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Stress !@#$ And Celiac Disease


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#1 Greg Rappaport

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 09:56 AM

Perhaps this is not the best forum to discuss this in, but I'm wondering if anyone has come to any conclusions about the relationship between those individuals diagnosed with celiac disease and being simultaneously burdened (behaviorally) with a high-stress lifestyle.

I welcome any discussion here. Thanks. -Greg
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#2 koolkat222

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 11:13 AM

I thought that, for many celiacs, this was the case. I heard an explanation that said we had some sort of predisposion to celiac; but it wasn't triggered until we experienced a highly stressful, life changing event :( that "turned on" the celiac.

I know this isn't the case with everyone, but I believe it was the case with me. Nobody else in my family has celiac.
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#3 Greg Rappaport

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Posted 21 August 2011 - 06:48 PM

Looks like quite a few people have read this, but few responses. Is it just me or are there any other celiacs out there living a high stress life?! Perhaps I just need a therapist. :P
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#4 glutenfreeinminnesota

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Posted 21 August 2011 - 07:02 PM

I have never really had a high stress life...but I will say when we moved 1300 miles (New Mexico to Minnesota, huge change) from the place I was born at 14 years old (right before high school :() I got sick and missed months of school, and was ultimately homeschooled due to bad stomach pain. They never said a word about Celiac Disease then....the only thing I was diagnosed with was GERD (and later IBS) >:( So I can't say that's when it was triggered as I wasn't diagnosed til I was 25... I do know my problems got worse with the more stressful times in my life...so maybe! I have heard auto immune diseases are stress triggered.
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Diagnosed with Celiac Disease November 2009
2011:
Anemia is gone for the first time in my life, Yay!
Teeth are cleaner according to my dentist (interesting, eh???)
Eyesight has improved for the first time in my life (another interesting thing!)

**My advice to the newly diagnosed** HANG IN THERE!! It gets better and is so worth the seemly long road to getting better. Just be happy you can make yourself healthy with a diet change, and not have to take pills for the rest of your life. :D

#5 Roda

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Posted 21 August 2011 - 07:03 PM

I think I have had subtle symptoms since 1998 but they didn't become bothersome to me until 2005-2006. My husband had a surgery gone bad that put a lot of stress on the family in 2005. It really came to a head in 2006 after I weaned my youngest son. I was on a very restrictive diet (gluten light looking back) for him because he had issues. Once I was able to eat things again (I didn't realize at the time it was food related) I started having bad issues. I also started in 2007 having a lot of stress at work. So yes I do think it contributed.
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Me:
Celiac disease(positive blood work/biopsy- 10/2008), gluten free oat intolerent, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis/Disease, Raynaud's Disease


DS2(age 9):
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DS1(age 13):
repeated negative bloodwork and negative EGD/biopsy. Started on a gluten free trial(8/2011). He has decided to stay gluten free due to all of the improvements he has experienced on the diet.


#6 Hawthorn

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 09:13 AM

I'm not diagnosed as celiac, rather as non celiac gluten intolerance. I would say there is a good chance given my symptoms that I AM celiac, but haven't had the endoscopy to prove it either way.

High stress lifestyle. Difficult child/teenage life which resulted in me striking out on my own at 16, to end up married to a physically/mentally/financially abusive/adulterous husband for ten years. Four children in that time, plus the stress of starting again when I finally got the balls to leave him. Post natal depression after three of those children, one incidence of puerperal psychosis with the other.

Financially things have always been tight for me. I have always struggled with never feeling I was quite good enough...in anything. That creates a lot of pressure too.

There is other stuff in there, mainly centred around mental health issues which I was treated for many years for, in some shape or form.

Now, I have thought and thought about this, and I still don't know whether Gluten is responsible for my lack of confidence, self worth, feelings of being out of control, utter hopelessness and exhaustion, or if the aforementioned is responsible for the gluten problem ;)

I CAN tell you it has eased considerably since going gluten free.

The trouble is when you have been in that depressed/stressed/anxious rut, I feel that behaviour becomes habitual, at least to some degree. Even now when things go wrong I could still just sit down and cry at the hopelessness of it all - even though logically the fact that I just burned my soup is really NOT a big deal. It doesn't make me the most useless person in the world. It just makes me distracted at that moment in time.

These days I'm spending less time wondering which came first and more time trying to move past it and change the stuff I don't like - breaking those bad habits. Not today though because I feel absolutely exhausted :P

Sorry if all of that is too much information
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#7 IrishHeart

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 03:07 PM

Chronic stress turns on the inflammatory response in the body.

