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Celiac's Disease

I wouldn't take those Whoppers if you offered them to me. Or that Kit-Kat. Or
the Twix. But that Snickers? Sure, thanks! People seem puzzled when I refuse
certain foods but not others, and the confusion builds when I try to explain. I
have a disease, one that was diagnosed several years ago. It affects one in 133
people, and progressive studies along with doctor's estimations show that that
number is probably way too small to be accurate. It's a disease, that without
the proper lifestyle, can cause headaches, stomachaches, acne, weak bones, a
weak immune system which can lead to severe autoimmune diseases, severe
depression, skin rashes, and many more serious health problems. You're probably
thinking, wow. The disease is Celiac's disease.

Celiac's disease is when your body can not digest anything containing gluten, a
protein found in the wheat plant and used in flour to give it cohesiveness. This
means that if you have Celiac's and you are eating anything that has gluten,
your body can't absorb any nutrients from the food because your intestines are
still damaged from the gluten. And gluten can be found in almost everything,
anything that has flour, including pizza, doughnuts, bread, pretzels, and on and
on, but also, gluten can be found in many spices and soups, in malt shakes and
in certain candy. Seems overwhelming right?

After my diagnosis, along with most of my sisters, we switched to gluten-free,
or GF. Sure, it was hard at first. It seemed like it was impossible. After hours
spent on the Internet, though, it became much easier. We found thousands of
recipes, books, stores, and bakeries, all catering to us, gluten-free people.
Several stores in our hometown started supplying gluten-free bread, crackers,
and chips at our request. With my mom's help, we've all learned how to manage
this disease. It can feel impossible sometimes, because I am a lover of food,
but I am also a lover of a challenge.

Going gluten-free honestly changed my life for the better. And although I know
I sound like some spokeswoman for Weight Watchers or something, I'm telling the
truth. My belly-aches, horrible allergies, and excess weight went away. Not only
that, but my dentist told me my teeth had drastically improved. For the rest of
my family, the stories were much the same. My mom's rheumatoid arthritis became
much easier to handle, and my sister, who was once suicidal and very depressed
at one point, lives a much happier and healthier life. People that we know,
including family, friends, and doctors have all become more aware of Celiac's,
this hidden disease, that seems to affect more people than we realize.
I am not trying to win any awards with this piece, but rather to get your
attention. There's so many people struggling with health problems that aren't
getting better, and instead, just need to get diagnosed. Go get tested. It could
change your life.



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