September 13th of each year marks National Celiac Disease Awareness Day. This day was created in order to honor those affected by celiac disease, raise awareness about the disorder, promote educational initiatives, and commemorate the birth of Dr. Samuel Gee who was a pioneer in celiac disease research.
Celiac disease affects approximately 3 million Americans, yet it is often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed due to the very slow, gradual bodily damage, and the fact that the symptoms are so widely varied. Diagnoses of celiac disease can sometimes take years.
This autoimmune disorder is triggered by the consumption of gluten: a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley; when people with celiac disease eat gluten, their bodies mount an immune response that attacks the small intestine—ultimately triggering damage that disables the body from properly absorbing necessary nutrients. This can eventually lead to malnourishment, in addition to loss of bone density, miscarriages, infertility–even the onset of neurological diseases and certain cancers.
There are no pharmaceuticals or drugs that treat or cure celiac disease. The only fully effective treatment for the disease is a 100% gluten-free diet, yet Nexvax2—a therapeutic vaccine designed to protect patients with celiac disease against the effects of gluten exposure—has been largely effective in several randomized controlled trials, through its ability to alter a patient’s immune response to gluten.
In order to learn more about autoimmune and inflammatory disorders like celiac disease, sign up for our Fellowship in Metabolic, Nutritional and Functional Medicine. Module VII: A Metabolic and Functional Approach to Inflammation & Autoimmune Disease primarily focuses on autoimmune and inflammatory diseases through the gut-immune-brain connection.