What is gluten sensitivity?

What is gluten sensitivity?

What is gluten sensitivity?

Gluten Sensitivity is a significant condition whereby people experience a reaction to gluten, but without showing the biochemical markers found when diagnosing wheat allergy or Coeliac disease.

Did you know that there is more than one disorder triggered by gluten?

Gluten Related Disorders

The rising prevalence of Coeliac disease (Celiac in the US) has been noted by Dr Joseph A. Murray, gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, saying Coeliac disease is becoming a public health issue. Studies show four times the incidence compared to 1950. "Celiac disease was rare, but it's now more common in all age groups."

Some experts see Coeliac disease as just the tip of the gluten-related iceberg.

Such is the rise in the number of people presenting with gluten related problems, that in 2011 a group of 15 global experts in neurology and enterology gathered to discuss the wide variety of symptoms that patients presented with in relation to eating gluten, and developed new nomenclature and classification for the spectrum of gluten-related disorders.

Symptoms of Gluten Sensitivity

Interestingly, there are many symptoms associated with gluten sensitivity that occur throughout the body – they are not confined to the digestive system.

In 2010 consultant neurologist, Dr Marios Hadjivassiliou[i] found that the majority of people experiencing symptoms affecting their nervous system from gluten didn’t have any apparent symptoms related to their gut! Thereby showing that it is possible to have an intolerance or sensitivity to gluten that hampers your vitality and wellbeing without it showing up in your digestive system.

So aside from all the digestive problems associated with gluten sensitivity (e.g. bloating, diarrhoea, constipation and abdominal pain), there are many more gluten related conditions that you may not expect ...

In some cases the following conditions have been linked with gluten sensitivity:

  • Headaches and migraines, mood swings, Anaemia, lethargy and tiredness
  • Dementia, Multiple Sclerosis, Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder
  • Epilepsy, loss of balance and coordination
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis, Type 1 Diabetes

It has been said that our joints and muscles are as prone to gluten-induced inflammation as the brain and nerves, with many cases of unexplained joint and muscle pain being likely linked with gluten sensitivity.

Could gluten sensitivity be putting a dampener on your health and well-being?

  • The amino acids in gluten are not essential to human health and so it can be safely removed from the diet without incurring any nutritional deficiencies
  • The only thing to bear in mind is to source the nutrients that are in foods containing gluten, e.g. calcium and fibre, from elsewhere
  • This is simple to achieve; there are many naturally gluten free vegetables, seeds, nuts and grains that are rich in fibre and minerals

Recognising gluten sensitivity can open up a whole new world of nourishing foods and ways of caring for your body and Being, including exploring new recipes.

The information in this article is for general purposes only. For specific medical advice, we recommend you consult your doctor.

  • [i]

    Hadjivassiliou, M. et al. (2010). Gluten Sensitivity: from Gut to Brain. The Lancet Neurology, 9(3), 318-330

  • [ii]

    Hum, M. (2012). Gluten Sensitivity: A Brain Disease? Optimum Nutrition. Summer Issue, 16-19

  • [iii]

    Kennedy, K. (2013, June). Gluten Sensitivity: The Emergence of a New Disorder. NHD Magazine, (85), 19-20

  • [iv]

    Sapone, A. et al (2012). Spectrum of Gluten-Related Disorders: Consensus on New Nomenclature and Classification. BMC Medicine, 10(13)

Filed under

Coeliac/celiacGluten freeBloatingExhaustionVitalityDigestionNutrition

  • Photography: Meg Valentine