By Matt Wood
Celiac disease is an inherited autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive process of the small intestine. When a person who has celiac disease consumes gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, the individual’s immune system responds by attacking the small intestine and inhibiting the absorption of important nutrients into the body. At least 1% of Americans, or nearly 3 million people, have celiac, but 97% of them are undiagnosed.
The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center is an international center of excellence providing comprehensive patient and professional education, expert diagnosis and treatment for both children and adults, groundbreaking bench and clinical research, and active leadership in advocacy efforts. Their goal is finding a cure for celiac disease by 2026. We spoke to Dr. Stefano Guandalini, medical director of the Celiac Disease Center, about this unique, comprehensive research and treatment approach. We also discussed the link between celiac and diabetes, and asked pediatric dietitian Lara Field from Comer Children’s Hospital how people with both diseases manage their diets. Lara also discussed how children with celiac disease can learn to go gluten-free.