Celiac Disease (Coeliac, Celiac Sprue) is condition that results from an auto-immune response to the presence of gluten and the proteins contained therein in wheat, barley, rye and (with some debate) oats. The presence of gluten in food in portions as small as 10 parts per million causes the body to commence a response of the immune system which ends up attacking the villi in the small intestines. Villi are the means by which the body absorbs the benefits from the food we eat. As a short term reaction to the presence of gluten a whole range of symptoms present themselves ranging from diariahh to bone pain to migraines to chronic fatigue. Left untreated, Celiac Disease involves a host of serious health issues ranging from higher incidences of certain cancers, to osteoporosis and many other conditions.
Over the past 15 years, the understanding of Celiac Disease has improved dramatically. Twenty years ago, the estimated incidence was 1 in 3000 people. By 1997, this estimate had increased to 1 in 250 and current estimates (resulting from a special report by the FDA) have increased this number to 1 in 133 people. A key contributor to this understanding has been the introduction of a blood test which allows accurate diagnosis of the condition. Prior to that (and indeed today, the only absolutely certain diagnostic tool) an intestinal biopsy was the only determination of the condition.
There is no cure for Celiac Disease. The only treatment is the total elimination any products made from wheat, oats, barley and rye and any products in the same grain family. And this elimination is for life. Any introduction of gluten from any source and even at small levels re-introduces the auto immune attack and damage is once again done to the absorption system. It is therefore essential that no gluten of any sort be present in food