Is Gluten Sensitivity Real? | Chris Kresser

Is Gluten Sensitivity Real?

by Chris Kresser

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You’ve probably seen the recent glut of sensational headlines in the media proclaiming that non-celiac gluten sensitivity is some kind of widespread collective delusion—simply a figment of the imagination of anyone who claims to experience it.

These stories point to a new study which found that a group of patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) were not sensitive to gluten. (1) The researchers who performed this study had previously published a paper showing that IBS patients were sensitive to wheat, and that removing wheat from their diet led to an improvement of symptoms.

Gluten sensitivity: real diagnosis or collective delusion? Read this to find out.

However, in this new study, the authors specifically isolated gluten and found that there was no difference in symptoms between the patients eating high-gluten diets and those eating low-gluten diets.

This is a significant finding, but to claim that it proves that non-celiac gluten sensitivity doesn’t exist is both inaccurate and irresponsible. It’s a great way to get clicks and generate attention, but it’s an extreme distortion of what the study actually found.

Why this study doesn’t disprove gluten sensitivity

First, this study examined the effects of gluten in a specific population: people with irritable bowel syndrome. Even if it is true that gluten sensitivity is no more common in people with IBS than in people without IBS (which is premature to conclude on the basis of a single study), it does not overturn the large body of evidence that links non-celiac gluten sensitivity to a variety of health problems ranging from allergies to schizophrenia to autism spectrum disorders. (2, 3, 4, 5)

Second, this study does not suggest that people with IBS—or anyone else with gluten sensitivity—should feel free to start chowing down on wheat. In fact, it suggests the opposite. For the first week of the trial, all patients were put on a gluten-free diet that was also low in FODMAPs (a class of carbohydrates present in wheat, as well as other foods).

After this lead-in period, the participants were assigned to one of three groups: a high-gluten diet, a low-gluten diet, and a placebo. Those on the high gluten diet were given 16 grams per day of purified wheat gluten; those on the low gluten diet were given 2 grams per day of purified wheat gluten plus 14 grams per day of whey protein isolate; and those on the placebo diet were given 16 grams per day of whey protein isolate.

The majority of participants experienced a significant improvement of symptoms during the 7-day gluten-free, low FODMAP lead-in period. But there was no difference in symptoms between the high gluten, low gluten, or placebo groups during the subsequent treatment period. In other words, patients did react adversely to wheat, but they did not react to isolated gluten.

This of course suggests that something other than gluten in the wheat was causing the problems patients experienced. We now know that there are several compounds in wheat other than gluten that could be to blame. These include not only FODMAPs, but also agglutinins (proteins that bind to sugar), prodynorphins (proteins involved with cellular communication), and additional proteins that are formed during the process of wheat digestion, such as deamidated gliadin and gliadorphins (aka gluteomorphins). (6)

Another possibility is that both the placebo and low-gluten groups were reacting to the whey protein. Whey is >99% casein- and lactose-free, which is what most people who are sensitive to dairy react to. However, it is certainly possible for people to react adversely to whey, and in my experience this is more common with patients with digestive problems. If some of the “placebo” and low-gluten patients were, in fact, sensitive to whey, then that would invalidate the results of the study.

How to find out if you’re sensitive to wheat, gluten, or both

This study showed that for people with IBS on a low FODMAP diet, eating isolated gluten does not cause symptoms. But one might ask: who cares? Do you eat isolated, purified gluten? Do you know anyone who does? I doubt it. People eat wheat—not gluten. And as both this study and numerous other studies have demonstrated, there are several components of wheat other than gluten that cause problems.

In practical terms, this study still supports the idea that patients with IBS should avoid wheat, because it contains FODMAPs and possibly other compounds that make them feel worse. What this study does tell us is that it’s possible that IBS patients may be able to tolerate other non-wheat products that contain gluten, presuming they are low in FODMAPs and other compounds that they may react to.

Here’s the best way to determine if this is true for you:

  1. Remove all gluten-containing foods and products from your diet for 60 days.
  2. At the end of the 60 day period, cook up a bowl of barley, eat it, and see what happens.
  3. A few days later, eat a piece of wheat bread.

Barley is a gluten-containing grain that is low in FODMAPs. If you react to it, that suggests you’re intolerant of gluten or other gluten-like compounds. If you don’t react to barley, but you do react to the wheat bread, that suggests you are intolerant to something in wheat specifically.

You may be able to safely consume gluten-containing products other than wheat—though it’s worth pointing out that many of these products (primarily grains and processed foods) would not be foods you should be consuming regularly anyways.

Is “non-celiac wheat sensitivity” a better label?

If there’s an important takeaway from this study, it’s this: non-celiac wheat sensitivity may be a different clinical entity than non-celiac gluten sensitivity. The former would be used to describe patients that are intolerant of wheat, but are able to eat other gluten-containing foods without symptoms. The latter would apply to patients who are sensitive to any food or product that contains gluten, including wheat. In fact, this distinction was originally proposed by researchers in response to another study which found no effects of gluten in patients on a low FODMAP diet. (7)

Now I’d like to hear from you. Are you ready to give up on the idea that you’re gluten sensitive after reading this study? Why or why not? Have any of you already done the experiment that I suggested above? What did you discover?

Please share your comments with me below—and share this article with your friends if you think it might help clarify this issue for them.


Join the conversation

  1. Wondering… I hear and read so much about the negative effects of gluten… my main question is if a person is someone who does not exhibit any outward signs of discomfort when eating gluten, how do you know if is bad for you? Is it bad? And if it is like this for this person, does it make sense of being low gluten? Or even a small amount of gluten is bad for a person’s gut. Thanks!

  2. I have dermatitis herpetiformis. Would this be a wheat or gluten issue? No obvious digestive issues with gluten. Been tested and scoped for celiac. Suspected IBS but have no major issues with FODMAP foods. So assuming I have other food sensitivities. Did a blood test and eggs are very high. Casin and gluten just barely over into the moderate zone. Kidney beans were the only other thing quite high. Anyway, I have on and off digestive issues, DH, high thyroid antibodies(not on meds) and hydrenditis supperativa. What is the issue?? Thank you in advance.

  3. I have indeed done the gluten challenge and strictly avoided it for 2 years. I only ate whole grain bread from the time I was about 12. I really liked it. Gradually as I aged I became more and more fatigued and suffered terribly with brain fog. It was the brain fog that made me make a change. I suffer from obesity despite a whole grain low fat diet!! When I removed wheat and pasta within 10 days the brain fog completely lifted and the fatigued vanished. I was full of energy. Yet I still suffered from food sensitivities from tomatoes, onions, and eggs. Dairy too has been a problem. My sister came across the description of fructose malabsorption. The description of the disorder from sufferers and medical professionals totally described what was going on with me. A diet of low fodmaps avoiding high fructose foods and fructans (in wheat and onions) solved all my digestive disorders promptly. I now eat small amounts of sourdough leavened bread with no added yeasts where the fructans and gluten are apparently greatly reduced by the natural fermenting process. I still am working on the weight thing, but my digestion and energy is so greatly improved I don’t really care anymore.

  4. There is no wheat grown and/or turned into flour in the United States that is genetically modified. Sadly, most of the gluten free food you’re eating is very unhealthy. Generally you’re better off eating nutritious whole grain wheat products. What you should be avoiding is products that are made from high glycemic index white flour.

    • Maybe there’s not much ‘gluten free food’ that is supposed to be a substitute for wheat products that are good for you, but I eat tons of gluten free foods that are great for me, like fruits, veggies, meats and healthy fats. Maybe the gluten free food you eat is bad for you, but mine is great!

    • Steve, you are assuming that people who cut gluten from their diet all go and eat those highly processed, high sugar gluten free products. That is a pretty broad assumption that does not extend to a lot of people.
      Additionally, how is continuing to consume wheat, when you know it causes inflammation in the case of those with sensitivities, a wise thing to do? It’s like asking for something like cancer in the long-term. Absurd!

  5. I have found the level of accuracy of this wonderful study (LOL )to be in direct corrolation to Monsantos wheat farmers. They>> who m ever they are want us to consume their yummy GMO Wheat till we die. Unfortuntly our deaths my come much early and the pain an and agony is off the charts. I say we in responds to this study have a good laugh and focus on our food supply that is nothing but poision unless you are organic and wild meat. buying spring water. Yes folks lets wake up and stop buy their food- we are supplying the devil with everything they need to continue this made ness. (True I cant spell)

    • That article is BS:

      All of the data are wrong:

      “Celiac disease was excluded either by absence of the HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 haplotype or by a normal duodenal biopsy (Marsh 0) performed at endoscopy while on a gluten-containing diet in individuals expressing the HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8 haplotype.”

      Note the AND when discussing haplotypes, there is no evidence here to say they excluded those with HLA-DQ2 OR HLA-DQ8. Here they state they excluded those with HLA-DQ2 AND HLA-DQ8 as well as those with HLA-DQ2 OR HLA-DQ8 haplotype that also had a biopsy to confirm Celiac disease.

      “7% of the study subjects DID respond to eliminating the gluten proteins from their food, yet the authors chose to say ‘No Effect of Gluten….”

      I don’t think you understand how statistics work.

      “37% of the patients in their study DID have an elevated immune reaction (antibodies) to the gliadin peptide of gluten … This clearly suggests a sensitivity to the protein with the immune system response”

      Again, I don’t think you understand how statistics work. Also, I’m not sure where you’re getting 37% as that would equate to 14/37 patients in the study and this number is not mentioned in correlation with any result anywhere in the paper. Even if it was, this doesn’t ‘clearly suggest’ anything. By your same logic, with data in the study I could say that ~35% (13/37) of those on a no gluten diet have elevated gliadin, so CLEARLY no gluten causes an immune system response, but I won’t because that is junk statistics and junk science. The paper itself says: “There was no apparent trend for those patients who had elevated scores on any biomarker with those who demonstrated a gluten- or whey-specific symptom response.”

      I could go on but I won’t, this article is not surprising coming from someone who makes their living off promoting NCGS on a blog by another person who makes their living off of promoting NCGS.

  6. I KNOW there is such a thing as being sensitive to gluten. I was so itchy all over my skin, had blisters on my elbows and knees , brain fog, forgetful, pain in bones etc. I was flying home from a holiday which was a five hour flight. I could not sit still. The itchy skin drove me crazy. I got home and went to the Dr. He did tests for liver cancer and also did allergy tests. They couldn’t find anything wrong but I started getting anxiety attacks because we couldn’t figure it out. Dr said it has to be some kind of allergy.
    I finally started to realize if I did not eat bread, pasta and also no dairy,it would improve. This is eight years later and at times it doesn’t bother me as much but if I eat to much bread and dairy I start getting itchy and then it takes 3-4 weeks to go away. It is real. I know!!

    • Really? You KNOW its gluten? Did you isolate gluten and only eat that and not other things contained in bread, pasta, and dairy. How do you know its not something other than gluten that is in those foods as well? (hint, hint, you don’t)

      • Duh. Jamie. Are we who remove wheat and gluten from our diets and then experience wonderful relief from lifelong health issues somehow missing something? WTH is wrong with making these choices ourselves and making our own decisions and choices about this subject without picking apart language and minutiae in every study blah, blah. Am I somehow missing some fantastic nutrient because I choose not to eat the garbage that is on the shelves in the grocery I USE? Just like everyone else uses stores or farms where they live. That was all I eliminated (along with GMO corn) but I am not really missing anything in these foods but enjoying the better health. Is that not worth something?

        I found out as a child that stepping into the road without looking can be very dangerous. I found out as an adult after suffering from many painful physical and emotional issues that eating wheat and probably gluten was dangerous for me and my health/future. This is what you call LIFE and a reasonable, deductive thought process. I didn’t need to pick a “study” apart to figure out either one. Have a good day.

        • Well said Janet. I went though pretty much a very similar situation as yours. Now I stopped eating gluten products and eat 95% whole foods instead of packaged foods and feel a huge difference in how I feel. We are the best judges when it comes to our health and body.
          Be kind to yourself however you feel is best.

        • Excellent point. I found out a long time ago that empirical observation STILL WORKS! Form a hypothesis. Test it. If it works, use it. If it doesn’t, try another. And stop assuming that your truth should be everyone’s! I’m not gluten sensitive, per Se. But like mentioned above, too much wheat, and I’m itchy, and around my small joints I break out like a mild version of poison oak. And let’s not talk about brain fog and sugar cravings. I have Lupus, and wheat, dairy and corn call all quickly cause a flare. I control my symptoms with diet alone. So… It doesn’t have to be “gluten sensitivity.” It could well be GMO, or heck – could be the fabulous Roundup they spray on wheat 3 days before harvest to get a higher release of the grain from the stalk. IT DOESNT MATTER! Eat. Don’t eat. Observe. Make a decision. Feel better. Or don’t. END OF STORY…

      • Does it really matter? This is why I consider many scientists to be very well-educated idiots. If wheat causes a problem for you, don’t eat it. Doesn’t matter if it’s gluten, gliadin, agglutinins, etc. It’s like arguing which is better: Beating yourself over the head with a hammer or a pick axe? “We’ll ya know the pick axe has a tapered edge which is more likely to pierce the brain case, but the hammer is more likely to cause subdural hematoma. Let’s do a double blind placebo controlled RCT to…” Or how about just don’t hit yourself over the head with anything.

        • David, your response made me laugh out loud! I needed that.
          I am working with a nutritionist who thinks I have a wheat sensitivity. I have always said I’d rather jump off a cliff than go on a gluten free diet. But, looks like I’m going to give it a try and see what happens. After twelve years of trying to figure out what’s causing my digestive woes, I figure what the heck. I’ve tried everything else.

    • You may want to look into a skin condition called “Dermatitis Herpetiformis.” It is the skin version of Celiac Disease, and Celiac Disease can be diagnosed by actually testing for IgA antibodies near the blisters. No need to do the duodenal biopsy. But of course, you need to be eating gluten again and wait for your skin to act up, in order to get tested. 🙁

  7. Hi Steve,

    great piece, i am sick of being judged as being another one of those people who suffer from one of these rare fad digestive issues. The thing is now some of my other friends have been diagnosed and are starting out a GF diet, something i have had to deal with for over 2 years. Their is a lot of uncertainty out their and for me personally everyday i am still unsure if half the foods i am eating are GF free.

  8. I’ve tested negative for Celiac on a blood test, but an Enterolab test indicated I have at least a gluten sensitivity. I cut out gluten in February 2014 because I was having some terrible joint pain and was hoping it would help. Within three days of being gluten-free, my joint pain was gone, but I still felt like crap overall – lots of colds, sinus infections, headaches, and overnight foot cramps. I switched to a Paleo diet in June 2014 and have felt much better since. This fall has been my best allergy season in at least ten years. I still eat some rice, oats, and corn, but not every day, and I avoid gluten-free baked goods for the most part. I’m hoping to reintroduce some dairy soon – I miss yogurt and cream for my coffee!

    I’ve unknowingly eaten gluten twice in the last seven months, and both times, my finger and wrist joints hurt within hours. So either I have a gluten sensitivity, have undiagnosed Celiac disease, or I’m sensitive to another yet-to-be-determined ingredient.

    • Meal Planning Template – I think more and more people are not listening to those who think others have ‘rare food fads’. I see many items in the supermaket that are wheatfree and being snatched up fast by people who feel better avoiding wheat. Tortilla Chips are a very nice accompaniment to a glass of wine!

  9. After having testing that showed tTG2 Ab, gliadin Ab, genetic risk from both parents, etc, I went gluten-free. In the first month, I tried various gluten-free breads from Whole Foods, and explored gluten-free recipes. I discovered the Indian grocery stocked at least a dozen kinds of non-gluten flours. My conclusion was: too expensive, not sustainable, too high carb, too processed, and I didn’t like the idea of frozen breads from high-end gourmet grocery stores. At that point, I wrote off all the bakery and other items made with substitutes for gluten grains, and I’ve never looked back. Those days seem like ancient history. It was very liberating. Go for the freedom! 🙂

    • You know, Carol, I’m glad to hear you say this. I’ve been buying gluten free breads. Mainly Udi’s. I just missed having a tomatoe sandwich, or piece of toast with almond butter so bad! But what I’m finding is it just reinforces eating habits that make it too darned easy to slip and give into other processed food temptations. Which is very counterproductive and makes the investment of these high end foods a waste. And it isn’t really a “gluten” issue for me. No digestive problems. But autoimmune troubles kick pretty quick. Gives my Lupus and run in the park, so to say. Thanks for sharing. You’ve inspired me to make a cleaner break!

  10. A New York Times Article October 7, 2014 “A Matter of Some Sensitivity” points to new science that supports that “Sugars could be the cause of problems pinned on gluten”.

    While some folks with digestive issues are getting relief from eliminating gluten, it’s likely because these unhealthy sugars went out with some of the products they were eating (over-processed white bread for example). On the other hand, I’ve been appalled at the amount of unhealthy fillers that are in so many “gluten free” products, most of which a high carbohydrate/sugar concentration.

    Irritable bowel syndrome, “leaky gut” and general indigestion are complex health issues that can’t simply be resolved by eliminating one protein. However, a lot of books were sold promoting that idea and the food industry is understandably cashing in.

    I’m not saying that some forms of gluten are unhealthy (over-processed white flour) and that some individuals are predisposed to be sensitive to gluten. However, the stampede to the “gluten free” solution to cure all ills is so much like the over-reaction to go “fat free” products, which in fact have more sugar. On the positive side to “fat” you need fats to produce hormones.

    My point is that sadly the general consuming public is susceptible to over-reaction, as they have with the “gluten free” hype. The ones that profit from it is the food industry and those wanting to sell some books. Sadly, healthy whole grain products that should be consumed by so many consumers are not. Instead they are eating “gluten free” products that are unhealthy.

    Thankfully more and more solid science is coming out on this subject and informed consumers will be the benefactor if they’re open to absorbing it along with the reality of global warming. 🙂

    • Steve – I thoroughly agree with you about the rubbish in gluten-free bread and other products. I think I’m modern- wheat intollerant, but I eat Yeasted Stoneground Spelt Bread as well as wholegrain buckwheat pasta, oats, rice and corn. I know spelt isn’t gluten-free but I believe it’s much more so than ordinary wheat. I just wish it wasn’t so expensive!

      • Thanks Fiona. I’m going to look for that bread! I think you’re on to something. With all the discovery now about how sugars trigger inflammatory response, I believe mine is carbs and the breakdown of sugars rather than “gluten” per Se. My husband went through a spell of avid hearty bread making a couple of years ago. All fresh ingredients. I never seemed to have problems, or gain any weight. Glad you posted that brand of bread. Where do you find it?

    • Steve thanks for posting. I’ve been thinking for awhile that this is more my issue. I don’t have digestive issues, other than weight gain. But again, that would be from the sugars and processing. I have terrible inflammation, brain fog, and sometimes a rash. I have Lupus, so I’m really prone to inflammatory triggers. And rushing to the gluten free foods doesn’t help establish new eating habits. When I run out of the politically correct foods, it is so darn easy to cheat. I believe it is a GMO, processed, carb issue for me. So glad you pointed this out. Bottom line is, I don’t HAVE to know WHAT it is. I just have to know if I avoid this, I feel much better. What else do we need to know? Labels are just to satisfy our egos, I think. We somehow feel more powerful with all that “knowledge.” Empirical evidence is enough for me. I try this. It seems to help. Hooray! Or it doesn’t. Ok, mark it off the list. So easy. We make it so hard. 😉

  11. It sounds like a brilliant attempt to put confusion on the issue and deny that evidence exists.
    “Leaky guts and autoimmune problems related to gluten, casein & co., i.e. any food not specific for our biological niche are just psychological issues”. The same problems that we observe in any mammalian that we force to eat like us are just psychological as well… This world is full of psychotics 🙂

  12. I have had several autoimmune diseases through my live and I got myself checked for celiacs, allergies and IGG and so on.
    I do have a leaky gut and all kinds of things but I don’t have IGE mediated celiacs. However I do have shown a little reaction on my skin test (2 of 10) to wheat and I have a shown a little reaction on my IGG test (1 of 4). My doctors said I shouldn’t worry about that however whenever I have cake once a year I can see my psoriasis come back, badly after 1 day. I also had this FODMAP intolerance in my mind cause I’m following a cyclical cetogenic diet and I do have most of my GI problems on refeed days or when I have carbs in the evening….but I have to say there came up more weird experiences with gas after currants and when I had Mochi for the first time in years. They contained lots of maltose…. Another thing is when I eat lots of cashews I can get GI problems too. After following the AIP for a while I’m currently transitioning to a low FODMAP diet for 3 months and then start reintroducing foods. So complicated…..

  13. Too bad more companies who are or should be aware of bioenergetic testing/assessments don’t ever mention that as a non-invasive and testing way to know right away instead of endorsing long drawn out elimination trials. Help us promote the field – at least an an option and an awareness.

  14. My doc told me 3% of people with Celiac Disease don’t test positive on the blood tests – I didn’t. An intestinal biopsy confirmed it. Thankfully I pushed for the endoscopy, otherwise I would never have truly known I have Celiac Disease. The doc’s attitude was that if I feel better off gluten, then just don’t eat it. It helped me to know that it had damaged the walls of my intestines so that I take it more seriously. For CD patients, it’s much more than just gas, bloating and multiple bathroom trips, it’s damage that causes mal-absorption.

  15. I would like to get my daughter tested for Celiac and NCGS as I think she may have DH. I found a practitioner who does the Array 3 test from Cyrex labs. Is that the best test to go with at this point? Should I also get her a skin biopsy? What about the standard tTG-IgA test? She is 10 and I want to subject her to as few tests as possible.

