Gluten-free Day! New England Celiac Conference

I spent a good part of my Sunday in Norwood, Massachusetts at the 2nd regional New England Celiac Conference hosted by the Healthy Villi and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) Celiac Center.  Although it may sound like a day of work to many, for me, it was a very fun-filled day!

Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley and rye and for some causes digestive woes and/or is toxic to the body triggering the autoimmune condition, celiac disease.

Because I specialize in digestive health and see many clients with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, I was happy to see some of the leading celiac experts discuss the latest research on celiac disease such as: Peter Green, the director of  the Celiac Center at Columbia University, Ciaran Kelly, the Director of the Celiac Center at BIDMC, Alessio Fasano from University of Maryland; as well, Laurie Higgins and Nixie Raymond, fellow registered dietitians, who provided insights into the latest on celiac disease, nutrition, and the gluten-free diet.

There were more gluten free vendors at this conference than an any other conference that I have attended, or at least it seemed that way.  I tried popped sorghum (like popcorn, but smaller), lemony-gluten-free cookies, wheat free sour cream coffee cake, gluten free bagels and yes, I am full just thinking about it!

My first stop was to meet the ‘Against the Grain’ folks, Nancy Cain and her husband, Tom.  Their gluten-free bagels are yummy…I can vouch for that! Learn more about their high quality, gluten-free real food products here!  

So, I love Udi’s bread so I had to take a quick pic of the Udi’s girls. Udi’s white bread not only is gluten free but also #FODMAP-friendly and a favorite bread choice for many of my IBS clients.  Udi’s expanding variety of products are available at Whole Foods Market and many other local stores too.

I also met this happy gluten-free baking couple, Tom and Judi Smith from Pies by Maria, Gluten Free Bakery, Inc. located in Holbrook, Massachusetts, who shared their outrageously delish gluten free coffee cake with me.  Seriously yum.

I was lucky to catch Alessio Fasano’s attention for a moment to smile for a picture and provide an autograph for me on his book, Fast Facts: Celiac Disease.  I am a BIG Alessio Fan.  His research is cutting edge. I have seen him present multiple times and always learn something new.  Today,  I learned that those born by C-section have a higher risk of developing celiac disease.  Interesting, right?  Dr. Fasano directs the University of Maryland’s medical school’s Center for Celiac Research.  His research has shown that celiac disease affects one in every 133 Americans.

I met up with my registered dietitian friends and colleagues-Janine, Cindy, and Melinda Dennis.  Melinda is the nutritionist for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s Celiac Center and one of the founder of the Healthy Villi Greater Boston Celiac Support Group.  My good friend, Janine stops for a quick pic with her best friends daughter, Alysse, who has recently been diagnosed celiac.  And may I mention, it was Janine’s smart thinking that led to Alysse being tested for celiac!  

I took home some chewy gluten free chocolate chip cookies and lemony glazed cookies to try from Christine and Sandy, two sisters who started Something Sweet Without Wheat. These sisters make some seriously yummy stuff!  Check out their website here.  And check out their cute vehicle!  Truly the full package!

Alessio Fasano started his talk today with the following quote:  “All diseases begin in the gut” attributed to Hippocrates 460 B.C. 

And I agree that Hippocrates had it right.  Take care of your gut and you’ll minimize risk of many chronic illnesses.  And if you are someone that suffers regularly with digestive issues, irritable bowel syndrome,  chronic anemia, or have been diagnosed with thinning of the bones, Graves disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, or type 1 diabetes, ask your doctor to screen you for celiac disease.

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