Dawna Ara, L.Ac.

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Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (Part I)

More Accurately Referred To As a Spectrum of Sensitivity

While many healthy people with no real health issues may just be trying a gluten free diet out because they heard it was good for them, there are a lot of people who suffer terribly and will actually benefit a great deal by not eating it. If you have a gluten sensitivity eating it can can lower immunity and be the precursor to a list of ailments you’ve been suffering from. Are you having joint pain? If so, eating gluten can be the reason. Are you feeling depressed and anxious? Well, gluten can be the reason for that too. In those who have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, eating it can cause inflammation not only in your gut, but in other areas of your body as well.

Spectrum of Sensitivity

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) can be confusing because it is not one disease where everyone who has it expresses the same symptoms. There are varying degrees and levels of symptoms which makes gluten sensitivity more accurately referred to as a spectrum of sensitivity. Think of the spectrum as a line with on one end there are people who have no response or reaction to gluten, while on the other end there are the people with extreme life threatening reactions. Most people fall somewhere in between the two extreme ends. The inbetweeners are known as the gluten sensitive folks.

 

no reaction → sub-clinical gluten sensitivity → extreme reaction

 

What this means is that while some people have no symptoms or trouble eating gluten, and some people suffer immensely from eating it, the majority of us who don’t fall on either end of the spectrum can still suffer moderate symptoms from eating gluten.

NCGS is not black and white. There is a large gray area of gluten sensitivity and if you are someone who falls in that gray area you have what’s called sub-clinical or hidden gluten sensitivity. You most likely have symptoms that are not life threatening, but rather affect the quality of your life. Sub-clinical gluten intolerance is not the same as Celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that involves the entire body but starts in the small intestine. It is diagnosed upon biopsy. If you have Celiac disease you are at the far right end of the spectrum and will have the most extreme symptoms from eating it.

Symptoms of Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity 

The list of symptoms are endless because of how woven NCGS is on all systems of the body. Here is a list of some of the most common signs and symptoms:

Diarrhea Constipation Gas
Bloating Weight Gain or Loss Migraines & Other Headaches
Depression  Anxiety Poor Memory
Foggy Thinking Trouble Focusing Acne
Hives Itchy Skin Allergies
Joint Pain Fibromyalgia Chronic Fatigue
Nerve Damage Irregular Menstruation Infertility
Hormone Disruptions PCOS ADD or ADHD
Why all of a sudden are we hearing about gluten free?

Quite frankly, it is because knowledge spreads very fast these days. It’s actually much harder to not to be informed. Wanna know about gluten free? Well then just google it! A person can be educated in just about anything by the time they finish reading this sentence. 20 years ago becoming informed was time consuming and expensive. You had to be very curious and willing to spend hours at the library and talking to professors, researchers, and healthcare professionals who were willing to share their information. Now a days you just hit return on your laptop or send on your smartphone and you become an instant expert. I hope I never stop being impressed by this!

Also, wheat, one of the primary sources of gluten has been hybridized and deamidated extensively in the last 50 years. The wheat and grain that is talked in the bible is not the same wheat you are eating today. The wheat and grains that your grandparents ate as kids are not the same as the processed products that you buy in the supermarket today. On the molecular level, wheat and gluten no longer looks the same as they did just half a century ago. You may think this isn’t a big deal, but it is. Especially if you have an autoimmune disorder.

Gluten free diets are not new, they have been around for a very long time. I myself have been gluten free for close to 15 years, and I know many alternative health care professionals who have been gluten free for over 20 years. I believe most people will benefit from not eating it, but this does not mean everyone needs to be gluten free.

Like what you read? Please check back for the next article where I explain what gluten is, what foods contain it, and why the name gluten sensitivity is misleading and is more accurately referred to as glidian sensitivity.

References

About Dawna Ara
Dawna is an acupuncturist, herbalist, functional medicine practitioner, a mom, wife, writer, nature lover, chef and whole foods advocate. She teaches how to live a healthy lifestyle through her website Eat Play Work Sleep.