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I can understand your friend, I am from Belarus (another ex-USSR country) and everybody I know has never heard of celiac disease / gluten intolerance there at all. Bread along with dairy are staple foods in Russian diet and culture. I live in Canada and I am intolerant to both gluten and dairy, so I actually dread my upcoming trip to visit my parents...
Here are some links that might help.
http://celiaciya.ru/index.php?id=2 - What is celiac disease?
http://celiaciya.ru/index.php?id=3 - What is Dermatitis H?
http://www.celiac.spb.ru/simple.php?p=86&a=170 - The list of allowed and prohibited food on gluten-free diet
http://www.celiac.spb.ru/simple.php?p=86&a=169 - Some brief rules to prevent cross-contamination
The first 2 links are not very good, unfortunately these pages were translated from English to Russian and were not edited properly, but it's easy to understand, Russian is slightly broken there. The 3d and 4th links are from the St Peterburg Celiac Society.
Unfortunately there is not a lot of information available on the Russian internet about celiac disease.
My husband is from Belarus as well and he tested positive for gluten intolerance as well. Here is a document that I prepared for my husband's parents when he went to visit them this fall. It explains what celiac disease is, where gluten can be found and how to prevent cross-contamination.
Диета без глютена и как предотвратить попадание глютена в еду
Целиакия, или непереносимость глютена - это автоимунная болезнь, часто передается по наследству. Вкратце - протеины пшеницы, ржи и перловки не усваиваются организмом и организм начинает атаковать свои же клетки, обычно кишечника, однако зачастую бывает, что поражен другой орган. Очень часто целиакия / непереносимость глютена проявляется наряду с другими заболеваниями, в частности, автоиммуными болезнями (люпус, артрит, диабет) часты случаи поражения щитовидки, нервной системы. Если этот диагноз игнорировать, то он нередко приводит к раку желудка или кишечника. Это заболевание не такой уж и редкое, но к сожалению, очень много недиагностированных. В России / Беларуси об этой болезни совсем мало что известно и естественно, диагностики тоже практически нет. Это не значит, что она не распространенна, это просто значит, что диагностика совсем не развита. Считается, что в Северной Америке целиакией болен 1 из 100-133 человек и только 3% из них продиагностированы.
Симптомы могут быть очень разными. Основные симптомы заболевания: боли в животе, проблемы с кишечником, изменение аппетита, рвоты, отставание показателей веса и роста, боли в костях, самопроизвольные переломы, агрессивное поведение, замкнутость, апатия, депрессивные состояния, кожный зуд, аллергические поражения кожи и органов дыхания, частые вирусные заболевания, анемии, носовые или другие кровотечения. Из редких проявлений целиакии отмечается ожирение.
Some people have sensitive stomachs and can not digest raw vegetables, may be that is your case too? I can not eat pretty much anything raw, I have to cook it first. As for the problem with bell peppers, I can not tolerate peppers with their skin on, they give me digestive issues. I have to roast them in the oven on 425F for 15 minutes, then put them in a ziplock bag and then in about 15 minutes it is very easy to peel peppers and you can use them for anything. I usually roast and deskin the whole bunch of peppers at once and freeze them so that I would have them on hand when needed.
I do not have hives (knock on wood), but I do have certain "allergic-like" reactions to chemicals in foods, specifically histamine and amine. Did you consider Chronic Urticaria? Histamine-restricted diet is known to help manage this condition without antihistamines or with the minimal amount of antihistamies. You can read more about urticaria and histamine-restricted diet here: http://urticaria.thunderworksinc.com/pages/lowhistamine.htm
Also here is an article that describes Histamine Intolerance and also might be helful: http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/85/5/1185
If that's not enough and you still have symptoms on a histamine-restricted diet, you may look into Failsafe diet (a diet low in salicylates, amines, glutamates, etc). You can read more about Failsafe here: http://www.fedupwithfoodadditives.info/
and here: http://www.plantpoisonsandrottenstuff.info/
That is what I did, I started with histamine-restricted diet and it did seem to help, but even when I was avoiding histamine-rich food completely I would still have reactions. I was able to correlate my reactions with the amount of animal protein I ate the previous day and then one of the members here (Rachel-24) gave me a link to the Failsafe diet (a diet low in salicylates, amines, glutamates, etc). Apparently I am sensitive to amines as well so I have to watch my amine intake also.
