Gluten sensitivity: fact, not fashion

More and more people are adopting a gluten-free lifestyle, and meeting this need, gluten-free options are offered in most restaurants, cafes and shops. So I look at the statement – Gluten sensitivity: fact, not fashion. Increasingly, people are recognising that gluten can make them feel unwell. Consequently, gluten intolerance/ sensitivity is being diagnosed as the problem in many patients.

Gluten sensitivity: fact, not fashion

Because so many people are going gluten-free, it is attracting a trendy label. Although this could be a good thing because of the increased awareness, there is a danger that this important health problem could be considered an alternative or a trivial diagnosis. However, the gluten syndrome is a serious condition.

The gluten syndrome: gut, skin and brain

Medical research has found that about one in every ten people gets symptoms from eating gluten. So, if you were reacting to gluten, how would you know

What makes the diagnosis elusive is the huge list of symptoms that can be attributed to celiac disease and gluten sensitivity/intolerance. Some of these symptoms are subtle, such as poor growth or behaviour problems. Gluten can affect your gut, your skin and your brain, and this is called The Gluten Syndrome: and it includes celiac disease. You can get symptoms from gluten: in your gut (with pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and gastric reflux); in your skin (with eczema, dermatitis and itchy skin); and, most commonly, in your brain (with behaviour disorders, irritability, tiredness, headaches, poor concentration, moodiness and migraines). This means that if you have any on-going chronic health problems, then this could be due to gluten.

A new entity

Is this gluten thing a new disease is commonly asked. My answer is No, because gluten has only been identified as the cause for so much illness over the last 20 years. Why? Because the blood tests to diagnose gluten-sensitivity were not available prior to that. Obviously, previous generations could not be tested. It is only 50 years ago that gluten toxicity was first recognised as the cause of celiac disease.

Please get your blood tests

There are two types of blood test available to identify gluten reactions: for celiac disease we look for tissue damage; for gluten sensitivity we look for anti-gluten antibodies (the most useful test being the IgG-gliadin antibody test but many laboratories do not offer this test) see the webpage for exact details.

celiac or gluten sensitivity

The concept of gluten sensitivity (i.e. that people react to gluten but do not have celiac disease) is not yet accepted by most medical practitioners, who may still be unaware of the clinical data about on gluten-sensitivity.

To look at the true/false logic behind this perception, please read these two statements.
Statement 1: Buses have wheels, therefore, wheels are only found on buses.
Statement 2: celiac gut damage is caused by gluten, therefore the gluten can only cause gut damage.

If statement 1 is false, then it is likely that statement 2 is also false. To date, I have not seen any medical research evidence that shows that gluten harm is restricted to the gut damage of celiac disease.

by Dr Rodney Ford