Monday, February 1, 2010

Celiac Disease

If your earthly existence depended on it, could you stop eating one particular food if it just about instantly reinstated your health entitlement? Wouldn’t it blow your medulla oblongata if the guilty foodstuff, wheat of all things, was the source of your illness?
“I’m inexplicably depressed. My rumbling gastrointestinal tribulations, asthma, iron deficiency anemia, heart burn, low energy and early osteoporosis bring me down”. Unable to connect the dots, for decades, Ima suffered. The darling 65 year old, bless her heart, couldn’t understand why she was constantly bloated and cramping, flatulent and couldn’t summon the gumption to socialize. She already conceded her familial genes were responsible for her uncharacteristic early-life osteoarthritis.
After carpet bombing her innards with pharmaceutical drugs, her doctor tested for Celiac Disease (CD). Gluten intolerance appeared. One week into a wheat-free diet, she’d never felt better; human, joyful, eager to socialize by hanging with her silver-haired homeys; free. It’s startling how many seniors have undiagnosed CD because of wheat; one of the world's most important food crops. Her blessed relief lay right before her eyes.
Until the mid-1990’s people didn’t believe CD could develop in older people because it was considered a disease of childhood; ‘failing to thrive’. Foods made from wheat and certain grains contain a protein called gluten. If you have CD, every time you eat gluten an immune reaction aggressively attacks your vila destroying healthy tissues of the small intestine where nutrients are absorbed. This leads to a cascade of health tribulations. Even teeny amounts of gluten trigger the response.
In her mind she ate what she sincerely perceive as healthy cuisine; Raisin Bran with berries and walnuts for breakfast, whole wheat bread and lean turkey breast sandwich at lunch and in between some whole grain crackers and carrot sticks. At night, Ima ate brown rice, a breaded chicken breast with a dark green leafy salad with blue cheese dressing. Her absolutely favorite restaurant meal was a garden salad with croutons, Pasta Bolognese dusted with Parma and ‘more gooey garlic bread please’ washed down with a mug-o-beer. Sounds benign, however, most of these foods and beer contain various forms of gluten.
Ima Bovit, which she apparently wasn’t, is 1 in 10 Americans who needlessly suffer from the ancient malady; frightening allowing for the high death rate when undiagnosed. Mayo Clinic research teams studied data from the 45 year of follow-up of Air Force subjects showed those with undiagnosed celiac disease have a 400% higher risk of death than non-Celiacs. Two physicians I quizzed admit the medical fraternity has been sluggish to diagnose the ubiquitous disease which shortens life expectancy-- are you ready for this--- by a whopping 4.5 times. Its curious contemporary doctors can’t diagnose CD because as far back as 250 AD, Aretaeus of Cappadocia included detailed descriptions of a disease. He referred to his patients as kolliakos, meaning, ‘suffering in the bowels,’ later translated it to Celiacs.
Naturopathic PhD DR. Chuck Landon of Indianapolis shares “When CD symptoms should be the first condition that comes to mind, it’s often misdiagnosed. Modern medicine does not consider CD first because I believe they don’t have a drug for it. Celiacs get diagnosed as having irritable bowel syndrome, which in my opinion is a symptom, not a disease.”
It takes two to four weeks of a strict gluten-free diet before you start to feel groovy again, though some people get their mojo back within days. However, don't challenge your inner ecology by eating a large amount of wheat to see what happens. This is serious biz, so don’t loaf around. You could end up sicklier than before and cost you some serious bread. Gluten-free products abound at your community grocers. Not only is gluten found in grains like wheat, barley, rye, oats, malt and rye. It’s also added to countless foods. For example, some ice creams and ketchups contain gluten as a thickening agent. The simple answer: read labels to avoid wheat products and foods prepared with wheat. Be conscious and put food and disease in the same context; it may save your life. For excellent information and list of foods with gluten:
Read recently published books and then turn to websites / support blogs run by Celiac organizations, noted celiac research centers and trusted Integrative Nutritionists. Dr. Landon suggests, “If you have any of the symptoms mentioned, simply eliminate all gluten bearing foods for a month. If things clear up continue on. Consult with an Integrative Physician and nutritionist who specialize in celiac disease before you embark on your quest for a return to wholeness. Sun dappled vegetables, fruits, beans, seeds and meats are gluten free foods”.
Ima thought her diet was above reproach and accepted age. Get checked for CD and free yourself.
The simple act of transcending just one pleasurable food can be life transforming.


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