I have Celiac Disease...What's that?

If you'd never heard of Celiac Disease (CD) until you or someone you know was diagnosed, you're not the only one.

CD is an autoimmune digestive disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food triggered by the consumption of a protein called gluten. The term autoimmune basically means a person with CD's body attacks itself when the person eats anything containing wheat, barley or rye, all of which contain gluten.

Although CD has been getting more press lately with the advent of more CD-oriented foods and the release of TV personality Elisabeth Hasselbeck's book The G-Free Diet, it still fairly unknown by anyone not affected by it.

A video provided by the Mayo Clinic provides a good introduction of CD and the lifestyle changes that must be made to treat it:

Despite its relative obscurity, CD is actually fairly common in the United States. According to the National Foundation of Celiac Awareness, 1 in 133 Americans have CD, but the disease is also well-known in europe and Australia.

One of the most striking aspects of the disease is that so many people go undiagnosed or take years to reach a diagnosis. I was sick for more than 6 months before anyone told me to try a gluten-free diet, but the average time an adult waits to be correctly diagnosed is 10 years.

Without a proper diagnosis, CD can lead to other autoimmune disorders, infertility, osteoperoisis, neurological problems and even some cancers, so it is important to be correctly diganosed and follow a strict GF diet from there on out. I promise it's not as hard as it sounds.