Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food. What does this mean? Essentially, the body is attacking itself every time a person with celiac disease consumes gluten.
Celiac disease is triggered by consumption of the protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye. When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging the finger-like villi of the small intestine. When the villi become damaged, the body is unable to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream, which can lead to malnourishment.
Left untreated, people with celiac disease can develop further complications such as other autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, thyroid disease, and even certain cancers. It is possible for people with celiac disease to heal their intestines and begin to absorb nutrients again, but only if they stick to a strict, lifelong gluten-free diet.
Learn more about celiac disease risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis, related diseases and statistics by visiting www.BeyondCeliac.org.
Research is conflicting, but studies estimates that up to 18 million Americans have non-celiac gluten sensitivity ('gluten sensitivity'). That’s 6 times the amount of Americans who have celiac disease. Gluten sensitivity can cause the same symptoms as celiac disease, but does not cause the same kind of intestinal damage.
Learn more about gluten sensitivity by visiting www.BeyondCeliac.org/ncgs.
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