What Are the Causes of Celiac Disease?

celiac disease

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  • When it comes to determining the root of celiac disease, there is one likely culprit: gluten, a protein that’s found in wheat, rye, barley and oats
  • Gliadin is a gluten protein found in wheat, barley, rye and sometimes oats that plays a role in the inflammation and destruction inside the small intestine

When it comes to determining the root of celiac disease, there is one likely culprit: gluten, a protein that’s found in wheat, rye, barley and oats.1 Almost all of the symptoms that celiac disease patients suffer from can be linked to gluten.

Learn more how consumption of gluten-rich foods can affect your body and, ultimately, your risk for celiac disease.

Certain Protein Reactions Trigger Celiac Disease

Patients with celiac disease typically experience damage caused by an immune response that attacks the small intestine, particularly the villi, which are the small fingerlike projections that serve as the lining.2 These occurrences can be a result of:3,4,5

Gliadin reaction: Gliadin is a gluten protein found in wheat, barley, rye and sometimes oats that plays a role in the inflammation and destruction inside the small intestine. These effects happen because the body experiences an allergic reaction to the gluten in food.

Tissue transglutaminase: This enzyme transforms the gluten into a chemical that leads to an immune response and inflammation of the small intestine’s lining.

Genetic defect: This causes the immune system to produce antibodies that attack the small intestine’s lining if gluten has been detected.

Unfortunately, any of these potential triggers of celiac disease could result in malabsorption that prevents effective absorption of nutrients from food sources in the diet. In time, this nutrient deficiency could cause liver, bone and/or brain damage. In children, it can lead to abnormal growth and development as well.6

Celiac Disease Risk Factors That You Should Remember

Apart from consuming gluten-rich foods, there are other elements that can influence a person’s risk for celiac disease. One is genetics, especially if a patient has one or both of the HLA DQ2 and DQ8 genes. According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, these genes are present in 25 to 30 percent of all people.7

Moreover, HLA DQ2 and DQ8 genes can be hereditary, as people who have first- (parents, children or siblings) or second-degree (aunts, uncles or cousins) relatives with celiac disease can be affected.8

But having these genes doesn’t automatically mean that you already have celiac disease or you will develop the disorder in the future. What this indicates is that your risk for the disorder slightly increases, and it’s higher compared to normal people.9 There are also other environmental factors and events could also raise your risk for developing celiac disease, such as:10

Infant feeding practices

Gastrointestinal infections

Gut bacteria

Post-surgical reactions

Pregnancy

Childbirth

Viral infection/s

Severe emotional stress

Illnesses may trigger celiac disease too, such as:11

Rheumatoid arthritis

Type 1 diabetes

Down syndrome or Turner syndrome

An autoimmune thyroid disease

Microscopic colitis (either lymphocytic or collagenous colitis)

Addison's disease

MORE ABOUT CELIAC DISEASE

Celiac Disease: Introduction

What Is Celiac Disease?

Celiac Disease In Children

Celiac Disease Causes

Celiac Disease Types

Celiac Disease Symptoms

Celiac Disease Diagnosis

Celiac Disease Treatment

Celiac Disease Prevention

Celiac Disease Diet

Celiac Disease FAQ

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