“Is this gluten-free?”
College Graduate Lena Mattero. Photo Credit: New Jersey Vegfest. https://newjerseyvegfest.wordpress.com/2016/09/18/new-jersey-vegfest-volunteer-lena-mattero/
“Is this gluten-free?”
Seems to be a familiar saying for those diagnosed with celiac disease, an issue that affects almost one percent of our population. The same was true for a girl named Lena Mattero, a student from Wharton, New Jersey.
“It’s very interesting because your life has to go through a lifestyle change. It’s kind of like food is no longer just something so simple. It becomes much more complicated,” said Mattero.
For those individuals who suffer from celiac disease, a diet free from gluten becomes a must. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that is mostly known to be triggered by gluten. Gluten is actually a protein mostly found in foods such as barley, wheat, and rye. Those who suffer from celiac disease tend to overreact to the introduction of these kinds of protein, and their intestinal villi become damaged. It can also lead to malabsorption and even malnourishment in the individual. Celiac disease is also known to cause loss of bone density, miscarriage in pregnant women, and infertility. A few of the symptoms of this disease include pain in the abdomen, nausea, pain in the bones or joints, ulcers in the mouth, heartburn, fatigue or tiredness, and weight loss. Currently, there are no drugs that can treat this disease entirely, so, in such cases, a strict gluten-free diet is the only thing that can help. The individual has to refrain from eating items such as cake or baked goods, and they should also avoid cereals, medications, and any other items that contain gluten in their ingredients list.
Lena Mattero, a 23-year-old college graduate from New Jersey, also had to constantly question whether each and every item of consumption was gluten-free or not, since she was suffering from celiac disease. Once she was diagnosed with the disease, she knew that her entire lifestyle had to change. She mentioned that food was no longer a simple matter. At one point, she was actually figuring out why were certain foods were causing inflammation and other symptoms in her body. Gradually, she started to gain interest in nutrition, which was driven by her firsthand experience with celiac disease. One of her aunts took notice of her interest in learning about a variety of foods that affect multiple medical conditions and she helped inspire Lena to become a registered doctor. What makes a person passionate can truly change their lives for the better and help them accomplish their goals as well. Lena gained a bachelor’s degree in the field of food and nutrition and spent her days working at a place called Camp Nejeda. This is a camp created especially for children who suffer from Type 1 diabetes. There are multiple recommendations a dietician can make to help a patient deal with the disease. They can help determine whether or not gluten is the culprit behind the person’s discomfort, in case the symptoms are actually related to some other food intolerance, and it can also indicate the important nutrients being received (or not) by the individual. Lena will also be going back to school for two years to earn her master’s degree in nutrition.
Lena has been progressing well in her dietitian field as well as helping others to live a normal life with their disease by suggesting the correct foods to be consumed and in what amounts.