CeliacNow Glossary

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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z.


Alopecia: Loss of hair from body areas where it is normally present

Anemia: A decrease in the number of red blood cells in the body. In celiac disease, anemia is usually due to poor absorption of iron (a necessary component in making red blood cells) or, less commonly, bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract, or a combination of the two.

Anthropometric: Comparative measurements of the human body and its parts (such as height and weight)

Antibody: Proteins made by the immune system that bind to other proteins and molecules, which allows the immune system to attack them

Antioxidant: A substance that is added to food and other products to prevent harmful chemical reactions in which oxygen is combined with other substances

Atrophy: A decrease in size or wasting away of a body part or tissue

Autoimmune disease: A disease in which the immune system attacks healthy parts of the body; examples are celiac disease, thyroid disease, vitiligo, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 1 diabetes mellitus.

Autoimmune hepatitis: A condition where antibodies produced by the body damage liver cells


Beta thalassemia: An inherited blood disorder that causes your body to make less hemoglobin or abnormal hemoglobin.. Hemoglobin helps red blood cells spread oxygen through your body. Low levels of hemoglobin may cause anemia, an illness that makes you feel weak and tired. Severe anemia can damage organs and lead to death. You need both alpha- and beta-globin to make hemoglobin. Beta thalassemia occurs when one or both of the two genes that make beta-globin don't work or only partly work as they should.

Blood antibody levels: Antibodies are proteins made by the immune system that bind to other proteins and molecules. In celiac disease, these antibodies are mostly used for diagnostic tests but also are responsible for some of the damage that occurs outside of the intestine. There are several tests used to measure antibody levels in celiac disease and they have varying sensitivity. Currently, the recommended tests include: IgA tissue transglutaminase (IgA-tTG), Endomysial antibody (EMA), Total IgA, IgA deamidated gliadin peptide (IgA-DGP), and IgG deamidated gliadin peptide (IgG-DGP)

Biopsy: Small piece of tissue removed from a part of the body (skin, small intestine, etc.) for close examination under a microscope

Bone Density: A measure of the strength and health of your bones, reduced in people with osteopenia or osteoporosis (see below)

Bone mineral density test: Measures the density of minerals (such as calcium) in your bones using a special X-ray or computed tomography (CT) scan. This information is used to estimate the strength and risk for fracture of your bones.


Cannula: A thin plastic tube for insertion into the body to draw off fluid or to introduce medication.

Cerebellar ataxia: Poor or no coordination of voluntary movements that occur as a manifestation of a disease of the brain

Cerebral calcification: A process by which organic tissue becomes hardened by the physiologic deposit of calcium salts

Casein: A phosphorus-containing protein that is separated from milk especially by the action of acid that is used in making paints and adhesives

Conjunctival dryness: Dryness of the eye surface caused by deficiency of tears or conjunctival secretions; may be related to vitamin A deficiency, or any condition in which the eyelids do not close fully

Cross-bred: Relating to gluten-containing grains, cross-bred refers to the breeding of two different grains to produce another grain. Example: wheat grain and rye grain are cross-bred to produce the grain triticale.

Cross contamination: A process by which a gluten-free product comes into contact with something that is not gluten-free

Crustacean shellfish: A type of animal that has several pairs of legs and a body made up of sections that are covered in a hard outer shell; it usually lives in the water. Examples include crab, lobster, and shrimp.


Dementia: A progressive mental disorder which involves loss of intellectual (thinking) abilities; it involves memory, behavior, personality, judgment, attention, spatial relations, language, abstract thought, and other brain functions.

Dermatitis Herpetiformis: An itchy, blistering skin rash that is related to celiac disease and responds well to the gluten-free diet

Diverticular disease: A disorder characterized by diverticulosis( presence of diverticula in the colon that is typically symptomless but may be marked by symptoms such as bleeding or constipation) or diverticulitis (inflammation or infection of a diverticulum of the colon that is marked by abdominal pain or tenderness often accompanied by fever, chills, and cramping).

Daily Reference Intake (DRI): A system of nutrition recommendations which is composed of Estimated Average Requirements, Recommended Dietary Allowances, Adequate Intake, and Tolerable upper limit intake levels

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid): A substance that carries genetic data in the cells of plants and animals; it can self-replicate and also build RNA (see RNA).

Duodenum: The first part of the small intestine attached to the stomach

Durum flour: Flour from ground durum wheat


Elastin: A protein that is the chief part of elastic fibers

Electrolyte imbalance: Abnormally low or high amounts of important minerals and chemicals in the blood

Endomysial antibody (EMA): A test used to measure antibody levels in blood to detect or monitor celiac disease; for technical reasons; tTG testing is more commonly used than EMA testing.

