What is Gluten Sensitivity?
Gluten sensitivity is an increasingly common health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is a reaction to the gluten protein found in foods such as wheat, barley, and rye. People with gluten sensitivity may experience a wide range of symptoms, including digestive issues, fatigue, brain fog, headaches, joint pain, muscle pain, skin rashes, and more. While the cause of gluten sensitivity is still unknown, it is thought to be due to a genetic alteration, an autoimmune disorder or a type of allergic reaction to the gluten protein itself.
The only way to treat gluten sensitivity is to completely remove gluten from one’s diet, as even a small amount of gluten can trigger symptoms. Knowing the signs and symptoms of gluten sensitivity can help people make informed decisions about their health and diet.
Symptoms of gluten sensitivity
Some of the most common symptoms of gluten sensitivity include digestive issues such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and nausea. People with gluten sensitivity may also experience fatigue, brain fog, headaches, joint pain, muscle pain, skin rashes, and more.
Causes of gluten sensitivity
The cause of gluten sensitivity is still widely debated in the medical community. Some studies suggest that gluten sensitivity is an autoimmune disorder. Autoimmune disorders occur when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s cells, causing damage and disease. Although the exact cause of autoimmune disorders is still unknown, it is thought that certain triggers may contribute to the development of certain disorders.
Diagnosing gluten sensitivity
Since the cause of gluten sensitivity is unknown, it is difficult to diagnose. Symptoms of gluten sensitivity often overlap with other health conditions, making it difficult to pinpoint the real cause. Because gluten sensitivity is a recently emerging condition, medical professionals are not always trained to diagnose it. That said, there is an abundance of research suggesting gluten sensitivity exists, so many people are diagnosed without any medical testing.
In fact, many people are misdiagnosed with a different condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome, instead of gluten sensitivity. If you suspect that you may have gluten sensitivity, the best course of action is to see your doctor, have the proper DNA test completed, and your symptoms properly diagnosed.
The DNA ConneXions® Gluten Sensitivity Test utilizes super floss to detect the presence or absence of the HLA tissue typing markers for DQ2 and DQ8 (actually the markers HLA-DQB1*02, HLA-DQA1*0501, HLA-DQB1*0302 exon2 and HLA-DQB1*0302 exon3).
The presence of any of these genetic markers is 95% predictive for gluten intolerance and/or sensitivity. The presence of both markers is 95% predictive for coeliac disease.
Our Gluten Sensitivity Test can help you discover health problems and take steps to improve your diet.
Treating gluten sensitivity
The only way to treat gluten sensitivity is to completely remove gluten from one’s diet. While this may seem daunting, many people report that their symptoms improve significantly or even disappear entirely following a gluten-free diet.
That said, it’s important to note that many gluten-free products are processed with the very same machines that handle gluten products, which makes it impossible to avoid trace amounts of gluten. In order to truly become gluten-free, one must purchase foods that are certified gluten-free, organic, and non-GMO.
Foods to avoid with gluten sensitivity
When following a gluten-free diet, it is important to avoid all foods that contain gluten, including the following:
Wheat – This includes all types of wheat, including durum, spelt, semolina, and farro.
Barley – This is found in beer, malt, and some cereals.
Rye – This is often used in rye bread, rye crackers, and rye-based cereals.
Oats – Some people with gluten sensitivity are also sensitive to oats.
Wheat-based ingredients – These include wheat flour, wheat starch, and more.
Gluten-based ingredients – These include barley, rye, beer/brewed beverages, and malt.
Other ingredients – These include modified food starch, vinegar, and hydrolyzed vegetable protein.
Benefits of a gluten-free diet
Following a gluten-free diet can provide many health benefits, including improved gut health, reduced inflammation, and reduced allergies. The most obvious benefit of a gluten-free diet is the reduction of symptoms. Many people reduce or even eliminate all their symptoms by removing gluten from their diet.
People following a gluten-free diet also experience higher rates of weight loss and reduced cholesterol. Gluten-free diets have also been shown to improve blood sugar management, which can be especially helpful for people with diabetes.
Tips for managing gluten sensitivity
– Read food labels. This is the best way to know what ingredients are in food.
– Always buy organic, non-GMO, and gluten-free foods.
– Choose fresh foods over processed foods.
– Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
– Eat enough protein. Aim for at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
– Drink plenty of water every day.
Resources for managing gluten sensitivity
– American College of Gastroenterology
– National Foundation for Celiac Awareness
– National Institutes of Health
– The Spine Channel
Gluten sensitivity is an emerging health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is a reaction to the gluten protein found in foods such as wheat, barley, and rye. People with gluten sensitivity may experience a wide range of symptoms, including digestive issues, fatigue, brain fog, headaches, joint pain, muscle pain, skin rashes, and more.
While the cause of gluten sensitivity is still unknown, it is thought to be caused by a genetic alteration, an autoimmune disorder or a reaction to the gluten protein itself. The only way to treat gluten sensitivity is to completely remove gluten from one’s diet, as even a small amount of gluten can trigger symptoms for weeks or months. Knowing the signs and symptoms of gluten sensitivity can help people make informed decisions about their health and diet.
1). Sallese M, et al. Beyond the HLA Genes in Gluten-Related Disorders. (2020) https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2020.575844/full
2). Lerner BA, et al. Detection of Gluten in Gluten-Free Labeled Restaurant Food: Analysis of Crowd-Sourced Data. (2019) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6502671/
3). Lee Hj, et al. Gluten Contamination in Foods Labeled as “Gluten Free” in the United States.