I am 1 in 100, I have Celiac disease. Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disease affecting 1 in 100 people. 3 million people in the US have it but 80% don’t know they have it. Celiac disease is hard to diagnose because there are over 200 symptoms with the main symptom being diarrhea. Other symptoms include fatigue, digestive issues, malabsorption, joint pain and neurological issues to name some of the most reported. My main symptoms were joint pain, anemia, and fatigue. The joint pain was the worse but since I have been gluten free (about a year now) my symptoms are subsiding. However, I still have a lot of healing to do as I went undiagnosed for 31 years!
What exactly is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is: “A disease in which the small intestine is hypersensitive to gluten, leading to difficulty in digesting food” (Farrell and Kelly, 2002; Green and Jabri, 2003; Dickson et al., 2006). Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye and other foods if cross-contamination occurs. When gluten is ingested in a person who has celiac disease, the villi on your small intestine that help to absorb nutrients, die. This leads to serious damage to the small intestine and absorbs nutrients which can ultimately lead to other diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
Who does Celiac Disease affect?
Many people live with something called silent celiac disease which means they do not exhibit symptoms. This is how I lived for many years and I suspect I have had this disease my entire life based off of how I have felt after eating. People are usually diagnosed with Celiac disease when another related condition is present such as anemia or thyroid disease. I was symptom-free until my late 20’s eating glutinous foods but trying to limit my intake because I knew I did not feel well when I consumed those foods! A GI doctor tested my blood after a lot of research on my symptom. Celiac disease was now becoming more of a reality in my life. A few months later a biopsy was taken from my small intestine near the upper duodenum (the first part of the small intestine) and results revealed I had celiac disease.
Is there a cure for celiac disease?
I asked this question to my GI (Gastroenterologist) doctor who took the biopsy and diagnosed me. I expected the answer out of his mouth despite it being un-nerving. While there is research for a cure for Celiac Disease, currently, the only way to treat celiac disease is to remain on a completely gluten-free diet. Even a small amount of gluten can damage your villi on the small intestine, so being very careful and avoiding glutinous foods and cross contamination is crucial to your healing.
I had to remove all metal cook wear and plastic utensils that I had previously used while cooking glutinous items to avoid cross-contamination. If you are going to have gluten in your house, it is important to designate an area away from your gluten-free foods. My guts churned when I discovered I did indeed have Celiac disease, but I would still be damaging my body without a diagnosis. I recommend talking with your GI doctor, a dietician, and a nutrition specialist. Having a strong support team will also be crucial to your success with eating gluten-free.
I am here to answer any questions
If anyone has any question feel free to ask below! I have learned a ton from Facebook groups such as https://www.facebook.com/groups/184204088367240/. I also learned a lot from my GI doctor and doing my own research on YouTube and Google. Don’t be afraid to do your own research because there are many opinions out there and what works for some might not work for others. The main common ground someone has with Celiac Disease is, you cannot ingest gluten.
However, your symptoms may be alike or differ as well as what foods you can tolerate. I am very sensitive and cannot really handle touching gluten because I will become itchy and may get a rash. Others can easily handle gluten, just not ingest it and have no symptoms like I do. Many friends, family, and peers will not know what celiac disease is when you mention it. Some people might tell you your “allergy” will go away or that it’s all in my head. Be strong and educate yourself so you can respond back! Or not, even better, walk away.
Photo was taken from Ebisu Front where you can buy this awesome awareness hat!
Here is a wonderful video explainer Celiac Disease very well.