What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac Disease is a medical condition where sufferers have a sensitivity to gluten.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats.   Gluten containing grains are used in many products like flours, breads, biscuits, cakes, cookies and pastries.   Gluten is a rubbery, elastic protein which helps to bind dough and assist in baking.

The sensitivity to gluten causes damage to the small finger-like projections, called villi, in the small intestine.   This reaction by the body to the consumption of gluten, can be so severe that the damage caused to the small intestine (villi) does not allow nutrients to be absorbed properly.   This can lead to malnutrition as the villi are unable to absorb water, vitamins, folic acid, iron and calcium.

Celiac Disease is known by many different names world wide.   Some of these are:

  • Celiac Sprue
  • Coeliac Disease or Celiac Disease
  • Gluten Intolerance
  • Gluten Sensitivity Enteropathy
  • Mal-absorption Syndrome: and/or
  • Intestinal Infantilism
 

It does not matter what you call it, but if you have celiac disease, the treatment is the same - a lifetime commitment to a gluten free diet.

Note:   It should be pointed out that research is still being conducted into “oats”;  there is some debate as to whether oats does or does not contain gluten.   At this point in time oats is not recommended in a gluten free diet.