What is Celiac disease?
Celiac disease is a lifelong chronic inflammatory bowel reaction to the presence of gluten in the diet. The disease causes damage to the villi of the small intestine. Villi are tiny protrusions of the intestine about one millimeter in length that increases by a large scale the overall surface area where nutrient absorption occurs. Celiac sufferers have villi that are damaged by the immune system response to the presence of gluten in the diet. Only a small percentage of those with Celiac disease have villi that are irreversibly damaged due to years of the ongoing destructive response caused by gluten. Treatment for Celiac disease is total elimination of gluten in the diet whether in the obvious forms such as bread or hidden in ingredients of processed foods.
Why is Gluten So Dangerous to Someone with Celiac Disease?
On a molecular level even the tiniest bit of gluten initiates a reaction in the gut of the person with Celiac disease. The tiny finger-like villi lining the gut are altered after exposure to gluten for those who suffer from the disease. Over time the villi flatten. The villi increase the surface area of the gut that can absorb nutrients on a vast scale. As the villi flatten the nutrient absorbing surface area of the gut decreases. This makes it so a Celiac disease sufferer will begin to be malnourished since the appropriate amount of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients cannot be absorbed to nourish the body. Gluten can also cause severe symptoms in those who suffer from Celiac disease.