The Book

Autoimmune Disease

Can Gluten Hurt Someone Without Celiac?
This will be a very simple blog post but a very important one. Honestly, some of you might roll your eyes and think, “Obviously NCGS (non-celiac gluten sensitivity) is a real thing.” So if you just want the punch-line its this: Gluten can still harm people who do not have celiac disease.

Before I get started, I am NOT saying that EVERYONE has a gluten problem. That is not true. However, some people who do not have celiac disease can still be affected by gluten.

I have heard quite a few people tell me in the past couple of years that, “Gluten can only affect someone with celiac disease. Research shows this.” They often site some research article that they can’t find later or was on a blog post (This is different from research).

Well, I knew in these conversations that the research did NOT show this. Research shows that people that do not have celiac disease can still get symptoms from a diet that contains gluten. So I just wanted to do this blog post to set the record straight.

What is celiac disease? Celiac disease is a problem with gluten that leads to tissue damage within the intestines. Celiac disease is confirmed by blood antibody testing and an endoscopic exam. That means that they view internally your small intestine to see if the little fingers that suck up the nutrients are being destroyed. If you don’t have these two things then you do not have celiac disease. Most doctors use blood antibody test to tell if there is a probable issue and then they confirm with a endoscopic exam. At least they should be…..

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is when someone without celiac disease can have their symptoms decreased and eradicated by a gluten free diet. Then when they add gluten again their symptoms return. This is a working diagnosis although it is difficult to confirm because of the length of the trial.

The purpose of this post is just to say, NCGS is a recognized condition in the literature since 2011 and at this point there is no research that would undo the dozens of randomized double-blind placebo controlled trials that have already been done. This is a reality now. I attached five articles, but if you searched NCGS in PubMed you would find 195 peer-reviewed, research papers on NCGS. If you search “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” then 166 peer-reviewed research papers come up.

I’m sorry that I had to make a post just to say, “Hey, this is a real thing.” Once again, I know some of you are saying, “Obviously.”

But if you were confused or you really, really wanted to believe that wheat was 100%, definitely okay for you then think again. Passing a celiac test does not give you free reign to indulge. Gluten may not have caused tissue damage yet, but it can eventually.

If you are worried about gluten causing your problem just stop consuming gluten for a month. Then add it back in every day and see what happens. If your problem comes back then that meets the definition for non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Gluten sensitivity can contribute to systemic inflammation and most people with gluten sensitivity will statistically have neurological, psychiatric, or endocrine symptoms instead of digestive symptoms. This is in contrast to what most people believe about celiac disease/ncgs and this belief is a barrier to people getting screened for this ailment.

1. Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Crossover Trial for the Diagnosis of Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity in Children.

2. Nonceliac gluten sensitivity: an approach to diagnosis and management.

3. Double-Blind Randomized Clinical Trial: Gluten versus Placebo Rechallenge in Patients with Lymphocytic Enteritis and Suspected Celiac Disease.

4. Evidence for the Presence of Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity in Patients with Functional Gastrointestinal Symptoms: Results from a Multicenter Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Gluten Challenge.

5. Small Amounts of Gluten in Subjects With Suspected Nonceliac Gluten Sensitivity: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Cross-Over Trial.