Thursday, May 23, 2013

Guest Post: Celebrating Celiac Disease Awareness Month by Casey Conway

"Gluten is the protein found in wheat,
barley, rye and often oats, due to
cross-contamination with wheat."

Gluten free diets are all the rage and restaurants are slowly adding gluten free meals to their menus; but what is celiac disease? Why is it important to raise awareness about it and just how serious is this gluten stuff? 

Contrary to popular belief, celiac disease is not an allergy to gluten or wheat. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that damages the villi of the small intestine, therefore interfering with the absorption of nutrients from food. Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley, rye and often oats, due to cross-contamination with wheat.

Celiac disease is hereditary and there is no cure other than following a strict gluten free diet. Although a person is born with genes for celiac disease, those genes may not be expressed until later in life. There is currently no evidence to support that celiac disease is more likely to be expressed at a certain age if the genes are present (Mann, 2010).

Celiac Disease by the Numbers
·         It is estimated that 97 percent of Americans with celiac disease are not diagnosed (“Celiac Disease Facts and Figures, 2003).
·         It takes six to ten years on average for an individual to be correctly diagnosed (“Celiac disease facts and figures,” n.d.).
·         Celiac disease has more than 300 known symptoms (“Celiac disease symptoms can be elusive,” n.d.).

Common Misconceptions
·         People with celiac disease are skinny, or a gluten free diet leads to weight loss
Due to poor nutrient absorption, inflammation and the increased risk of other autoimmune diseases, it’s not uncommon for someone with celiac disease to be overweight. Additionally, gluten free product replacements often contain more sugar and carbohydrates and offer little nutritional value.
·         A little gluten won’t hurt someone with celiac disease
The smallest amount of gluten which has been shown by biopsy to cause damage to an individual with celiac disease is 0.1 gram per day. Try to cut one slice of bread into 48 parts for a visual. One of those parts will do it.

Gene tests are popular because they will confirm whether or not the genes for the disease are even present. If they are, a person can request further blood tests from their primary care physician. In addition to blood tests, a biopsy can be performed to confirm damage to the villi.

Why is Awareness Important? The Autoimmune Snowball
Because celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, it often causes other autoimmune diseases to occur. The most common autoimmune diseases associated with celiac disease are type 1 diabetes and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Experts recommend that anyone with either of these conditions be tested for celiac disease. Learning that you have celiac disease first and following a strict gluten free diet may help prevent a snowball of other problems.

There are several organizations that provide support for individuals with both celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Below is a list of helpful resources.

Remember, knowledge is power!

Casey Conway received a “suggestive” celiac disease diagnosis in 2011 after years of dealing with unexplained illness. She is the owner of Purely Thriving Health & Wellness, where she uses a holistic approach to coach individuals seeking healthy and sustainable lifestyle changes. Find her on the web at, or contact her at to learn more.

Celiac disease facts and figures. (n.d.). National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. Retrieved from
Celiac Disease Facts and Figures. (2003). Retrieved from
Celiac disease symptoms can be elusive. (n.d.). National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. Retrieved from
Mann, D. (2010, Sept 27). Celiac Disease Can Develop at Any Age. WebMD. Retrieved from

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Guest Post: Personal Check-up by Coach Iris Slay

Keeping our physical bodies healthy is a value that many people esteem. Many people work out, eat healthy, and visit the doctor regularly. Specifically, most people visit the doctor when sick. It is easy for individuals to take care of their bodies since the body either looks or feels badly when a lack of attention is provided to a physical body.

Many individuals lack taking care of their emotional bodies, though. Are you one of these individuals? Would you consider yourself emotionally well or sick? When was the last time that you conducted a personal check-up?

When conducting a personal check-up it’s important to ask yourself several questions. These questions might be similar to what a doctor would ask when you entered his office for a regular check-up.

1. Am I being the person that I desire to be in my life?
2. Am I meeting my personal goals?
3. Am I treating people like I want to be treated?
4. Has my personality changed? If so, what specifically has changed? Has it changed for the better or the worse?
5. Am I staying as organized and driven as I want to be in my personal or business life?

If you find yourself saying ‘no’ to any of these diagnosing questions, you may be emotionally sick or getting emotionally sick. Just as a doctor would do, you must prescribe medicine for yourself. Here are several prescriptions to give yourself:

1. More sleep/regular sleeping habits
2. A new job
3. New friends/influences, or a new circle or community
4. Vacation
5. Lower stress (which can happen in a myriad of ways)
6. An adventure
7. A new hobby, or reviving one that you have neglected
8. An outlet—physical location, activity, friend, or even a room in your house
9. Better eating habits
10. Exercise
11. A consistent schedule and/or to-do list
12. More consistent boundaries
13. Time to think or pray

Find out what is missing in your life! Remember your passions and loves, whether work or personal or both. Whatever you need, but don’t have, incorporate it into your life if you have control to do so. If you do not have this control, you may need to close the door or grieve and let the person or situation go. Work on “healing” so that you can maintain your emotional health. Consistent progress to an emotionally healthy place in life will allow you to find that when you conduct your next personal check-up, you are emotionally healthy.

If you find yourself in a good place today, congratulations! Try to maintain your emotional health. What can you do to continue your healthy pattern so that when you have your next personal check-up, you are just as healthy?

