Celiac disease is an inherited, autoimmune disease in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged from eating gluten and other proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats. The only way to deal with it is to follow a lifelong gluten-free diet. This allows the intestinal villi to heal. Eliminate foods, beverages, and medications that contain wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats.
You must read food and medication labels carefully to look for hidden sources of these grains and their derivatives. Since wheat and barley grains are found abundantly in the American diet, keeping to this diet is challenging. The exact cause of celiac disease is unknown. When people with celiac disease eat foods or use products containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging or destroying villi—the tiny, fingerlike protrusions lining the small intestine. Villi normally allow nutrients from food to be absorbed through the walls of the small intestine into the bloodstream. Without healthy villi, a person becomes malnourished, no matter how much food one eats.
The disease can develop at any point in life, from infancy to late adulthood.