Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. It shows up in foods like bread, pizza, pasta and cereal. If someone has celiac disease, eating food with gluten in it will cause your body to have a reaction.
What happens when your body has a reaction? Let’s see what’s happening inside your body! Your body’s digestive system takes the food you eat and helps turn it into energy for your body. Then the digestive system gets rid of the extra waste.
The small intestine is part of that system. It is located below your stomach. The small intestine is covered on the inside with something called villi. What’s villi? They are very tiny finger-like shapes that help the intestine absorb the food you eat.
If a person with celiac disease eats something with gluten in it, their body starts to destroy the villi in the intestine. This can cause stomach pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite and weight loss.
About 1 in every 133 Americans has celiac disease. If you have celiac disease, your doctor will want to follow up with you for blood tests and to monitor your growth.
Celiac disease is a chronic (lifelong) condition. But it can be managed by what you eat. If you have celiac disease, you will need to avoid eating gluten.
Avoiding gluten allows the small intestine to heal. A dietitian can help you know what foods are safe to eat. Learning to read food labels will help you know which foods have gluten in them.