Coeliac disease is an autoimmune inflammatory systemic disease caused by exposure to 'gluten' in genetically susceptible individuals. Gluten is found in food like wheat, rye, barley, and oats-which are all major components of a typical staple diet in Western countries.
The cause of coeliac disease was first described in the 1940s by a Dutch paediatrician, Dr Willem Karel Dicke, after he noticed an association between patients consuming bread and cereals and developing episodes of relapsing diarrhoea. This observation was further substantiated during the Second World War when food shortage (which resulted in reduced consumption of bread) resulted in improvement of symptoms in his patients.1 Dr Dicke went on to develop the concept of a gluten-free diet as a treatment for coeliac disease.
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