Three factors contribute to Celiac -- it is "triggered" in (1) genetically predisposed individuals by the (2)consumption of gluten and (3) stress --either physical or emotional --some type of trauma,illness, virus, or pregnancy---so YES! there is a connection between stress and celiac disease.

Of course, this does not mean you "made yourself a celiac" just because you lead a stress-filled life. :blink: It just means that it can be a contibuting factor.

In retrospect, I had many symptoms of celiac throughout my whole life, but it wasn't until I suffered a series of stressful events in my life --including illness, surgeries, miscarriages, and the death of several loved ones--that it "triggered" in me for good. Massive weight loss, hair loss, muscle mass loss, burning nerve pain, crippling joint/bone pain, brain fog, short-term memory loss, ataxia, insomnia, central nervous system disruption...and dozens of other bizarre symptoms came roaring to life.

Took me nearly 3 more stressful years of researching and reading information to get a proper DX. Stress exacerbates any health problem and celiac disease is one of them.

I had tried for years to learn ways to release stress :D (yoga, walking, deep-breathing, meditating, music, Tai Chi, etc. ) and they never "worked" at all while I was consuming gluten. Frankly, I am a much calmer person without gluten in my body. It causes "stoner brain" and major agitation in me. Funny...I always thought of gluteny foods as "comfort foods"-- until it became the very thing that caused me to be an anxious, restless and worrisome insomniac!

Glad all of that is behind me now! ;)
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"Life is not the way it's supposed to be. It's the way it is. The way we cope with it makes the difference." Virginia Satir

"The strongest of all warriors are these two - time and patience." Leo Tolstoy

“If idiots could fly, the sky would be like an airport.”― Laura Davenport

"LTES"  Gem 2014

Misdiagnosed for 25+ years; Finally Diagnosed with Celiac  11/01/10.  Double DQ2 genes. This thing tried to kill me. I view Celiac as a fire breathing dragon --and I have run my sword right through his throat.
I. Win. bliss-smiley-emoticon.gif


#8 Greg Rappaport

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 05:09 PM

I have never really had a high stress life...but I will say when we moved 1300 miles (New Mexico to Minnesota, huge change) from the place I was born at 14 years old (right before high school :() I got sick and missed months of school, and was ultimately homeschooled due to bad stomach pain. They never said a word about Celiac Disease then....the only thing I was diagnosed with was GERD (and later IBS) >:( So I can't say that's when it was triggered as I wasn't diagnosed til I was 25... I do know my problems got worse with the more stressful times in my life...so maybe! I have heard auto immune diseases are stress triggered.


Cannot even imagine being so young and going through this. How are things for you now? Any better?

I was about 29 years old when I was diagnosed. Three explanations were posited: Celiac was caused by a major trauma, surgical event or a period of traumatic or prolonged stress. The first two were (of course) promptly ruled out.

At that time had been working for a boss who really gave me a hard time for about three years. I had a great deal of anxiety and insecurity, and this probably triggered responses from a very traumatic childhood as well. So I was predisposed to stress and its negative effects, and this (likely) triggered the autoimmune response. I will never know.

What I do know, however, is that I am still a high-stress person and probably suffer at times from anxiety and mild depression. I really get down on myself when things do not go how I expect or hope, often internalizing those feelings rather than processing them and moving on. This - I often believe - is the source of my celiac. Tough thing to control or change. So many people (family, wife, friends, etc) have "simple solutions" but I can never seem to get my act together.

This is why I am interested in this topic, and thought it would be a good way to get some thoughts and advice. Thank you so much for sharing your story, and best wishes to you.
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#9 Greg Rappaport

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 05:21 PM

I'm not diagnosed as celiac, rather as non celiac gluten intolerance. I would say there is a good chance given my symptoms that I AM celiac, but haven't had the endoscopy to prove it either way.

High stress lifestyle. Difficult child/teenage life which resulted in me striking out on my own at 16, to end up married to a physically/mentally/financially abusive/adulterous husband for ten years. Four children in that time, plus the stress of starting again when I finally got the balls to leave him. Post natal depression after three of those children, one incidence of puerperal psychosis with the other.

Financially things have always been tight for me. I have always struggled with never feeling I was quite good enough...in anything. That creates a lot of pressure too.

There is other stuff in there, mainly centred around mental health issues which I was treated for many years for, in some shape or form.

Now, I have thought and thought about this, and I still don't know whether Gluten is responsible for my lack of confidence, self worth, feelings of being out of control, utter hopelessness and exhaustion, or if the aforementioned is responsible for the gluten problem ;)

I CAN tell you it has eased considerably since going gluten free.

