WHAT IS CELIAC DISEASE?
Celiac Disease is an inherited food allergy and autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive process of the small intestine. When a person who has Celiac Disease consumes Gluten, a protein found in Wheat, Barley, Rye and most Oats (Gluten helps food items maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together), the individual’s immune system responds by attacking the small intestine and inhibiting the absorption of important nutrients into the body. Specifically, the tiny fingerlike protrusions called villi on the lining of the small intestine are damaged.
For Celiac Disease sufferers such as our son, the Gluten protein (even in trace amounts such a crumb) is poison and can pose a severe health risk for:
Short-term sickness including abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea and/or vomiting; and
Long-term damage to the small intestine (which affects one’s ability to absorb nutrients required for proper growth and development), and an increased risk of other medical conditions including, but not limited to, auto-immune thyroiditis, liver disease, inflammatory bowel disease, osteopenia, osteoporosis, infertility, neurological conditions, cancer (lymphoma), and immunological scarring.
There is no medicine or surgery available to treat Celiac Disease. One cannot outgrow Celiac. To date, Celiac Disease research has produced only a single approved treatment – strict adherence to a lifelong medically required Gluten Free diet with no exceptions!
However, as Celiac Disease researchers have found, there is no such thing as a Gluten Free diet because of the constant risk of cross-contact with Gluten which is in 80% of our foodstuffs. Additionally, for up to 30% of patients, diet alone is inadequate for remission in that it alleviates some symptoms, but does not heal and resolve intestinal damage caused by Celiac Disease.
30-40% of Americans carry the genes for Celiac Disease. There are 3.3 million Americans who are afflicted with Celiac Disease, greater than 1% of the general population. No one knows what causes Celiac Disease to activate in some people, but not others.