Wait, you don’t know Dr. Gee? And you’re not sure you fully understand what celiac disease is? Maybe a little unsure about what that gluten stuff is, too? Not to worry. You’re not alone, which might be one reason why Congress decided to dub September 13 National Celiac Awareness Day (S.RES.219). It’s the one day a year when celiac disease is on everyone’s minds (well, ok, maybe not everyone’s).
First off, who is this Dr. Gee and what does he have to do with celiac disease? Dr. Samuel Gee’s 1887 lecture, “On the Coeliac Affection,” marked the first published study of what we now recognize as coeliac (celiac) disease. Symptoms and patients had languished until Gee’s research, and he is singularly credited with publishing its first clinical description, as “a kind of chronic indigestion which is met with in persons of all ages.”
However, perhaps Gee’s greatest accomplishment with regard to the study of celiac disease was his recognition of the importance of food, not medicine — a principal we celiacs still live by over 100 years after Gee’s death, and one I would humbly suggest could benefit most everyone to some degree.
What We Now Know of Celiac Disease …
(also known as celiac sprue, coeliac disease, non-tropical sprue or gluten sensitive enteropathy) is information which you should share with others, as it may help someone you know avoid a lifetime of compromise, fatigue, pain, illness and perhaps even an earlier death.
Celiac is a chronic and permanent sensitivity to the food protein gluten, found in the grains wheat, barley and rye. Developing celiac disease requires three things: a genetic predisposition; exposure to gluten through digestion; and a trigger that starts an immune system’s injurious response. Celiac disease occurs in people of all ages. It is the most common genetic disorder in North America and Europe, and is found in populations all over the world.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, meaning the body attacks itself in an inappropriate immune system reaction. In this case, the reaction is to exposure to gliadin, a protein of the food molecule gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye. In most all other autoimmune diseases, the catalyst for starting the body’s inappropriate reaction is not yet known. But celiac disease is the only autoimmune disease for which we know the trigger and therefore can stop it: completely eliminate gluten from your diet.
Once on a gluten-free diet, a celiac’s body will begin to heal and put the disease into remission. Diagnosed children recover more quickly than do adults for whom the mean time to symptom relief is four to eight weeks.
It’s critical to get properly diagnosed if you have celiac disease, and to get diagnosed early (another reason to share this information with others!). The longer your body suffers with an active autoimmune disease, the more likely you are to also contract or suffer from other maladies.
celiac disease can lead to many other conditions, diseases and symptoms; early diagnosis is essential to preventing more health problems.
For a complete explanation of celiac disease, how to get tested, what symptoms to look for and the healing process, go to my article here.
On Celiac Awareness Day and every day, we can thank Dr. Samuel Gee for first recognizing that the key to healing celiac disease lies in the diet alone. Please share this information with anyone you know who might be suffering unknowingly from celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. You could be just the messenger they need.
And if this puts you in the mood for birthday cake, I happen to have a delicious gluten-free recipe for that.
Birthday cake, anyone? Click for this scrumptious gluten free cake recipe!