Source: Celiac Disease Foundation: https://celiac.org/
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide. Two and one-half million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications.
When people with celiac disease eat gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley), their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine. These attacks lead to damage on the villi, small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine, that promote nutrient absorption. When the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body.
Celiac disease is hereditary, meaning that it runs in families. People with a first-degree relative with celiac disease (parent, child, sibling) have a 1 in 10 risk of developing celiac disease.
What is the treatment?
Currently, the only treatment for celiac disease is lifelong adherence to the gluten-free diet. People living gluten-free must avoid foods containing wheat, rye, barley, triticale, and oats not labeled gluten-free. Ingesting even small amounts of gluten, like crumbs from a cutting board or toaster, can trigger intestinal damage.