Celiac disease is a life-long medical condition in which the absorptive surface of the small intestine is damaged by a substance called gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Celiac disease is also known as gluten-sensitive enteropathy (GSE) or celiac sprue. When people with celiac disease, eat foods or use products containing gluten, their immune systems react against the gluten and cause damage to villi thereby reducing the surface area in the small intestine available for absorbing nutrients.
More than 330,000 Canadians are believed to be affected by celiac disease with only approximately 110,000 diagnosed. Rates of celiac disease have nearly doubled in the last 25 years in western countries.
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