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Facts about Celiac Disease

written by: Victoria Trix • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 12/29/2008

Celiac disease is a disorder that occurs in people who cannot eat foods that contain gluten. Take a closer look at ways to prevent and treat celiac disease.

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    Celiac disease occurs in people who have an aversion to foods that contain gluten. This protein is found in foods that are made from grains, such as bread, pasta, and other, similar carbohydrate rich foods. The immune system in people who have celiac disease actually attacks any gluten in the body. This causes harm to the small intestine when such foods are eaten. That, in turn, makes it very difficult for the body to absorb certain nutrients which are essential in maintaining good health.

    Typically, people with celiac disease have to stay away from foods which contain certain grains. Wheat, barley, and rye are the most common. Celiac disease has the added disadvantage of leading to problems such as iron deficiency anemia and osteoporosis when it is allowed to go untreated.

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    Causes of Celiac Disease

    Celiac disease is caused when a person's body cannot adequately or correctly process gluten. Other than that, the precise causes of celiac disease are not yet fully known. There are thoughts that it might be genetic. For instance, if a person's mother, daughter, sister, son, etc., has celiac disease, then the odds of that person getting it are increased significantly. Otherwise, ingesting gluten rich foods greatly exacerbates celiac disease.

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    Prevention of Celiac Disease Symptoms

    The only real way to prevent attacks celiac disease is to stay away from gluten and the grains, foods, and drinks which contain it. Because it may be genetic, there is really no way to prevent it from occurring. However, it is possible to prevent added damage from occurring to the small intestine. In fact, the damage can even be reversed. It is necessary to maintain a very strict gluten free diet. It is also typically better to stay away from both milk and products which contain a high content of milk. As well, those with celiac disease are advised to do all that they can to protect their immune system.

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    Treatments of Celiac Disease

    In order to treat celiac disease, it is imperative to embark on a gluten free diet. Foods which contain wheat, rye, and barley must be avoided at all costs. This includes not drinking ale or beer. Eggs, meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables are fine. Flour and starch is fine as well, provided that it is made from either rice, corn, buckwheat, potatoes, or soybeans. Otherwise, those with celiac disease should stay away from both flours and starches.

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    Sources