What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac Disease is a genetically linked autoimmune disease where your body will react to the gluten in wheat, barley, rye and spelt. In the process of attacking the gluten your body destroys the lining of your small intestine. This, in turn, causes malabsorbtion of nutrients and can lead to a host of other diseases if not treated such as anemia, malnutrition, osteoporosis and can increase the chances of diseases like lymphoma.

Celiac disease is also called coeliac or celiac sprue, is called “celiac” not because it’s named after someone but because it was named in 250AD as ‘koiliakos’ by Aretaeus of Cappadocia (meaning ‘suffering in the bowels’ in greek) and which was later translated to celiac when these works were translated in 1856. So it’s not “celiac’s disease” but simply celiac disease. Most sufferers call themselves celiacs.

Unlike some portrayals, celiac disease is not a food allergy. It’s an autoimmune disease that has a genetic predisposition and usually some sort of trigger that causes your body to start attacking the gluten molecules.

There is currently no cure for celiac disease and it’s rising in diagnostic frequency. It used to be considered a rare disease but now it’s estimated to be at least 1% of adults have celiac disease. Personally, I think that’s a conservative number. The only treatment for celiac disease is a completely gluten-free diet for life but the good news is that, in most cases, strict adherence can reverse the damage.


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