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Seminar at Plum library aims to bring clarity to gluten-free diet

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is a digestive condition triggered by consumption of the protein gluten, which is primarily found in bread, pasta, cookies, pizza crust and many other foods containing wheat, barley or rye.

People with celiac disease who eat foods containing gluten experience an immune reaction in their small intestines, causing damage to the inner surface of the small intestine and an inability to absorb certain nutrients.

Celiac disease can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea.

No treatment can cure celiac disease. However, celiac disease can be effectively managed by changing the diet.

Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye).

Source: The Mayo Clinic

By Mandy Fields Yokim
Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 8:18 p.m.

Melanie Mills' daughter, Ali, was 24 when she was diagnosed with celiac disease.

For the next two years, Mills educated herself about gluten-free products to help Ali.

The experience motivated her to create a resource to help other people through their journeys with the disease.

“In the beginning, we were totally overwhelmed with the lifestyle change required but it is getting better all the time,” said Mills, owner of Gluten Free Zone, a business in Murrysville that offers a range of gluten-free products, including bakery and deli items.

Gluten Free Zone and Jeffrey Marsalese, of Marsalese Chiropractic Nutrition & Wellness Center, partnered to present a gluten sensitivity informational seminar Saturday at the Plum Borough Community Library.

“Jeff was ahead of the game with the gluten issue. We talked about opening the store, and he sat with us and helped educated us,” Mills said.

At the seminar, Marsalese offered scientific research and information about eating gluten-free, and Gluten Free Zone provided food samples and shared how a gluten-free lifestyle could be managed.

Mills wanted to let people try the gluten-free food to dispel the myth that all gluten-free food tastes bad.

Marsalese brought 29 years of experience from his chiropractic practice and his degrees in nutrition and functional neurology to the discussion. Marsalese says that eating gluten-free is not a fad diet.

“Gluten sensitivity is an allergic reaction. You can have it without celiac but the ongoing sensitivity can lead to celiac,” he said.

Both Marsalese and Mills stressed that gluten sensitivity is becoming more common.

While it is being diagnosed more effectively, it can be missed when symptoms are compartmentalized.

Marsalese discussed his holistic approach to understanding the body's response to gluten.

“Gluten issues can be a clinical chameleon, affecting a diverse number of systems in the body,” Marsalese said.

Mandy Fields Yokim is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.



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