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

| Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 8:18 p.m.
(c) 2013 Aaron Loughner
Dr. Jeff Marsalese explain the importance of gluten-free foods during a seminar at the Plum Community Library on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013. Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader
(c) 2013 Aaron Loughner
Diana and Andrew Ebel sample some of the gluten-free foods available at the free seminar hosted by Dr. Jeff Marsalese of Plum. The seminar, at the Plum Community Library on Saturday, was about gluten-free foods. Dr. Marsalese is a chiropractor practicing in Murrysville. Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader
(c) 2013 Aaron Loughner
Renee Deklevar of Plum, samples some of the gluten-free foods available at the seminar hosted by Dr. Jeff Marsalese on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013. Dr. Marsalese is a chiropractor with offices in Murrysville. Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader
(c) 2013 Aaron Loughner
Dr. Jeff Marsalese explains the benefits of gluten-free foods to Lynda Long during a seminar at the Plum Community Library on Saturday. Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader

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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