Living Gluten Free

This article was written by Tonya Retallack, a Senior at Upperman High School. Tonya is an amazing student who leaves school 3 days a week to intern at Mealfit. She does everything from cutting chicken, to sweeping floors, to writing articles about nutrition.

She has a bright future ahead of her, and I am so glad I have been a part of her journey.

Here is an amazing and informative article she has written about Celiac Disease. This disease is part of the reason for the Gluten Free pandemonium that has spread throughout our country.

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My father also has Celiac, so I, as well as Tonya, know how Gluten and other items effect people.

Enjoy this read from a sharp high school kid.

Celiac Disease

Being the daughter of a parent diagnosed with Celiac Disease; I have experienced firsthand the struggles of this disease. It flipped my family’s world upside down two years ago when all my dad’s test come back positive. Learning to read nutrition labels, grocery shop, and cook all over again was a real struggle because we were clueless going into it. So, I did my research and over the years I have gathered information to share for the awareness for families that are going through what mine did.


 What is it?

Celiac Disease is one of 80 autoimmune diseases which means, it is a disease in which the person’s immune system attacks healthy cells and leads to the harming of the body. It is characterized by the damage it causes to the small intestines when wheat, barley, or rye is ingested. These all contain gluten, which is a combination of two proteins, gliadin and glutenin.  Together, these two can cause serious irritation to the villi, which are small finger like projections in the small intestines that promote absorption of nutrients for the body. If damage is severe in someone with celiac disease, he or she can become malnourished and in some rare cases, develop cancer.   villous-atrophy

Every 1 in 133 healthy Americans of all ages are living with Celiac today, and a staggering 97% go undiagnosed. In this disease, men and women are both affected, however it is slightly more common in women. Science has proven that some individuals are genetically susceptible to Celiac, but the exact genetic link is unclear at this time.


What’s next?

It is very important if you are experiencing these symptoms to be tested. An early diagnosis could make a major impact in your quality of health but there are a few not-so-fun steps to take. First is getting the blood test (I got mine done at my local hospital, and it came back negative.) However, if it comes back positive you will need to make a trip to see a gastroenterologist. Which is a doctor who deals with the structure, functions, diseases, and pathology of the stomach and intestines.  He will perform an endoscopy to see the damage that already has been done by actually seeing your small intestines without incisions. Sadly, there is no pill or shot that can cure Celiac and there no growing out of it. On the bright side, however, to keep from having the symptoms you just need to stay away from rye, wheat, and barley.


Life with Celiac

As bad as it may seem giving up bread and brownies; it could be worse. My dad and other people I have met with Celiac say it is one of the best things that has ever happened to them. They feel better than ever and their gluten free diet is responsible for that. Even if your test comes back negative there are still millions of reasons for you to make the switch.

Cite:,,,, Medical-surgical Nursing



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