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What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac (pronounced see-lee-ack) Disease is an over reaction of the immune system that is caused when people eat gluten, a sticky substance that is found in grains like wheat, barley and rye and gives dough its stretchy texture.

Fun Fact: Gluten gets its name from glutinum, the Latin word for glue.

Gluten causes problems in people with celiac disease because their immune system attacks the inner lining of their intestines to get rid of the gluten being digested there. This causes damage that keeps the intestines from properly absorbing nutrients from foods, which is important for growth and development. Both adults and children can end up with celiac disease.

Signs of the disease can be mild or very bad. People can have gas, bloating, trouble using the bathroom, weight loss, low iron, tummy aches and can even throw up. It can sometimes take years for doctors to discover that a person has celiac disease because there can be lots of different causes for those symptoms. People can feel sick within minutes or hours of eating a food with gluten in it.

The chances of having celiac disease go up if a person's parents or grandparents also have the disease.

Even though doctors and scientists have studied celiac disease for a very long time, the exact reasons that cause it to develop are still unknown and a cure for it has not been found yet.

In February 2020, scientists at The University of Helsinki shared the results of their research experiments on mice with celiac disease. They were able to reprogram the immune system of the mice so that it ignored the gluten instead of attacking it, and as a result, did not damage the intestines. The research is still in the early stages and has not been tested on people yet, but it offers a little bit of hope to people living with celiac disease.

For now, the only way to manage celiac disease is to avoid eating foods with gluten in them.

Foods with Hidden Gluten:

Learn more about Celiac Disease:

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