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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Actress Jennifer Esposito Emerging as Advocate for Celiac Disease Awareness

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Caption: Photo: Wikipedia

    Celiac.com 11/09/2012 - From their position in the public eye, celebrities can often draw attention to worthy causes, and to advocate for awareness of those causes more effectively than people outside the media spotlight.

    After being diagnosed with celiac disease in 2008, actress Jennifer Esposito is on a gluten-free diet, and though she's still recovering from the damage to her small intestines, the 'Blue Blood' actress is emerging as a strong advocate for celiac awareness.

    Like so many others with celiac disease, Esposito suffered for many years with symptoms ranging from stomach upset, exhaustion, joint pain, sinus infections, dry skin and hair, panic attacks, depression, and back pain. In fact, nearly twenty years went by before she had a solid diagnosis.

    In a recent interview, Esposito told S. Z. Berg that she is still dealing with the "repercussions of improperly being diagnosed over the years." She points to a lack of awareness about the disease for consumers and that fact that only recently "is the medical field paying closer attention."

    In a line that may be familiar to many people with celiac disease, she points out the long struggle to fully recover, even after adopting a gluten-free diet, noting that even though "many of the stomach issues and other ailment start to subside," celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that requires daily attention.

    People with the disease, she says, must constantly be aware of what they eat and maintain a healthy lifestyle, along with healthy vitamin and mineral levels.

    She says that her recovery has been "a long journey... and one that I still am on. The severe panic attacks have subsided as well as the depression, but with one bad meal they are ready and waiting to come to the forefront."

    Her own struggles have left her "determined to educate and make people aware of the truth about this disease."

    Ultimately, Esposito had her celiac disease confirmed through blood test and biopsy, but in some ways, that was only the beginning of her challenges. She says she believes that the medical industry needs to focus on "treating the individual person, the whole person, body and mind and not about money and mass studies of a disease."

    She also bemoans what she calls the "one pill fits all mentality" of the medical profession, along with the fact that nutrition is something that gets addressed only after an individual has gotten diagnosed. She describes this as "negligence," and says that it has compounded the damage, and with it, her difficulties. "My life is dramatically different and my health is a struggle everyday," she says.

    To help others with their celiac disease struggles, Esposito has created a blog called Jennifer's Way. There, she hopes to help people learn more about celiac disease and share the struggles and triumphs of her journey toward wellness.

    Her blog includes tips, ideas, and advice on how to get started in this new life. I also share some of my favorite easy and good for you recipes that I've created.

    She's also founded Jennifer's Way Foundation for Celiac Education to help make sure that going forward there is proper education about this disease in addition to helping to generate awareness to help people live a healthy gluten-free life.

    Jennifer has a nonprofit organization, Jennifer's Way, to help educate the public about celiac disease. Her Twitter handle is @JennifersWayJE.

    Developing Story: Breaking news indicates that Jennifer Esposito has been dismissed from her role in Blue Bloods, for reasons she says have to do with her celiac disease. This story is developing, so stay tuned...

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    But you can cure celiac disease just by not eating gluten

     

    Celiac is not like a disease but an allergy to gluten, so why call it a disease? There is so much fuss about it when all you do is avoid gluten foods, just like any other food allergy.

    Wrong, it's not a "food allergy" it's an autoimmune disorder. In people with an autoimmune disorder, the immune system can't tell the difference between healthy body tissue and antigens. That causes an immune response that destroys normal body tissues. This response is a hypersensitivity reaction similar to the response in allergic conditions.

     

    In allergies, the immune system reacts to an outside substance that it normally would ignore. With autoimmune disorders, the immune system reacts to normal body tissues that it would normally ignore. So not the same as an allergy.

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    Good article, however I do not think she represents celiac disease well to the public/media. After being diagnosed and eating a strict gluten-free diet, there are a lot of celiacs that can lead fully functional lives working jobs with very long hours. I do not understand what makes her different, as she is an actress and can rest in a trailer when she is not working but on set. I wish I could have done that when working! She is not a good advocate for me - an advocate is someone who does something positive for the community, often without being asked or without public recognition.

    Totally disagree with your comment. I also was forced to leave my job, not because I wanted to but my health problem due to celiac disease was and still is controlling my daily living. Thank you Jennifer Esposito for making it aware that not all celiacs are alike.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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