Celiac Disease is a Real Thing (and it sucks)
May is Celiac Awareness month!
“Celine Di-what-ness Month?” you may rightfully ask.
To which I would say: “Exactly.”
Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder which causes a person’s immune system to attack their small intestine when gluten is ingested. This damages villi: microscopic, fingerlike structures which are responsible for the absorption of nutrients.
VILLI: think of them as a a shag carpet in your small intestine that absorbs nutrients. They get damaged down to the nub if a Celiac ingests even trace amounts of Gluten. (I was gonna use the Mustard Foundation’s illustration, but this one is much better)
This autoimmune reaction, paired with the body’s inability to absorb nutrients (malnutrition) creates a whole slew of health issues.
“Diarrhea?” You bet!
“Fatigue, rashes, and headaches?” Of course!
“Depression, anxiety, joint pain, hair loss, and a myriad of other symptoms?” Damn straight.
About 1% of the population has Celiac disease, but, of those, only 30% know they have it.
I used to be one of them. For decades I suffered silently. It had a profoundly negative effect on my life in countless ways. Finally in 2016 I was diagnosed and have been slowly, but surely, recovering ever since.
Unfortunately, there are still a shitload (pun intended) of people out there suffering needlessly: simply because they’re ingesting a protein found in wheat, barley and rye called Gluten. It is found in all kinds of foods: bread, pasta, beer, crackers, sauces, etc…
“Wait a minute, J, I thought gluten was just something hipsters avoid so they can fit into their rompers/romphims.”
Don’t worry, it’s not beer (which, BTW, contains gluten).
I know! I did too! I used to make fun of the whole Gluten Free thing. One of my favorite things to do was replacing parts of the intro to the 1983 Def Leppard classic, “Rock of Ages” with the word “Gluten.”
And yes, there is a gluten-free craze sweeping the nation for…reasons…that have to do with the InstaFamous. However, most doctors say that eating gluten free isn’t recommended for anyone except Celiacs.
Eating a strict gluten-free diet is the only way for a Celiac to stay healthy.
And by strict, this means worrying about cross-contamination. French Fries? Sure! But only if they’re not cooked in the same oil as breaded chicken. Taco with a corn tortilla? Yes! But only if it isn’t warmed on the same griddle as flour tortillas. Same with GF Pizza, burger buns, and many other things a restaurant claims to be “Gluten Free.
Because of the risk of cross-contamination, most celiacs avoid eating at restaurants, and learn to cook their own food. Eating a truly gluten-free diet requires a major lifestyle shift. But, for a celiac, there is no other way.
Of course there’s a meme for that…
“All right, now I’m aware of Celiac Disease. Can you go back to posting goofy shit again?”
Yes! And if this post helps just 1 person discover they have Celiac Disease, it will have been well worth the effort. <3