    • If you want to have her tested for DH, then a skin biopsy of the normal looking tissue next to a lesion would be the test. If that is positive, that is celiac disease. No further test is needed. Not all with DH will have positive blood tests or flattened villi. If they biopsy the skin lesion itself, it will be negative.

      Cyrex Array 3 would be testing for a reaction to gluten.

      Sometimes how much we test depends on how much proof we need. For some, simple elimination of gluten and improvement in health is enough. The other side is someone who will absolutely not even think about giving up gluten until there is a biopsy showing villous atrophy and blood tests that are positive. Because gluten can damage all parts of the body, I think waiting until there is visible damage to the gut makes no sense.

      I stopped eating gluten 11 yrs ago and had remarkable changes in my health. I used Enterolab for conformation that gluten was a problem. This test is based on the fact that the antibodies show up in the gut before showing up in the peripheral blood. It is a stool test for gluten sensitivity you can order yourself.

  16. I don’t believe that the challenge mentioned in the article is valid for everyone. I am gluten free. My joints are much better without gluten and my acid reflux has disappeared.

    I do very occasionally eat something with gluten if I am eating out with others and the item is sufficiently tempting. My symptoms do not come back unless I continue to eat the gluten for a while. One day does not cause me any noticeable symptoms. For me it is a build up.

    • M husband had the same symptoms as you. i had migraines my entire life until going gluten free on the advice of a naturopath. The only time I get anything approaching a migraine now is when I’ve accidentally been glutenized (I.e., ate the new “GF” Cheerios…they are not GF!) Strangely enough I do not react to any kind of oats or barley. I read somewhere that wheat is also sprayed with RoundUp prior to harvest, so gluten sensitivity may, in fact, be sickness due to the RoundUp. At some point I will test this theory by eating some organic wheat

  17. Finally an intelligent article on gluten. I have many patients that after they eliminate gluten get off pain medication, gut problems settle and they feel more energized and alive. When they go to Italy or France, they are fine with the bread but in North America, it make them ill again (GMO anybody?). Italy and France are GMO free.

    • Dr. Matheson;
      You state that you have lots of patients that get off gluten and find their general health improves. You then state that the travel to Europe, eat bread and have no issues. You then suggest it’s because they are GMO free.

      If you don’t mind, I’d like to share some facts with you that are likely influencing the outcomes and to clarify a point. The clarification first.

      Wheat is not genetically modified. So if the folks going to Europe are not having the digestive issues they are with our bread, other factors are coming into play. A study was done in 2007 that documented that using starters had a favorable impact on gluten levels (I presume in the starter itself). There are other studies on glycemic index that support that the use of starters significantly reduces the glycemic index of the breads.

      So many health issues revolve around the fact that our north American diet has a high glycemic index. The consumption of white bread is at the top of the list. Some whole grain/whole wheat breads have a very low glycemic index if the flour used is not over processed, reconstituted white flour that has an ultra-fine particle size. The high glycemic index of this over process whole grain flour has to do with the milling of the grain.

      Europeans not only consume a lot more whole grain bread from flour that was properly milled, but tend to use starters rather than packaged commercial yeast. Dr. Stephen Jones from Washington State University is doing some fabulous research on baking bread with whole grains and the use of starters rather than packaged yeast has been documented to yield a superior bread product.



  18. Dear Chris,

    I love you work.
    I do think however that it would very beneficial to set the record straight in relation to gluten.

    On the one hand you seem to put all grains as toxins but on the other hand you have placed comments stating that oats and buckwheat and rice are acceptable.

    I think you need to be consistent in your recommendations so that your credibility is not compromised.

    Please provide a post where you clearly spell out your opinion on the various grains and your recommendations for preparation.

    I also have a lot of research that may clarify your point about eating white rice. Traditional cultures in India and Middle East prepared grains by par-boiling. This applies to both wheat and rice. Bulgur is par-boiled wheat and seela is parboiled rice. The point is to steam them by removing their outer husk where most anti-nutrients exist and drive nutrients to the endosperm. Of-course they didn’t exactly know why but it should tasted better and was more digestable.

    Secondly, I think you need to do a post that clearly sets out your position with supporting evidence as to why gluten is generally bad for everyone.

    I understand that you have already done a post on the study in Melbourne Australia regarding the gluten sensitivity trials but I think you need to be more clearer as to why you continue to argue against gluten grains like wheat, rye, spelt and barley.

    I am happy to be approached for further evidence.

  19. For me, it doesn’t matter whether the reactions I experience are to something else in wheat or to gluten, although I do think in my case it’s something else in the wheat. When I consume wheat, I experience itchy, runny eyes (similar to a grass allergy), reactions to my skin almost like a chemical burn, joint pain, extreme fatigue, and a hit to my immune system leading to frequent colds and such. I can eat spelt and kamut, which leads me to believe my reactions are to something in the wheat that may not be gluten. I also think that my immune system response to wheat creates significant inflammation throughout my body, something which I am most happy to be rid of through eliminating wheat from my diet. Thank you for your thought-provoking article….I do think there are many of us out there who do not have celiac disease but are definitely negatively affected by wheat and other gluten-containing foods.

  20. There is another complication in this gluten/FODMAP/grains saga. Two recent scientific papers present evidence that the rising incidence of NCGI is correlated with recent increases in glyphosate use on wheat and sugarcane crops. Correlation should not be interpreted as cause, but the other papers cited by these authors do support their conclusions that glyphosate residues may be producing serious health consequences in humans, as well as in livestock.
    See:Interdiscip Toxicol. 2013; Vol. 6(4): 159–184.
    doi: 10.2478/intox-2013-0026 Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II:
    Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance
    Anthony SAMSEL 1 and Stephanie SENEFF, and
    Detection of Glyphosate Residues in Animals and Humans
    Monika Krüger1, Philipp Schledorn1, Wieland Schrödl1, Hans-Wolfgang Hoppe2, Walburga Lutz3 and Awad A. Shehata1, J Environ Anal Toxicol 2014, 4:2

  21. Gluten free foods and their marketing methods as well as shelf placement in reference to other grocery foods helped me become tobacco and nicotine free and helped me quit harming the cilia. Have also found that Latin / Mexican restaurants enjoy preparing foods not contaminated by gluten.

  22. There’s a giant problem with your entire argument. YOU OFFER NO OPPOSING RESEARCH!!!! This is all 100% based on your opinion and your opinion alone. If you’re going to dispute research at least do it properly.

  23. Tonya;
    Great post! We do live in the “give me a pill” era and certainly we can be thankful that sometimes a great antibiotic is a life saver, but our general diet is so unhealthy (high glycemic) that, over time, our poor bodies just can deal with it. Much better place to start!

    Some of your situation may have been genetic, but the higher carbohydrate and over processed food American diet is a likely key factor in our rising rates of obesity, heart disease and diabetes among Americans of all ages. It would be interesting to know how much of your issues stemmed from genetics and how much from being just worn down over the years by a generally unhealthy diet?

    In your case, you have specific food sensitivities, but a blood glucose response can be twice as high after a meal loaded with high-glycemic-index foods than a meal with low ones. I wonder how many people having favorable “gluten free” results in fact don’t have gluten issues, but they are consuming lower glycemic index and lower glycemic load meals and their bodies AREN’T like Lucy and Ethel at the candy factory trying to deal with all those “hot carbs”.

    Like I mentioned above, even Dr. Davis (Wheat Belly) is alarmed that his legit gluten concerns have been hijacked by companies putting out unhealthy gluten free cookies and etc. Consumers generally think they’re doing themselves a favor by being “gluten free” and their clueless that they are giving up a protein (gluten) that may be just fine for them and replacing it with a load of sugar!

    The Montignac Method has been around for three decades and is not a “diet”, it’s life style built around very healthy food choices. They have an excellent web site and makes great sense and has solid science behind it. Have some fun figuratively nibbling there!


    • Steve,

      In my case it is highly likely to be genetic. My father has been dealing with digestive issues since his mid-20’s (as did my grandfather, his father). He is undergoing testing as well soon. What is very unfortunate for my dad is that he is now 60 and has had surgery on his esophagus, continually has his esohphagus stretched each year, and has to take a Prilosec every day so that he does not regurgitate whatever is in his stomach while sleeping. For years he choked so much while sleeping he had to get a surgery. That surgery was bad because now he has a terrible time swallowing. If he attempts to eat bread or anything doughy, he will choke. For him it is a very embarassing matter, especially at restaurants, so he avoids eating out. He has given up beer altogether because he has such massive heartburn and indigestion.

      I don’t drink alcohol at all or I will basically heave for hours afterwards no matter how many antacids I take to relieve the discomfort. My dad will be getting the gluten testing at my begging. I have a hunch his test will come back positive like mine did. My father and I are otherwise healthy in terms of not being obese. Neither of us have high blood pressure and our glucose testing always comes back normal. The two of us have close to normal cholesterol (also genetic). My dad was over a little bit on his cholesterol totals and the Dr. gave him Lipitor, but soon after he had to go off of it due to severe joint problems and other issues. Even before I went gluten free, I did not eat a high carb diet. I followed what the supposed experts say such as eating your whole grains, healthy fats, etc. I exercise, have run two marathons in my lifetime and do strength training. I have not been an overeater of carbs by any means. I don’t drink coffee or soda or juices. Foods super high in sugar such as fruit drinks and sodas even set me over the edge. Coffee just murders me (plain or not plain). So I just opt to drink water and avoid everything else. I just listen to my body now and how it reacts and if it is bad, I avoid it. I had the same GERD and reguritating issues that my dad had for a couple years but only occasionally which is the biggest reason why I decided to become more proactive in finding out what is wrong with me so that I don’t go and have all these horrible surgeries and problems my dad deals with.

      • Tonya,

        I’m really sorry for your father’s experiences–that sounds horrible. Nobody should have to endure problems and surgeries like that if they can help it. And he’s probably never gotten the advice he needed from doctors, who are trained to treat symptoms rather than the malady.

        His reaction to bread and beer sound a lot like mine. I took prilosec for 10 years (but don’t need it now since I’ve eliminated grains). I began two years ago diagnosing my own condition, and may not have figured it out had I not had friends who were very knowledgeable about nutrition, or had I not sought their advice. I’m fortunate I figured it out relatively early in life, not after decades of suffering.

        I happen to be trained as a scientist, but not in this field, so while I lack a lot of detailed knowledge about human digestion I have a relentless pursuit of truth. Your theory of genetic cause is quite plausible given that we know other food allergies (or tolerances) have genetic origin, e.g. lactose. By Occam’s razor alone we can surmise that other food allergies have similar origins. Plants evolved with toxins, especially in their seeds, that inhibit their desirability as a food source, thus enhancing their survival. Animals and humans evolved resistance to certain toxins, adapting to the food supply available. The first time that was explained to me, it made perfect sense.

        • I would say that my digestive issues as a child were less dramatic. As a child and teenager, I was weird. I have ALWAYS loved vegetable and preferred them over anything else. I ran a lot in cross country and track. Very energetic. I would enjoy the occasional cheeseburger with my friends, but always regretted it afterwards. When I was younger I would just kind of wave it off as nothing or thinking it was normal because my dad of course was going through it too.

          As I got older and went to college, became an adult out on my own, the problems just got worse. In 2010 was my ultimate meltdown. Every occasional birthday party I attended or special gathering with friends I would end up in pain. So this meant, every time I deviated from my normal healthy way of eating and joined in on special occasions I would get sick. Then it got worse and worse. I started sleeping sitting up like my dad, I would walk up and down the hall to keep the acid down. Then all the other gut pain that would last roughly 3 days after eating an offending food. Then I got scared to eat anything at all. I remember fasting for nearly a week in hopes that I could just drink water and fix myself. Yeah, that was the desperate, crazy that came over me. The acid blockers was the worst thing I could have taken. It just shut down all my acid production and my food would sit and rot in my belly for hours. This would cause me to skip meals entirely. Then I started quizzing my dad, taking notes, talking to friends, etc. That is what brought me to a nutritionist/homeopathic doctor.

          I will never regret my decision to turn my back on the gastro specialist that just wanted to keep trying new acid blockers. The gastro doctor was good about doing exploratory procedures to look at my throat, stomach and esophagus. It was a relief to know that I didn’t have ulcers or major damage. I want to go back eventually and do the procedure again to see if my small intestine is ok and determine if I have celiac.

          You are so lucky to have caught your issues much earlier. I was 33 when I finally started figuring things out. The internet is great, and learning the new science from people like Chris Kresser and Dr. Perlmutter is an absolute blessing. I think I am going to stick to a paleo style way of eating from now on because it just makes sense for me. I am hoping I can get my dad to follow the paleo style because 60 years is far too long to put up with this crap being fed all the wrong information. We humans don’t need to be eating up to 11 servings of grains a day. That is just ridiculous.

  24. Hello Tonya;
    You are correct that over processed whole wheat bread does have an “average” glycemic index of 71. In the same Harvard Medical School chart, a 100% whole grain bread had an index of 51, which is very low. Generally, the “chunkier” the bread, the lower the glycemic index.

    If this conversation was easy it wouldn’t be so fun!

    My problem with the gluten conversation is that another version of the “fat free” craze that produced a lot of high glycemic index products that were really unhealthy. With the “gluten is bad” momentum, the same thing is happening again. Very unhealthy “gluten free” products are all over the place that have a high glycemic index, which really would be a better measure to focus on. (Check out The Montignac Method.)

    There is general momentum to eating lower glycemic index foods, but the public is generally unfamiliar with that term. It basically encourages the consumer to stay away from the HFCS in products like soda, white flour products..etc. that have “hot carbs”. When consumed to excess, tend to cause all kinds of health issues including diabetes, heart problems, obesity, etc….

    Great conversation! 🙂

    I’ve found an international organization that has been researching glycemic index since the early 1980s. It’s broadly supported Montignac Method

    • Hi Steve, yes great conversation!

      I have suffered from digestive issues for years. In the past 6-7 years, skin issues have been added to the list of my health going downhill. Then my long, thick hair falling out. How can a person go 36 years of life and not one doctor can figure out why my stomach hurts, why these things are happening to me? I certainly believe to a degree that gluten is not bad for everyone. In my case, I was trying everything to the issues.

      It pisses me off how much money I have spent to try and fix my issues. I got tired of doctors wanting to shove antacids down my throat because that is just the easy way to put a band aid on the real issues at hand. Acid blockers made my issues 10-fold worse. So, instead I started seeking out advice from nutritional and homeopathic doctors. I was desperate. I have good insurance, but figured, why not dpend straight up cash and maybe I can get the answers I need. My first visit with my new doctor and she asked me to keep a diary of everything I ate for a month and then record how it makes me feel. I came back to her and we spent a long time (nearly 2 hours, which is unheard of with an MD) and went over my history. She read my diary and after the session, she said to keep an open mind and to be steadfast. So she put me on a 12-week elimination diet.

      During the elmination diet I removed all nuts, wheat, eggs, and dairy. It was the first time in my life that I felt 100% fantastic with no issues. Like there was nothing wrong with me. Then I went back to the doctor again and she said that I would need to add each item back to my diet one at a time per week. I was terrified. I felt so good that I didn’t want to. I knew now that my problems and symptoms do actually stem from whatever foods I am putting into my body. So I began adding back the possible offending foods. Milk and eggs caused gunky mucus in my nose and throat and I would cough for up to two hours (clearning throat) after each meal. Now I knew why I had those symptoms prior to the elimination diet. It was annoying but I experienced no gut pain. With nuts I had zero issues. Next I added back flour/wheat products. I would eat whole grain bread, white bread, whole grain pastas, bagels, etc. I DIED. I wanted to cry. I wanted to punch everyone around me. My doctor told me that I was suffering from a sensitivity to wheat or possibly the gluten in the wheat. But she told me to listen to my body and just not eat food with gluten. I can’t go back. No way.

      I eat a relatively low carb diet (prior to the elimination diet and presently), but I don’t remove all carbs. When I do eat carbs (non-vegetable kinds) I eat very small portions. Such as rice or potatoes or gluten free pastas. I go crazy eating large serving sizes of many types of vegetables (thank god I love them). I no longer track my food, but when I did, I tended to eat an average of 60-75g of carbs a day (carbs from veggies and other sources not containing gluten). My hair is no longer falling out, my skin is clear, heartburn and indigestion is gone, and the stabbing gut pains and other gut issues have been eliminated.

      I have taken 2 gluten blood tests. One at the end of the elimination diet that came back negative and when I re-introduced it after 4 weeks and that test came back positive. My frustration with the whole gluten issues, is that when I tell people I can’t eat it, they immediately judge me and say “oh you are one of those people” or they tell me “your fad will end soon or eventually.” It gets old. But they have no idea it took nearly 36 years to fix the darn issues. Living every day feeling like crap with no answers is not fun.

      • Tonya,

        You write:

        “My frustration with the whole gluten issues, is that when I tell people I can’t eat it, they immediately judge me and say ‘oh you are one of those people’ or they tell me ‘your fad will end soon or eventually.’ It gets old.”

        Yes, that’s a shared frustration for certain. On the upside, gluten-free dieting has become so commonplace that most people are at least aware. The downside is that it is misleading (characterizes gluten, not wheat or grains, as the enemy) and so few people really understand the significance of nutrition and disease with respect to grains.

        As you note, all that really matters is you find out what works for you. I began eating GF two years ago, and to this day I’m still not certain whether gluten or wheat triggered my problems. It doesn’t matter which. I’ve abandoned most grains and focus on eating whole, healthy foods.

        For a while when eating out I’d ask for a GF menu, because that’s just easier than explaining what I want and what my limitations are. But after some experiences getting “that look”, or servers asking me whether GF was a choice or necessity, or ending up with a menu that highlights either a naked chicken breast or piece of lettuce (and zero seasoning, yuck) I gave up. I rarely eat out, and when I do I pick something on the menu that appears somewhat safe, and roll the dice.

        Oh, and as far as GF foods go–if food is labelled GF you probably don’t want to eat it. Real foods never needed such a silly label. All the GF label really means these days is “made not with wheat, but a close, similarly unhealthy wheat substitute”.

        Tolerance of wheat and gluten is completely beside the point–it’s a non-essential grain, nobody needs it, and it probably isn’t healthy for anyone to eat. Yet our food industry and the USDA has brainwashed us to believe that whole-grain products should make up a large part of our healthy diet (e.g. the “food pyramid”).

        • Jeff, I try not to eat out that much either. I limit myself to eat out once per week, but I have a special list and I tend to order the same thing over and over again that I know is safe. Dairy products cause mucus for me except for cottage cheese. Not sure why, but I eat that a couple times a week. I have a favorite pizza joint I go to at least once a month and their gluten free crust is awesome. I do know that many replacement foods that are gluten free can be just as unhealthy, so I don’t eat them very much. I fill up on lots of veggies and protein. The food pyramid is crock a BS. 6-11 servings a day is beyond nuts. No wonder people are becoming overweight or obese!! Then it says to eat oils/fats sparingly. After reading Grain Brain by Dr. Perlmutter, it just blew my mind how messed up we truly have become with all the wrong advice given over the years.

  25. I have been avoiding clicking on these articles regarding gluten sensitivity being a myth. It’s ridiculous. I had horrible digestive problems for years. I have an auto immune deficiency known as Hashimotos. My nutritionist suggested I stop eating gluten for two weeks and see how I feel. I felt GREAT. I tested it twice in the next 2 months, and yep, I felt awful after eating wheat. Am I sensitive to wheat and not gluten? As this article says, who cares? I don’t eat wheat.

    • Rachel;
      So glad that you’re getting relief from Hashimoto’s. My wife has the same condition and, yes, she is gluten free as well. However, not all individuals suffering from Hashimoto’s find relief from not eating gluten, as your physician has likely told you, the condition is more complex than that.

      Anyone who says that gluten sensitivities and/or full blown celiac conditions are a myth are totally out of touch with reality. However, I understand that over 30% of consumers are avoiding gluten and in the process eating very unhealthy food with high glycemic indexes. Most don’t have gluten sensitivity issues and would be far better off to eat healthy whole grain (for example) products with low glycemic indexes that receive the natural sugars and the gluten, benefit from the nutrition and would not get sick.

      My advice is to keep listening to the advice of your physician and, in your case, avoid gluten. However, my personal opinion is the brush is being applied far to widely and, in the process, we’re NOT focusing on glycemic index which would be a much more productive discussion from a general health standpoint.



      • Steve, check out the numbers on the glycemic index. Whole grain is pretty high up there!! For instance whole wheat bread is a 71 on a scale of 100. Yikes!!

  26. Call me crazy, but if you’re worried about what you’re eating perhaps you should see a dietitian? You know, someone with a university degree, years of scientific experience, and are properly registered to give people specific advice about how their food might impact on them?

    Crazy huh?

    • One would think, right? I saw a dietician after my surgery to remove a foot of intestine laid waste by Crohn’s disease. Said dietician stressed the whole grains, and lo and behold, I’m having hellacious diarrhea, gas, and a strange skin rash now which appears to be the same kind that celiac folks get.

      So my advice? I’m going to an allergist next week to find out once and for all what my body can’t handle so I don’t have to lose any more internal organs! No point in setting up any food plan until I know what’s in and what’s out.

    • The problem is that many Dietitians have “old school” training, like many m.d.’s. The key if to find one that practices in the direction of Paleo, functional medicine, low carb, even “alternative”. I dislike the term “alternative”, but it takes ~ 10 years for leading edge info/ changes to trickle down to become “mainstream” practice. Just watch: You are likely to see big changes in dietary recommendations in the medical / dietetic world. The biggest obstacle is that old beliefs have a hard time dying. The other obstacle, especially in medicine, is that pharmaceutical co.’s have the $ & influence to maintain the status quo since it is in their financial interests to do so.

