Angie Thayer, a pharma professional for a major pharmaceutical company.
Being diagnosed with Celiac Disease is a life-changing event. I was 40 years old when I learned that I was suffering from Celiac Disease. By that point, I had established my likes and dislikes and developed well-engrained eating habits. So, when I got the news there was a lot of reflection. I thought back trying to recall when it may have triggered; I wondered if my mother had suffered from it. I even questioned whether there were any life decisions I had made along the way that made me more susceptible. Once I came to terms with the fact that I had to be gluten-free for the remainder of my life to stop the damage that had occurred and begin the healing process, I began doing extensive research to understand what I could and couldn’t eat anymore. As a scientist, I felt well-equipped to navigate my way through food labeling. Within a few weeks, I felt like an expert in recognizing gluten contaminated food sources and had completely purged my home of gluten-laced foods, spices, and condiments. So, when my Gastroenterologist recommended that I meet with a dietician, I initially thought it was a waste of time and money. But I followed my doctor’s orders and had a consultation with a dietician. We walked through all the basics and she was impressed with my understanding and quickly established commitment to ensuring I didn’t eat gluten, but then she asked a question that caught me off-guard. “How about your personal hygiene products – have you checked those labels for gluten?” In an instance, I no longer felt like an expert. I had never even thought to check my various lotions, shampoos, conditioners, etc. I went home and immediately went through every product I had. Sure enough, many of my products were contaminated, while others were lacking proper information to make an informed decision about. I contacted manufacturers trying to get information, but even that was not an easy task. In the end, I ended up throwing out a majority of my stuff either because it was clearly contaminated or I couldn’t determine if it was contaminated and it was better to be safe than sorry. This process was an eye-opening experience. I had no idea that so many products across so many industries contained gluten. So, when I heard about Liia and Sumant’s new company, Epilynx, focused on gluten-free skin care products, I was excited to try them out and compelled to get involved to share my story to bring awareness to this topic. Most people don’t fully understand what it means to need to be gluten-free. The gluten-free diet craze has been a double edge sword. It’s driven a new market segment for food and non-foods, alike, but it’s also clouded the understanding around those who this isn’t a lifestyle choice for. What people don’t realize is that for people with Celiac Disease, it is imperative to remove all gluten exposure. It’s the only proven treatment option to date. When you have Celiac Disease, exposure to any gluten results in an autoimmune response that ultimately destroys the small intestines. This can result in lots of serious health consequences, including malnutrition, malabsorption of key minerals, which increase the risk of osteoporosis, neurological conditions, and even increase the risk of cancers such as lymphoma. So much more than food exposes people to gluten every day. This makes it hard for people with Celiac Disease to achieve full recovery. That’s why it’s so important for companies like Epilynx to take on this challenge and provide safe options for those suffering from Celiac Disease.