Celiac Disease — an Illness of Civilization?

Photo credit: Alexis O'Toole
Photo credit: Alexis O'Toole

Celiac disease now afflicts four times as many people as it did fifty years ago, according to an article in the July 2009 issue of Gastroenterology.**

In patients with celiac disease, the presence of a protein called gluten from wheat, barley or rye triggers an immune system attack, damaging the villi in the small intestine. Villi are fingerlike projections that increase the intestine’s surface area for nutrient absorption. Celiac disease symptoms may include diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, weight loss, anemia, unexplained infertility, loss of teeth or even premature or severe osteoporosis.

Unfortunately, the researchers offer no explanation for this increase in incidence.

**For the next few weeks, I am going to be on a “working vacation,” so my posts will be somewhat more abbreviated. I will still provide you with something substantial to chew on, though!

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