By Chandler Lutz


AMBLER, Pa. (CBS) — Alice Bast was diagnosed with celiac disease 26 years ago. With no treatment options or even proper food available to her, she decided to take it on herself.

“I never envisioned that I would be taking my own life experience and then changing lives,” she said as she sat in her Ambler office, recalling the moment she opened her nonprofit, Beyond Celiac.

Since 2003, Beyond Celiac has served as the leading patient advocate and research-driven celiac disease organization.

Bast is passionate about her work because she has celiac disease.

“My journey to diagnosis was eight long years,” she said. “It started with my hair falling out, my teeth starting to break. I ended up having a full-term, stillborn child, three miscarriages and my youngest daughter was only two pounds when she was born. And as she got healthier, I got sicker.”

It was the family veterinarian who suggested Bast’s illness could be connected to food. She went to 23 doctors before she was diagnosed with celiac disease.

“There was no research in the disease, so nobody was understanding why people have celiac disease,” Bast said. “So I went back to school to Penn at night. I didn’t take this on like, ‘Oh, I think I am going to start a nonprofit!'”

Bast and her team have played a major part in the research of new treatments and helped bring gluten-free options to the forefront with a Beyond Celiac certification.

“You know when you see this Beyond Celiac certification, you and your family can eat this product with confidence, and you know it is 100% gluten-free,” Alice said.

“The main thing that drove me to start Beyond Celiac is that I never wanted another person to suffer what I had suffered through,” Bast said.

For more information on Beyond Celiac, click here.