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There are many reasons people choose to avoid gluten and there are many forms of gluten intolerance – celiac disease is one of the most serious reasons that people may choose to go gluten free.

I’ve read that an estimated 1% of Americans are diagnosed with this autoimmune disorder, but I seriously fail to believe this. It has been my own experience as well as my husband’s, Lee, that just about everywhere we go we run into someone who either has symptoms or knows someone with celiac symptoms. Based on this, we have gathered it’s more like 5% if not more.

Many people don’t or can’t understand the severity, but it is very true that even small amounts of gluten can cause intestinal damage and result in symptoms such as fatigue, to anemia and bone disease.  Take me, for instance, I will suffer for days, even weeks, with gastrointestinal distress (gas, cramps and bloating), migraines, fatigue, and more, if I ingest gluten. It’s not all in my head, it’s a serious reality.

Let’s take a look at the differences between celiac disease and other forms of gluten/wheat intolerance. Celiac disease is a very specific condition in which exposure to gluten causes the ‘villi,’ or small hair like “thingys” from the small intestines, to become atrophied. The villi, and the spaces between them, allow the body to absorb nutrients and keep the toxins out. It’s it amazing how God created us – what a system! With celiac disease, the immune system sees fragments of gluten as toxins and reacts by attacking not only the gluten but the villi themselves. An autoimmune disease, such as celiac, occurs when the body attacks itself, mistaking normal, healthy tissue for dangerous bacteria or viruses. There are more than 80 autoimmune disorders (click here to read more about autoimmune disorders), including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Most, like celiac disease, are difficult to diagnose since they present a baffling assortment of symptoms.

I personally have experienced Raynaud’s disease (yet another autoimmune disease) with my hands. My ANA levels are off the charts. But after eliminating gluten from my diet, I have not experienced these RED, WHITE & BLUE attacks with my fingers, which are usually triggered by cold temperatures or even stress. Recently I spent 7 weeks back east, and it was COLD. I didn’t wear gloves, and never experienced a reaction – that’s truly amazing for me! There was a time when I couldn’t even walk in the refrigerated or freezer section of the grocery store without my hands acting up; even air conditioning could set my hands off. As I explain in my book, The ME-gan Lifestyle, my many symptoms have all subsided, and I attribute this to a gluten free lifestyle change. It’s not magic, it’s common sense.

The symptoms of celiac disease and gluten/wheat sensitivity are the same, and this is because they both share the inability to properly digest gluten. There are many different symptoms which may seem unrelated. Gastrointestinal distress is often the first thing people think of as a sign of gluten intolerance, but symptoms may also include fatigue, weight loss, weight gain, migraine headaches, mood swings, anemia, skin irritations, sinusitis and MORE!  One thing to remember is that a person may experience one or many of these possible symptoms.

Not only are there many symptoms, there are many degrees of gluten sensitivity and each person’s tolerance can change over time. It is possible to develop celiac disease at any time in your life for any number of reasons, including enduring a stressful period. Stress, it’s such a DEMON! It’s also possible to have a genetic predisposition for the disease, which only shows up under certain circumstances. I don’t think it’s been ‘medically’ determined whether or not if what starts out as gluten intolerance could eventually lead to celiac disease. My guess, without a doubt, is that if it is left untreated then YES, absolutely. Change in lifestyle is the KEY solution here!

There are also those who are allergic to wheat itself, just as some are allergic to nuts or seafood.  A classic wheat allergy is quite different from gluten intolerance. It is likely to cause the same immediate symptom as others food allergies – itchiness, difficulty breathing and in some cases, anaphylactic shock.

However you slice it, it certainly appears that millions of Americans are going gluten-free due to various reasons. Some are advised by their doctors, while others notice health improvements and feel better when they stop eating gluten. We are also now being made aware that a gluten free diet improves the behavior patterns of children, including those with ADHD and autism; with that said…I ask, “would that also make it the CAUSE?” Hmmm! In the words of my dear buddy Bill O’Reilly…”Who’s Looking Out For You?”

While some feel it is imperative to be tested for celiac, I say there is no greater proof than a gluten free diet itself. A LIFESTYLE change will say it all. Plus, I have read that most people who suffer from celiac, gluten and wheat intolerances, usually also have diary intolerance as well. So why not reach for ultimate health, and embrace the ME-gan Lifestyle altogether? Seek better health NOW, don’t wait another day. Circle a day on your calendar to begin a 90 day gluten free “ME-gan challenge.”  Keep in mind, The ME-gan Lifestyle reaches beyond ‘gluten free.’ It is the ULTIMATE in healthy eating.

I explain all of this, and MORE in my book, The ME-gan Lifestyle (click here to order now)! Now is the perfect time to buy and read it! I’m sure that once you read it you will want to share it with your circle of friends!

Gluten free health love and BEYOND!