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The Difference Between Celiac Disease & Gluten Intolerance


We’re beginning to hear more and more about gluten intolerance these days – but what’s the difference between being sensitive to gluten and Celiac disease?

Typically, ‘gluten intolerance’ is a generalization of a series of conditions including, Celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and wheat allergy.

*Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, barley, and rye. 

Celiac is an autoimmune disorder which can be developed at any age, and affects the small intestine’s digestive process. This condition is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people, and is genetically inherited. Those who are affected by Celiac disease cannot eat gluten because it actually causes damage to their small intestine. This happens because their body’s immune system creates antibodies and sends them to attack the intestine which damages the villi – or small fingerlike projections which line the wall of the small intestine – which obstructs the absorption of nutrients.

Celiac disease is known to lead to autoimmune disorders such as Type I diabetes, MS (or multiple sclerosis), anemia, dermatitis herpetiformis (an irritating skin rash), osteoporosis, and infertility. – It’s treated by adhering to a strict gluten free diet.

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity – which is commonly referred to as ‘gluten intolerance’ can trigger a stress response in the body (typically in the form of gastrointestinal symptoms), which differs from the body’s response to Celiac disease – there’s no actual tissue damage happening.

Wheat Allergies cause the body’s immune system to respond negatively to the food protein, because the immune system considers it dangerous – even though it is not. These allergies do not cause harm to body tissues


Celiac Disease Center

Celiac Disease Foundation


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