Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disease that occurs in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, the disease affects about 1 in 100 people worldwide. Additionally, more than 2.5 million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications.
When celiac disease patients consume gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley products), their body produces an immune response that attacks the small intestine. These attacks ultimately damage the villi, small fingerlike figures in the small intestinal lining, that aid nutrient absorption. When the villi is harmed, nutrients are not stored and distributed properly into the body.
It has also been found that celiac disease can develop at any age after people start eating foods or medicines that contain gluten. If not monitored, celiac disease can lead to additional serious health problems down the line. This is precisely why this study is so groundbreaking.