      • It is not “crazy” to get advice from professionals, but at the same time I agree with the post above that a lot of professionals are not current.

        Thankfully we have the knowledge of the world at our fingertips now and it’s fun to learn things and then share them with others in mediums like this.

        I love the Jimmy Kimmel You Tube on Gluten..hysterical if you have not seen it. It supports that it’s trendy now to avoid Gluten, but most who are have no clue it’s a protein and not a carb. Most gluten fee foods are LOADED with high glycemic index carbs and are horribly unhealthy.

        However..the truth will ultimately float to the surface and sooner now with the internet than before. Just as the “fat free” myth finally sunk when consumers realized they were just replaced with unhealthy sugars.

        For the consumer, I think getting on top of glycemic index is much more productive and important than the gluten issue…. Just my thought.


  27. Tina

    Why bother with barley? The main gluten-containing grains are wheat, barley and rye: there are other alternatives such as corn and rice. I highly recommend the website of the Whole Grains Council which has just persuaded me to try sourdough bread. I find spelt suits me much better than modern wheat.

    • Tina;
      You are absolutely on the right track by switching to sour dough. However, it’s not just about the reduced gluten issue impacting those with celiac disease.

      The glycemic index of sour dough is in the low 50’s compared to the 70’s (high) for white bread. So the benefit you are getting from sour dough may not be the reduced gluten impact, but you are now consuming calories that your digestive system can handle better.

      I’m suggesting you might have the same favorable experience with low glycemic (true) whole grain breads. However, if you are a true celiac, that is a whole different conversation and may not be the case.

      I’ve just come to realize that many digestive problems have gotten all lumped under the “gluten” flag and it’s not quite that simple. Glycemic Index is a much broader and healthier issue to dial in on.


    • Tina. I’m glad your having a better general experience with barley than wheat, but I’m wondering if some of your symptoms have to do with the absence of the bran and the germ? There is an expanding conversation that “gluten” is being blamed for what is more of a “glycemic index” (carbs to “hot”) problem.
      If you stick your toe in this water, it does no good if you’re consuming over processed whole grains that have the same high glycemic index as white flour products. I’ve enjoyed doing research on the Montignac Method that has been under development in Europe for years with the focus on the benefits of a lower glycemic index diet…that thankfully includes the consumption of whole grains. Might want to consider that.

  28. Could we visit about Glycemic Index? “Gly” stands for “glucose” (sugar your body extracts from healthy foods you eat) that turns to “blood glucose” to run your body. “Cemic” stands for “in your body” and “index” is how “hot” the carbs your eating are. According to the Harvard Medical School, White Flour Bread has a GI of 71, that’s high. Whole Grain Flour Brad has a 51 which is low.

    There is solid science supporting that a true whole grain bread product is healthier and I think the bad rap that white flour deserves has gotten to generalized and mislabeled as a “Gluten” issue. In fact, Gluten is a protein and not a carb!

  29. I have been pretty strict Paleo for 8+ months and all of my digestive issues have drastically improved. My paleo diet has included a significant amount of asparagus, cabbage, okra, onions, blackberries, apples, watermelon, almonds, etc.

    What do all of this have in common? They all appear to be high FODMAP foods and per this study should be avoided.

    Obviously the safest thing would be to go on a low FODMAP and Paleo diet, but 1) That will make eating even tougher and really limit my choices and 2) Why did my symptoms all improve drastically even though I was eating high FODMAP fruits and veggies?

    I suppose I will place a preference towards low FODMAP paleo foods but am sure I’ll continue consuming high foods as well providing I don’t start feeling sick again.

    Thoughts on high FODMAP fruits and veggies in the context of a paleo diet? Maybe it’s safer b/c of the elimination of the other high FODMAPs like wheat?

  30. In my practice, which is Multidimensional CranioSacral Therapy ( I know, it’s a mouthfull…), I see a lot of sensitive people. The way the MD part of the practice works is I get so see and feel what’s going on on the inside of people, and therefore get a lot of insights into the complexity of issues on the inside which produce certain outwardly felt or visible symptoms. However, there are a lot of them which are not yet visible or felt by the client.

    Most of my clients are sensitive and highly sensitive individuals (which, according to studies done by others, equals roughly 50% of the population in most countries), and the number of sensitives is definitely on the rise,

    Being a sensitive doesn’t just entail sensitivity to food, it’s also being sensitive to your environment, other people, your life situation, highly affecting the integrity of your energy field and ability to maintain an energetic midline (which in the physical body translates mostly as two midlines: the spine and the gastrointestinal tract).

    Physical, emotional and mental events happening in the sensitive’s life or in the lives of people close to them will affect the sensitive directly in their field, midline and physical systems, mostly Central nervous system, spine and periferal nervous system, gastrointestinal tract and fascia system. Many of these disturbances will show up in the gastrointestinal tract and central nervous systems as food sensitivity, not only for scientificly provable reasons like gluten or agglutanine, but also for background energy reasons such as the degree of denaturing which has happened to wheat over the many years it has been manipulated to create bigger yields and many more energy related issues.

    Purely from my own findings and not taken from any official studies most, if not all, sensitives will be somewhere on the reactive scale from slightly sensitive to highly intolerant to wheat, whereas far fewer are sensitive to gluten, the ratios being roughly 60-87% of populations in Europe, Australia and USA (in that order) sensitivite to wheat and only about 10-15% of those sensitive to gluten. The number of sensitives to other grain (outside of wheat) sitting somewhere in between on 40-50%.

    Slight sensitivity may mean that you have insignificant symptoms, which increase with the amount of food you take in, which you are sensitive to, over a certain period of time. Wheat or gluten may be the most obvious of things you
    are sensitive to, but your reaction and symptoms will be much stronger and widespread if you also consume other foods, which you are slightly sensitive to. The reaction is cumulative and if you also add stress, not enough sleep, unclean water and deficiencies because your gut doesn’t take up nutrients well because it has been compromised, you end up with even more and stronger reactions.

  31. So glad you did a detailed analysis of the study and helped clarify for us what it actually means. It is truly difficult to determine sometimes what a particular study “proves” – scientific analysis and study is not something most news outlets even attempt to do.

    Anyway, in my own experiences, I became extremely gluten sensitive about 4 years ago, I’ve had Crohn’s disease for about 30 and yet I do not test positive using any of the tests (even the newer DNA tests) for having Celiac’s. I can not tolerate even a tiny bit of wheat without immediate gastric symptoms.

    Luckily I also discovered the Paleo diet this year and after 7 months on the diet, I am reducing my Crohn’s medicine and feeling healthier than I ever have. I even avoided a bad flare-up with the diet – I started it after it had gotten started and after a couple months, I was in remission – without steroids or other medicines – a first in my 30 year history.

  32. This could be a typical article written by a simple housedoctor or even many of the so called `specialists”. We need them for emergency situations, but NOT for health. Both did not had an education on health, but solely on symptoms and medicine.

    Everything they do not know is for them imagination.

    I can tell from my own experience, that I had a misty cloud in my head for my whole life, untill my daugther was born. Then we found out she had gluten problem. And the doctor, naturopathic, told us to check ourselves as well.
    I was in highest scale of gluten(no coeliakie). I stopped gluten completly, and within few weeks(only then I realized that misty cloud,what I did not even know I had, but do know I had problems with thinking)
    the misty cloud/thinking was gone. Now when I eat gluten, I almost lift off the ground, gassss and belly pain.
    My daughter ate for the first few years of year life no gluten. Then, at age around 10, she wanted to join children in eating everything. So now she eats sometimes gluten. Within a day she has brown circles below her yeas.
    My wife, when she was young, had a lot of problems with intestinals and all kinds of problems with periods. The so called specialists did not know anything. In the end they told her(she was 15 years old) to go to psychologist.
    Now she has Graves disease. 3 years ago she got readioactive jodium, to destroy her thyroid. And still those specialist can not balance her hormones! And now only 1 year ago I found out, after reading(you should do the same Chris)
    a lot of books, pubmed articles, the Graves is because of GLUTEN! What the fuck, why do our “”specialists”” do not know such a things. Imagination my a…
    Since 3 years my mother(78years old) has got ALZHEIMER. After reading all those books(in where they write the cause could be gluten!) we tested her on gluten.
    WTF, 9 times above the maximum on the different gliadines! Her whole life she has got all kinds of problems the “”specialists”” did not know what to do about it.
    And still her housedoctor does not want to know anything about it, although we tested her in the same lab as were lot of housedoctors in Netherlands do lab-tests.
    I can tell a very lot more experiences I have with friends-family-neighboors-etc.

    I suggest you read a little before you suggest all this is imagination. Check for example the site of GreatPlainsLaboratories, the books of Dr.Perlmutter(GrainBrain) and the book The side Effect of Dr. Eric Braverman. The book of Novak-Djokovic, WTP number 1.
    GAPS diet, etc,etc.

  33. Thank you.

    This is pretty much what I’ve been trying to tell people, who started trumpeting how it was “all in the patient’s head” as soon as this study came out.

    How you can use a “placebo” or “control” reliably, when there are previous studies that show that diagnosed celiac patients have a 10-30% (depending on study) cross-reactivity to cow milk proteins (whey and casein both, although casein tends to be worse because it’s less denatured by heat), I don’t know. But it’s a critical flaw, in my opinion, in the study that effectively invalidates it. Of course, being much more violently allergic to whey protein isolate (and soy protein) than I am gluten-containing products probably makes me more suspicious of any study trying to claim whey protein is non-reactive.

    Are there some people who improve when they remove most of the items listed in the FODMAP items? Yeah. That’s not news by a long shot. But trying to claim that anyone who has ever said they’re gluten intolerant can’t be is grossly overstating the less-than-stellar or convincing results of the study.

  34. Hey Chris, thank you for yet another informative article. Love this so much. I definitely agree that changing the label is important to avoid arguments that are simple based on semantics. Facts are facts. The evidence that clearly shows that gluten can cause a whole range of issues for seemingly healthy people is piling up. Whether we choose to ignore it, is completely up to us, right?

    You said it: stop eating gluten for 60 days (even 30 will do!) and see how you feel.

  35. I’m so glad you responded to these recent articles. Another contribution I feel compelled to make on this topic is related to healthcare costs in the U.S., which make getting diagnosed with Celiac quite burdensome financially. When I was in graduate school, I had decent insurance coverage through my university. Labwork and a colonoscopy (at 25) ruled out Crohn’s Disease, H. pylori, and ulcerative colitis. I also, classically, got a negative blood test for Celiac. Even with insurance, those tests cost me thousands of dollars. I then tried acupuncture, a macrobiotic diet (which certainly made my problems worse!), probiotic supplements, and eventually just resolved to consume the max dosage of Imodium on a daily basis for the rest of my life. I finally just gave the gluten-free diet a go, and voila! Quality of life returned. Have I actually been diagnosed with Celiac? No, and my $5,000 deductible precludes further testing at this point in my life. Going gluten-free, while not inexpensive, is infinitely cheaper, and my quality of life is much more important than a formal label.

  36. I’m a senior citizen. In my 60s, I developed IBS, mostly from stress.The IBS is annoying in that we lose a lot of good electrolites and nutrients, and I was interested in “curing it by quitting wheat”.But the chief lure was something I read saying completely UNRELATED side effects may come from gluten sensitivity.Among the list: SINUS INFECTIONS>
    I have had a lifetime of sinus problems!
    There was NEVER , for me, just a simple cold.NO! It ALWAYS went to sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia.Winter and summer I was attacked by these “sinus colds”I was hospitalized 4 times for pneumonia, in adulthood.”Viral” pneumonia.Or bronchitis, or sinusitis.
    So I immediately began a test of eating zero gluten.My test was for avoiding it for a month.
    And before the month was out, I realized that although my IBS was not improved, I hadnt had 1 cold, or even sinus headache.
    OMG! I feel free! Like all the other boys & girls, I dont have to dread winter lest I contract inflamed sinus troubles!
    This has been going on for 3+ years, and it is no psychological happening! My IBS comes & goes with various stressors, but my sinus is fine!
    I’m enjoying my new freedom too much to tinker and “try eating some sprouted wheat bread”.I understand from comments to my original read that reaction to re-introducing gluten doesnt come bang zap! The reaction builds back up sneakily.And dont want bread(altho I DREAM of pizza crust-delicious, stretchy pizza crust..) enough to make me risk going back to those feverish, cant-pick-your-head-up days & weeks.
    So-for this resource and a few other excellent ones, I say THANK YOU SO MUCH!! Anyone who has ever suffered from sinusitis knows.We DONT want to go there ever again!Not eating gluten is a small price!

    • Want to add in a geniological way:
      My parents are from France.There wasnt much gluten served at home when I was growing up.NO cakes, pies,cookies.NO soft white bread you can mold into little shapes.Occasionally a piece of crusty baguette and that was the size of it.
      It wasnt until the 80s–“Cut out fat, and eat carbs” that my problems started.Insidiously.
      Although my older daughter had a full-blown allergic reaction to Cream of Wheat as a small child.Rash and stomach upset were chief symptoms.LOL-I never fed her that again!
      And both my kids naturally disliked bread! (When we moved & the movers pulled the bookcase away from the wall, “a million” dessicated old PB& J sandwiches fell out!)
      My younger child spent a whole summer”living on” hotdogs and blueberries.
      Too bad I didnt follow up on these eating patterns.

    • I wish I could say the same. Were your sinus issues due to pollen or ragweed allergies? I’ve had terrible allergies and sinus issues since I was a kid, but a gluten-free diet hasn’t helped. My allergies are as bad as ever this year – two sinus infections and a cold since March. So frustrating. Have you cut out dairy, too? I’m thinking about doing that…

      • Aww, sorry Kely.I wish it would be the same for you, too.
        Actually, my allergies are the same as ever.Sneezing & etc from tree pollen, early & late, from Feb thru you name it.
        But my sinus issues werent related to allergy.I could tell because they never went anywhere-just a lot of sneezing & coughing.But no fever or that HORRIBLE sinus headache.
        For you, I’d agree that a try of dropping dairy could be wonderful.”Milk is mucus-producing”.
        I’m dairy-free because I hate milk & it hates me.Has always given me tummy trouble.Hint for your test period: COCONUT MILK(& coconut ICE CREAM! Utterly DREAMY!) And good for us.
        Nut milks are good too.Before coconut, I drank almond milk very successfully.
        I hope you’re a lucky one who can keep eating gluten, and just has to drink nut milks & butters instead of dairy!) Good luck!

  37. I have been told by many friends my gluten intolerance is all in my head. But as sick as I got when I tried wheat after 21 days free convinced me. I will still eat gluten free. Hoping my anxiety goes away as a result of gluten free. Still can’t figure that out.

  38. Rita? Rita? Her comment appeared in my email inbox. Where did you go Rita?

    Confusing carbohydrates with glucose? The carbohydrates enter your mouth as food and are converted to glucose in your stomach and small intestine so they can enter the blood stream. If I’m correct, the glucose is converted to Pyruvic Acid in the Liver so that it can enter the cells for being metabolized for energy… In the blood all carbohydrates are glucose, no matter what form they took outside of your body…. In Mexico Diabetes is called sugar. “I’m sorry, I can’t eat that because I have sugar.” Too bad they don’t also say, “I’m sorry, I can’t drink that because I have alcohol”… or “I can’t eat that because I have white bread or pasta or corn tortillas or or or”… Glucose, Fructose, Galactose, Sucrose, Carbohydrates, Starches, Vodka, Tequila, Beer, Whisky, Coca Cola, Orange Juice, French Bread, Flour Tortillas, Fritos, Fried or steamed dumplings (without the pork fillings)… in your blood stream they are GLUCOSE… It seems that most people don’t understand this (as did not I 3 months ago); very convenient for the pharmaceutical companies and the food industry and the endocrinologists and cardiologists… Very complicated, especially with the modern buying and eating and socializing “traditions” within which we grew up and that evolved with us; our great grandparents lived a totally different tradition/experience, meaning that we don’t have to be faithful to this incredibly unhealthy trend.

    Ignorance is not the innocent state of lacking information. It is the conscientious act of ignoring. You may not know something at this moment. That does not make you ignorant. It is when you intentional ignore the information when you put yourself in the position of being labeled something offensive. But, why be offended if you chose to be ignorant? This last statement is hypothetical and directed at a general “you”…

      • Hi Fiona. Thanks for appreciating a slight change of pace… Sometimes all we truly have is our minds or our spirits beyond all of the rest of the material and socio-political constructs such as gender and accomplishments (status/prestige/education) and birth rights and nationality, class, religion, socially/commercially determined evaluation of attractiveness (which also determines many rights). Maybe we can’t truly have our health (physical and mental). But, I’ll be darned if a “monkey” in a doctor’s uniform or a pharmicist’s uniform or a investor’s suit or a politician’s suit determines (has the first and last word) the limits of my health and subsequent suffering. I wish that could come out clearer… And, that’s not to say that all doctors or pharmicists or politicians or investors are poor intentioned. However, considering that we learn from others all that we understand, hopefully using our minds the best we can for truly “reading between the lines”, it is more probable that the doctor or the pharmacist is misinformed and will direct us within the limits of their system of misinformation. In the end, all professionals must protect their careers, which guarantee their family income and all connected. So, why expect them to do something unpopular and, probably un-costeffective or better worded; illogical for incrementing income…?

        It is very rare that people, even those you would consider thinking and conscientious human beings, respond to what I write… which subsequently helps maintain my cynicism towards true human tendency and social movements…


  39. I can divide my life into two parts – before I stopped eating gluten-containing foods and after. Before I stopped, I had had half a lung removed and adenoids removed and had chronic asthma for which I was prescribed an inhaler. I caught the flu twice a year and always it got into my lungs so I needed antibiotics. The doctors told my parents I wouldn’t live beyond 30.

    My dentist said I needed a root canal which I couldn’t afford. I had chronic fatigue syndrome and felt like I was in a fog all the time. Couldn’t sleep well, had arthritis coming on so bad that my neck crunched, I had to stop knitting and stooped over when I got out of a chair till the pain went away. I was 42. My breasts were full of cycts

    When I took gluten out of my diet, ALL THESE SYMPTOMS WENT AWAY!!! And I never had any bowel symptoms, I was astounded! People ask me if I’m celiac and I say “No, just gluten sensetive.”

    So now I’m 63 and have half of one lung because the medical profession did not consider diet and just cut, cut cut. I am beyond angry since there’s nothing I can do about it. I have endured countless X-rays, two bronchiograms and many courses of antibiotics and scarring of my lungs as well as emphysema, the result of 42 years of wrong treatment.

  40. I’ve been gluten-free for three months now, but my symptoms (leg pains and foot cramps, headaches, sinus issues, chronic cough, mild depression) have not improved. Should I conclude that gluten is not my issue? I’m wondering if I should reintroduce gluten and try eliminating dairy instead…

    • Hi Kelly

      Try eliminate BOTH gluten and dairy… I eliminated gluten 2 years ago and got a lot better but still had sinus problems, nose drippings and headaches. Cut out dairy too… and all the problems are gone! I have read that the proteins in gluten and dairy are very similar: If you have problems with gluten, you might have with dairy too…. Try it ♥

      • My allergies are terrible right now, so I’m trying to be dairy-free as well as gluten-free. Will give it 2 weeks. Can I still eat goat cheese, since it’s not from a cow? Can I still eat a gluten-free muffin (for example) if there are a couple tablespoons of butter in the recipe?

        I actually stopped drinking cow’s milk a couple months ago but have still been eating cheese and yogurt. I know there are soy and coconut yogurts and ice creams out there, but what kind of substitutes are there for cheese? I love cheese…:-(

        • Hi Kelly,a lot of my clients who are wheat and a few other things sensitive also react badly to soy. Most of their symtoms from sensitivity to soy are congested sinuses, with swollen mucous membranes making the whole sinus system thick and gluggy, so including nasal passages, forehead and sphenoid (sinus cavities between the eyes, closer to the middle of the head, and for some also reactions in the throat and down the front midline all the way to the diaphragm.

          Substituting dairy with soy milk isn’t necessarily the right thing to do. You may just exchange one set of reactions for another, and in my experience, the head-throat-sinus symptoms of dairy sensitivity are nearly the same with soy sensitivity.

          • Thanks; I will keep that in mind. I can eliminate soy milk right away but will avoid tofu and edamame only as a last resort – I used to live in Japan and ate those things all the time, and I was never healthier than I was in Japan. For now, I plan to start the Paleo diet this weekend (which will also be hard, as a Japanese food lover).

  41. Whole wheat lectins are at least as problematic for some people as gluten, especially for Type O blood.

    • I agree with you Carol, for myself and a certain percentage of my clients, whole any-grain seems to make issues worse, not just in the gut but also in other reactions in the body.

      Can you point me in the direction of anything written about that? i would love to know more.

  42. All this nit picking. I had problems. I quit eating wheat and gluten. My problems went away. End of story for me. People who don’t like that I gave up wheat and gluten and got healthier can just deal with it. You can’t complain if you don’t experience it. I was a bread hound and now I could care less if I ever even smell the stuff. Yawn. Funny, not eating it took away my jonesing for it. LOL. What’s the problem some of you? Bread is easy to get. If you want it. Eat it. If you are too afraid to give up a few lousy pieces of bread and see what happens for even a week, then leave me alone and deal. Feeling like crap made me do something. What about some of the rest of you? I say if you can’t try it then you have been had and bought and sold by Big Food. I will not be fooled again.

