Experts: Wheat Sensitivity Is Real

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Experts: Wheat Sensitivity Is Real
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Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) refers to a medical condition in which people have gut symptoms caused by foods with ingredients containing gluten. [1] These symptoms include bloating, abdominal pain, gas, constipation, and diarrhea. Other people also experience headaches and inflammatory symptoms such as bone or joint pain.

The number of people who have NCGS remains unknown, but there is mounting evidence that many people (who are not diagnosed with celiac disease) are exhibiting the symptoms that are related to wheat or gluten allergy. According to Dr. Joseph Murray, a professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic’s Rochester, Minnesota facility, about one percent of Americans or about three million have the syndrome. [2]

The first reports about NCGS date back to as early as the 1980s. However, recent numerous reports demonstrated the positive impact of gluten withdrawal on patients who are not affected with celiac disease. The term NCGS was first coined in 2011 and was named as a gluten-related disorder in 2012. [3]

Study after study is confirming that NCGS may indeed be real. However here’s where it gets interesting: Murray and other scientists are reporting the protein gluten may not, in fact, be the main culprit for triggering the immune reaction. They are attributing the symptoms to other components in the wheat. Fructans, a polymer of fructose molecules, and poorly absorbed carbohydrates are possible candidates for inducing symptoms as well. [4]

Intestinal damage: Previously, the medical community postulated that people with NCGS/NCWS only had symptoms of discomfort but did not have actual intestinal damage. However, a 2016 study conducted by a team of researchers at Columbia University Medical Center erased this thought. They discovered that wheat exposure was the main cause of a systemic immune reaction and accompanying intestinal cell damage. The study revealed that the vast majority of the impacted population remains undiagnosed. [5]

Although NCGS has received increased attention from researchers during the decade, there have been earlier reports highlighting the condition as a distinct clinical entity. One study explained why intolerance to cereals is not specific for overt or latent celiac disease (CD). [6] Another study reported similar data, linking gluten exposure to half of nonceliac subjects and 71% of the CD patients. [7] Another one noted that nonceliac patients had more symptoms than CD patients. [8]

NCGS has emerged as a health issue that continues to befuddle many in the medical and scientific communities. The number of individuals afflicted with the condition appears to far outnumber those with CD. However, lack of clinical diagnostic criteria and the absence of specific biomarkers have left doctors and researchers in limbo.

There is still some ambiguity with regard to the primary reason behind the immune reaction. For Dr. Armin Alaedni, a researcher at Columbia University, more studies need to be carried out to identify the molecular triggers responsible for the associated symptoms in patients affected with NCGS.

Further Reading:

24 Signs That May Be Warning You To Try A Gluten Free Diet

10 Signs of Gluten Intolerance That You Need To Stop Ignoring

The Real Reason Wheat is Toxic (it’s not the gluten)


[1] Knut EA et al. October 2012. Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Clinics. Non-celiac Gluten Sensitivity.

[2] Kathleen Doheny. November 23, 2016. Experts: Wheat Sensitivity Is Real.

[3] GrazynaCzaja-Bulsa, April 2015. Clinical Nutrition. Non coeliac gluten sensitivity – A new disease with gluten intolerance.

[4] Shepherd SJ , Parker FC , Muir JG et al. July 2008. Clinical Gastroenterlogy and Hepatology. Dietary triggers of abdominal symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: randomized placebo controlled evidence.

[5] Uhde M et al. Gut. Intestinal cell damage and systemic immune activation in individuals reporting sensitivity to wheat in the absence of coeliac disease.

[6] . Kaukinen K, Turjanmaa K, Maki M, et al. October 2000. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology. Intolerance to cereals is not specific for coeliac disease.

[7] Campanella J, Biagi F, Bianchi PI, et al. 2008. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology. Clinical response to gluten withdrawal is not an indicator of coeliac disease.

[8] Brottveit M, Vandvik PO, Wojniusz S, et al. 2012. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology. Absence of somatization in non-coeliac gluten sensitivity.

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1 Comment

  • By Pamela, March 18, 2018 @ 12:26 pm

    What about the theory that wheat sensitivity is due to Roundup chemicals. We started off thinking wheat sensitivity and removed wheat from our diet. That helped some but what really helped was to,stop buying all American grown fruits and vegetables as well as processed foods. Our symptoms are virtually gone. When we travel abroad we can eat breads and store bought vegetables with no symptoms. Americans are being poisoned.

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