Celiac disease is an immune response that occurs when a person has eaten gluten in some form. There is a medical test that can be performed for this condition. However, if you are someone who suffers from one or more physical symptoms after eating gluten but have tested negative for Celiac disease, you may have what is called non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
What Is Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity?
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity means that while your body is not producing an immune response to gluten, it still bothers you by presenting a number of symptoms that can include headaches, migraines, gas, bloating, fatigue, anxiety or irritable bowels. This sensitivity can also come and go whereas Celiac disease is typically a lifelong condition.
Is It Real?
Unfortunately, there are food-based fads that evolve as time goes by and recently, many people have given up gluten in order to reap some of the benefits of a gluten free lifestyle. This had led many people to questions whether or not gluten sensitivity is a real thing. While some people experience minimal to no symptoms when they consume gluten but have given it up anyway, there are people who legitimately experience discomfort in their body when consuming gluten products. After removing gluten from their diet, their symptoms subside.
Can it Cause Bodily Damage?
Celiac disease can cause permanent damage to the intestinal villi in the body when left untreated and up until now, it was believed that a gluten sensitivity would be uncomfortable and inconvenient but it wouldn’t cause any real ongoing problems. A recent study has suggested this may not be the case. A study at Columbia University Medical Center was performed in July of 2016 that exposing oneself to wheat/gluten may also be triggering a response of the immune system and cells in the intestinal tract can potentially become damaged. Whether this damage is reversible or not has not yet been answered. This study also suggested that the number of people who suffer from this sensitivity may actually be greater than the number of people that are currently diagnosed and being treated for Celiac disease. More studies will need to be performed to answer more of these questions.
What’s Next for Gluten Sensitivity Research?
Researchers estimate that approximately one-half percent to six percent of the general popular is gluten intolerant. However, without proper diagnostic tools, it’s impossible at this time to get a truly accurate count. Researchers are working on developing a blood test that will pinpoint gluten sensitivity based on distinct biomarkers and antibodies.
Further research will focus on determining why the intestinal wall is weakened for gluten intolerant patients and will gather more information on the immune response caused by a person’s sensitivity to gluten.
Currently, there is no medical testing available that confirms non-celiac gluten sensitivity but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit your doctor if you are having symptoms. A doctor can often take a look at your symptoms and suggest things you can try to help you feel better or they can recommend an elimination diet to try and rule out what foods could be bothering you.
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