Iris Slay
has a passion and track record for helping overwhelmed women lacking balance who want guiltless freedom to say no and want to sit in the driver’s seat of their life once and for all. As the “Dating YOURSELF coach,” she guides women to establish what is most important in their lives, discover the lives they desire by restoring the deep connection with themselves, and the courage to turn intention into reality. During our growth sessions, she helps clients uncover their unique personality and core strengths. This process empowers clients to finally become the person they desire!  

Working together, we achieve growth for today! 

Contact her today for your free discovery growth session!  Or, visit her at

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May is Mental Health Month

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Repost - May is National Mental Health Month

This post originally appeared on our blog in May 2012. However, we felt that mental health is a topic that needs repeating.

Nearly 60 million people - approximately one quarter of the adult population in America - suffer from diagnosable mental health disorders each year. 

Since 1949, May has been designated as National Mental Health Month, in an effort to raise social awareness of mental health conditions and treatment. The website for Mental Health America is supporting this observance this year by providing an informative toolkit called "Do More for 1 in 4".  This toolkit is "a call to action for Americans to help the 1 in 4 American adults in their lives who are living with a diagnosable, treatable mental health condition". This toolkit provides information on some of the most common mental health disorders:
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Anxiety Disorder (including panic, obsessive-compulsive, post traumatic stress, phobias, and generalized anxiety disorders)
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Clinical Depression
For more information on the "Do More for 1 in 4" project, please see this link:

If you are a member of the TWU community, you may be interested to know that the TWU Counseling Center provides a wide variety of services for students, faculty and staff. Their selection of resources includes counseling groups, outreach services, consultation services, and a variety of self-help materials. Additionally, they have many online resources, such as assessments and workshops. 

Please feel free to share any other mental health resources that you feel might be beneficial!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Faculty Showcase: Interview of Dr. Julio Guerrero

Dr. Julio Guerrero
Dr. Julio Guerrero

As many of you already know, Dr. Julio Guerrero is the newest faculty member of the TWU Health Studies Department family. He became our new assistant professor in August of 2012. We were able to interview him to gain some insight into his life. 

1). Where did you receive your education? 

“I just earned my PhD in Health Education from Texas A&M in December 2012.  I defended my dissertation in August and walked the stage in December.  Prior to that, I earned a master's degree in Applied Exercise Science from Oklahoma State in 2007, and a bachelor's degree in Health & Physical Education from Northwestern Oklahoma State in 2003.”

2). What are your current research projects?

“My research focus is metabolic syndrome prevention among Mexican-Americans.  Currently, I am examining the relationship between acculturation and chronic diseases.   I am involved with the health disparities research group on campus, and we are in the process of developing collaborations with Latino-serving communities in the DFW area.  Eventually, we would like to start conducting studies that examine how particular aspects of acculturation affect health outcomes among Mexican-Americans.”

3). What made you decide to go into the health studies field?

“A lot went into my decision to go into health studies.  First, I had wanted to become physician when I started college, so I focused on completing the pre-med curriculum.  But I was also an athlete, which prevented me from completing the pre-med courses while I played.  So I was forced to change majors for the time being, and decided on Kinesiology.  However, I completed the pre-med curriculum and applied to medical school after I completed my athletic career.  I didn't get accepted the first round, so I decided to pursue a master's degree to strengthen my applications for the next year.  I was accepted into the Applied Exercise Science program at OSU.  I learned how exercise and nutrition affected the body and prevented disease.  However, my research lab was only involved in performance improving projects among elite athletes.  I simply felt I wasn't doing enough by helping elite athletes become better; I felt could have more of an impact working with a different population, one that actually needs help.  So I developed an interest in health promotion and education, especially among my fellow Latinos who often complained about not knowing how to engage in healthier behaviors.  So when I decided to pursue a PhD, I applied for Health Education programs and got accepted by Texas A&M.  During my doctoral years, I learned how to work with individuals, communities, organizations, and policymakers to develop health improving strategies that positively affect Latino and impoverished communities.”

4). Why did you decide to start teaching health studies?

“I wanted to teach for two reasons: 1) teaching gives me an opportunity to develop community relationships that allow me to engage with individuals and communities regarding health.  2) teaching allows me to directly impact future health professionals.  I had my share of great AND poor professors throughout my academic career, and I just wanted to make sure that current students had a chance to be guided by another good professor who has genuine passion for health and for professionally developing future health professionals.”

5). If you could give any advice to current or future health studies students what would it be?

“I have the same advice for students of any discipline: 1) have passion - be genuine and sincere in what you do and success will happen.  2) be ambitious - take pride in what you do and fulfill your potential. 3) be determined – always realize the greatest rewards come at the greatest costs, so don't let adversity define your life or your career.”

6). What are your most recent publications about and who are the co-authors?

“I'll be submitting two manuscripts from my dissertation with my doctoral advisor, Dr. Ranjita Misra.   I also plan to collaborate with Dr. Abraham Wang in Family Sciences.  Eventually, I will publish results from my research team's health disparities project.”

Later, Dr. Guerrero explained that the health disparities project is a collaborative project with group on campus that consists of several TWU departments. It is a detail extensive research project and he hopes to gain some insight about how acculturation affects factors for metabolic syndrome and other chronic diseases. Good luck, Dr. Guerrero! We are glad to have you as part of the Health Studies Department.