What is coeliac disease?
Gluten is a protein which occurs in grain types such as wheat, barley, spelt, rye, kamut and triticale. In children and adults with this specific genetic predisposition, the intake of foods containing gluten or those that contain traces of gluten leads to an immune reaction in the intestine with subsequent chronic inflammation and the reduction of the villi (atrophy). Various symptoms can appear with coeliac disease. The small intestinal mucosa is lined with villi and microvilli, which serve the surface enlargement and the nutrient absorption. With those affected by coeliac disease the small intestine villi and the microvilli are reduced to nearly none, thus damaging the small intestinal mucosa. Through the flattening of the mucous membrane less or no nutrients (protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and mineral salts) can be absorbed. The consequences are malnutrition and deficiency symptoms. Coeliac disease or rather gluten intolerance is one of the most widely spread intolerances worldwide. In the countries where large parts of the population come from Europe (Europe, North and South America, Australia) it is estimated that every 100th person suffers from coeliac disease. A similar percentage applies to the developing countries in North Africa, in the Middle East and India, where the population mainly feeds on grains.