Celiac disease is characterized by antibodies against proteins in gluten. Those antibodies can damage the lining of the small intestine, resulting in an inability to properly digest and absorb nutrients from food.
The condition leads to severe diarrhea and malnourishment. If it continues, celiac disease can cause neurological disorders, cancer, and even death.
More than 3 million Americans are reported to have celiac disease — but it is vastly under-diagnosed. Celiac disease can only be identified with a biopsy of the small intestine.
I have many patients who suffer with gluten sensitivity, which can be diagnosed clinically. Both gluten sensitivity and celiac disease are treated the same way — by avoiding foods that contain gluten.
Common symptoms of gluten sensitivity include diarrhea, upset stomach, and bloating after eating products that contain gluten.
It can also be diagnosed with a blood test for antibodies to the protein gliadin, which is a component of gluten.
More information about celiac disease can be found in my book, The Guide to a Gluten-Free Diet.
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