1095 N. Briggs Rd,
Amber Klasey and her daughter, 8-year-old, Amethyst Klasey, all smiles after receiving a diagnosis.
According to one mother, going gluten has been a life saver and the answer to menacing health problems affecting her daughter
LANSING, MI -- Amber Klasey was unsure why her daughter, 8-year-old, Amethyst Klasey was having tummy aches and generally not feeling well almost every day.
The feeling of helplessness often seemed overwhelming for Amber, she could not figure out what was causing her child to be so ill.
Amethyst was not paying attention in school and and the other very sly symptom that was puzzling Amber was that Amethyst kept complaining of aching joints.
Amber said, “She would complain about random aches in varying places all over her body. Nothing we or she did could explain it either. I went so far as to have her checked for Junior Rheumatoid Arthritis, which came up negative. Yet, she was still having aches. Not constant, but frequent!”
Amber determined to find out what would make Amethyst feel better went to many doctors before they finally received a diagnosis from a doctor who knew what to look for.
After a battery of tests, Amber found out that Amethyst has celiac disease.
According to the National Institute of Health, celiac disease is a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten is found mainly in foods but may also be found in everyday products such as medicines, vitamins and lip balms.
When people with celiac disease eat foods or use products containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging or destroying villi—the tiny, fingerlike protrusions lining the small intestine. Villi normally allow nutrients from food to be absorbed through the walls of the small intestine into the bloodstream. Without healthy villi, a person becomes malnourished, no matter how much food one eats.
Amber said she had heard of people going gluten-free for other reasons, like the flat-tummy diet, it is supposed to be healthier, it could reduce inflammation for people suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis or other forms of immune related diseases, like Lupus.
She added, “I thought that had to be total HOOEY! If it really did work, then why weren’t doctors telling us about it? I thought it was just being used as another fad diet. I know, I’m so ashamed now!”
The only treatment for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet. Doctors may ask a newly diagnosed person to work with a dietitian on a gluten-free diet plan. A dietitian is a health care professional who specializes in food and nutrition.
Someone with celiac disease can learn from a dietitian how to read ingredient lists and identify foods that contain gluten in order to make informed decisions at the grocery store and when eating out.
For most people, following this diet will stop symptoms, heal existing intestinal damage, and prevent further damage. Improvement begins within days of starting the diet. The small intestine usually heals in 3 to 6 months in children but may take several years in adults. A healed intestine means a person now has villi that can absorb nutrients from food into the bloodstream.
To stay well, people with celiac disease must avoid gluten for the rest of their lives.
When asked how the change in Amethyst’s diet has impacted her, Amber said, “Physically, the change is AMAZING! She’s back to eating normal amounts of food. She feels so much better! The first few weeks of changing she would tell me that her tummy feels happy.”
Amethyst said that at first it was difficult to adjust to eating different foods but now she is adjusting well, doing better in school and her mother makes the best gluten-free cranberry muffins.
As with any disease the first thing is to educate yourself. The internet is an incredible tool you can use to learn more about gluten free diets.
It is also necessary to have a support group, where you can swap recipes and just be around those with a common bond. Networking and resources are key when you or your child is diagnosed with any disease.
Locally, Michigan Capital Celiac/DH Group Chapter 43 of the Celiac Sprue Association is available at Call 517 349-0294 for more information or email firstname.lastname@example.org
American Dietetic Association
120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2000
Chicago, IL 60606–6995
Celiac Disease Foundation
13251 Ventura Boulevard, #1
Studio City, CA 91604
This was printed in the December 18, 2011 - December 31, 2011 Edition