The trouble is when you have been in that depressed/stressed/anxious rut, I feel that behaviour becomes habitual, at least to some degree. Even now when things go wrong I could still just sit down and cry at the hopelessness of it all - even though logically the fact that I just burned my soup is really NOT a big deal. It doesn't make me the most useless person in the world. It just makes me distracted at that moment in time.

These days I'm spending less time wondering which came first and more time trying to move past it and change the stuff I don't like - breaking those bad habits. Not today though because I feel absolutely exhausted :P

Sorry if all of that is too much information


I can definetley relate at times, although I cannot say my feelings are as pronounced. I easily get caught up in what I envision to be my future success: promotion at work, completing graduate school, or simply raising my three children without them getting hurt or sick (yea, like this is ever going to happen!). But that's the problem: I often take things like this personally, internalizing things like my 2 year-old's double ear infection from last week... He started off refusing to take his amoxicilin, and this was incredibly disappointing to me, causing my stomach to turn and prohibiting me from sleeping. Anyway, it seems like celiacs often turn toward a more simple, whole-foods approach to their diet (and, consequently, their treatment). Similarly I am hoping to incorporate a more simple approach to daily life to manage my stress-level, but being a father of three kids, working full-time (supervisory level no less), and going to graduate school as well all seem to make my life a totally blurry chaotic existence.

Thank you so much for sharing your story and a bit of yourself. :)
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#10 Greg Rappaport

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Posted 22 August 2011 - 05:29 PM

Chronic stress turns on the inflammatory response in the body.

Three factors contribute to Celiac -- it is "triggered" in (1) genetically predisposed individuals by the (2)consumption of gluten and (3) stress --either physical or emotional --some type of trauma,illness, virus, or pregnancy---so YES! there is a connection between stress and celiac disease.

Of course, this does not mean you "made yourself a celiac" just because you lead a stress-filled life. :blink: It just means that it can be a contibuting factor.

In retrospect, I had many symptoms of celiac throughout my whole life, but it wasn't until I suffered a series of stressful events in my life --including illness, surgeries, miscarriages, and the death of several loved ones--that it "triggered" in me for good. Massive weight loss, hair loss, muscle mass loss, burning nerve pain, crippling joint/bone pain, brain fog, short-term memory loss, ataxia, insomnia, central nervous system disruption...and dozens of other bizarre symptoms came roaring to life.

Took me nearly 3 more stressful years of researching and reading information to get a proper DX. Stress exacerbates any health problem and celiac disease is one of them.

I had tried for years to learn ways to release stress :D (yoga, walking, deep-breathing, meditating, music, Tai Chi, etc. ) and they never "worked" at all while I was consuming gluten. Frankly, I am a much calmer person without gluten in my body. It causes "stoner brain" and major agitation in me. Funny...I always thought of gluteny foods as "comfort foods"-- until it became the very thing that caused me to be an anxious, restless and worrisome insomniac!

Glad all of that is behind me now! ;)


So I have been gluten-free now for some 12 years, and have not visited the gym for 2 years (ever since my son - third child - was born). So I keep thinking that I really need to once again incorporate exercise into my daily life, but you seem to suggest that having a gluten-free diet is more important, yes? Obviously both would be ideal. My problem right now is that I have an inflamation problem in my right foot now, and cannot really walk right (much less exercise). I'm seeing a rheumatologist on Wed. morning to discuss my recent inflamation issues and joint-pain.
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#11 IrishHeart

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 12:49 PM

So I have been gluten-free now for some 12 years, and have not visited the gym for 2 years (ever since my son - third child - was born). So I keep thinking that I really need to once again incorporate exercise into my daily life, but you seem to suggest that having a gluten-free diet is more important, yes? Obviously both would be ideal. My problem right now is that I have an inflamation problem in my right foot now, and cannot really walk right (much less exercise). I'm seeing a rheumatologist on Wed. morning to discuss my recent inflamation issues and joint-pain.


I am not suggesting that a gluten-free diet is more important than exercise or some joyful stress-busting activity. :) What I am saying is that in MY case anyway, all the exercise and stress-reducing techniques (including an 8-week stress reduction class!) proved useless while I was still under the influence of gluten and really very ill and in burning pain from looooong undiagnosed celiac. I had no idea my anxiety was CAUSED by gluten and vitamin/mineral and neurotransmitter imbalances. I was not an overly anxious person until this disease became full-blown.

Yes, I think a balanced lifestyle would incorporate some exercise, a healthy diet and some type of stress -reducing activity that you ENJOY!!! Playing with your children comes to mind ;) Do you like to swim? dance? sing? write? do some stuff like that! :) Take a walk after dinner with your wife. Carve out the time, no matter what, for you to just "be".

