Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) (a.k.a Lou Gherig's Disease) ALS is an insidious and progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord causing, muscle weakness, atrophy, and eventually total paralysis. ALS is not contagious, but certain envrionmental exposures may increase its likelihood. Learn more by reading "Facts You Should Know about ALS." I'm sure others have accepted this illness with as much dignity and class, but Lou Gherig's farewell speech to baseball fans in 1938 is, never-the-less, uplifting and gives evidence of a gracious spirit. (On a personal note, an affectionately-remembered, distant relative passed away last year after battling ALS for nearly five years.) Want to know more about ALS? Check out the Muscular Dystrophy Association's ALS page entitled, "Anyone's Life Story."
Celiac Disease Awareness Month. Celiac disease is yet another autoimmune illness, this one affects about 1% of the U.S. population (it's MUCH more common in Ireland, Finland, Sweden, Italy and Austria). Although it may seem obvious, it's worth stating that those of us of Northern European descent are more commonly afflicted by Celiac Disease (and, by-the-way we are more inclined towards two other autoimmune disorders, Type 1 Diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis).
In Celiac disease the gluten protein found primarily in wheat, rye and barley, triggers an immune response when it enters the small intestine (where most of our food's nutrients are absorbed.) Damage to the small intestine's lining results in troubling physical symptoms such as pain, bloating, and bowel issues, but even more seriously--the disruption of digestion from a compromised small bowel that can lead to more serious systemic complications as a result of vitamin, mineral, and other nutritional deficiencies. Strict life-long adherence to a gluten-free diet is the essential treatment for Celaic Disease. This illness is also in my extended family, so I understand that it's a real challenge, but my relative is the picture of health and a true beauty.
- Learn more about Celiac disease here and check out this link for a quick slide show on gluten-free eating.
- (I learned something new. I didn't know gluten could cause lesions on the surface of the skin: the condition Dermatitis Herpetiformis is sometimes called "Celiac disease of the skin" because this is also an immune system response to the gluten protein.)
- I also recommend this informative Celiac blog http://www.celiac.com/
Check the sidebar on the right for youtube videos which convey important information related to two other health awareness campaigns this month:
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