. It’s easy to imagine why some children develop behavioral problems when faced with such a daunting lifestyle.
On May 19th, my husband and I are participating in the Making Tracks for Celiacs Run . I’m hoping to at least do some interval work through my run . We’re happy to support continued research for this debilitating conditions. Having witnessed firsthand its effects, I can’t help but want to do anything I can to help the cause to find a cure. Anyone who has dealt with the enormous health and psychological burdens of this incurable disease will understand.