Are You Sensitive to Gluten?
Gluten sensitivity is a term that describes individuals who cannot tolerate gluten but their celiac disease testing is completely normal. These individuals are referred to as having Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity.
Celiac disease affects 1% of the general population or 1 in 133 Americans. Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity is estimated to affect up to 6% of the population, or 18 million Americans.
Symptoms of Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity:
Symptoms may appear hours or days after ingesting gluten.
- Feeling Bloated
- Abdominal pain
- Diarrhea or constipation
- “Foggy Brain”
- Joint pains
Testing for Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity:
- Currently, there are no acceptable recommended methods to test for Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity.
- Some doctors offer saliva, blood and/or stool testing but these tests have not been validated.
- Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity is diagnosed by process of exclusion. If testing for celiac disease and a wheat allergy are both negative, your doctor may recommend a gluten elimination diet. If your symptoms improve on a gluten-free diet, then you most likely have Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. It is extremely important that a knowledgeable physician and nutritionist oversee this entire process.
Why Do I Feel Better on a Gluten-Free Diet?
Dr. Fasano is a world expert on gluten-related disorders. Dr. Fasano’s research has highlighted the impact of gluten on the digestive tract and the role gluten plays in the development of issues unrelated to celiac disease.
Gliadin is a component of gluten that triggers immune responses in some patients. Dr. Fasano and his research team, examined small intestine biopsies from four populations: patients with active celiac disease, patients with celiac disease in remission, patients with Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, and patients with no known gluten reactions. Intestinal permeability (“leaky gut”) was significantly increased in all four groups by exposure to gliadin. Altered intestinal barrier function was especially pronounced for those with active celiac disease and those with Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. A different study also found that a subset of patients who were consuming gluten-containing foods had systemic immune system activation that correlated with intestinal barrier damage in both the Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity group and the celiac disease group.