Archive for Gluten

February 2016 – Celiac Disease and Gluten

If you are like me, you are enjoying the Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Bruno Mars, and Cold Play concert tonight – it is being sandwiched by some modern gladiator event that I do not watch! 🙂

Seriously, I am quite happy to be working on my yoga newsletter while cooking various veggies and fruit from my last Winter CSA pick-up and the farmers’ market, while my husband is in the “man-cave” watching this thing called the Super Bowl. However, I think my kitchen bowl of baby kale, carrots, and squash is the real super bowl! I did “cook” a frozen gluten-free pizza, that was actually delicious and well-received by the football party- probably more than would have been a bowl of kale! 🙂

Approximately six years ago, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease (an autoimmune disease for which there is no cure; only treatment is strict avoidance of gluten, which is a protein found in wheat and some other grains, like barley). Many people are gluten-free these days either for choice or medical necessity, like me. Luckily, over the years since my diagnosis, as a result of the growing demand for gluten-free foods, there are many more choices and it has become almost mainstream. I have seen first-hand the growing awareness among laypeople, and the options continue to grow. On the upper westside, for example, right next door to Upper West Side Yoga & Wellness where I teach on Thursdays, there is a great local store that is 100% gluten-free: GFreeNY. There are 100% gluten-free bakeries throughout the city, and now even Baked By Melissa’s cupcakes has a gluten-free line (I think the owner/baker developed a gluten allergy which is becoming more common with chefs).

Many assume that I had had digestive issues before my diagnosis, and actually (although the tests indicated compromised intestinal villi) my symptoms manifested in mysterious skin rashes. Luckily, my wonderfully intuitive general practitioner (who also smartly tested me for Lyme Disease years later, but that is another story) suggested the celiac sprue test for me based on those symptoms. Sure enough that test and a biopsy were positive. I feel fortunate to have been tested presumably early in my disease, as undiagnosed Celiac can lead to malnutrition, nerve damage, cancer, growth issues especially in children, and intestinal damage. I do believe my mother unfortunately had undiagnosed Celiac rather than the colitis with which she suffered throughout her adult life, and that eventually led to fatal colon cancer. If only we knew back then; possibly, a simple elimination of gluten could have changed her life!

I am not advocating for everyone to go gluten-free (our house is gluten-free for my safety reasons, but outside of the apartment, my husband eats food with gluten and has no issues). But if you have mysterious symptoms, such as brain-fog, digestive ailments, skin issues, mood swings, bloating, it may behoove you to check with your doctor about doing tests for gluten sensitivities, gluten allergies, or Celiac. (Note, one cannot be accurately tested for Celiac if gluten has already been avoided – the effects of gluten need to be observed by digesting glutinous foods for some time pre-tests.) It is also easy to do a gluten-elimination diet and keep a journal to see if there are any health changes. If you have had interesting experiences with eliminating gluten or adding it back in to your diet, I would be curious to hear!

See Schedule Page for my February 2016 teaching schedule. There will be subs covering my classes while I am away mid-February. Enjoy your Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day!