What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder triggered by the gluten protein found in wheat, rye and barley (also the hybrid grain triticale). When a person with celiac eats gluten, their immune system creates a gluten-fighting antibody. Unfortunately, the antibody also attacks the digestive tract, including the intestines! Over time, the individual wont’ be able to absorb nutrients; their body is slowly starving while they eat greater amounts of food to make up for lost nutrition.

Undiagnosed celiac may also lead to other health concerns including osteoperosis and hypothyroidism. Celiac disease is often hereditary. Certain genes carry the celiac trait, and may be “turned on” (causing celiac symptoms) by stress, such as giving birth, unexpected job loss, or poor health. The symptoms of celiac disease vary, but may include unexpected weight loss or gain, stomach pains, andĀ diarrhea. Celiac disease can be diagnosed via a blood test and an endoscopy. Approximately 1% of the U.S. population has celiac disease, or 3 million. This is about the same number of individuals with a peanut allergy!

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