Celiac disease is a serious genetic autoimmune disease 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.
The gluten-free diet is currently the only treatment for people with celiac disease. People living with non-celiac gluten sensitivity (‘gluten sensitivity’) also benefit from eating gluten-free. Since there are no pills or therapies available, the only way to manage celiac disease is through a strict, 100% gluten-free diet.
Learn more about celiac disease risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis, related diseases and statistics by visiting www.BeyondCeliac.org.
Who Gets Celiac Disease?
One out of every 133 Americans has celiac disease, equivalent to nearly 1% of the U.S. population. Unfortunately, 83% of the 3 million Americans living with celiac disease remain undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Celiac disease is a genetic disorder, meaning that it passes from parent to child via DNA. In some cases, stressful events such as pregnancy, surgery, infection, or severe emotional distress can trigger the onset of the disease.
Research is conflicting, but studies estimates that up to 18 million Americans have non-celiac gluten sensitivity (‘gluten sensitivity’). That’s 6 times more than the number of Americans who have celiac disease. Gluten sensitivity can cause many of the same symptoms as celiac disease, but does not cause intestinal damage.
Learn more about gluten sensitivity by visiting www.BeyondCeliac.org/ncgs.