  43. I have been trying every diet under the sun to get my cholesterol and triglycerides under control. Vegan, vegetarian, then my daughter wanted me to try gluten free. My doctor wanted me on statins–I said no. He said mine was the heredity kind of cholesterol and no diet would help. Three months later my numbers were down. I was shocked-so was he. I mean my triglycerides were cut more than half. This isn’t scientific, but on the vegan diet my numbers actually went up. I have been vegetarian most of my life. Plus gut issues that I have had since having my gall bladder removed have cleared up. I am a believer now, I wasn’t before. Will not go back to eating gluten.

    • Rick, from your comment I’m guessing you don’t personally have any problems consuming wheat or gluten products. That’s great, you’re lucky.

      If you read through the comments on this page, you’ll find lots of anecdotes from people who simply trust their own gut (literally). Plus there are many people who find wheat unnecessary in their diet–in the latter case strict avoidance may not be necessary, but that doesn’t mean it should be a staple in our diets.

      Science is useful, but it’s also very incomplete in the area of nutrition and disease. The findings we have so far cannot be used to conclude wheat/gluten are absolutely safe or not (for non-Celiac patients). I like science too, and I would advocate further study. Regardless of what we prove there are sure to be more interesting and valuable findings.

      Keep in mind too that the experts have been known to steer us wrong–just look at the saturated fat controversy for an example.

  44. Not sure if it’s been pointed out yet but Peter Gibson whose study this is has a conflict of interest in that he wrote and is selling an IBS diet book.
    If you scroll to the bottom of the study on Gastrojournal, this conflict is stated right there.
    I am sure all the smug click bait article readers did not actually reD the study itself let alone the footnotes.

  45. There’s far more to grain sensitivity or allergy, than just the gluten.
    Celiac disease has long been proven as a sensitivity or allergy to gluten, OTHER factors, such as the grain being GMO’d, can cause IBS reactions to wheat, rye, etc. grains, depending on what genes were spliced into the grains that some folks are allergic/sensitive to. Also, chemical used on the grains to grow them, can cause adverse reactions.

    Just like Dairy might not be allergy to lactose, but could be allergy to the feed the animal ate to produce the milk, OR, could be the presence of either the A-1 or A-2 protein, OR something else used to treat the animal, or grow their feed.

    As for people going off a food for some time, then eating it again only to find themselves now terribly allergic/sensitive to it—yes, that happens
    –it does not mean they weren’t allergic/sensitive before–only that now, the adverse effects scream louder from a system allowed to clean itself out from the leftovers of that food that had been compensated for.
    In other words, the body will put the adverse chemistry components somewhere–often into fat cells, to sequester it.
    OR, the body will adjust it’s chemistry to try to deal with it.
    Remove the suspect food, the body proceeds to clean out that residue, then tries to re-set it’s boundaries……adding the offending food back is then a larger problem than it ‘seemed’, before.
    But it does not mean a person was never allergic to a food before–it means their body was compensating for that allergy — so far –.

  46. So, here’s another unscientific and fun way to test if you’re having gluten allergy or other wheat. Fast for the 60 Days, then drink beer and see what happens. Wait a few days and drink hard cider. The beer contains Barley Malt with the Gluten, but is low in FODMAPS. The Hard Cider is gluten free but has the FODMAPS. Drink up!

  47. I’m very surprised I never hear you mention Cyrex Labs for food allergy and leaky gut testing. Perhaps you have and I simply haven’t come across it before…

  48. Chris,

    Thanks for this article. The media is killing me with this one.

    “In other words, patients did react adversely to wheat, but they did not react to isolated gluten.”

    That’s not exactly what the study said, if I recall correctly.
    When I read the study, it sounded to me like all of the patients DID react to the isolated gluten, the only issue was that the “control group” also reacted. So everyone reacted either way, and they figured since there was no difference between the control and the gluten group, it was a bust.

    I agree that they were likely having a negative response to the whey, which threw things off a bit, but I don’t think this study vindicates gluten, even in its isolated form.

    Thanks again for the work you do!

  49. Interesting, thank you for this article! I’ve seen reports of that study circulating on the internet all week (paired with the usual ignorant “See, it’s all in your head!” comments), and was curious to hear an actual professional’s take on it. As someone with a non-celiac intolerance to gluten (as verified by a blood test 4 wks after I’d stopped eating gluten…so not exactly set in stone), it’s interesting to see that this may just be wheat for me. The idea of potentially being able to bring beer back into my diet is…pretty awesome. : )

  50. A fair number of people do eat wheat gluten specifically and on purpose. It’s called seitan. I don’t think it’s pure gluten though.

  51. A lot is made of wheat/gluten sensitivity and gut issues. That’s not why I stopped eating gluten. I am a woman, 64, with low thyroid, osteoporosis (which is in the ‘severe’ category), and 40 years of asthma and persistent cough plus almost debilitating seasonal allergies. Maybe it is my age, but I saw no improvement right away on any of these issues, but now after being wheat free for more than 2 years my asthma and cough are completely gone. People have even commented about it. Also, it is spring now, a time when my allergies should be at their worst and I have no symptoms. The other day I threw our several expired packages of Claritin. I love to sing-2 community choirs and solo work-and so vocal and throat health matters to me. I can say that at age 64, my voice has never been better. Maybe for young people it’s different, but it took way more than the standard 60 days to see any difference at all. (still waiting to see improvement in my thyroid or bones-but maybe that will take longer. )

  52. I wasn’t aware of any ‘fallout’ but I just had a personal experience with this. I usually don’t eat wheat and the sorts. But after the holidays season and lots of bad food I went gluten free in January to see if my IBS symptoms would improve. After 4 months I decided to have a regular meal of spaghetti. It was delicious but I paid for it for two weeks. Don’t need to go into detail I assume. But I took laxative for the first time in 4 months. I don’t really care what is it called but I am going gluten free for forever. Or perhaps I should say wheat free after reading this article. (Although I cannot eat any carb based food without getting symptoms, except rice and yes, also most veggies. Low FODMAP doesn’t do any good either) My symptoms are still there without gluten, but a lot less. My next step is to eliminate dairy..

  53. Chris – are you aware of the study by Aristo Vojdani and Igal Tarash Cross Reacton between Gliadin and Different Food and Tissue Antigens, publishedin 2013 in the Food and Nutrition Sciences Journal? The researchres show high cross reactivity between gliadin and whey, rice, millet, and other foods, little to no cross reactivity with sesame, buckwheat, tapioca, teff, egg, dark chocolate, pure coffee. There are some other interesting articles by the same authors.

  54. I very much believe I had celiac disease. I remember being 10 years old and experiencing terrible chest pain. This pain I had all the way through college. Sometimes it got so bad that I tried not to breath. I also used to experience IBS symptoms or a lot of very bad abdominal pain/discomfort. Well, I don’t get any of this stuff anymore and I suspect I probably used to have a leaky gut. I used to extremely overeat. I never gained weight, but my blood sugar levels were a little higher than where it should’ve been. I cleaned up my diet, but it took maybe a whole year(?) to get back to normal. By normal, I mean losing the cravings, excessive eating, and losing the side effects. I don’t overeat anymore. I eat tons of dairy now with no symptoms.

  55. I have no sensitivities to gluten or wheat that I know of and I am eternally grateful for that. Of course, I might have sensitivities that just haven’t manifested yet but I just don’t know about. I choose to avoid these products because, frankly, they are silly. Why would I waste my time putting nutrient-deficient foods into my body when there are so many delicious nutrient-dense whole foods out there? It just doesn’t make sense to me. Once I stopped looking at wheat products as containing gluten and simply as highly processed foods just like any other non-gluten containing processed foods it became so much easier. I tell people that I don’t try to be gluten free, I just eat vegetables and fruits, meats, healthy fats, nutrient-dense carbs, nuts and seeds which are all minimally processed. By eating this way gluten is just not in the picture. In this way I avoid the eye-rollers who for some reason feel like they need to judge me for not eating gluten. I say just tell people what you do eat and leave it at that. If someone says they don’t eat pork I don’t assume they have some undocumented pork sensitivity that needs to be debated. They don’t eat it because it makes them feel bad, or they think pigs are dirty animals or it has to do with their religion or whatever. Who cares? This study is just pointless and stupid and only serves to divide people.

    • David makes a good point when he mentions the importance of eating nutrient dense foods. The question is how do you know which foods are nutrient dense, if any? Food was given to us primarily to provide nutrients to our body so it can use these nutrients to construct the cells which make up our body. Sort of like following a blue print when building a house. If you follow the blueprint using the proper components and the home is designed properly you will have a strong and functional home. Plants too have a design given by our Creator. Not only did He give plants a design he provided
      all the nutrients plants needed to yield forth their bounty to man. As a result people lived up to 900 years of age in some cases. Eventually mankind and the earth itself was destroyed by a worldwide flood with only Noah and his family surviving. This catastrophic flood destroyed the soil structure of the earth. Minerals which were in the soils in the proper quantity and relationship to one another were drastically altered. Plants no longer could uptake nutrients like they did before the flood and as a result disease from nutrient deficiencies greatly reduced our life span. In addition these nutrient deficiencies caused disease in plants also.
      Subsequent to this flood man has been ever increasingly exploiting the land rather than stewarding over it which was his duty. This exploitation we see not only in farming but in every area of life. And So we are reaping what we have sewn and we don’t like it. But the fact remains that unless we adopt a sound program of soil remineralization according to the Albrecht model of soil balancing no diet, no genetic modification of plants and humans wii ever correct our nutrient deficiencies leading to disease and death for plants, animals and mankind.
      The solution is simple but are we willing to pay the price now so that we can live a healthy and long life or do we want spend this money to build larger hospitals to deal with the symptoms of malnutrition in plants and therefore humans ? We hold the keys !

  56. I haven’t read all of the responses yet and so I might be repeating someone else’s comment, but my first thought is to find out if you are celiac before you consider the possibility of gluten sensitivity. Do not stop eating gluten until you get tested for celiac. It may be your best chance to get accurate blood results.

    I know this sounds like conventional wisdom, but they are right about this one.

    I did the remove it for sixty days thing and subsequently found out that some family members were testing positive for celiac. Now I want to know if I am celiac and I am in the midst of a 90 day gluten challenge in hopes of getting accurate labs. So far I don’t feel, or am unable to notice, any negative effects from eating wheat for the past 53 days.

    Why 90 days? It can take up to 90 days of gluten challenge for antibodies to show up in labs after living gluten free, and that is true for previously diagnosed celiacs. Dig this literature review:

    After removing gluten for 60 days you won’t always necessarily be able to feel or notice the damage that could be happening when you reintroduce wheat, you could possibly be a silent celiac and never know it.

    If you can afford to test independently or can convince you doctor to order it, get tested first before removing gluten.

  57. As someone with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, I can tell you that relying on research studies which change almost daily or on medical tests alone will not help you as much as doing the gluten challenge. It was clear after 4 weeks on a gluten-free diet that my issues were related to gluten. When I started to consume gluten after the 4-week trial, all of my symptoms began to return. So I’ve avoided gluten ever since and am feeling remarkable better, praise the Lord ! 🙂

    • I stayed away from gluten and lot of my symptoms vanished like Sinus, joint pain etc I lost lot of weight.
      But now my body is very sensitive to gluten in form Bread and pastries.

  58. I certainly react to whey protein as well as casein. I challenged it once without even meaning to and the reaction was severe and obvious. So I see an inherent flaw in this study – thanks for pointing it out, Chris!

  59. Eating wheat and wheat products gives me terrible IBS. But I seem to be able to tolerate barley and rye. These other grains make me feel bloated and lethargic, but do not provoke IBS. Thank God, because I love beer. So n = 1, I have “non-celiac wheat sensitivity.”

    Which is the better usage, “sensitivity” or “intolerance”?

  60. Mr. Pollan is someone quoted in those recent glut of sensational headlines for saying “There are a lot of people that hear from their friends, ‘I got off gluten and I sleep better, the sex is better, and I’m happier,’ and then they try it and they feel better, too.” I have a lot of respect for Mr. Pollan but he disappoints me with his next sentence, in continuation of that quote, “The power of suggestion.” What an unfortunate, disarming, disempowering leap he made with that “declarative” final statement.

  61. To answer Dr. Kresser’s question: 18 year old son, 8 months gluten free, one hamburger bun, severe stomach cramps in 3 hours, violently sick in 6. Two weeks later, digestion still upset, acne is back, depression is waning (peaked the day after). Does not have celiac.

  62. I’m adding a link to the source of this research that has hit mainstream. Take a close look at the last paragraph about the funding of this 37 person study. Isn’t George Weston Foods a major producer of bakery products? Would they not have a vested interest in confusing public understanding of this issue? One must always consider who funded the research, and not get caught up in the spin.

  63. I don’t really understand this study.
    I can see Chris’s point re FODMAPS and other possible constituents of wheat being a problem for some.
    But seriously, if I am understanding this correctly, this study gave people gluten in differing amounts alongside a placebo group.
    What did they hope to show, prove or highlight?
    Were they expecting to see that those taking the higher amounts of gluten suffered more intense problems?
    Surely the point here is that they were given gluten!
    Surely the amount is insignificant when looking for NCGS or intestinal sensitivity?
    Surely even the smallest amount of gluten will initiate an autoimmune response in sensitive people. So I do not understand the study and what they were looking to prove.
    Were these subjects already on a strict gluten free diet before the onset of the study and for how long and how was this proven.
    A) it takes immense vigilance to become gluten free, contamination is so easy especially as you don’t even have to be able to see the gluten protein/bread crumb/flour dust etc.
    B) It can take 4-6months for the autoimmune activity to diminish once having been initiated by the tiny gluten protein/s
    If the participants in the trial weren’t gluten free before the study, what gives the study any relevance whatsoever. Ingesting a lot or a little gluten prior or during the study would not necessarily alter symptoms.
    If they weren’t totally gluten free before the study autoimmune damage would have been occurring anyway if sensitive. Having more or less gluten during the study wouldn’t increase the damage as the damage was already occurring, the immune system was already fired up. As Dr Tom O’Bryan puts it ‘You can’t be a little bit pregnant!’
    Surely that’s the point of approach re gluten sensitivity – you can’t have any.
    Also as far as I understand it, unless gluten causes intestinal discomfort – symptoms! Then you are not aware of being sensitive but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t. That damage could be happening anywhere in your body and you not be aware of it or be suffering any symptoms. If enough damage hasn’t happened to your brain yet for you to recognise that you have a problem with gluten and cause symptoms let alone even relate the headaches or other health issues to wheat/other grain proteins.
    I say again, I do not understand the point of the study.

  64. Well, first off, I don’t like when “authorities” dismiss something that others have found to be valid. There is real antagonism against Paleo from various sources. Secondly, I don’t like it when I eat wheat and feel bloated, inflammed, and sluggish. Thirdly, doctors have misdiagnosed my belly-bloating for pelvic and gynecological disorders. No thanks….alleluia for paleo and for my cousin in Santa Rosa who told me about it…..

    • My sister had digestive issues and her doctors told her also it was gynecological and as a result ended up with a hysterectomy! The digestive issues continued. Then, they told her it was her back disk problems–and she has had numerous back surgeries. Her digestive issues continue. I have told her about the gluten/wheat issue but she lives in Ireland and is much harder to communicate as she doesn’t use the computer. Visiting her this fall, so may have to talk. her doctors sound like Neanderthals of medicine. Sickening.

  65. I’m confused. I’m new to the paleo and ancestral worlds and trying to sort out what the best approach is. In a desperate search for solutions, I removed all gluten and most grains from my diet about 6 months ago in an effort to reverse an acute (now chronic) skin condition; otherwise I felt great and my weight/BMI was ideal. I simultaneously began a long and slow elimination diet. I’ve stuck with it and my diet add backs have brought me to the point where I follow an ancestral protocol (though I’m not quite there yet on bone broth and organ meat consumption) including safe and resistant starches. I had lost a lot of weight during elimination, and now it’s back to the pre-level. But, throughout this whole time I have seen no difference in my skin condition, energy level, or anything else. I have not had any reactions to specific foods or been aware of any food sensitivities before or after the skin outbreak first happened. So while I’ve remained gluten free (and sugar free, etc), I do question whether this has been a waste of time and energy and whether I ever had leaky gut. The reason that I bought into leaky gut as causal is due to other chronic issues that I’ve had during my lifetime (headaches, canker sores, toenail fungus, and in recent years, occasional unexplained random digestive issues) though none of them have flared or waned in reaction to any specific foods based on my self-experimentation. So it’s been frustrating to have gone through all of this and not see any changes (either positive or negative) in my appearance or how I feel physically.

    This new study that Chris discusses, and the pursuant commentary and responses from Chris, leaves me wondering if I am really gluten sensitive and whether or not I’m wasting my time and unnecessarily depriving myself of food groups like grains. Note: I am a whole food foodie who has eaten extremely high quality food and tons of fresh, organic produce for many years. For years leading up to my first skin flare-up, I was an at-home vegan, meaning that I was on a animal and dairy -free, nearly sugar-free diet at home, but did partake moderately at restaurants and others’ homes, which was relatively infrequent. I did consume a LOT of gluten (oatmeal for breakfast, bread at lunch and dinner, etc).

    I’m not throwing in the towel yet, but I am still in active search for solutions. I have made extreme lifestyle changes also (yoga, meditation, circadian rhythm entrainment, walking/running), all to no avail in terms of the condition I’m trying to reverse. Naturally I’ve tried to get into see Chris and as a poor substitute, I’ve seen 2 other functional medicine professionals (one, an MD, who was complacent and uncreative, and IMO should not be advertising himself as functional — he didn’t even evaluate my blood work on a functional range basis, as I’ve since learned should be done). In fact, he shed no light on my lab results beyond research that I’d already done. I do believe that leaky gut can be a real thing, but in my own personal doctor experience, I think it was used as a throw away line that meant “I don’t know what’s wrong with you”. BTW, I questioned whether we should pursue SIBO testing, but was told that it would be fruitless because I’m not a classic case (no chronic or excessive bloating or gas, negative for h pylori on blood work, etc, and of course I’ve since learned that blood is not the best way to test for h pylori either!)

    I welcome any constructive insights/comments/help.

    • Susan,
      “and whether or not I’m wasting my time and unnecessarily depriving myself of food groups like grains.”

      By not eating grains no one is depriving themselves of anything except nutrient-poor high caloric pseudo-food.

    • Hi Susan, if you describe the skin condition, maybe someone can shed some light on any connections to what might have/is still causing it.

  66. Not all gluten/wheat sensitivity comes in the form of digestive distress. When I eat wheat, I get head cold-like symptoms (sore throat, congestion, headache, groggy feeling) within 30 minutes that lasts for 24 hours. No digestive symptoms at all. I don’t have IBS or anything like that anyway though.

    • There is gluten intolerant which is like lactose intolerant. This intolerance effects mostly the stomach. Then there is gluten sensitive which effects the joints, muscles, brain and other things mentioned in this discussion. There IS a difference between the two that needs to be distinguished. Some only get bloating, vomiting and tummy issues (intolerant), while others get aches, migraines, arthritic feelings and don’t really get bad tummy issues which is gluten sensitive.

  67. It’s really annoying how folks keeping crowing and gloating every time someone offers up “proof” that non-celiac gluten sensitivity is fictional. People are so defensive about it, but it could be because it has become such a fad in our culture. I have run into people in grocery stores like those in the recent Jimmy Kimmel sketch who were “gluten-free” even though they had no clue what gluten was, and they are annoying. I had one lady tell me that she was trying to eat “healthier” and was now buying the gluten-free cereal (some sort of artificially colored sugar bomb chemical spill in a box). I didn’t have time to explain to this woman that gluten-free junk food in a pretty box was NOT “healthier.”

    One of our children (out of six) has a true allergy with immediate reaction to wheat. He tested positive to IgE wheat antibodies. I’ve been mostly gluten-free (99%’ish) for three years and haven’t taken an allergy medicine in all that time. It definitely helps my seasonal allergies, and I could care less what any research study has to say about it. As far as tummy issues, small amounts of gluten hidden in foods don’t seem to bother me, and I’ve wondered if it’s yeast in the bread rather than the gluten.

    • Perfect question and I think the answer is no. Mat LaLonde argues that grains offer comparatively low nutrition density (actually require artificial fortification) so why not simply make better choices (fish, pastured beef/pork/lamb/…, modest amounts of fruit, vegetables, tubers, perhaps dairy in some cases, et al)? That strikes me as sound logic and it eliminates gluten concerns.

  68. I seem to be sensitive to all grains, particularly wheat and corn. Also cow dairy causes my face to break out. Wheat creates painful blisters or hives on the roof of my mouth. Not all the time though. I always have acid reflux when I eat grains or dairy.

  69. Nice work Chris, and some really good debate going on via the Comments!
    The second thing we do with Clients (after eliminating sugar) is to remove Wheat, but not Gluten, from their nutritional plans. Within 2 weeks they report back saying they have more energy, less bloating, and more regular , ‘normal’ stools.
    Personally I bloat within 30 minutes of consuming wheat based products, but can handle lower Gluten content foods such as Oats and Rice in small quantities, about twice per week.
    It would be great to see more studies on modern day, industrially produced Wheat rather than just Gluten in isolation.

      • Hey Maria,
        Sorry, that was meant to read lower Gluten containing foods such as oats ‘and other grains such as brown rice’. Rice does not naturally contain gluten, however be mindful of cross contamination around gluten products.

