*** Warning! There is a better than even chance that the following post contains satirical content. The authors of this site cannot assume any liability for potential public backlash against Oompa Loompas, Mel Brooks movies, and/or the good people of Norway. Thank you for your understanding. ***
Just been diagnosed? Don’t quite understand what Celiac is and what causes it? Have a broad range of really annoying symptoms and don’t know why? Unless you have an obsession with transglutaminase’s and antigliadin’s,
the nuances of Celiac Disease can be a little difficult to digest.
Ahem, pun intended. Boy I crack myself up sometimes.
Let’s take a stab at explaining this really complex topic in true Celiac Bites fashion. That could be a little dangerous, but here goes…
I think the easiest way to describe Celiac is to compare it to the big fight scene in Mel Brooks’ famous movie Blazing Saddles. Someone punches a horse, things get ugly, and next thing you know, everybody is beating the crap out of everybody else. That’s kind of what happens in your small intestine, only there’s usually not a horse involved. So, given the likely absence of the either a horse or evil villain Hedley Lamarr, how does this battle royale within your small intestine happen?
It’s pretty simple really.When you eat Pop-Tarts, you get sick. Even though Pop-Tarts are mostly made of advanced plastic polymers, they do contain trace amounts of proteins commonly found in wheat, barley, and rye grains.
And, as everybody knows, wheat, barley, and rye grains are descendants of Thor, the great viking god of thunder. Thor was a raucous warrior, wreaking havoc and destruction wherever he went. After a while, Thor got bored of being fearsome and plundering things, so he settled down with former Beverly Hills 90210 actress Brittany Ashleigh Spelling. Together they had a whole bunch of kids – so many that they gave up on the idea of naming them individually and instead referred to them collectively as the gliadins. So you might say that the gliadins are little offshoots of wheat, barley, and rye grains. Still with me? Good, because I’m not.
Over the years, gliadins have taken up residence in Pop-Tarts all over the world. They also tend to congregate in other forms of yummy food like pizza that have ingredients derived from various grains. While very tiny and seemingly harmless, the gliadins are every bit as irritable and cantankerous as their father Thor – especially when they get eaten. That’s where the trouble starts.
When you eat gliadins, they follow a path straight to your guts – home of the villi.The villi are actually a tribe of miniature people begat by the Oompa Loompas. While Oompa Loompas have a reputation of being hard working and industrious, the villi have no such ambition, so they stand around with their hands in the air waiting for any food that may happen to drift by. Most villi are unemployed and prefer to stay that way as long as they can keep collecting free Pop-Tarts.
So far, so good, as the often cranky gliadins and villi have no real ill will against each other. As the gliadins float by, they might overhear mundane conversations like this:
“No, but I sure hope we have Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Pop-Tarts again. Mmmm.”
This perfectly civil process turns outright ugly when the auto-antibodies get involved. Antibodies have a chip on their shoulder as they resent having to work so hard fighting things like botulism and the common cold, while their cousins the villi don’t do much of anything. As children, the auto-antibodies were generally abused and picked on by the irritable gliadins. Now that they are all grown up, but still a little on the immature side, the auto-antibodies tend to fly off the handle whenever gliadins pass through their neighborhood. However, old fears are hard to overcome, so the auto-antibodies – more specifically the anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies (tTGA’s) – can’t muster up the guts to confront the gliadins directly. Instead, they throw showy tantrums and beat up the mellow villi – who are much easier targets to bully. Once the tTGA’s start fighting the hapless villi, all hell breaks loose. Next thing you know, you’ve got antibodies all over the place chasing after villi, gliadins, and stray Pop-Tart crumbs.
So back to Blazing Saddles. By the time we get to the climactic cafeteria food fight scene, everybody is fighting everybody else and throwing food and furniture for no particular reason. The problem for you is that you own the cafeteria – and the cafeteria gets wrecked in this scene.
As you can imagine, the villi tend to tire of these free for all food fights and eventually go on strike. Beaten down, depressed, and disheartened, they won’t even bother to get their own food, much less do any work for you. You can eat as much as you want, but no goodness is getting through to you. It’s kind of like watching “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” You can spend hours and hours viewing re-runs, but you most likely will not be registering your yacht in Monaco anytime soon. Ok – back to the villi picket line. In a show of union solidarity, everyone else in your body goes on strike. You get sick, tired, lethargic, and weak – kind of like having that 6am Monday morning feeling all the time. And you know how truly awesome that is.
I sincerely hope I didn’t lose you with all the complex medical and biological terminology. This has been a public service of Celiac Bites.
Join us next time where we will address the question…
“So you’re allergic to bread???”
Thor image: MrDonn.org