What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is a genetic digestive disease that causes damage to the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food. A person with celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, which is a protein in wheat, rye and barley. With this disease, the immune system responds to gluten by damaging the villi, which are tiny protrusions that line the small intestine. Normally, villi allow nutrients to be absorbed through the walls of the small intestine into the bloodstream. Damage to villi leads to malabsorption and malnutrition. Certain foods must be avoided with celiac disease.Photo: Getty Images