  70. I highly doubt it exists because of the mega billion dollar industry behind it. Usually when an industry gets this behind something to such an extent I call shenanigans. This industry has become so vast and powerful that nocebo effect is a given. People are thoroughly convinced by this massive ‘gluten is evil’ machine that it’s mostly all in their heads (aside from possible fodmap issues in a small particular subset). Imagine if someone hears “carrots are making people sick” “carrot intolerance is killing you” “whatever you do, do not eat carrots” “10 reasons carrots are destroying your gut” -hammer this into the public for years and what do you think will happen to certain types of people when they eat carrot? “Oh my god, had carrot yesterday and am now bloated and cramps, headache”. Case in point is a friend of mine claiming gluten sensitive however when I feed him gluten containing food but tell him it’s “gluten free” he has zero reaction. I did this with gluten containing cookies at work 3 days in a row. He had no reaction whatsoever. On the 4th day I gave him a different cookie also containing gluten, but an hour later I told him “oh crap dood, I think that wasn’t one of my gluten free ones”, a couple hours later he’s complaining of bloating and feeling crappy almost wanting to go home. Same brand of cookie but different flavor ingredients 90% identical. I said but the other ones last few days were fine huh? He said “yeah, where can I buy those they almost taste like real ones”. Yes, I’m a jerk lol. I have done the same with co-workers complaining of wireless routers near their desk causing their headaches only to inform them I never plugged it in. It’s just too easy and I like to wake people up to these things if I can.

    Also, a HUGE HUGE issue is unprepared grains. I make my own breads and pastas using a sourdough ferment that takes 36-48hrs. The gluten and everything else is virtually completely pre-digested by the time I bake it. Fermented dough is far superior and easy to digest.

  71. Although my husband and I never perceived we had a problem with wheat or any other gluten-containing grain, we decided to avoid them both after reading so much negativity about both wheat and gluten. Now, more than two years later of a mostly gluten free/wheat free diet, my husband and I have found that 1) I no longer get these scaly patches on my scalp that I have had my entire life and 2) he no longer gets painful canker sores. Perhaps these are coincidences, but I see no reason to add these foods back in. Too risky and we are doing great without them. My point is the negativity of gluten/wheat ingestion might be something minor, and take years to show.

  72. Great post. I would love to stop eating gluten and wheat for 60 days. I some how manage to eat something and have to start the 60 day clock over. Please send someone over to cook all the meals 🙂 In all seriousness I stopped eating wheat and gluten and have felt 1000 times better. I was skeptical. I am a baker and use wheat all the time. However, I am less bloated, I have more energy and some other things bothering me no longer bother me.

  73. Here’s my 2 cents: Whether or not people are allergic or insensitive to gluten, or allergic or insensitive to wheat or FODMAPS, there’s really no reason TO eat the stuff. There’s nothing in those foods that you can’t get from a whole foods Paleo type diet. So why even argue about it…just don’t eat the stuff. And if you really crave bread so badly you can’t resist then you’ve got other hormonal or psychological problems going on you need to address.

  74. Gluten sensitivity indeed exists. However, the main reason IBS patients may do better on a low gluten diet, may not be the gluten per say, but the fact that wheat (which is high in gluten) is also one of the main FODMAPs in the Standard American Diet. This may explain why giving gluten in tablets did not show a difference in the study.

  75. I have a really puzzling IBS history. I had been diagnosed w/ IBS (constip)~ 15 yrs ago after 5 months of bloating, cramps… I was afraid to eat, so lost (unnecessary) weight the hard way. It resolved for an unknown reason & then became an intermittent problem. Fast forward to 2 yrs ago when I went Paleo. No wheat or gluten, no more IBS symptoms until 2 mos. ago, when I began having IBS (diarr) Every day! Ugg. I have been eating 1 meal a day (dinner) to “buy” myself a diarrhea-free stretch of time each evening. I decided to mentally go back in time, to try & figure this out: My husband needed to go on a Ketosis version of Paleo last August, so I did too, by default. I started wondering if my starchy…carbs were so low that there was nothing to feed the good flora in my gut. I got my family practice md to prescribe VSL #3 DS (A Probiotic w/ 900 Billion bacteria per packet). It didn’t help much, but I took it every day. Then I started reading about resistant starches via Chris Kresser, & started taking 1 tbsp. of Bob’s Red Mill Unmodified Potato Starch in water with the VSL #3 DS each morning. (The starch feeds the good gut flora). It has been 8 days now w/ this combo, & my IBS is nearly gone. OMG, Thank you Chris! I will say, that some experts don’t agree w/ the use of resistant starch; I just received a book called “Fast Tract Digestion” (IBS version) by Norman Robillard, Ph.D (a microbiologist) that I will read ( Anything recommended by Michael Eades is worth a read)! Other possibilities causing IBS (besides wheat, gluten, dairy) include FODMAP foods and a condition called S.I.B.O. (Small intestine bacterial overgrowth), in which resistant starch can feed the bad bacteria also. So, there is much to learn, & I don’t necessarily want to recommend something that has potential to aggravate IBS for someone else. But, I felt I had nothing to lose. So far, Probiotics, resistant starch, no wheat or gluten seems to work for me. Now it’s time to learn to make fermented foods & get my gut biome in the best shape ever! I am so grateful to the generous, caring people in the Paleo Community who seek the truth, and think outside ‘conventional wisdom’s’ limited box.

  76. Chinese vegetarian dishes rely heavily on beans, mainly soy, and gluten for protein. Every year as part of a cleansing ritual, my mother would make a vegetarian dish for Chinese New Year consisting of mixed Chinese vegetables, mung bean threads, soybean sheets, deep fried tofu, wheat gluten and oysters (we’re not vegetarians, just liked the taste). My favorite in that dish was always the chewy chunks of gluten stewed in the delicious oyster sauce. I loved the taste and texture so much that I learned how to make it from scratch. The name in Chinese is mein gun, meaning the tendon of the wheat. If you are interested in getting some isolated gluten, compound, to test your own sensitivity, here is a recipe

    to facilitate the washing of the gluten, which can be very tedious, I usually soak the dough for a few hours before washing the starch away.

    I don’t eat much of it, because I have had skin problems most of my life. My mother told me that I had Pneumonia when I was a baby and I remember a period of time when a friend of the family’s came to give me a shot every night for a week when I was five. As soon as I arrived in America, at six, I developed a rash. My mother took me to a dermatologist that gave me more antibiotics. Then when I reached puberty, the rashes turned into pimples and has stayed with me my whole life.

    I’m now 68 and I do notice that my skin breaks out more when I eat wheat. I suspect, though, that my skin problems, and perhaps all the issues that people have with leaky gut, Celiac and the myriad of diseases that have no cure are actually due to antibiotic over dose that destroyed the gut and the immune system.

  77. Caveat – I work in mainstream healthcare and I’m an advocate for integrative medicine.
    I obviously can’t comment for anyone else, but going gluten free has significantly changed my health. I did a lot of research prior to eliminating this from my diet and didn’t look to do this due to the current trend. I could go on and on regarding all of the changes, but I think the proof fell into the reintroduction of gluten into my diet. I thought perhaps I was full of delusions – I’ve read the articles – until I reintroduced gluten as a food challenge after eliminating it for 8 weeks. I expected no impact from this challenge and had every intention of joining the easy eating crowd again.
    I ended up in bed for two days with a heating pad on my abdomen, feeling like I got ran over by a car. 3-4 days after eating gluten I developed inflammatory nodules on my face, chest, and back (at 48 years old). I honestly felt and looked horrible. My physician wanted to test me for celiac, but I now can’t go back on wheat products without significant health concerns.
    I am so thankful for my delusions over the past 2 years! The effort

  78. I am definitely gluten sensitive, but not the normal symptoms. I get a rash that lasts for a day or two. Very itchy and it was very hard to diagnose. I know it’s gluten because if I eat something with gluten I will suffer the next couple of days with itchy rash.

  79. Eating purified gluten failed to address the complex interaction of nutrients. In some sense it’s the inverse of the overblown mercury scare in fish which was considered in the absence of selenium. At a minimum, gluten needed to be introduced in a naturally occurring form.

    The two week trial period was inadequate to develop any generalized conclusions about the overall safety of gluten.

    Industry funding requires above average due diligence. This study was supported by George Weston Foods as part of a partnership in an Australian Research Council Linkage Project and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia. George Weston Foods is a wholly owned subsidiary of Associated British Foods plc (ABF), a diversified international food, ingredients and retail group with operations across sugar, agriculture, retail, grocery and ingredients.

    Even if gluten was harmless, Mat LaLonde’s reasoning about nutrient density is still a very compelling reason to avoid virtually all of the gluten containing foods.

  80. I have tried both taking out wheat and gluten then tried bringing back gluten then wheat and I can say with confidence that I cannot tolerate gluten. I have also had an endoscopy to determine if I had celiac since I get classic symptoms but my GI Dr did something the celiac foundation said was wrong. He did the scope when I was gluten free for a few months. They say you should eat gluten for 2 months then get the scope. Dr. said that he can tell even if one isn’t eating gluten. The treatment the same. Any thoughts on this?

  81. With a quick pass through of the study it looked like only three days of gluten before changing again. Not only did they not allow for a delayed allergic reaction but concluded that the symptoms the people had on the 4-6 day of placebo was reverse placebo rather than a delayed reaction. Poorly designed study.

  82. The article that started this, and to a lesser extent, this article both focus too much on gluten. From the comments, it’s clear that this is really confusing people.

    A better frame and title would be something like “does a gluten free diet help people for reasons other than gluten elimination?”

    The referenced study suggested that a low FODMAPs diet helps people with IBS, and that this characteristic of a GF diet may be significant. I think that supposition (and message) is a lot better than arguing about whether gluten itself is the culprit (for non-celiacs).

  83. So the study was funded by a bread company. That might explain the exaggerated conclusions.

    It looks as if the study was confounded on two counts: low FODMAPS and whey protein. Why confuse the issue by involving these factors in the study?

    Observable digestive symptoms are only one of many possible adverse reactions to gluten. I have neurological and digestive symptoms. A friend of mine had neuro symptoms only including partial blindness – was found to have celiac with classic villous atrophy. Her neuro symptoms are vastly improved without gluten.

    Celiac/NCGS can be silent (the same way osteoporosis is – no symptoms till you break a bone, but the bonethinning shows on a scan).

    A low FODMAPS diet did not improve my digestive issues. I did not react to any of the many low FODMAP foods when reintroduced after 3 months. But I was in hospital after eating gluten again. Celiac tests negative but unreliable as couldn’t complete gluten challenge.

    For the sceptics who think this is merely a fad or a choice: if any food made you that sick believe me you would stop eating it. If it doesn’t make you sick – how lucky are you. Have compassion for those who are stuck with this for life.

  84. I read most of the comments above and skimmed the rest and didn’t see any mention of the FODMAP/gluten/wheat connection. This has proven to be my key to understanding the foods that bother me. I can eat wheat once (though I haven’t for over a year) and it doesn’t seem to bother me as long as it is a modest serving and not half a pizza or something. And I seem to be able to eat other grains the same way, but when I went off of all grains 4 months ago, the brain fog went. I was on very low intake of grains even then, but I think it cleared my system. My reaction to the wheat was the same as my reaction to a number of high FODMAP foods and as soon as I left them all out of my diet, the bloating and gut inflammation I was feeling went away. I know immediately if I have ingested something that doesn’t agree as I get the bloating again, so I stay away from it. I now eat a very clean, very low processed diet, organic, grass fed or free range when possible and all is well. I used essentially the Paleo re-set diet to start and except for recently leaving all dairy out that worked quite well. Leaving the dairy out was to try and reduce joint inflammation, which the other omissions had not. It worked. I have lost zero weight, but I would think I am very near to what I should weigh anyway, so that was never a priority.

  85. I appreciate the scientific endeavor, especially if it might help others, but I suspect it’s missing the point. As Chris and others have noted it’s not just about gluten. Optimal diets are likely to be highly individualized.

    I started eating GF two years ago after suffering from GI symptoms. I started with GF because I had friends with CD, and had heard their stories, and wondered if it could help me. Symptoms disappeared quickly when I started the diet. My extreme fatigue began to wane, and I began to notice weight loss even though I had not started the diet with weight loss as a goal.

    Since then I found other research, including but not limited to Chris Kresser’s site, and continued to experiment. I never reintroduced gluten but I’ve added back some foods known to affect certain Celiac sufferers, such as dairy and oats. I handled those fine.

    When I learned later about the dangers of phytic acid I kicked most grains out of my diet, save for a few “safe” starches (yams and potatoes mostly, and a little white rice). I noticed further improvement. Fatigue was gone and I had more energy than I could remember having before my GF trials.

    Next I removed sweeteners. My only sweets now are what occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables, plus a little sugar in dark chocolate (85%), and a little honey here and there. After several months I feel like I’m zeroing in on my ideal diet. I feel better than I ever thought would be possible with food alone. I’m still losing weight and I have energy to work throughout the day, come home, and continue projects until bed if needed. I no longer dread exercise. At the same time I enjoy food as much or more than ever before.

    I’ve heard stories similar to mine, but I’ve also talked to others with very different experiences. I sometimes still say I am GF when eating out or in casual company, because many people know what that means and it’s just easier than explaining the intracacies of my diet. But I know there are “GF foods” I won’t touch, at the same time I might try something a Celiac sufferer wouldn’t consider.

    I’ve never been tested, and I don’t know if I will be. I don’t need any laboratory verification of what I’ve discovered through self-experimentation. I may be sensitive to gluten or not–it may be other components of wheat and grains–and there may or may not be a name for what I am but that doesn’t seem important, not nearly as important as the process of discovery, finding out what works and what to avoid for the best health. And if I feel healthy, and the things I can measure (weight, blood sugar, blood pressure) all look normal, I most likely am healthy. Which is good enough for me.

    What I’ve learned along the way, and will tell anyone who cares to listen:

    1) Diets can be highly individualized. Everyone may have different food intolerances, whether tested or not, whether we give them a label or not.

    2) Nutrition is greatly undervalued for its potential benefit to society. Not just in our subjective health, but overall costs of health care (very very high in the US!), productivity, treatment of diabetes, obesity and depression, etc.

    3) The experience of discovering nutrition and how my body responds to foods, types and proportions of macronutrients, frequency and volume of meals, etc. has been both enlightening and extremely satisfying, and is a journey I would heartily recommend for anyone, whether nutrition aware or not, healthy or not.

    4) While not discounting the importance or potential benefits of drugs and medications, the power of food to control our health, mood and happiness is so powerful I’ve become disappointed that western society doesn’t do more to indoctrinate us on the usefulness of both nutrition and medicine. Those who practice alternative healing methods, while shunning traditional medicine, are often regarded as dangerous if they do not explore all avenues to health. So why aren’t medical doctors who disregard nutrition also regarded the same? Both may be completely missing paths to wellness for some patients.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my story.

  86. Great breakdown Chris.
    The true point in my eyes is that we don’t eat isolated extracts, we eat food. These studies seem to be for pure click bait and ideally won’t solve anything as people who believed it didn’t exist already will say “see it’s true!” and those who do believe it’s an issue will say the studies don’t mean anything. That always seems to be the issue on a hot button topic. Hopefully people are encouraged to continue to do research

  87. I was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity after yrs. of going to dermatologist with hives and numbs and terrible unbearable itching! I gave it up and feel terrific although my stomach dis ending after every food I eat has not changed nor cnstipation

  88. Some have gluten sensitivity, and some have something else. Gluten is just one very limited item to be sensitive to. There are such things as intolerance to a category of foods. Once you have found it, if you avoid those foods, you will be fine. Also, these intolerances can develop late. There might be a genetic or epigenetic effect. You will need to figure what hurts (that takes careful planning and recognizing of symptoms), then find safe products and ways to cook them. Unprocessed, uncolored, unflavored, organic etc – expensive but cheaper than the doctor.

  89. I suspect that some of what people experience as gluten sensitivity and/or wheat sensitivity may really be a reaction to non-traditional (or industrial) ingredients put into industrial bread. Traditional bread making can take a week to produce a loaf of bread if starting from scratch and if you already have a fermentation starter as much as two days. Industrial bread making takes 30 minutes from ingredients to oven. This is made possible by special industrial ingredients and industrial mechanical manipulation.

  90. I have a 12 year old son who has been on ADD meds for 4 years. His morning breakfast is a white bagel with cream cheese every morning. I know how bad bagels are in general, but he’s VERY picky and I decided it’s more important to send him to school full that to battle him and try and talk him into trying something new.
    I’ve recently been doing a lot of reading about nutrition, gluten, and ADD and I convinced him to try Greek yogurt in the mornings. First miracle – he liked it! But more importantly, he noticed a marked difference in his ability to concentrate in the mornings.
    He’s still on his meds, and we haven’t gone gluten free yet (still so much love for pasta), but he’s made an important connection between what you put in your mouth and the way it affects your brain and everything you do.

    • ADD and picky eating are both associated with zinc deficiency. Becoming zinc deficient will give you a poor appetite and an aversion to food textures etc, which tend to put the person on the “white diet” (grains and dairy), which contains very little zinc, thus deepening the cycle. Consider giving him a good multi (Alive tablets by Nature’s Way is the best children’s I’m aware of) to up his zinc status, and see if that helps, either with behavior or with openness to new foods. Zinc food sources, if you can open his mind to that are: beef, lamb, oysters, and pumpkin seeds. Omega-3 and magnesium sometimes help with ADD, if you haven’t tried those.

  91. From what I understand, people were only on each of the 3 diets (after the low FODMAPS) for a few days at a time. I wonder how much you can really tell from that, since for many people gluten reactions tend to be delayed and then can last for weeks before you start feeling better.

  92. Fascinating article. I’ll be passing this one on for sure. Thank you!

    I’ve been off of grains, rice, soy and beans for the better part of ten years. I got immediate relief from my IBS-C type symptoms within three days and generally felt better and better the longer I went without these foods but it’s been only since this spring that I finally am starting to feel that my health is really returning. This is complicated by a three year period of extreme stress (mother dying of breast cancer, family falling apart, moving, hypothyroid diagnosis plus adrenal exhaustion and about a year of chronic fatigue, etc.) but this spring I am definitely on the upswing. I was even able to eat some rice the other day with no problems! Very exciting! I won’t be adding grains, rice, soy or beans back into my diet in any meaningful amounts, though. I’m too happy with how things are going. For the record, my blood tests are excellent- which kind of freaks out my various western doctors due to my meat/veggie/fat centric diet. My naturopath just laughs and says I’m doing great!

  93. I began eating what the book Wheat Belly suggests, a year and a half ago. I’ve had good results! I used to have IBS (along with other health issues) which is the reason I decided to do this. Last week, while eating out I lapsed and had some home-made onion rings which I will tell you were good but not worth it. The following day my stomach felt like I’d had a flame-thrower hit it…I felt horrible and it lasted for hours with nothing relieving it. Every day since I feel a bit better but I know that something in the wheat of those onion rings aren’t my “friend”. I’ve eliminated sugar and processed foods as well. When I grocery shop I need to read lables (no matter what it is…codiments and seasonings all have gluten in them..sometimes hidden). Now, I’m trying to learn more about my health in order to address some other things that are happening (auto-immune issues). For sure, I know I’m gluten-sensitive. My new way of eating is the way it will have to be the rest of my life….doesn’t matter what the “studies” say…I know I’m feeling better now that I’ve eliminated all of the stuff from my diet.

    • Libby, I cannot eat onions of any kind and have this same reaction you spoke of. Onions are fairly high in fructose, which is why they caramelise so nicely! Never mind that onion rings are fried, usually using wheat crumbs. Anything with high fructose corn syrup in it sends me off the planet too. Understanding the link between wheat and some fruit and vegetable reactions was the key for me. I hope this helps.

  94. I struggled for years before discovering that it was soy that was giving me IBS symptoms. All those years of not knowing caused my lower intestine to become extremely inflamed. It took several years of trying my best to keep soy out of my diet for my intestine to heal. Soy is in so many foods these days that I suspect that a lot of people with IBS have it because of soy – not gluten or anything else. Soy is what we should be taking out of our diet! It needs to be exposed to the public how bad it can be for people. The government needs to stop supplementing farmers who are growing soy by the tons!

  95. I have been tested for gluten allergy and came back neg. No allergy. That said, I have removed all (wheat) from my diet and then re-introduced bread. Right way there is significant bloating (I look ~4 months pregnant) and headaches eventually return. This is but my own experience but the test has reproduced the same results several times.

  96. I concur with your suggestion about eliminating gluten and then trying barley. Not sure it has to be 60 days either.
    However if one reacts to barley that does not necessarily conclude that they are reactive to gluten. One can lose oral tolerance to antigens specific to barley.
    There are many potential antigens. Not just proteins. Sugars can be an antigen. Anything. So we cannot say it is the gluten that one is experiencing symptoms with the provoking challenge.

  97. I know I don’t give a damn what studies say when I have experimented myself and I feel tons better when I don’t eat wheat. The feedback from your own body is so much more important than what scientists try to disprove.

    Great article. 😉

  98. Great article Chris! I had all the symptoms of low thyroid which lead me to the idea of wheat/gluten elimination. Ironically, I had been having digestive issues for most of my life that had gotten worse in the last five years. One beer and a piece of bread at Texas Roadhouse sent my belly into a tailspin and by the time my meal arrived, I was miserable!! This happened every time I ate whether it was a wheat product or not. Eating meant 2 hours of bloating, gas and pain practically every meal. It affected every aspect of my life. I have been wheat/gluten free for 3 months. It took 3-4 weeks to feel improvements, it took 8 weeks to have a lot of good days in a row. For the past month I almost forgot what the pain feels like! Its a freedom I can not explain! I don’t need a study or a test to tell me I have an allergy or intolerence. However, I did recently get tested because my doc felt that I may have other food sensitivities as well. I could not feel better after the elimination of wheat/gluten!!

