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Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity Does Exist

From The Healthier Life

You’ve been complaining about fatigue, digestive discomfort and bloating after eating foods containing wheat for years. It took some convincing, but eventually your doctor tested for coeliac disease an autoimmune disease in which gluten, found in wheat, barley and rye, triggers an immune reaction and damages the lining of the small intestine. In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, it can also cause diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, headaches, mouth ulcers, weight loss (in some cases), depression the list is endless.

To your surprise, your blood-and-biopsy test results came back negative and your doctor hints at the fact that your symptoms may be ‘all in your head’.

Digging a little bit deeper

Standard tests for coeliac disease include gut biopsy and blood tests. The biopsy looks any signs of flattening of the gut wall and the blood tests look for specific antibodies, known as endomysial and tissue transglutaminase. So if your test results come back normal, most doctors will automatically assume that you don’t have a problem with wheat or gluten.

Of course, you might think differently, especially if your symptoms persist and more so if you follow a gluten-free diet and all your symptoms disappear.

Turns out, your gut feeling might very well be right. A recent study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterol (AJG) suggests that, even in the absence of coeliac disease, gluten based products can cause symptoms like irritable bowel syndrome in many patients.

The researchers concluded that their data confirms the existence of non-coeliac wheat sensitivity as a distinct clinical condition. They added: “We also suggest the existence of two distinct populations of subjects with wheat sensitivity: one with characteristics more similar to coeliac disease and the other with characteristics pointing to food allergy.”

As a result of the AJG study and other evidence, non-coeliac gluten sensitivity was recognised earlier this year by a group of 15 international experts. In an article, published online by BMC Medicine, researchers list the most common symptoms of non-coeliac gluten sensitivity, which include abdominal discomfort, bloating, pain, and diarrhoea (also consistent with irritable bowel syndrome) or a variety of extra-intestinal symptoms such as headaches, “foggy mind,” depression, fatigue, musculoskeletal pains, and skin rash.

The BMC article concluded that patients who tested negative for wheat allergy and coeliac disease, and still complain about symptoms for wheat intolerance or gluten sensitivity, should be diagnosed with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity. The researchers add that these patients can benefit from a gluten-free diet. However, patients should also be made aware that non-coeliac gluten sensitivity is a newly recognised condition, which doctors don’t yet fully understand.

Well, at least these researchers admit the limitations of medical testing and that there are things they simply don’t yet know or understand about the condition. It certainly is a step forward from simply telling patients that symptoms are “all in your head.”

If you have been fobbed off by your doctor as being a bit gullible or delusional, you can now go back to your doctor armed with this latest research and say “I told you so!'” Oh and while you are at it, you can also tell your doctor that it is often found that people with a gluten intolerance also have a dairy intolerance He might want to look into that a bit further, with at least some due diligence

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