Celiac Disease is a genetic disorder affecting 1 in 100 Americans. People with Celiac Disease are unable to digest gluten. If gluten is consumed, the small intestine villi are damaged, preventing the absorption of many important nutrients. Strict adherence to a gluten-free diet will allow the intestinal lining to heal, and most patients can live a normal and healthy life. However, this can be difficult task as there are many hidden sources of gluten found in the ingredients of many processed foods. Gluten is a protein found in all forms of wheat including durum, semolina, and spelt. It is also found in rye, oats, barley and related grain hybrids such as triticale and kamut.
The long-term effect of untreated Celiac Disease can be life-threatening. Patients have a greater risk of developing other conditions including Addison' s disease, autoimmune chronic active hepatitis, Alopecia Areata, Graves' disease, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (type 1), myasthenia gravis, scleroderma, Sjogren's syndrome, lupus, and thyroid disease. Adhering to the gluten-free diet is necessary to avoid these complications. Patients must avoid all products containing wheat, rye, barley and oats or any of their derivatives.
There is not yet a pharmaceutical cure for Celiac Disease.