Endoscopy: Medical procedure involving introduction of a tube with a microscope; examples include EGD and colonoscopy

Enriched flour: Wheat flour with defined added amounts of the B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folic acid, and iron

Essential amino acids: Any of various alpha-amino acids that are required for normal health and growth; they are either not manufactured in the body or manufactured in insufficient quantities; they are usually supplied by dietary protein; Examples: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, and methionine

Evidence-based analysis: An approach to practicing medicine or nutrition (or other science fields) that is based on 2 main principles: 1) All practical decisions made should be based on research studies and 2) These research studies are selected and interpreted according to some specific norms and a narrow set of criteria.


Farina: Flour from finely ground wheat other than durum wheat

Fibrosing alveolitis: A lung disease causing scarring, also known as pulmonary fibrosis

Flour: Wheat flour

Follicular keratosis: Dark bumps on the skin, usually only a cosmetic problem

Fortification: The process of adding vitamins and/or minerals to a food product

Food record: A commonly used type of diet survey method to assess a person's nutrition (calories, protein, fat, fluid, vitamins, minerals, etc)

Free radical(s): An atom or group of atoms that is unstable and highly reactive; they are believed to damage cells and speed up the progression of various cardiovascular and age-related diseases.

Fructooligosaccharide: A naturally occurring fructan sugar used as a prebiotic. It acts like a fiber, passing undigested to the large intestine where it is extensively fermented by colonic bacteria.

Fructose malabsorption: Difficulty digesting fructose, a naturally occurring simple sugar found in fruits, vegetables, and honey, among other foods. It is also used as a sweetener in products such as baked goods, processed foods, soft drinks and canned foods. Fructose malabsorption can cause abdominal pain, gas, bloating, and loose stools or diarrhea.


Galactose: A sugar that is part of the lactose found in milk and milk products

Game Meat: Game is any animal hunted for food or not normally domesticated, such as bison and reindeer.

Gastritis: an inflammation, irritation, or erosion of the lining of the stomach. It can occur suddenly (acute) or gradually (chronic).

Gastroenterologist: A doctor who studies and treats diseases of the stomach, intestines and related organs such as the esophagus, liver, gallbladder and pancreas

Gastroparesis: A condition in which the stomach cannot normally empty itself of food; can be due to diabetes, high blood pressure, infections, medications, or other conditions

Gene testing: Blood testing to detect the presence of the two main immune system genes in celiac disease, HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8; if you suspect celiac disease and you do NOT have one of these two genes, your doctor can rule out celiac disease with almost 100% certainty. If you DO have one of these genes, celiac disease has NOT been confirmed or excluded (ruled out), and your doctor will need to perform more tests.

Gluten: The major protein found in wheat; related proteins in rye and barley are called secalin and hordein, respectively.

Good manufacturing practices (GMP): The minimum sanitary and processing requirements for the producing safe and wholesome food; describes the methods, equipment, facilities, and controls for producing processed food; an important part of regulatory control over the food supply in the U.S.

Graham flour: Whole wheat flour

Grown in rotation: When a crop is grown in rotation with another crop, the same plot of land is used to grow different crops at different times. For example, wheat may be grown one season followed by millet the next season and then back to wheat. As a result, there may be "leftover" wheat seed growing in the millet field.

Gut: The small and/or large intestine and related organs


Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP): A program used by manufacturers to ensure food safety

Hematocrit: the part of the blood made up by red blood cells

Hemochromatosis: A condition that happens when too much iron builds up in the body. Your body needs iron to make hemoglobin, the part of your blood that carries oxygen to all of your cells. When there is too much iron, it can damage the liver and heart and lead to other diseases, such as diabetes and arthritis.

Hemoglobin: the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen through the body; this oxygen releases energy from food so that the body can use it

Hemolytic anemia: Anemia caused by excessive destruction (as in chemical poisoning, infection, or sickle-cell anemia) of red blood cells

Hemorrhoid: A mass of dilated veins in swollen tissue at the margin of the anus or nearby within the rectum

Hereditary fructose intolerance: A disorder that presents in infancy, usually at about the age that infants move from drinking only breast milk to eating food. Fructose intolerance occurs when the specific enzyme responsible for digesting fructose is lacking or completely absent. 

Hodgkins lymphoma: A malignant disease with progressive enlargement of the lymph nodes, spleen, and general lymphoid tissue.