  99. I would personally like to see a third party study on all the different strains of wheat that is genetically modified using organisms that are in no way related to wheat. The USA pumps out GMO products while many other countries have banned it. I want a study that is done by someone other than a promoter or corporation that develops these GMOs.

  100. It’s not always the gluten in gluten containing foods, what they and many other troublesome non-gluten foods also have in common is their tendancy to contain molds. This is a major overlooked problem that is coming to light in some studies, showing that mold sensitive/allergic people need to stay away from mold prone foods (including some fermented and aged foods that are purposely made with mold) or they have immune reactions much the same as if the mold was breathed in from the environment.

  101. I think this is a great study and thank Chris for sharing it. It is just as easy for people outside of the conventional dogma to be dogmatic as it is for people more adherent to conventional lifestyles. Like Chris, I have avoided gluten ( for 10 years) and notice absolutely no ill effects when I eat some here and there these days (not saying Chirs eats wheat). Most of the time I don’t eat wheat or other gluten containing products because I am still under the impression that they might be harmful in excess, and certainly don’t add much in the way of micronutrients. However, food avoidance is stressful on a number of levels and stress is probably worse for the health than gluten or any other modern-day food villains. I say let’s keep an open mind! Obviously if it doesn’t treat you well, avoid it. But for those of us who notice to benefit from removing it, perhaps the gut processes it differently, perhaps the microbiome renders it harmless/ less harmful etc. I now have Arsenic in my body thanks to eating a lot of rice instead. Perhaps it wasn’t the best trade-off after all? Science is not about assuming, only about having a working hypothesis and testing it.

  102. Yes and No. If one defines gluten as the “protein” molucles, the answer I think is no. If one defines gluten free as just “Wheat, Barley and Rye” then perhaps it is yes. I tested negative for wheat alergies and test negative for celiac (biopsy). However, when I consume wheat based products I will end up with bleeding skin rashes shortly after.

    I do believe the book “Low FODMAP” by Sue Shepard, or is it the Fructans that are the cause of my problems. Modern strains of wheat are high in Fructans. Foods high in fructose are also bothersome in me. Could be the combination of Fructans and Fructose are the problem and not gluten in the wheat?

    Try finding heritage wheat and see if it bothers you?
    Is it the modern strains of wheat that are cause?

  103. My son has intestinal damage from a severe stomach flu he suffered about 8 years ago. We spent years in and out of ER’s, and he carries many labels (severe IBS with gastroparesis is the main one that has stuck). Only last year was his Stanford doc able to find the magic combo of meds that calmed it all down, and now he’s weaning off them too. Basically he’s been tested up one side and down the other for celiac, and tests negative. In fact all his tests come back fine and normal, except for the radioactive-isotope test that finally proved that his lower intestines push food back UP into his stomach, which of course causes his intense pain and inability to digest properly. Nutritionists have told him that eating the most refined grains and avoiding brassicas is best for his system, so he does eat potato bread occasionally, but sticking to a mostly Paleo diet that doesn’t include brassicas or any type of dairy is the only thing that keeps him well. The doctor thinks he may finally be healing and she actually advocates diet health over pills, so this is good news for us. He’s just turning 25 and lost 8 years to this. I suppose you could say he’s an IBS patient who is NOT sensitive to gluten per se, but he does better without it, and so do we all.

  104. The way I understand it is that it is possible to be gluten-sensitive but to have no discernible symptoms from eating gluten-containing foods. The damage can be unbeknownst to the consumer and silently taking place in the background. There are specific stool tests for gluten sensitivity.

  105. Perhaps there was no difference in the results because they had added whey protein isolate. I am lactose intolerant and cannot have the whey without problems. I also have issues with wheat, with the same problems – uncontrollable flatulance – with corn, sorghum and other grains. The only one I can tolerate is rice.

    Question: can one follow the Paleo diet WITHOUT loosing weight. Because of dietary problems I am way too thin and would like to try going on the Paleo diet but cannot afford to lose any more weight.

    • I agree with your criticism of the study. Even if a person isn’t lactose-intolerant, they can still be whey-protein-intolerant, as many people (especially those who are gluten-intolerant) seem to be. Mr. Kresser, what do you think of this?

      As for your question, I find that if I eat lots of meat (which is easy to do, on a paleo diet), I lose fat, but gain muscle. If you’re “way too thin,” it suggests to me that you are lacking muscle, so I expect that a high-meat paleo diet would help.

      • Fortunately, Mr. Kresser just updated his article, in response to this feedback. See above for the latest revision.

  106. Gluten gives me severe joint and muscle aches. I listen to my body and not what others say. I also have severe reactive hypoglycemia (which has been tested) and simply cannot tolerate carbs. So, I look at it this way. If I stay away from gluten products, then I cut my carbohydrate intake way down, so it benefits me whether I am really sensitive to gluten or not. I have also cut out sugar completely. I enjoyed your very informative article.

  107. Thanks for a great article Chris, Yes this is the talk of the town in certain circles these days. My gluten eating friends are LOVING sending me the article w/ a “See????” kind of attitude. My bottom line….if it makes me feel bad, I don’t eat it. It doesn’t matter to me which part of the grain is affecting me, (although if I were interested I would test as you describe, low FODMAPS, other lesser gluten grains, etc)
    If I eat even a crumb of gluten I will have severe brain fog and headache the next day, ALL day. Grains don’t bother me as much but I don’t eat them because they are high in carbs and I don’t need them. I stick with 100% Paleo and at age 61 I’m told I look 40 and have never felt better in my life. Thanks Christ for the continued great work you do.

    • It is common for families to all experience similar issues. I have had digestive issues for as long as I can remember. So does my dad. I remember when he was in his early 40’s and he would have to sleep sitting up because he feared the GERD attacks while sleeping. He had a surgery that helped with the GERD, but now he has a terrible time swallowing food. Many times he chokes and it can be embarassing for him in public while eating out. Beer affects him greatly. Gives him massive indigestion and heartburn if he doesn’t take an acid reducer first. He loves his Beer. After I told him what is going on with me, he is now going to get his blood tested. He is reaching a point where his joints hurt like crazy and has massive headaches all the time. I told him all symptoms of gluten sensitivity. He is taking this more seriously now. He was on Lipitor, which did make his joint pain worse and he had to get off of it. There are so many things going on now, that we need to listen to our bodies instead of demanding quick fixes to our problems though overuse of medications. If the problem is food, we need to eliminate those foods. Another person’s fuel can be another person’s poison.

  108. without going into a long health history, i gave up all gluten about 90 days ago and haven’t felt better in a very long time. i am 57 yo and over the course of the last 20 years, since being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, i’ve had an overall sense of inflammation. my body hurt, and while the hurt was not enough to stop me from living it was enough to slow me down. i would experience waves of feeling better and then worse, but i never made the correlation between my ‘pain’ and gluten/wheat consumption because i eat healthy whole organic foods and when i consumed gluten it was mostly organic or non GMO. apparently, that wasn’t enough.

    since giving up wheat and all gluten products, the inflammation is gone. i now sleep through the night and have good energy all day, my belly has not been bloated in over 3 months and the edema i was experiencing is just a bad memory! better yet, i’m not even tempted because the benefit of feeling awesome far outweighs temporary pleasure of eating a butterhorn pastry slathered with frosting.

    “gluten free” may not be for everybody, and i will only suggest don’t knock it until you try it.

  109. Thank you so much for this article Chris! I myself eliminated gluten from my diet 8 years ago and have never looked back! I used to have severe ulcerative colitis, asthma, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, multiple miscarriages, migraines, joint pain…etc…I could go on forever! Basically in my mid 20’s my health was completely failing! I was luckily told by my lactation consultant when my son was born that no one with any autoimmune disease should eat wheat/gluten. So, I went gluten free back in 2006, and within 6 months never had a symptom of UC ever again and within days and months all the rest of those terrible symptoms disappeared!! I had a normal pregnancy after being gluten free and not another miscarriage again!! Had a follow up colonscopy and it showed no signs of inflammation at all! I can’t stand when people say there is no such thing as gluten sensitivity!! It really upsets me!!! If there is no such thing, how did my failing health completely turn around after it was out of my diet? After being gluten free for a while, I found Paleo and now I feel better than I have ever in my life! Haven’t even had a cold in over 2 years!! The body will heal itself when the hidden stressors are removed!!

    Melissa – FDN (Functional Diagnostic Nutrition) Trainee

  110. The controls ate whey….many people sensitive to gluten are also sensitive to dairy…this also sounds like a real study design flaw….who funded this study? The American Wheat Growers Association or ??????

      • Whey is >99% casein and lactose free, so even dairy sensitive people shouldn’t react to it. That said, I have a lot of patients that do react to it nonetheless, so I agree that it shouldn’t have been used as a placebo.

        • Mr. Kresser, I’m glad you agree that whey shouldn’t have been used as a placebo, since many people do react to whey (arguably people whose intestines have been damaged by wheat, most of all).

          Given this, would it make sense for you to add this caveat to your article itself?

          As your article stands, it seems to imply that the researchers’ conclusion is valid, when you write, “These stories point to a new study which found that a group of patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) were not sensitive to gluten.”

          Though I appreciate your other caveats about the research, the way your article is written does seem to provide *some* support for the notion that non-celiac gluten sensitivity does not exist—which encourages readers to disbelieve the diagnoses of those who have been diagnosed with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, like myself.

          • I see that you updated your article, in accordance with this feedback. Thanks for your open-mindedness, and responsiveness to feedback, Mr. Kresser. I really appreciate it.

    • Good point. I was told by a dietitian that in those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities, the gluten actually damages the part of the intestine which processes milk.

  111. Yes, I remember buying bags of gluten to add to my freshly-ground wheat, to make the bread springier. Some meat substitutes such as seitan are made entirely of dried/processed gluten. I don’t know how they isolate it, but they do. Nature puts things in foods in a mixture, then we isolate it out. Not necessarily smart.

    After a few years of Perfect Health Diet/Paleo mix, and a serious health-compromising experience, I have at present a few operative “conclusions.” (In quotes because they may change with new data.)

    First is that for most of us, but of course not all of us, the dose does make the poison. We tend to rely heavily on certain foods that we like, perceive as “healthy,” and that are easy (cereals, eggs, pasta, dairy). So we eat them every day, setting up a metronomic effect …. every day the body has to deal with this set of foods.

    Depending on our age and health status, at some point the body will be overtaxed by the requirement to deal with them, and symptoms will appear. Thus begins the quest to find which food is bothering us, when in fact ….

    If we had but alternated these foods in wider spaced intervals, we might have delayed or even prevented the taxing of the body and the onset of symptoms.

    This is a well known strategy for allergies. Many people can have eggs, wheat, milk, etc. with no problem at all if they allow a few days to elapse between eating them. Of course, some people cannot. I’m talking here about most people in generally good health who want to improve and maintain their health conservatively and reasonably.

    Supplements and powders and such should be approached with great reluctance and kept to a minimum. There’s something called “Amazing Grass” green drink that has DOZENS of finely-ground ingredients across a large plant/mineral/bacterial spectrum, that is gaining popularity for use in smoothies. It’s easy, and it’s perceived as a shortcut from cooking and eating real food, but there is no way a person could isolate which, if any, of those ingredients are causing a digestive issue, other than just stopping using the powder. If leaky gut exists, those dozens of powdery substances would be having a toxic heyday in the bloodstream.

    It is also important not to create a new set of “everyday” foods, which I, stupidly, did with coconut flour, coconut butter (both heavily processed foods), nuts and coconut chips. With any food, we should alternate it out and not consume large amounts of it one time.

    The coconut products and nuts are heavy with insoluble fiber. You can chew coconut all day and still end up with a wad of it in your mouth. I wish I hadn’t relied on them for the bulk of my snacking, fat, and satiation. I think it was the chief instigator of my diverticulitis.

    If I had it to do over again, my strategy would be to eliminate highly processed and packaged foods, vegetable oils, and sugar, and just eat spaced-out and more reasonable portions of all whole foods. I dearly wish I would have tried that instead of eliminating all grains and legumes, which, when I tried to replace them with something else that was “easy and tasty,” probably harmed me more than reasonable and occasional portions of grains and legumes ever would have.

  112. In fact I find the study a bit strange, but I have only access to the abstract and I’m not an expert in the field, so I might be wrong:
    1. “patients with self-reported non-celiac gluten sensitivity”
    Why do they take self-reporters, and not well tested subjects?
    2. the time on the gluten diet was ONE week. Aren’t there a lot of people that need a lot of time to build up gluten sensitivity? Actually I don’t know if I am gluten or grain sensitive, but I do know that I needed decades to develop my sensitivity.
    3. “Gluten-specific effects were observed in only 8% of participants”
    Well, assuming (the abstract doesn’t say anything about that, but I’m sure it would if it were otherwise) that the gluten-specific effects were observed only in the high gluten group, it would be a quarter of the participants in the high gluten group (8% of the total participants equals roughly a quarter of a third), and after only one week a quarter I would not dare to call “no effect”.
    So to me it looks just like another poor set up study that doesn’t say anything at all. Any corrections/enlightenment welcome.

    • 4. 16g gluten on an otherwise low FODMAP diet is not really much, that’s the amount that’s contained in a burger bun or so. Most people consume more than that in their normal diet.

  113. Chris – similar question to Prouddaddy… Is the lack of observable symptoms or signs rationale for there being no negative effects from gluten intake? Is there research that looks at cellular function and other markers in response to gluten intake? If so, is it also possible the more overt symptoms could take years of accumulative impact or more significant damage at the cellular level before “feeling” the negative impact?

    It seems to be the case in other processes within the body like heart disease or cancer in which the lack of symptoms does not mean something negative isn’t happening.

    I look forward to your thoughts as always.

    • i’m interested to hear the answer to this. also, what if someone is not as tuned in to their body as they need to be in order to pick up symptoms. that wouldn’t mean that gluten or wheat (or whichever food) is ok for them.

  114. For years I would have major gut cramps on and off. When it started happening more often I went to see my doctor. He felt my colin was spasming for some reason but didn’t know why. He sent me to the gastroenterologist who sent me for the barium tests. Nothing showed up. It was getting so bad that I’d have to leave work and go home and lay down until the pains went away. It sometimes took until the next day. Soon after, my son told me he read in Runner’s Magazine about the Paleo diet and discovered that he no longer gets asthma when running through fields of grass. I thought I’d try cutting out breads, pastas, etc. That was 3 years ago and I have not had an attack since. I now get a Paleo diet and never felt better. Doctors don’t know anything.

  115. Thanks Chris for this article. Your readers (including me) really hate when scientific studies are used to sensationalize the findings. Thanks for pointing out that’s what happened after this study. Gluten capsules. ugh!

  116. Per Enterolab testing, I am genetically non-celiac gluten sensitive, been on a gluten-free diet for two years, vegetarian for 45 years. This is the first time I’ve heard a possible explanation for why, prior to giving up gluten, I never had a bad GI upset after eating seitan (straight gluten!), but was violently ill after bread and or pasta. Same for gluten-containing, soy-based meat substitutes. Never had a problem with those – again, non-wheat, isolated gluten. The world gets curiouser and curiouser.

  117. I have Hashimoto’s and recently learned the link between gluten intolerance and autoimmune diseases. I’ve recently gone Paleo in accordance to your recommendations, and I’m curious after seeing this study if it is just the gluten that I need to eliminate or other FODMAPS as well? Can you provide some insight on what this study shows for people with Autoimmune diseases?

  118. This is not specifically about the gluten but might be helpful to others. I have known that I am definitely sensitive to wheat/gluten, dairy and soy. I never eat any of this unless it’s by accident. I still haven’t felt great and some days where I am just very depressed the minute I wake up. I also have been waking up many mornings at 3:30am wide awake. My Chiropractor found this to be a “cortisol wakeup” from my adrenals. Taking phosphatidylserine or holy basil corrected this for most nights. Though some nights I still woke up. Now after looking deeper into my body, we found several areas of imbalance such as my small intestine, liver and gall bladder. Also my neurotransmitters were high. My Dr suspected that something that I was eating was causing the distress. We were able to dig deeper and pinpoint that my body is very sensitive to the fillers in foods such has guar gum, carrageenan, tapioca starch and corn starch. Of course all the things are in that so natural GF cookie that I had been eating some days at work! Also very sensitive to corn and white rice and white potatoes. These are the foods that I had been eating some of lately and knew I shouldn’t. I kind of became a cycle. I can correlate my off moods and 3:30 AM wake ups from the week before with eating one of this items. Now after eliminating these foods for my diet, I am sleeping through the night and for the most part wake up happy. In a month, we will re-test and see if my systems have improved. My Chiropractor’s uses a electro-dermal screening device to help evaluate how all the systems of the body are functioning. This device electronically measures the biological energies utilized in acupuncture and homeopathy. It is amazing the tiny things this it detect that western medicine cannot. For me it just comes down to eating only “real food” if I want to feel good and be happy:)

  119. I’ve never understood why people need to label this as some sort of Medical Condition. Whether Gluten Sensitivity is a “real” condition or not, eliminating wheat and many grains, and eating nutritionally dense food instead, makes many, many people feel better, lose weight, and eliminate or manage debilitating medical conditions. Period. Why does anyone need a diagnosis to justify a change that has been repeatedly proven to vastly improve your life?

  120. Our entire family – my wife, myself and our 2 boys have gluten sensitivity and our symptoms vary quite a bit. My youngest who is 1.5 has eczema and experienced seizures while breastfeeding if my wife ate gluten. My oldest son is 3.5 and his behavior is atrocious when he has gluten. We assume it is similar to children with extremely bad ADD. He also has little bumps on his skin and there is a term for that. If I eat gluten within 30 minutes my joints ache. My wife noticed that she no longer got migraines. I went paleo in 2012 doing the paleo for athletes protocol as I’m a cyclist and then the sugar monkey got me for quite awhile due to a lot of factors that led me to self medicate using sugar. And while my wife was mostly paleo compliant it really wasn’t until my youngest started having his issues that she went in full speed ahead because she was breast feeding. Now we are in the midst of getting my oldest to transition to paleo which is tough because he is very picky as to what he eats. We’ve seen the benefits of eliminating gluten and I can personally say that there is nothing that I miss.

  121. I found that I am sensitive to all grains. Going off all grains has helped my health in amazing ways. My weight dropped, my thyroid medication was cut by 2/3. My aches and pains disappeared. i had leaky gut and that is now healed. I believe there is something, whether it is gluten and/or other factors in grains that I was reacting to, i don’t care. I am staying away from all grains. They have been so processed and modified from their original genetic makeup now, it is no wonder many of us are suffering from a wide variety of illnesses. Thanks for this article.

  122. I have had blood test, colonoscopies and endoscopy to tell me if I’m sensitive to gluten. After three years of this I decided to remove everything from my diet and reintroduce it back. I found out I have severe reaction to soy sauce. Headache, stomach bloating and vomiting. I can use the gluten free soy and I’m fine. Same thing with breads, pizza things with added gluten. I can eat some breads and bagels then I eventually get the same reaction with headaches, bloating and vomiting.

  123. Let me state first that my experience is not statistically relevant because it only pertains to my daughter. She was constantly sick until we could allergy test, it was a guessing game. At age 2 we tested, all forms gluten, wheat or not showed up medium allergy on an IGG test. We took her off all. She got healthy and gained 5lbs in 2 months. This was at age 2. Not a normal grow trajectory. I know she is not celiac because a reaction based on mistake today is temporary mild discomfort, not 3 days at home in pain. I do believe there is a fad aspect to gluten sensitivity, but in my world it is very real and not fictitious. I wish the press and energy would move on to something else.
    People are going to be into fads and then it will fade like everything else. Let it go.

  124. Whatever they want to call it really doesn’t matter to me. All I know is that I tested negative for celiac disease at one of the most renown centers in the US for celiac disease yet they said it could be a gluten sensitivity. When I cut gluten out of my diet, I no longer needed frequent and multiple antibiotics and prednisone for frequent sinus infections. Go figure. Makes no sense. Even the center where I was seen said they weren’t aware of sinus infections being related to a gluten issue. All I know is I rarely get sick anymore, and when I do my immune system seems to be able to typically fight it off in no time! Could this be related to “leaky gut” syndrome as someone recently suggested to me?

    • I too was plagued by sinus infections for about 3 years. I never had them before that time. I would have to take industrial strength antibiotics and prednisone a few times also. Then i read Wheat Belly in fall of 2012, stopped eating all wheat. I have not had a sinus infection in that time, and had NO colds at all in 2013. However, I did find I had a long time upper tooth abscess in an old root canal and was treated for that in December of 2012 at the same time I eliminated wheat. I asked the oral surgeon if that abscess could cause sinus infections, but he never really had a good answer for that. In any case, many of my health and emotional issues resolved by eliminating wheat and eating Paleo. I have to guess that the wheat/glutin elimination helped the sinus problems also. Doesn’t it feel good to breathe again freely? I can breathe through my nose and not with my mouth plus eat without my sinus/nose automatically filling up.

      I have been doing a probiotics/resistant starch regime lately as I was curious. I have indulged in wheat a couple of times since then (started in January) and had no symptoms I usually get after eating wheat/glutin. None. Perhaps my gut has been healed further now and the odd exposure is not bothering me. I still keep away from it, however. Lots of interesting gut stuff going on in science.

