1. 1 in 133 Americans has Celiac Disease yet only 3% of them know they have it. That means a whopping 97% of celiac patients are not diagnosed and thus are still eating gluten, still damaging their bodies, and still getting sick.
2. Though there are the hallmark celiac symptoms - the stomach distress and all the grossness and weight loss - approximately 50% of adults present with "atypical" symptoms. As the picture to the right (the one that is, I believe from the celiac disease center) shows, celiac disease has many symptoms. This includes everything from weight gain, to headaches, to depression, to anemias and vitamin deficiencies, to joint pain, and so on and so on and so on....
3. On average, a celiac patient suffers with the disease nine years before their diagnosis.
4. Celiac disease can lead to a number of other diseases, including but not limited to: infertility, premature births, osteopenia, osteoporosis, neurological diseases and disorders, malignancies such as adenocarcinoma, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and a host of autoimmune disorders such as insulin dependent diabetes, thyroid disease, Hashimoto's disease, Sjogren's syndrome, Addison's disease, Psoriasis, autoimmune liver disease, cardiomyopathy...just to name a few. (as stated on celiaccentral.org)
5. All of the above, and more, can be avoided simply by adherence to a gluten free diet.
Seriously. Would you trade your health, your chance to not have lymphoma, cardiomyopathy, a miscarriage, or lupus for a piece of pizza?
It's up to those of us who know to get the word out. Tell your friends, your friends' friends, your friends' friends' friends. Make this celiac awareness month a gluten free revolution. Get your friends to get tested...or at the very least share your favorite gluten free recipes with your favorite people. Invite someone over for a gluten free meal. Make celiac a group activity, rather than a socially isolating experience.
Before I step down from my gluten-free-soapbox, I'm going to make a Celiac Awareness Month pledge. I'm going to try out new recipes and share them with the celiac community, I'm going to talk to more restaurant owners, and I'm going to educate more people.
Let's make this Celiac Awareness Month count.