Hydrogenation: The process of adding hydrogen to oils to change their state from liquid to solid

Hydrolyzed starch: Starch that has been broken down

Hydrolyzed wheat protein: Protein that has been broken apart into smaller protein fragments by the addition of water; these smaller protein fragments are likely still toxic to people with celiac disease.

Hypogonadism: A condition that results from or is characterized by abnormally decreased function of the gonads (a sex organ that produces sperm or eggs); it can slow growth and sexual development.


IgA deamidated gliadin peptide (IgA-DGP): A blood test used to diagnose and monitor celiac disease that is nearly as accurate as the other tests, IgA-tTG or IgA-EMA

IgA deficiency: A deficiency of the antibody that protects the mucous membranes

IgA tissue transglutaminase (IgA-tTG): The most common blood test used to diagnose and monitor celiac disease due to accuracy and cost

IgG deamidated gliadin peptide (IgG-DGP): A blood test used to diagnose and monitor celiac disease in those who are IgA-deficient

IgA nephropathy: Deposits of IgA antibodies in the kidney

Ileum: The third and last part of the small intestine which is attached to the colon; the ileum is often affected by Crohn's disease and responsible for vitamin B12 absorption.

Inactive ingredient: The filler, coating, binder or capsule portion of a medication or supplement

Infertility: A condition of not being able to get pregnant after at least one year of trying.


Jejunum: The middle part of the small intestine


Kamut: A type of wheat containing gluten

Keratomalacia: Softening, drying and ulceration of the cornea of eye which results from vitamin A deficiency


Lactoglobulin: A protein fraction that is obtained from the whey of milk

Lactose: A natural sugar found in milk

Lactose Intolerance: Decreased ability to digest lactose, a natural sugar found in milk and other dairy products, such as cheese, ice cream and in certain processed food such as bread, cereal, and salad dressing

Lignin: A complex chemical compound most commonly derived from wood; makes up the integral part of the cell walls of plants and some algae


Malt: An enzyme preparation usually derived from sprouted barley which is not gluten-free. Other cereal grains can also be malted and may or may not be gluten-free depending on the additional ingredients used in the malting process

Metabolism: The rate at which the body burns calories

Micronutrient: An organic compound (such as a vitamin or mineral) essential in very small amounts to the growth and health of an animal (including humans)

Microcytic anemia: Anemia in which the average size of the red blood cells is smaller than normal

Myalgias: Muscular pain or tenderness

Myelin: The insulating covering around nerve cells


Neuropathy: Nerve damage that can cause pain, numbness and tingling

Neurotransmitter: A chemical by which a nerve cell communicates with another nerve cell or with a muscle

Neutropenia: An abnormal decrease in the number of neutrophils (the primary part of a white blood cell) in the blood, as seen in certain anemias and leukemias (blood diseases)

Normocytic anemia: The most common type of anemia in which red blood cells are normally sized but very low in number


Oligospermia: Having fewer than the normal number of sperm in the semen

Oropharyngeal: Upper part of the throat

Osteopenia: A condition in which bone mineral density is lower than normal; it is considered by many doctors to be the early stages of osteoporosis. However, not every person diagnosed with osteopenia will develop osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis: A disease in which the bones become extremely porous, can fracture more easily, and heal slowly; in the general population it occurs most commonly in women after menopause but is common in all people with celiac disease.


Pancreatitis: disease in which the pancreas becomes inflamed

Plain flour: Wheat flour other than durum wheat flour

Parts per million (ppm): The measurement for gluten content in food; parts per million also means milligrams per kilograms (there are 1 million milligrams in 1 kilogram).

Phytonutrient: A bioactive plant-derived compound (such as resveratrol) associated with positive health effects

Primary biliary cirrhosis: A chronic autoimmune liver condition that leads to blockage of bile (fluid secreted by the liver to aid in absorbing fat) flow and can result in severe liver damage

Probiotics: Different strains of healthy bacteria

Psoriasis: A skin condition that causes scaly patches to develop on the body

Pulmonary hemosiderosis: A disease of chronic bleeding into the lungs, causing iron deposits



Registered dietitian (RD): A health care professional who specializes in food and nutrition

Restless leg Syndrome:a neurological disorder characterized by aching, burning, crawling, or creeping sensations of the legs that occur especially at night usually when lying down (as before sleep) and cause a compelling urge to move the legs

Rotation: (grown in rotation): When a crop is grown in rotation with another crop, the same plot of land is used to grow different crops at different times. For example, wheat may be grown one season followed by millet the next season and then back to wheat. As a result, there may be "leftover" wheat seed growing in the millet field.