  125. I saw Chris on The Thyroid Series recently and decided to try a diet free of the foods most likely to contribute to a thyroid problem I’ve had for about 6 months (all the classic symptoms of hypothyroidism plus high TSH in a recent test). I cut out gluten, dairy, soy, and added sugar. The one thing I didn’t cut out was eggs. After a few days I noticed pain in all my joints. I’ve actually increased my egg consumption (because of stopping so many of my usual foods, and I wonder if that’s the culprit. I’ve only been on the elimination diet about 10 days and so far the only real change I notice (besides the joint pain) is that I feel a lot more hunger more frequently than before. This isn’t helping with the belly fat. I’m hoping it’s just too soon to see the real results of stopping gluten and dairy.

  126. I have had bloid test, colonoscopies and endoscopy to tell me if I’m sensitive to gluten. After three years of this I decided to remove everything from my diet and reintroduce it back. I found out I have severe reaction to soy sauce. Headache, stomach bloating and vomiting. I can use the gluten free soy and I’m fine. Same thing with breads, pizza things with added gluten. I can eat some breads and bagels then I eventually get the same resction with headaches, bloating and vomiting.

  127. Forgot to mention the flu like symptoms I get and that both my antibodies have increased since doing the elimination test.

  128. I didn’t eat grains for weeks, and then realized I wasn’t eating Tums hardly at all. Recently I was curious and ate an English muffin – within an hour I wish I had Tums with me. I don’t know what in the English muffin that I reacted to. At least I can get the nutrients I need without grains!

  129. Chris,

    Thank you for shedding a bit more light on this subject. I do think there is something to the argument however that if you remove something from your diet for an extended period of time and then re-introduce it, there could be some acute symptoms of indigestion, fatigue ect…

    Much like vegetarians who decide to start eating meat again. They tend to have a tough time digesting it at first for several reasons, but this does not indicate “meat sensitivity”.

    A naturopath recently told me I am sensitive to gluten because of an IgA Gliadin Antibody level of 6. In his experience anything over 5 would indicate this. IgE was normal.

    Do you have a criteria for determining sensitivity using these antibody tests?

    • that makes sense because if you’re not eating something, you’re not feeding the bugs that eat it. they die off. then you start eating it again, but now you don’t have the bugs that eat it, so you have problems digesting it.

      see this about the hadza gut microbiome:

      so maybe not necessarily an intolerance but an inability to digest it because of an absence of the bugs that eat that food.

      • Yes, this is quite true. Additionally, the body tends not to expend energy where it is not needed. The body will reduce or stop altogether the necessary enzyme production to digest certain foods if it senses that these foods are no longer being ingested. If these foods are reintroduced, the body will not immediately be armed with the necessary arsenal of digestive enzymes to break down the food. This is indeed not the same thing as a food sensitivity as the body does not look at the food as a foreign invader and it does have the ability to relearn how to produce the necessary enzymes.

  130. I eliminated gluten (and many other things) a year ago to do the Whole30 plan with my husband who we knew had gluten issues. I felt much better and stayed eating primarily that way. But since it wasn’t really MY problem, wheat came back in the form of free pizza at work. Big mistake, but it didn’t explain what food was the problem. I again did a Whole30 and stayed away from gluten and dairy. I have since had testing done and have high IgG and IgA sensitivity to Rye, Barley, Spelt and Wheat (and Hemp, Amaranth and Tapioca). This was despite it not being in my diet but with possible small “contaminations”. I don’t care what the medical establishment wants to end up calling it. What I care about is how it affects me when I eat it. For this reason, I will stay vigilant in keeping it out of my diet.

  131. I have hashimoto’s and have done the elimination test. The results after consuming wheat and gluten were as follows: bloating and gas. I had a lot of pain around the thyroid gland and my goiter was more swollen than usual. The cherry on my “gluten cake” was a severe gastritis attack that had me doubled over in pain for four days. I have been tested for wheat and gluten allergies together with a celiacs panel-all negative. I get immediate heartburn and indigestion when consuming wheat or gluten, together with the abovementioned reaction I experienced, I fully believe that non-celiac gluten sensitivity exists.

  132. Mr. Kresser, the “control” condition in this study seems to be a poor control, rendering the study’s conclusions highly suspect.

    Many people report reacting negatively to whey protein, so finding that people who ingest gluten don’t react more negatively than people who ingest whey protein doesn’t prove that the reaction to gluten is a placebo effect. A more plausible explanation is that people react negatively to gluten and to whey protein for physiological—as opposed to psychological—reasons.

    Do you agree, or disagree?

  133. The question is of scientific interest , but immaterial in my life. When I stopped eating bread and pasta 8 months ago, my three year digestive struggle ended. This proved to me that wheat or gluten or whatever in these products was causing my symptoms. These problems have not returned. I don’t care what you call it, gluten or wheat sensitivity, abstention works. I don’t worry about tiny “crossover” traces of gluten.

  134. Actually, I am only very mildly sensitive to, say, bread and cake [feel a bit bloated for a bit too long] and that is, also, a recent development which I put down to getting older, especially since I try to eat any such things organic [and rarely eat them at that], but I react horribly to barley! And all types of legumes, even when sprouted. There’s a lot more to all this than seems apparent. Barley either contains something wheat doesn’t, or contains a far higher percentage of something relative to other elements in its structure than the balance for the same elements in wheat. And soaking doesn’t help either. This all gets so scientific that it takes the fun out of eating sometimes … One way to solve this problem is if I don’t eat barley. But I’d love to know WHAT the element is that’s problematic. Maybe then I’d learn what to do to fix the situation!

  135. All I know is that since removing gluten grains from my diet, my lifelong severe depressive disorder disappeared as did my prediabetes. I’d be a fool to start eating that garbage again.

    • I had the same effect! Over twenty years of depression and mood issues GONE after giving up grains. Its now been 1 1/2 years since my last depressive episode and it still blows my mind that i feel so… normal! I don’t need a test to tell me not to eat that stuff again.

  136. Most people who are gluten sensitive have a concomitant dairy sensitivity. They could have been reacting to the whey protein, no? To me this was not a very well-designed study, period….

  137. I had a comprehensive food panel IgG ELISA done that showed I was highly reactive to wheat and minimally reactive to gluten and barley. It was explained that the other proteins in wheat caused my problems. Whenever I eat wheat I get migraines, sinus congestion and indigestion. So I guess I have a non celiac wheat sensitivity. Whatever it is it’s miserable when you grew up and live in a food city such as New Orleans like I do.

  138. Like you said, this doesn’t address extra-intestinal reactions to gluten. Drinking Starbucks tea sweetened with barley makes me sick (headache, fever, nausea, but not necessarily IBS symptoms)

  139. being gluten sensitive or wheat sensitive doesnt rly matter. if ur wheat sensitive, due to the bastardization of wheat, u’ll probably have troubles with rye, barley and corn too (corn is horrificly been made bad also). and to add more joy to the equation, ur body will probably misinterpret dairy also as bad.
    i wouldnt eat wheat or rye; not worth it. barley i miss but im lowcarb anyway so ive gotten used to very little carbs at meals…i know how to make a meal work now, without carbs. ive been doing 1/2c of oats 4-6 times a month, i could give that up but i dont think it’d do alot.
    the real hard thing is DAIRY…no cheese on even my fake pizza?!? no butter, no cream (i eat high fat)? no YOGURT?
    im not comfortable with eating none of the best bioavailable, most highly-utilized calcium FOR HUMANS on the planet. but if it would make my thyroid system work again–>i rly think about this…

    • I cannot eat gluten, dairy, oats, eggs or cane sugar without some kind of unpleasant symptoms. In addition, I am mostly vegan — I choose to eat no meat! I do have fish and seafood occasionally. So how do I manage? NO PROBLEM! Interesting you seem to think so highly of dairy as a calcium source. IMHO, that is propaganda from the dairy industry, and not true. There are MANY other excellent sources, such as all greens, soy milk and many more (look it up). I use Daiya cheese (many varieties), soy yogurt, soy or almond milk, coconut ice cream and Earth Balance margarine. My daily menu starts with a fruit smoothie made with raw almonds and coconut oil in addition to frozen fruit, coconut water, vanilla and a splash of OJ. Lunch is a green salad with a protein like quinoa, beans or tofu. For dinner, there is usually a main dish of beans, dried peas, lentils or tofu, a starch like a sweet potato, plus greens. My diet is rich and varied, and I do not focus on what I cannot eat — I focus on all the wonderful foods that I CAN eat! Life is good and I feel great!

  140. Food sensitivities are definitely real, perhaps maybe misidentified in some people, but absolutely real and not an isolated issue of food sensitivity but a piece in a health puzzle. It is much more complex than just being gluten (or dairy or nightshade etc) sensitive. I feel better when I don’t eat gluten, dairy, corn or nightshades but my gut is problematic and healing so that seems to be expected. I also have explored the genetic components of some of my health issues. I pay attention to my body, I want to be healthy and no doctor or study knows more about how I feel, or what is real for me, than I do. I don’t think there is a cut and dry answer to any of this but I think that deeming something as “not real” or a fad when for those suffering with very real and painful health issues is not only unhelpful but doesn’t seem to accomplish much. What exactly wil disproving the reality of gluten sensitivity do for these researchers?Encourage more people to judge other people for having issues that aren’t so easily fixed? There are tons of people suffering from vague, unidentifiable issues that a lot of traditional doctors don’t seem to care about because they are not diseases that can be treated easily because they require the functionality of a person to be viewed as a whole and not in parts. So let’s just give them one more reason to tell someone it’s “all in their head.” Sounds great.

  141. Just as Gretchen said no one eats isolated gluten so IMO the study is pretty useless. I have Ankylosing Spondylitis, Arthritis, Diverticulosis, Ciguatera and Lyme’s disease and previous to acquiring all of the above i was already sensitive to cow dairy protein. Ditching grains 6 months ago was my last resort before undergoing a colon section recommended by my gastroenterologist. Thanks to 30 days of clean Paleo done in November 2013 the suicidal stomach pain I endured subsided. What i have found is that when i stick to the paleo diet 100% of the time I am fine and when i inadvertently consume small amounts of wheat (or dairy) at a restaurant or someone’s home I am fine because my gut is strengthened by my clean paleo regime. However if I start eating a bunch of wheat and cheese like I did when i was on vacation in Europe last January all my symptoms return with a vengeance after a few weeks. They don’t necessarily return immediately or a day or two after.

  142. It is frustrating that there are so many questioning if gluten sensitivity is real. The reaction I get from eating gluten is very real. My reaction lasts almost a week with joint pain, major brain fog and extreme exhaustion along with the typical digestion issues. I have Hashimoto’s and the first thing they say when you are diagnosed is to go gluten free regardless of what your celiac test says. I resisted for 2 years and had no improvement with my Hashimoto’s until I removed gluten completely.

  143. I stopped eating wheat to see if it helped migraines. I had no change in migraines but my mysterious facial rash disappeared. After going gluten free for 2 months I tested it by drinking 2 beers. The rash came back with a vengeance. Now that my gut health has improved I can have the occasional cookie, but still prefer to give the gluten a miss. I still wish I could get the migraines under control, though.

    • Laura–it took me a year and a half to resolve my migraines. But nightshades, high FODMAPS and sugars (in any form…even too much fruit) seem to trigger them. I am presently eating a low FODMAPS, AIP (autoimmune protocol) diet (very restrictive) and am finally symptom free. I’m also treating SIBO. Sorry if this is TMI, but it has taken a long time to figure this out. Hope it helps.

  144. Symptoms are not a good way to judge gluten and other sensititivies. Whole wheat lectins can be worse than gluten for some people, especially those with type O blood. I’d go with various related testing cross-referenced vs. symptoms. Tissue transglutaminase 2 antibodies are especially relevant.

    • True, Carol. I will be getting a blood panel test done, but if it doesn’t comes back positive, I am not going to start eating the stuff that is making me feel like absolute crap again. No point in that. I am getting all the nutrition I need, even with cutting out the wheat products. I am not going to follow some government food chart that said to eat grains for a balanced diet, when I know that something in wheat is the culprit. Best to stay clear of the food items that hurt me and make me feel miserable.

      • “I am getting all the nutrition I need, even with cutting out the wheat products.”

        Hell yeah….I’ll say. Wheat products are nutrient-sparse foods anyway. There is nothing in grain products in general that you can’t get more of and more efficiently in many other foods. Let’s look at this from an evolutionary perspective. Our extremely successful ancestors would have very rarely even bothered with wild grains. The amount that one would need to gather to be able to make something of any caloric and nutritional value coupled with the amount of time and effort involved in the processing would have made it a poor choice. Nutrient-density far greater than in grains exists in both the plant and animal kingdom in so many other sources.

        • I should amend this. There is much proof that our ancestors world-wide did in fact consume grains, but it was in much less quantities and these ancient wild heirloom grains contained less gluten and was much more nutrient-dense.

  145. More research is needed! I am curious to see follow up studies that include affects on mood, arthritic conditions, skin issues, rather than just the emphasis on GI symptoms. (And I think those studies are already out there, done by other researchers such as Alessio Fasano at Harvard according to a well gluten-versed friend of mine.) Also included should be the different types of gluten that are actually in all grains- even the ‘gluten free’ grains; all grains have some kind of gluten! I feel best with no grains at all… Is it just the FODMAPs?

    Taking a look at Glutomorphins should also be considered…. A real close look at the villi and micro villi and nutrient assimilation.

    Not to mention all the other disorders and conditions like other autoimmune diseases like fibromyalgia and Hashimotos that are relieved on a ‘gluten free’ or especially no grain lifestyle. Perhaps ‘gluten intolerance’ is more of an umbrella term, if you will.

  146. I did a 12-week elimination diet of all wheat, dairy, eggs and nuts. Then after 12 weeks I re-introduced each of these foods one at a time per week. The first week I reintroduced dairy and I didn’t experience gut pain or bad issues. Just annoying mucus in the nose and throat and of course coughing about an hour after I ate it. I had the same thing happen with eggs. I had no adverse reactions to the nuts. When the fourth week came along, I introduced the wheat back and that is when I got massive indigestion, heart burn, stomach bloat, and acne started showing up on my face again. It took about 48 hours to feel somewhat normal again. I drank a ton of water and flushed my system out. Studies like the one Mr. Kresser wrote about really annoy me. I don’t need a blood test to tell me I am sensitive. 12 weeks following a paleo style diet was enough to tell me what makes my gut and system happy.

    • I completely agree! Since when did our government start dictating us to rely on blood tests and doctor’s advice over listening to our own bodies about the foods we eat?

      The fact that so many people are talking about this to me is proof. If there wasn’t an epidemic of autoimmune diseases and obesity we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

  147. I stopped eating gluten about 5 month ago. About 2 months ago I went to a birthday party and i just COULDNT pass up the delicious Brazilian birthday cake…I know I am weak. Well I didnt notice a difference in my belly but the next day I woke up with a cough, and a cough…not sick cough but it was an annoying dry cough…it lasted almost 2 weeks. I couldnt figure out why and then it clicked. So i tested again after the cough stopped. I had buckwheat pancakes at IHOP. Next day same cough ..OMGH that was IT for me. No more gluten. Not even corn and I can only do very very softly cooked white rice once in a blue moon (rice makes me bloated)

    So I might not be celiac but I do show an adverse reaction to gluten….

  148. I have reacted to both barley and wheat so I figure I am sensitive to gluten. I did not know a product had barley in it until I went back and reread the label when I was in the middle of a reaction. I also showed high antibodies to gluten in an Enterolab test.

    I also wonder about the wash out period during this study. My obvious reactions last 5-7 days. I have heard that the internal inflammation can last a few weeks. I don’t think they waited long enough before switching between diets.

  149. Rather than a bowl of barley, why not a Guinness? (I know, beer isn’t low FODMAP.) That is the occasional gluten I will have–if I’m willing to deal with any FODMAP issues. Anyway, I think gluten intolerance is real, but I notice the most improvement eating low-FODMAP and Paleo.

    Thanks for this article!

    • Way to go Kevin! when my daughter sent me the original news article last week, I looked for the same thing: who funded the study. We, collectively need to stop thinking that all scientific research is designed to improve our lives. Always check to see if there is a vested interest behind the study.

    • This is exactly how I feel Kathy!

      It’s just annoying that things that start off based in logic and reasoning (like gluten free diets) slowly appear to become more and more like a “fad”.

      Which leads to a lot of venom and unnecessary attacks on people who are smart and use logic when approaching their diet.

      IMO it stems from seeing people buy things like gluten free cookies, cake, etc. and people attack that because just because you’re eating those things doesn’t mean you’re eating healthy.

      So then they go after a larger group of people, like you and me, who know an experience the benefits daily.

      • Let’s get one thing clear. It is not average normal people out there that are attacking gluten sensitive individuals. These folks doing the attacking are somehow connected to the corporations that are selling the wheat and the aspartame and the vaccines and the cell phones. They are being paid in some discreet way.
        A normal person doesn’t search on the internet and spend his time attacking what we all know to be real.

        I suffered from aspartame poisoning for several years until I cut it out of my diet and I have never believed any of the horse hockey that these paid trolls are spewing daily all over the web.

    • I am the same way Kathy! I don’t care what people say. I know my body. I am my own personal study experiment. I know what makes me feel better! I envy those that can eat anything and it doesn’t affect them whatsoever.

    • 3 days into a gluten free diet I lost all my aches and pains, my IBS symptoms and best of all my crippling migraines suffered through 50 years, so I’m really sure what I need to do, no experiments for me.

      • Awesome!

        When I removed wheat from my diet, my skin cleared up, the bumps on my thighs and the back of my arms have cleared up. The stomach pain has subsided as well as the bloating feeling along with indigestion and heartburn. Before I removed wheat, I was having really bad GERD attacks on a weekly basis. It is no fun waking up choking so bad you can’t breathe.

  150. Most of us don’t have ANY observable symptoms when we eat wheat and/or gluten. But this does not necessarily mean it isn’t causing damage. Are there any objective ways of determining if this is the case?

    • ” But this does not necessarily mean it isn’t causing damage.”

      Einstein asked:

      “Is Schreodinger’s Cat alive or dead ?”

      “What might be is a an abstraction
      Remaining a perpetual possibility
      Only in a world of speculation.” T S Eliot


      • What he’s saying is, just because you don’t feel pain, doesn’t mean it isn’t causing damage to your digestive tract. My crohn’s symptoms were pretty quiet (i.e. no pain) for 9 years. Then, wham, the pain came full tilt because of a blockage. So, the question is real, and I understand it.

  151. I react to even the grains that are supposed to be gluten-free, like corn and rice, so I think my problem isn’t just gluten sensitivity, but lectin sensitivity–beans also cause me problems.

    The Paleo diet was a real gosdsend for me–now I know of a whole population of people who eat like I have to. For years, I thought I was one of a kind.

  152. “Do you eat isolated, purified gluten? Do you know anyone who does? I doubt it. People eat wheat—not gluten.”

    Actually, some of the low-carb breads include gluten as an ingredient. In Joseph’s pitas, it’s the second ingredient, after water. However, they also include some whole wheat, so it’s not gluten alone that one is eating, albeit relatively more.

    • Some people do, and it’s very aptly named. It’s called seitan (I pronounce it Satan, and I’m sure that’s insulting to the guy in the red suit as even he wouldn’t eat that stuff).

    • Seitan is also made out of pure gluten and water. Two years ago, when I started out as a vegetarian on Atkins, I made it twice but had to stop because it gave me heartburn.

  153. Want to become gluten sensitive? Eliminate gluten for 60 days, and then try to eat it again. Your body will react violently. Bingo, you are now gluten insensitive. Is that what you wanted?

    • I’m not sure what the purpose of this comment is, unless it’s a typo (in?sensitive), which in that case demonstrates a lack of understanding about how the immune system functions. The idea of pulling a food out of your diet is to allow your immune system to recalibrate. Once it does and you add the food back in and you react poorly, that tells you that you that you have some kind of issue with it. If you keep eating it, it may be that the reaction goes away because your immune system is back in overdrive, which causes all sorts of other issues that we tend to just assume are ‘normal.’ Please don’t be one of the masses making fun of people who are genuinely trying to uncover the causes of their health problems (rather than just suppressing them with conventional medicine) by suggesting that people want to be gluten (or dairy, or FODMAPS or nightshades or whatever) sensitive. It’s a tough road, made more so when people are mocking you.

      • I prefer to steer clear of wheat completely. Although I don’t always react to it straight away (other than some minor bloating and gas) over time, with regular consumpion, my collections of symptoms return and worsen: Abdominal pain, diarrhea, loss of bowel control, pale stools, numb patches of skin, migraine headaches, sleep problems, chronic fatigue, repeated infections, vertigo and so on. I spent two years house bound due to severe CFS type symptoms before trying out the paleo diet and have tried to reintroduce wheat several times with disasterous results each time.

        As someone with Celiac disease in the family I’d rather not bother eating grain produce much at all. I asked for a blood test for celiac but I was already on the paleo diet and gluten free at the time and it came back negative. Whether it was accurate I will never know as I am willing to do a gluten challange to take another one in order to find out.

        My drs kept putting my symptoms down to anxiety and depression. I thought the issue was dietary.

        I love the paleo diet and it has worked wonders in regards to reversing the majority of my health problems. Even my blood pressure is back down to normal and at one point it was slightly high.

        I am also overwieght and have a family history of diabetes type two so it may help with that too (I am not yet diabetic myself as far as I am aware..I just have a family full of digestive (diabetes, IBS etc) and autoimmune disorders such as celiac and rhematoid arthritis).

        I don’t think my issues are in my head and I would prefer not to upset the apple cart again by adding gluten grains back in.

        • Do you find yourself losing weight following Paleo? I’ve only been Paleo for a month with some hiccups here & there, but I don’t feel like I’m losing anything. I’m sure I’m being impatient but it’s kind of stressing me out. lol

          • First of all, congrats on taking the first step toward better health! Second of all, this article is not about losing weight. But you can’t expect consistent results by being inconsistent. Give it more time and stop hiccuping. Commit to it. No more excuses! Have a great week!

