Despite the growing prevalence in Celiac's Disease in children and adults, there are still a lot of people out there who have no idea what it is, nor any idea what gluten is.
Celiac's Disease IS a life long disease.
Celiac's Disease DOES affect children AND adults.
Celiac's Disease is NOT a food allergy.
Celiac's Disease canNOT be cured.
Celiac's Disease CAN be handled with a LIFELONG commitment to a GLUTEN FREE diet.
What happens when a person with CD eats gluten? This is an autoimmune disorder that affects the small intestine; Celiac suffers have a reaction to gliadin, a gluten protein found in wheat and similar proteins* (such as, but not limited to, barley and rye).
Unlike food allergies (including wheat allergies), you cannot grow out of an autoimmune disorder.
This reaction causes damage to the small intestine which prevents food / nutrients from being absorbed properly. Even very small amounts can cause problems for people with CD -- and, it is very important to note that damage is being done even when there are no obvious symptoms!
* These are found in ALL forms of wheat (including spelt, kamut, einkorn, faro, durum, semolina, and spelt), related grains rye, barley (malt!), and triticale. Anyone with CD must eliminate these from their diet.
* Buckwheat is NOT a form of wheat, and when 100% pure is safe to consume. Be careful, however, as wheat is commonly mixed in with buckwheat (ex prepackaged buckwheat pancake mixes frequently have gluten in them).
* 1 in 133 people in the US have Celiac's Disease.
* If a family member has it, it is very likely that others will as well.
* If you have an autoimmune disease, there is a 25% higher chance you will have CD.
Food Allergies and Food Reactions
It is possible to have allergies in addition to Celiac's Diseases, so you want to be very careful when determining what you are allergic to and what your body simply will never be able to process.
It is also possible to develop reactions to foods which are not allergies. This will vary from person to person, but in my experience, my "food reactions" were caused by the damage that had been done to my small intestine by eating gluten before I knew that I shouldn't.
When a person with CD removes gluten from their diet, their small intestine will begin to heal, and they will find that their overall health will improve. How long this takes logically depends on how much damage there is to heal. It could take a few months, a few years, or more.
People who have suddenly found themselves unable to eat foods they have eaten for years without a problem, and who aren't having typical allergic reaction symptoms, may find that after they allow their small intestine (and perhaps stomach) to heal after gluten elimination, that they are able to eat those foods again. For me, it was garlic, onions (still working on onions), and highly acidic fruits and vegetables.
You will want to work these back into your diet slowly, and one at a time so you can judge the process. For me, I can have garlic again! But, it must be thoroughly cooked. Raw garlic still gives me nausea and heartburn, but far less than it did before I eliminated gluten. A little onion here or there is okay, but too much and I get an upset stomach. Fruits and veggies that began to bother me a few years ago include items such as pineapples and peppers (green, red, yellow, orange, and of course the hot peppers). Once the garlic and onion are fully a success, I will slowly bring the fruits and veggies back. Right now, I'm sticking to tame items such as apples, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and the like. I seem to be okay having OJ again, without having to purchase the low acid variety, which is wonderful.