Does Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance Actually Exist?*

Wednesday, 25 May 2016, By Keenan Mowat

Individuals with Celiac disease are intolerant to gluten. However, cutting out dietary gluten is also suggested to many suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which is often associated with Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's disease. On top of that, many self-diagnose themselves with gluten intolerance and claim a wide range of health benefits to a gluten-free diet. A recent study has shown that for those with supposed non-Celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), the gluten itself might not be to blame for the health troubles.

In a recent study conducted on NCGS, rather than just relying on subjective reports of pain, the researchers carefully monitored urine, stool, and serum samples. The diet was strictly controlled in order to rule out other nutritional variables that were not accounted for in previous studies. These potential triggers included lactose, certain preservatives, and FODMAPs, which are short-chain carbohydrates which the body cannot always readily absorb. For the first two weeks of the study, participants held a diet low in FODMAPs. Next, they cycled through diets with high-gluten, low-gluten, and a whey isolate placebo for a week each.

Ultimately, they discovered that following the low-FODMAP baseline diet, every other diet, including the gluten free, resulted in an increased reporting of symptoms of gas, bloating, and pain. During the second part of the experiment, the participants reported increased symptoms even while on the baseline diet. The researchers attributed this to a "nocebo" effect. This is the opposite of the placebo effect, where people take a medication with no active ingredients, but they believe they are and show signs of improvement. For a nocebo, anyone taking a substance that they perceive to be potentially harmful can actually exacerbate symptoms. The results showed that only 8% of the participants had gluten-specific effects from the diet, leading the researchers to reverse their opinion from the original study and say that NCGS doesn't really seem to be a factor.

My recommendation is, unless you are diagnosed by a GP with a gluten intolerance (Celiac Disease), there are no proven associated health benefits with cutting it out of your diet. In fact, by cutting gluten from your diet, you are usually forcing yourself to miss out on many foods that can be very beneficial towards your health.

*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.

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