I am too intolerant to gluten, dairy, soy and corn. My other sensitivities are not as bad, meaning that I can handle limited amount of nuts / legumes, e.g. on holidays.
But it would make my life so much easier if I would be just intolerant to gluten, dairy, soy and corn and wouldn't have my additional amine / histamine intolerance! I have some kind of threshold that if I eat too much food that is high in amine / histamine I would start to have unpleasant allergic reactions that may last for 2-3 days (depending on the amount of histamine / amines I ate). It looks like it did get better when I went gluten-free, but I still have these reactions... In addition to that for some unknown reason I do not tolerate almost all vitamins / supplements, even hypoallergenic ones and even the ones that other failsafers tolerate.
And yes, I too was able to eat anything, didn't have any allergies / intolerances whatsoever. In fact, nobody in my family has any known allergies. It all started 2 years ago, first dairy, then gluten, then soy and corn. I also had cats and a dog thoughout all my childhood / youth without any issues, but now I have "allergic" type reactions if I am in the same room with a cat or a dog. It is not a true IgE allergy, it doesn't show up on any tests. My body is reacting in a weird way to a lot of different things...
I am too one of the very sensitive celiacs. In my case sometimes it is hard to determine if I was glutened because I have very similar reactions to corn as well, my symptoms are mostly non-digestive, I get very depressed and tired. In addition to that I still do not feel well most of the time, I have other issues, so it is hard to determine whether I feel bad / depressed etc because I was glutened or it's just a bad day. Fortunately my husband is gluten-free as well and his symptoms are more obvious, so I usually look at how he feels if I am in doubt.
Just recently we had to change our baking flour supply. I had too much trust in one of the local companies that sells gluten-free flours and mixes. As it turned out, this company manufactures only some of their flours; they outsource the majority of their flours to other vendors and I do not think they make sure these outsourced flours are milled in a gluten-free environment. Of course, when I wrote to them I got a standard reply that they test all of their products and find them to be gluten-free, but this is not enough for me. It's too sad that I didn't figure it out earlier. People on this board did not have any problems with this brand; that's why I was in denial and was using these products for a year. I kept getting mysterios "glutenings / cornings". One time my husband started to have his glutening symtpoms after I made a new batch of gluten-free flour mix and opened a new box of potato starch from this local company and baked some cookies. That was the only new thing I baked / cooked so I started to investigate. From now on I am buying all my baking supplies from Authentic Foods, they mill all of their flours themselves. The flours are really good but expensive, the shipping to Canada is expensive too, but I feel like there is no other choice.
It's hard to be so sensitive. For now my strategy is to cook from scratch and buy products only from the trusted and tested by trial and error companies, like Jerseyangel does. I will not go to a restuarant any time soon; I was glutened by a straight iced Americana coffee in Starbucks. I will try to host all dinner parties at my house too.
Authentic Foods states on their website: "Authentic Foods manufactures Gluten-Free Flours, Mixes, and Baking Supplies. All of our flours are stone milled and packaged in a wheat-free and gluten-free environment." www.authenticfoods.com)
They carry a whole line of baking supplies. Their products are somewhat expensive, but their flours are really good. I am extra sensitive to gluten as well and just recently had to switch all my baking supplies to Authentic Foods.
Is it possible that you are sensitive to corn / cornstarch? Glutino bagels and all of their bakery products contain corn in some form. Corn gives me a very similar reaction to glutening (not always digestive issues), so in the beginning of my gluten-free diet I thought I was getting glutened a lot, until I excluded corn from my diet.
It is called fructose malabsorption or Dietary Fructose Intolerance (there is another type Hereditary Fructose Intolerance which is genetic). Wikipedia has a nice article about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fructose_malabsorption
It is diagnosed with a hydrogen breath test, very similar to the lactose intolerance testing. I am surprised the doctor doesn't know about this.
If you want to go one step further and eliminate foods that are high in fructans as well, you can read this article here: http://www.healthsystem.virginia.edu/inter...rettArticle.pdf
I actually eliminated casein almost 1 year before eliminating gluten. And even before that I was dairy-lite for 1 year, i.e. I figured out I was lactose intolerant and ate only sour cream / yogurt / cottage cheese occasionally. However, only after eliminating gluten I started to feel better, so this theory about casein being the culprit definitely does not apply to me.