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Fast Facts About Celiac Disease.

Updated on December 6, 2012

In celiac disease a damaging reaction happens to the lining of the small intestine upon eating gluten. This prevents the intestine from absorbing parts of food like fat and carbohydrates which are vital for staying healthy.

When eating gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats; the immune system overreacts and attacks the villi, which are a finger-like extensions lining the small intestine. Villi have a vital function in the absorption of food through the walls of the small intestine into the bloodstream. When these villi are damaged, it becomes difficult to absorb vital nutrients which may lead to malnutrition. To date the only treatment for celiac disease is a strict gluten-free diet.

Most of the gastrointestinal symptoms of celiac disease are due to the inadequate absorption of fat which leads to diarrhoea, abdominal bloating, and increased amounts of fat in the stool leading to weight loss and malnutrition. There is accumulating evidence the cause of celiac disease is partially genetic and partially inherited. Also certain genes are more dominant in patients with celiac disease than others. Some studies correlated early feeding practises of introducing gluten around 4 and 6 months of age with the onset of celiac symptoms. Researchers recommended that gluten should be introduced in small amounts in the diet between 4 and 6 months, and to continue breastfeeding for at least a further 2-3 months.


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