Wednesday, January 25, 2012

thyroid awareness month

Over at Beyond Rice and Tofu - a blog for gluten free and vegetarian cooking - there's a great post that brought it to my attention that it is Thyroid Awareness Month.  The post A (Not-So) Grave Diagnosis is personal, well-written, and excellently timed.  I really recommend checking it out.

On January 19, Dr. Oz presented an episode featuring Elisabeth Hasselbeck that was dedicated to the gluten free diet.  (The episode is available in 5 parts here.)  I didn't see it that day myself, but the gluten free community on Twitter was not so thrilled.  Increasing awareness is fantastic and should be definitely applauded, but getting tested was somewhat skimmed over.  (She was also on ABC's The Chew on Friday to promote her new cookbook.)

If one feels s/he may have a gluten intolerance, s/he should get tested first.  Please!!  If s/he gets tested for Celiac after going gluten free, the results may not be accurate.  There is a blood test, but internal biopsies (conducted with an endoscope) are more conclusive.  The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders (part of the National Institutes of Health) each have information on the diagnosis.

Thursday evening, as I read people's comments on the twittersphere about the need for testing, I kept thinking about thyroid disorders.  Your thyroid can be right on point, underactive, or overactive.  So many symptoms caused by Celiac disease also overlap with hypothyroidism.  Thyroid issues can also run hand-in-hand with Celiac or gluten intolerance.  These are Hashimoto's thyroiditis and Graves disease.  Like Celiac, they're each an autoimmune condition.

The American College of Endocrinology (ACE) and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) have excellent information on the thyroid and why you might consider getting your Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH) level checked.  The American Thyroid Association is also a terrific resource.  My thyroid is underactive, and my dad's was fried during chemotherapy treatments.  We each take a replacement hormone and probably will for the rest of our lives.  It's a small price to pay to avoid the symptoms of hypothyroidism

If you do think you might be gluten intolerant and/or have a thyroid issue, please get yourself tested.  Not many folks enjoy getting poked with a needle, but it's a lot better than the complications that could occur if you have it & don't know.

Some numbers for you:
  • An estimated 30 million Americans have a thyroid disorder, according to AACE.
  • 1 in 133 have Celiac, according to a 2003 study conducted by the Center for Celiac Research.
  • 18 million Americans have a gluten intolerance, also from the Center for Celiac Research.
A bonus: the AACE store has an awesome blue paisley lapel pin and other goodies to increase thyroid awareness. 

Okay, it's about time for to attend this webinar on "Food as Medicine for Celiac Disease: Nutrition Beyond the Gluten-Free Diet".  If you're interested in participating in a future webinar with the NFCA, here's the schedule!

Happy eating :)

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