RNA (ribonucleic acid): An acid involved in building protein in the body, sending genetic information to cells, and controlling chemical activity in the cells

R5 Elisa: A test used by a food lab to measure gluten content


Sago: A type of starch taken from palm stems and processed into flour

Sarcoidosis: A chronic inflammatory disease causing clusters of white blood cells to form in the tissues; affects almost any organ but most common in the skin, lungs, or liver

Saturated fats: A type of fat that comes mainly from animal sources of food; saturated fat raises total blood cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, which can increase the risk of heart disease.

Semolina: Flour from finely ground durum wheat

Small bowel biopsy: A small piece of tissue removed from a part of the small intestine to examine under a microscope; used to diagnose or monitor celiac disease

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth: A condition in which abnormally large numbers of bacteria grow in the small intestine

Small intestine: The part of the intestine that lies between the stomach and the colon; consists of duodenum, jejunum, and ileum; secretes digestive enzymes and is the chief site of the absorption of digested nutrients - also called small bowel

Sorbitol: A sugar that is found naturally in fruits including apples, pears, peaches, and prunes; it is also used as an artificial sweetener in sugar-free gum, candy, and other diet products.

Spelt: Type of wheat containing gluten

Starch hydrolysate: A starch that has been partially broken down

Steatorhea: abnormally high amounts of fat in stool that typically cause the stool to float and appear greasy; often, fat globules can be seen in stool

Systemic lupus erythematous: A chronic, relapsing, inflammatory, and often febrile multisystemic disorder of connective tissue


Tannin: A type of astringent, bitter plant compound that forms strong complexes with proteins and other macromolecules. It causes the dry and puckery feeling in the mouth after eating unripened fruit or wine.

Taro: A tropical plant with a thick root that can be boiled and eaten

Total IgA: A blood test that should be ordered in all initial celiac testing to rule out IgA deficiency

Trans fat (tran saturated fats): An unhealthy type of fat that occurs naturally in some foods, including, to some extent, in meat and dairy products; most trans fats from vegetable oils (synthetic or industrial trans fats) have been chemically changed to a more solid form during food processing to create fats that are easier to cook with and less likely to spoil. Synthetic trans fat, such as margarine, baked goods and some snack foods, can increase unhealthy LDL cholesterol, lower healthy HDL cholesterol, and increase the risk of heart disease.

Tree nuts: According to the FDA, tree nuts include almond, beech nut, Brazil nut, butter nut, cashew, chestnut, chinquapin, coconut, filbert/hazelnut, ginkgo nut, hickory nut, lichee nut, macadamia nut/bush nut, pecan, pine nut/pinon nut, pili nut, pistachio, shea nut, walnut, and heartnut.

Triticale: A hybrid of wheat and rye containing gluten

Tubers: A short, thick, round stem that is a part of certain plants (such as the potato), grows underground, and can produce a new plant



Validation of testing procedures: The careful evaluation of the accuracy and reliability of a specific test

Villi: The tiny, fingerlike projections on the surface of the small intestine where nutrients and water are absorbed

Villous atrophy: The loss of the surface area of the small intestine where nutrients and water are absorbed; is found most commonly in celiac disease but can also be seen in a number of other diseases, including infections

Vital gluten: Flour made mainly of wheat protein; should be avoided by those with celiac disease; also called vital wheat gluten

Vitiligo: A chronic condition that results in the loss of skin pigment


White flour: Wheat flour other than durum wheat flour





Dennis M, Leffler D, eds. Real Life with Celiac Disease: Troubleshooting and Thriving Gluten-Free. AGA Press, Bethesda, MD, 2010.

US Food and Drug Administration. Guidance for Industry: Questions and Answers Regarding Food Allergens, including the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (Edition 4); Final Guidance. October 2006.http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/GuidanceDocuments/FoodLabelingNutrition/ucm059116.htm. Accessed October 14, 2011.

Reference US Food and Drug Administration. GMPs: Section One: Current Food Good Manufacturing Practices. http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/CurrentGoodManufacturingPracticesCGMPs/ucm110907.htm. Accessed October 27, 2011.

The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007.

Merriam-Webster Medline Plus: www.merriam-webster.com/mobilemedlineplus/

Merriam Webster's Learner Dictionary. www.learnersdictionary.com/

WebMD: http://www.webmd.com

Mayo Clinic: www.mayoclinic.org

WebMD Children's Health Center: http://children.webmd.com

Gluten Intolerance Group. www.gluten.net

Medical Dictionary Online: http://www.online-medical-dictionary.org