An autoimmune disorder that is triggered when eat gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and other grains. It is the protein that makes dough elastic and gives bread its chewy texture.
When someone with celiac disease eats something with gluten, their body overreacts to the protein and damages their villi, which are very small finger-like projections found along the wall of the small intestine.
When the villi are injured, the small intestine can’t properly absorb nutrients from food. Eventually, this can lead to malnourishment, as well as loss of bone density, etc. Most people with celiac disease never know they have it. Researchers think as few as 20% of people with the disease ever get a proper diagnosis. The damage to the intestine is very slow, and symptoms are so varied, that it can be years before someone gets a diagnosis.
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