Since you are an "old pro" :) at being gluten-free, your stress is likely not coming from the gluten factor but perhaps some other source?? I commisserate with your inablity to exercise right now as I am in dire pain and my muscles were greatly impacted by this disease. I hope to be able to get back to the gym soon!

I hope you can find a way to tame or eradicate your stress--- a young Dad like yourself surely does not need to be so stressed out and developing other health issues. As for internalizing and taking things so personally, well, that's not a defect of course, but rather placing undeserved "blame" on yourself for some reason that only you can determine.

There must be some way for you to find some inner calm, yes? You have a hectic schedule for sure--a demanding job, school and a family---and it probably wears on you. Yet, I am thinking you could use some free time to just "chill". B) I strongly suggest LAUGHTER every day as well. If it were not for my sense of humor, I would be in a wheelchair, an insane asylum or dead by now. :rolleyes:

Have you ever read the book Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn? Might get your started on some ways to reduce the level of stress in your life. And there is nothing wrong with getting some help from a trained therapist. Maybe some helpful ideas for better managing your time and stress levels would be just the thing. Maybe talking it out with an objective person would free you from all this anxiety and internal chaos. ( It worked for me anyway.) I think having someone help you doesn't mean you've failed or you cannot manage it yourself--it just means you're not in it alone. :)

My best wishes to you!
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"Life is not the way it's supposed to be. It's the way it is. The way we cope with it makes the difference." Virginia Satir

"The strongest of all warriors are these two - time and patience." Leo Tolstoy

“If idiots could fly, the sky would be like an airport.”― Laura Davenport

"LTES"  Gem 2014

Misdiagnosed for 25+ years; Finally Diagnosed with Celiac  11/01/10.  Double DQ2 genes. This thing tried to kill me. I view Celiac as a fire breathing dragon --and I have run my sword right through his throat.
I. Win. bliss-smiley-emoticon.gif


#12 PainfulSpaghetti

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 12:57 PM

I am predisposed as my Grandma had it, however I also have Ulcerative Colitis, severe fibrolmyalgia, arthritis and bursitis. Stress should be my middle name. It is ALL worse when my stress levels climb, but the viscious circle is that the flare ups, or gluten attacks cause stress!
A sense of humor is a must for me! I have to keep positive, and find calm.
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#13 Greg Rappaport

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 05:01 PM

Have you ever read the book Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn? Might get your started on some ways to reduce the level of stress in your life. And there is nothing wrong with getting some help from a trained therapist. Maybe some helpful ideas for better managing your time and stress levels would be just the thing. Maybe talking it out with an objective person would free you from all this anxiety and internal chaos. ( It worked for me anyway.) I think having someone help you doesn't mean you've failed or you cannot manage it yourself--it just means you're not in it alone. :)

My best wishes to you!


You are so much more optimistic than I am. I admire that in you, and often wish I could possess this admirable trait myself. I am just too damn hard on myself, and often find it difficult to ignore the little things in order to allow me to enjoy the more important things. For example if I'm having a good time playing with the kids and they wind up spilling apple juice on the carpet or fighting, I have a hard time rebounding. Anyway, I appreciate the book suggestion, and will look into it. Unfortunately, I'm about to begin another semester of graduate coursework, and imagine I will be inundated with reading very soon! Work, graduate school and family just absoarb everything you know.
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#14 IrishHeart

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Posted 24 August 2011 - 06:12 AM

You are so much more optimistic than I am. I admire that in you, and often wish I could possess this admirable trait myself. I am just too damn hard on myself, and often find it difficult to ignore the little things in order to allow me to enjoy the more important things. For example if I'm having a good time playing with the kids and they wind up spilling apple juice on the carpet or fighting, I have a hard time rebounding. Anyway, I appreciate the book suggestion, and will look into it. Unfortunately, I'm about to begin another semester of graduate coursework, and imagine I will be inundated with reading very soon! Work, graduate school and family just absoarb everything you know.


I guess I am a "glass half full" kind of gal---but what I really am is a realistic sort--more of a "survivor". I was so sick and in pain for so long and no doctor took me seriously. I was told to "get a scooter to get around" when I could barely walk and it was suggested that my anxiety and rapid weight loss that came out of nowhere was "just stress" and I needed a psychiatrist...BALONEY!! I just kept fighting for answers. My husband and family thought I would die before someone figured it out (I FIGURED OUT it was Celiac!!) but anyway, I am not sure if it is optimism or pure stubbornness that best describes me. :D

In any case, you need to figure out what makes you so keyed up!! You are clearly unable to relax. I see it all the time in my relatives and they are easily pissed off and grumpy (these are young parents who should be enjoying life!!) and all I can say is..."Step away from the gluten, people. It makes you nuts!" but, no one listens to me. sigh. ah well. They will learn it for themselves.

