What Is Celiac Disease?
Celiac Disease is a disease of the digestive system that damages the small intestines and causes interference with the absorption of nutrients from food. It is triggered by consumption of the protein called gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and malt. This protein cannot be tolerated by those who have Celiac Disease.
Because this is an autoimmune disease, when a person with Celiac Disease eats foods or uses products that contain gluten, their immune system is put into motion by damaging the villi (tiny fingerlike protrusions in the small intestines). These villi are what normally allow nutrients from the food to be absorbed through walls of the small intestines into the bloodstream for nourishment. Without these healthy villi, a person can become malnourished, no matter how much they may eat.
At present, the only treatment for Celiac Disease is adhering to a strict gluten-free diet. Left untreated, people with Celiac Disease can develop further complications such as other autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, thyroid disease and cancer.