For my STEAM project, I decided to paint normal villi that you would see in a normal person, and right next to it I painted the villi that you would see in someone who had celiac disease. Celiac disease is a unique and very serious autoimmune disorder, and since it has something to do with both the immune system and the digestive system I thought it would be a great topic for my STEAM project. This was my very first time painting something and I can say for sure, it is a lot harder to do than it looks like.

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  1. This project on Celiac disease is really creative but literal. Celiac is an autoimmune disorder in which the body is unable to metabolize gluten ingested in their food. One of the reasons this happens is reflected beautifully in Daniel’s painting, is that there is a developed difference in the intestine of those with Celiac and those without. The intestines are coated with stratified columnar epithelium, this type of epithelial tissue has the capacity to host microvilli, or finger like texture along the walls of the intestine. In a healthy person, the microvilli are long and grass-like, with a high surface area presented perfect for absorbing the nutrients the body needs from the small intestine after food has been digested in the stomach. In a person with Celiac disease, the villi are grass that has been cut to a stump. There is no “blade” to stick out as significantly, and because of that there is reduced surface area for nutrient absorption. These “blades” were actually subject to attack. As an autoimmune condition, your body doesn’t recognize gluten as being a substance safe for your body. The white blood cells in your circulatory system act accordingly and are triggered to attack those microvilli every time it senses gluten is present. Eventually, over time the microvilli can become so eroded that the intestinal lining can no longer support attempting to digest foods with gluten. This can lead to symptoms diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating and weight loss because the nutrients being ingested are not being properly absorbed for use by the body. Untreated celiac over time degrades the microvilli completely, which can cause not just inflammation but increased cancer risk also.


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