Greg, I was a perfectionist, too-- and demanded so much of myself. I was always hard on myself and even though I presented as an independent, confident professional woman, I was really insecure inside and tried to please everyone and be "in charge"--- all at the same time. It nearly killed me. I walked away from that stressful job and never looked back. I am not saying everyone can afford to do this, of course. What I AM saying is you have to find a balance.

You have to let the little things go, my friend. Being so stressed will surely bring you more illness. (from inflammation!!!)

And that's exactly WHY you need to read this book (or see a counselor). It explains why those little things --like spilled juice or kids "being kids"--should not provoke irritation in you. Nothing in life is perfect---juice gets spilled all the time and you know what? You can wipe it up!! I notice you used the word "unfortunately" to describe a new semester of school....because it is too much for you??? I was a college Prof.-- so this is why I know what you are dealing with. You also listed family last among the things that "absorb" everything. You're a really nice guy who is obviously trying to give his family a good life---but at what expense?? Your health?

Greg, are you SURE you are not getting any gluten into you??? That can really cause irritability.

I had a friend, a Dad of 3 who worked hard for his family (2 jobs) but often found himself easily angered by silly things. He would fly off the handle if one of the kids broke something by accident and he would ruin everyone's day by overreacting. I witnessed it many times and it made me cringe. He was a loving, funny guy, but something would make him snap and he carried that stress around and had bypass surgery and angioplasty by the time he was 45.

No job or position of prestige is worth feeling so stressed and unable to enjoy simple pleasures. Really, what is the point of attaining all that ---if you cannot enjoy what you work so hard for in the first place????

I really hope you consider seeing someone for assistance with this because you readily admit it is a problem and so you are also probably very aware that it is not going to go away by itself.

I am just offering my thoughts here--I am NOT a trained therapist :lol: --- and you can ignore them if you wish. But I can tell you are hurting inside about this and having "been there/done that" myself and see it in so many others in my life...I felt compelled to offer some ideas. Just my humble opinion.

Only you can make the changes necessary for you to stop feeling so tense and unhappy.

When I was very ill for 3 years, I realized that all the nice "things" I had accumulated meant absolutely nothing---because I was so crippled by pain and illness to even enjoy them. I could not travel, read a book (because I suffered cognitive impairment from gluten and malnutrition) or even swim in my pool! I could not do anything. That is NOT living and I often said "I'd rather be dead than live like this"...I did not really mean it because I worked hard to find the CAUSE of this strange illness that had struck me down.

Nothing matters without good health--physical and emotional. Life is too short, kiddo. ;) Figure out what matters most to you.

Wishing you all the best! Irish
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"Life is not the way it's supposed to be. It's the way it is. The way we cope with it makes the difference." Virginia Satir

"The strongest of all warriors are these two - time and patience." Leo Tolstoy

“If idiots could fly, the sky would be like an airport.”― Laura Davenport

"LTES"  Gem 2014

Misdiagnosed for 25+ years; Finally Diagnosed with Celiac  11/01/10.  Double DQ2 genes. This thing tried to kill me. I view Celiac as a fire breathing dragon --and I have run my sword right through his throat.
I. Win. bliss-smiley-emoticon.gif


#15 mushroom

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Posted 24 August 2011 - 07:03 AM

Wise words, IrishHeart. It is certainly admirable to aspire to do well, get ahead, be promoted, provide well for family, but if these aspirations are set too high they can get in the way of enjoying anything that you are trying to attain, and therefore render any attainments unsatisfying because you never get the feeling of "job well done." I am sure your family would enjoy a happier dad over a more successful one :)

I cannot remember now who it was who said "Don't sweat the small stuff - and it's all small stuff!" Like the spilled apple juice is way small stuff, to be laughed at rather than letting it spoil a moment of joy. My hub tends to make mountains out of molehills, and I just say nah, that's small stuff. Wait for something big to worry about :D
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"Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted." - Albert Einstein

"Life is not weathering the storm; it is learning to dance in the rain"

"Whatever the question, the answer is always chocolate." Nigella Lawson

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Caffeine free 1973
Lactose free 1990
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Diagnosed psoriatic arthritis 2004
Self-diagnosed gluten intolerant, gluten-free Nov. 2007
Soy free March 2008
Nightshade free Feb 2009
Citric acid free June 2009
Potato starch free July 2009
(Totally) corn free Nov. 2009
Legume free March 2010
Now tolerant of lactose

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