I have spent the last 3 weeks reviewing real life case studies of “Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity or NCGS” – which is typically defined as a reaction to gluten that is not autoimmune (which is the case in Celiac Disease – CD) or allergic (wheat allergy).
It is also often referred to as gluten intolerance.
These people are producing antibodies to many different components of wheat (beta-gliadin, gamma-gliadin and omega-gliadin, glutenin, wheat germ agglutenin, gluteomorphin, deaminated gliadin), not just the one typically tested for in Celiac Disease (alpha-gliadin).
What’s more is people can react to other types of tissue transglutaminases (enzymes in the digestive tract that help breakdown the wheat compound), other than tGT-2 (which is the one tested for in Celiac), including Type 3, which is primarily found in skin, and type 6 which is primarily found in the brain and nervous system tissue.
Most people assume gluten intolerance only affects gastrointestinal symptoms but this is not the case. Gluten intolerance can affect nearly every tissue in the body, including the brain, skin, endocrine system, stomach, liver, blood vessels, smooth muscles and even the nucleus of cells. And is associated with dermatitis, psoriasis, Hashimotos hypothyroisim, peripheral neuropathy, schizophrenia, Autism Spectrum Disorder and more.
A lot of people diagnosed with NCGS or CD look to the “gluten-free” alternatives like gluten-free breads and pastas and a whole shopping isle of other processed foods made with rice, corn, tapioca, quinoa, teff etc.
The problem is there is a high chance they can be producing antibodies to these foods too. We know thatabout 50% of people with CD show signs of casein intolerance, the protein in milk. So in this case going gluten free isn’t enough.
There are many pros and cons to intolerance testing and there is only one test that I would recommend for screening for gluten intolerance and that is Array 3 from Cyrex Labs in the US (working on getting it offered here in Australia). But for now doing a gluten free challenge is still the best test for gluten intolerance. That is remove it for 30 days, then add it back in and note what happens and how you feel.
Next time you hear a story in the media about, “Wasting billions of money on gluten free” or “gluten free as a fad diet” and “gluten in tolerance may be completely fake” – please know that these stories are completely inaccurate and irresponsible journalism.
And whilst I do agree that food manufacturers have cottoned on to “gluten-free” being the next big thing and hence are taking advantage of it by producing packaged, processed gluten free foods it doesn’t mean that Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity is not real. It is actually very real – complex – and very under diagnosed due to lack of accurate testing.
So the answer is: don’t replace gluten with gluten free crap but rather eat real foods – like quality meat, seafood, vegetable, fruit and nuts and seeds.