          • You need to reduce your carb intake. When you increase your healthy fat intake, which you should, your weight will stay~ the same or even increase if your carbs are too high. Some people need to really lower those carbs to ~ 50 grams per day, some lower (while you are aiming for weight loss). If you are doing resistance training, you will add muscle weight (good!) while you are losing fat, & your clothing will become more loose (even @ the same weight). If you haven’t started weight lifting it is time to do it! Start moderate, & focus on proper form to avoid injury, bad habits…Then increase your weight. Aim for heavier weights that don’t require you to sacrifice good form in any way. Here is were a couple of personal trainer sessions may help, or a good book on weight training. You will get there!

            • Yikes. I don’t think reducing carbs is a great idea. Maybe finding out what the carb tolerance is instead. Vlc can slow down the thyroid… TAlk about not wanting that issue.

              • You don’t feel reducing carbs is a good idea?? Yikes yourself, most North Americans drown themselves in carbs every day.

                There no essential carbs that I’m aware of.

                • Amen… Whether it’s a figment of my imagination or not, all I know is that after having IBS for all of my adult life (gradually getting worse and worse), it has now pretty much completely gone after cutting out grain products.

                • It can be a really bad idea as carbs are a great quick energy source, especially for athletes. The term hitting the wall refers to when you completely run out of carbs and start burning just fat as energy (not as good as it sounds) if it has ever happened to you, you will know what I am talking about. I personally am very active and reduced my carbs, I got really sick.

              • Carmen, GG doesn’t state carb intake, but too high carbs are often why people don’t lose weight. Yes, vlc (very low carb) Can negatively affect thyroid, which is why you don’t necessarily do it forever. David is also correct; there are no ‘essential carbs’. The benefits of low carb veggies & fruits (like berries) is in the phytonutrients…present. Even if you ate a lot of meat & no carbs, your body will still convert some of that meat into carbs. But, you don’t want to miss out on the nutrients in veggies & fruits. Want to see the evidence? Read “The Paleo Diet” by Loren Cordain, Ph.D. He is the foremost researcher on ancestral diets. It is a bit of a dry read, but the science is laid out clearly. I trust Cordain and Kresser because their info is based on evidence based science, not hype.

              • I don’t consider myself Paleo, although I did change my eating “lifestyle” due to reading an article on this wonderful website about the Paleo Diet and weight loss. The reason I don’t consider myself Paleo is because I don’t follow what is considered the strict Paleo diet. Plus, I don’t believe arguing about what one thinks humans ate or didn’t eat 15,000 years makes a difference. What makes a difference is understanding what about the modern diet and lifestyle truly compromises our health and living satisfaction; that eating traditions and customs may not be so traditional and may not have been what our recent ancestors bought, prepared and ate 100 years ago… That said, one doesn’t have to be diagnosed with Celiac or non-Celiac gluten intolerance to know what causes them to feel better or worse. The problem is that most humans ignore what makes them feel bad because of many varying reasons. For one, I don’t know anyone who drank down their first cup of whisky and exclaimed, “Wow! Delicious! I want another. And then said that they loved the sick feeling later on or the following hang-over… As for carbs. Maybe you don’t know that removing simple carbs is just that; removing simple carbs. And fruit and vegetables also offer your body’s carbohydrate requirement. One would begin the Paleo Diet or the Low-Carb diet due to consciousness. So, one should be conscious of the fact that reducing carbs and increasing fats and possibly proteins requires the increase of complex carbs (fruit and vegetables).

                As for lowering weight… Let’s say that the Paleo diet or the low-carb diet is for improving your health. If you are overweight or obese, losing weight is necessary for improving your health. So, I do believe that weight loss is a very important concern. But, shouldn’t be the only concern regarding changing your eating lifestyle change. Truthfully, it is incredibly difficult for me to believe that a person didn’t lose weight after removing simple carbs. I lost 22.5 pounds of fat in my first 8 weeks; the second 4 weeks without the opportunity of moderate exercise due to intense work. Those 4 weeks I also averaged maximally 5 hours a night sleep with nights of 3-4 hours sleep. Added to the physical stress, I greatly increased my animal fat and animal protein consumption and still lost weight. The only thing that is strange is that my cholesterol level remained the same (HDL dropped 4 points). But my triglycerides increased 30 points. Now, if triglycerides are formed in the liver from glucose from carbohydrates and I continued my no-simple carb lifestyle, why the sudden turn upward after dropping at least 100 points in the first month?

          • Are you losing inches? Some people fixate on the scale number and don’t pay attention to the other changes in their bodies. I’ve known many people who don’t go down many ‘numbers’ but are obviously more trim. Muscle weighs more than fat.

          • Track your food for a week, see how the protein, fat, and carb ratio is, it may be that you’re consuming too many carbs to loose weight. I’ve been Low Carb Paleo for two months and am down 14 pounds.

          • gg- several things can prevent weight loss. all, some or just one could apply to you.
            -thyroid disorder
            -not believing you can lose weight (our minds -are more powerful than we give them credit)
            – Eliminating these 7 foods results in rapid weight loss for most people. (not sure what you’re hiccups are and how often they occur….)
            1. soy
            2. gluten
            3. sugar
            4. peanuts
            5. corn
            6. dairy
            7. eggs

          • Kind of a late comment, but:
            I have lost 20 lbs from 3 months on at first strict paleo, then primal eating for the last two weeks (I reintroduced grass fed raw dairy and allow for “splurge” every once in a while now). I experienced a sudden and dramatic weight gain due to a change in medication last year and since going paleo, I have lost more weight than I did in months and months of “healthy eating” (whole grains) and extensive cardio workouts.
            If you are having trouble, I would highly recommend limiting your fruit and nut intake, and making sure you are participating in HIIT/Tabata exercises (sprinting, biking, etc) a couple times a week, and move around enough during the day (10,000 steps). Also make sure you are taking steps to reduce stress, like sleeping a full 8-10 hours in a dark room every night. Patience is key! This is all about reaching an optimal balance in our bodies…sometimes it takes a little longer for some people but if you are listening to your body’s needs, everything will fall into place. 🙂

        • My gastroenterologist sent me for a genetic (blood) test for coeliac. HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8. He said that I didn’t need to be eating gluten-containing foods for the test to be accurate. You could look into having these tests done.

        • People want simple solutions for complex problems.

          Does it really make sense that wheat would cause all of these disorders ? Does the research really suggest wheat is responsible for these type of symptoms ? Is is best not to read a ‘review’ of an article w/ it’s own bias, but to read the article itself.

          Does a ‘paleo’ diet make sense ? Is it sustainable ? Does it have GOOD scientific backing ?

          Fads come & go. Good common sense, moderation, eating a balanced/healthy diet, and exercising daily is the best way to go, IMO.

        • I was diagnosed gluten intolerant and non-celiac a few years ago – but to. ALL grains inc barley and oats. However I did gradually reintroduce some bread and gradually I have got worsened symptoms exactly as you describe but recently with painfully wind/faltulence so I went to DR. This Dr suspected due to my being a women, over 50 AND overweight that I might in fact have gallbladder problem which presents with all the same symptoms and nausea! A simple ultrasound later and this was confirmed I have gallstones which if untreated will continue to make me fatigued, feeling sick if I eat or not and cause horrid adverse reactions to both fatty food and carbs in general . So perhaps you should ask for a test! Mine was only diagnosed because my discomfort and sometimes pain, accompanied by nausea had got so bad that I sought a private physician to investigate food intolerance and she actually listened but suggested this possibility which BTW can affect slum people as well! I probably had the start of this earlier when the gluten intolerance was suggested and may have been able to prevent the stones from developing? Might be worth checking out. Best of luck .

      • My husband eliminated gluten for far longer than the 60 day trial to be supportive. He didn’t have a single noticeable symptom when he re-introduced it.

        To comment on the article. I think it is very dangerous to write this diagnosis off as a figment of a person’s imagination. I have found many Doctors that make this diagnosis simply because they refuse to do the recommended testing for celiac. My immune reactions are pretty varied but in short after 3 years gluten free, I regained my appetite control and am getting to a healthy weight, not to mention, I no longer have lung inflammation unless I am in a store or house with gluten for varied periods of time. If I inhale gluten, I get bleeding and mucus in my nose, have underactive thyroid symptoms, get raised, pus filled welts in the back of my throat, headaches and a myriad of other symptoms. If I accidentally eat it, there is even more trouble than the above symptoms.

        Two different Doctor’s diagnosed my two of my children and I with Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. Why? They ran a blood test on one of my children, who was 2 yrs old, being seen on a monthly basis for delayed growth and behavioral troubles, OCD, anxiety and also constipation with varied bouts of diarrhea. I had already removed 99% of gluten from his diet at the point of the test and she assured me the test would show positive, even though he had 3 wheat crackers that week and no other gluten. Plus it is widely known the blood test ran is largely inaccurate at this age. He had also been mostly gluten free for 4 months and had already began to recover his growth and already shown a reverse his behavior concerns. She refused to initiate further testing and frankly after all the research I have done on celiac and gluten sensitivity and the effects on various systems in the body, I am unwilling to re-introduce gluten, to damage their bodies even further, to obtain the celiac diagnosis. My 12 year was never tested or seen for the gluten problems. The same Doctor diagnosed him based on the blood test of his little brother and his symptoms, elimination diet and subsequent growth recovery and reduction in neuro symptoms.

        I had a similar experience in which I had been mostly gluten free for a year before they initiated the blood test. Based on the results, they diagnosed me in a similar manner.

        Based on my research, I have an autoimmune response to gluten. Is this Celiac (simply the degradation of the celia or some other auto immune response triggered by gluten? I couldn’t say. I have such drastic, painful and debilitating symptoms from all forms of gluten like protein containing grains ie wheat, barley, rye, spelt etc… I would never willingly consume it again.

        My point is that whether or not Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity is a valid diagnosis on its own or not, it is the blanket the medical community is using for people that show a myriad of symptoms related to gluten and have the one standard blood test come back negative for whatever reason. It can be as short as a few months or can take many years for the body to degrade to a debilitating point with gluten. It is commonly known that from the onset of symptoms it is an average of 10 years before a person is diagnosed with celiac. I don’t believe this is simply because the Doctors aren’t looking for it. I think it may be more the case that the body takes time to degrade to the point of showing the small intestine degradation. I also think that people are so focused on one symptom (degradation of the celia) that they may be over looking other auto immune responses that may be showing up instead of this degradation (dermatitis herpetiformus comes to mind).

        It seems because of public awareness, celiac is the only diagnosis that is taken seriously with all others being written off. I think the name of the diagnosis needs to change or another broader diagnosis needs to be created to encompass other autoimmune reactions.

        Unfortunately, Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity is the diagnosis made when the medical community doesn’t see the specific immune response to diagnose celiac or they are not willing to refer for further testing to a gastroenterologist or specialist, as with my older son who had 12 years of symptoms before recovery. It shouldn’t be the blanket diagnosis that it is however, since it is, it should be taken equally as serious as celiac disease.

        • Amen!! I have RA and gluten is the worst trigger by far. Went from walking with a cane to running three marathons in one year. My only change was gluten elimination. I don’t care what the blood tests say I am living proof some non celiacs have just as dramatic a reaction to gluten.

          • I tested negative for celiac about 8 years ago, but went on a GF diet anyway. I have Crohn’s disease, and even with strict GF diet, I still sometimes suffer with diarrhea. However, I had serious RA-like symptoms before the GF diet, and I do not have arthritis at all. After the GF diet, body-aches are gone, unless I accidentally eat wheat/gluten. The body aches I experience are quite intense.

            I also occasionally get a low-grade fever, and terrible chills. I used to attribute that to wheat/gluten as well, but realized with a recent severe episode that my reactivity was to MSG in large quantities. I am know very careful about MSG (and all the other ingredients in which MSG is hidden). It was scary — I was out of work for three days, just feeling awful!

            One more thing: The most important ingredient I have eliminated from my diet to prevent severe diarrhea is GUAR GUM! This is found in many ice creams, lots of pastries, and many GF foods (cake mixes expecially, and Glutino products). Guar gum is much worse for my bowel than gluten. The gluten/wheat makes my body hurt. The GUAR GUM is what upsets my stomach so terribly. Xanthum gum is not so bad…

        • Leanna- so well put! I had no idea that I had Celiac until I saw a new doctor who has knowledge in this area, and I had been an RN for almost 30 years and thought I was communicating well with my physician/s about my symptoms/history/family history. What if I had been diagnosed with gluten sensativity before it got to full blown “your in bad shape, you have severe Celiac, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, hypertension etc” ? There are 2 people in my world whom I am very concerned about also- my son and daughter. I don’t want them to get to the no turning back point. I wish I could have made a change in my diet way back when to avoid gluten so that I wouldn’t have suffered years with the challenges that I’ve had. Some people are very quick to jump to conclusions without having all the information, and it’s not just “lay-people”, but medical professionals too.

      • I just wanted to share my story. My husband and I, for a long time now have eaten a diet of organic, whole foods, lots of vegetables and fruit, grass fed beef, healing bone broth, fermented foods including coconut kefir, raw sauerkraut, etc. With that said, we do eat dairy, organic grass fed, also the only fats we eat are coconut oil, olive oil, ghee and butter from grass fed cows, hemp seed oil, flax seed oil. We went gluten free for an extended period, didn’t feel any different so we added back our bread which is homemade sourdough with a true wild starter, the bread ferments for 18 plus hours in refrigerator before we bake it, no problems with that. We do stay away from processed anything, do eat some organic grains, nuts and beans but we soak them in a way to reduce phytic acid and convert to phytase. I am 61 and my husband is 71. We are very active, bike, hike, run, walk, garden, I teach yoga and have a strong personal practice. Our minds are sharp. Blood tests good. We love life. I also meditate and teach meditation. Any comments?

        • Hi Marcia,
          Your sourdough bread and the way you prepare beans sounds very interesting. Could you please share some resources where I could get recipes or the cooking techniques? Thank you!

        • Marcia, your story is so very encouraging. My parents are your ages. Dad 71 & mother 61. Both have had open heart surgery, both diabetic and both with arthritis. Dad has crippling arthritis and removal of 3/4 of a lung in his late 50’s due to cancer. My mother calls me Sgt Carter bc I instruct them in eating . Mother just got out of being in the hospital almost 3 months w pneumonia & kidney failure and my dad was actually in the hospital the last wk the same time as mother. I’m a physical therapist in home health & about ran my body down driving 200 miles a day and staying st the hospital with them & gained 25 lbs. I keep saying it’s not fair that my parents are so sick and I’m not finished raising my kids yet. They’re agrees 14, 17, & 23. I’m gluten sensitive. Gluten keeps me in the bathroom, w a stomach ache, fatigued, & joints hurting. The Dr’s also said I have fibromyalgia. 10 yrs ago, the orthopedic Dr said I had degenerative bone disease. If Dr’s had their way, I would be on 3 different medicines full time. I’ve been on NONE. I instead decide to eat healthy and exercise. Now, w my parents having me on the run, I let myself go. Last week my parents went into a 21 day physical therapy rehab. So, I joined the gym, have lost 5 lbs. I refuse to be sick and in hospitals when my kids are trying to raise their kids. I think it’s selfish for people to not think of children, small or grown, when they treat their bodies Any ol way. People take better care of their cars than they do their bodies. Well, sorry I went on a soap box but I sure do admire you two for being so active and health conscious.

        • I love your comments about your lifestyle, very inspiring, and about sourdough bread. Sourdough is the only kind I buy and I’m trying to stick to a gluten free diet in a household of free eaters. I used to have my own starter and miss making my own bread. I am inspired and encouraged by your story. Your diet sounds a lot like mine and I hope to enjoy good health at your age. I’m currently 53.

      • Well said, Leslie. 🙂

        I wish people would be more understanding of others who are trying to improve their own health. I still deal with people who think I’m a freak for being 100% GF, even friends. Just encountered a brow-furrowed server at lunch yesterday when I asked if the brisket was GF (even though the menu states items can be tweaked). She made me repeat myself like I was talking alien.

        Anyway, eventually I just stop explaining myself and make my food choices silently.

        • I think it a bit much for a food server to know. Plus, with what I imagine is the typical demand (by impatient customers) it is much for the food server to go back into the kitchen and ask the chef or the owner (who probably don’t truly know what the question entails). If the restaurant doesn’t claim to be diet specific (Paleo or Gluten-Free or wheat free), I would avoid it for removing the risk of eating something you wouldn’t want to enter your body. Restaurants are businesses and businesses are created for making money with the most cost-effect and simple systems possible and why it is incredibly logical that the server wouldn’t know what you’re talking about…

          • I have a big wheat sensitivity. When I travelled to China, I asked every server to prepare my dish without wheat (through a Chinese language flashcard program on my phone), and never had one dietary issue.
            If I can get around China without knowing the language and not have a problem, I think a server can find out is there is wheat in a product.

            • That’s interesting, Austin. Does China use much wheat in its cuisine? I had the impression that less wheat is grown in China than rice, or other staple crops, but I haven’t done my research. I should do that now.

              What I do hear from travelers is that many countries outside the US “get it” when it comes to food allergies, and either have menu options that are free of allergens or can otherwise accommodate. I haven’t traveled much out of the western hemisphere, but when I did my experience was similar.

              The restaurant industry in the US however is clearly designed for mass production and consumption, and is slow to adopt to individual dietary needs, if it does at all. (I knew a few local restaurants that used to offer a GF menu, but have since removed it. I hope that wasn’t due to complains or lawsuits, but I suspect it was.)

              • good point Jeff. As for wheat in China, I imagine it has much to do with the region of China. As you may know or may have heard, Marco Polo supposedly brought pasta to Italy from China. I believe the history is a bit exaggerated or simplified, confusing China with Central Asia or the Chinese Empire at that time controlled much of central asia… In any case, wheat supposedly comes from the region of Afghanistan (Kazikstan, Turkmenistan, Mongolia, etc…) So, you should find substantial wheat products travelling through China.

                Austin, I commend you on your travels and your “guts” or determination… And how wonderful for you that you were received by respectful food servers. My passion and personal studies are international cuisine, food traditions and how food connects us through history and across borders… One thing you must consider when thinking about Chinese Cuisine and health is that the food servers were born into a very long history of “middle-class” Chinese extremely concerned about their physical and spiritual health connected with what they put into their mouths: the Yin-Yan of food or balancing hot and cold for preventing health inbalances (disease)… So, I imagine that the food servers are incredibly prepared to receive a concern or a complaint in China and wouldn’t disrespect the client for something they personally know is valid. As Jeff mentioned, the U.S. and “Americans” is all about market, regardless of health and about diversion or entertainment regardless of health… And I say, cook at home and be unpopular when you say you can’t go there or eat that… But, “American” lifestyle is all about “peer pressure” including within the incredibly new Paleo circles popping up in the upper-middle-class communities of the U.S. American culture is all about “The In-Crowd”… You are unpopular until what made you ahead of the times and unpopular became a middle-class fad…;-) Fortunately I’m a “Gringo” in Mexico, permanently unpopular changing my eating lifestyle to something that will never become popular here do to lack of information, lack of “democracy” and lack of resources… (not due to lack of money, popular misconception by “Americans” of Mexicans being poor. Mexico is in the top 15 wealthiest countries in the world, but with a horrible educational system and lack of true desire for progress and intellectual advancement…

                • its interesting that in america its acceptable for a server not to inquire from a chef who cooks your food as to what it contains,im irish and although it has taken some time the majority of restaraunts and even fast food outlets whether they be traditional irish chippers or a mcdonalds nearly all have a gluten free option and all servers will ask in the kitchen if you inquire and can always tell you whether or not something is ceoliac friendly or wheat free and will apologise if its not

      • Well said Leslie!

        Personally I have a sensitivity to all grains & FODMAPS. I mainly eat meat & veggies. I eat starch on occasion but my IBS & allergic rhinitis returns quickly. If I eat egg whites by accident, I get weird skin rashes within a day.

        I don’t want to eat this way. I love food, of all kinds. My friends would’ve considered me a foodie previously. But I have to eat this way for my health. I don’t absorb the nutrients from my food if my gut is inflamed, which causes a lot of problems down stream.

      • Leslie, there’s not doubt in my mind that you are, for sure, a very nice human being, because only a nice human being can answer Delilah’s moronic and stupid comment in such polite way.

      • Well said Leslie!!!

        I personally don’t know if I’m gluten intolerant or not. I choose not to eat it because of what “foods” (or food-like products) gluten is usually in. Personally, I see no reason to have gluten in my diet so I steer clear. Eating whole, real foods allows me to do this easily 🙂

      • Leslie is absolutely correct. This explains why I have had clients who have been vegan for years, or low fat for years… yet these people can add meat and butter (a no-no for low fat dieters) with zero problems.

        In other words, avoidance dis not make them sensitive to these foods.

      • I agree. I think his allergy test is a great idea, because I’m having a heck of a time trying to figure out what puts my intestinal tract into overdrive. And given that Crohn’s disease has taken over a foot of my small intestine, I need to figure it out.

        I started back on Atkins, because I want to eliminate ALL carbs for awhile and then try to figure out what is causing my issues. I’m not sure if it’s specific to gluten, or other things in wheat.

        I do know that the one time I drank beer 2 years ago, I was in severe discomfort! I don’t like beer and haven’t had one in years – but that day my friend was out of wine. That’s what first gave me an idea that I had a sensitivity or allergy of some type.

      • Totally agree very well said. We have to do what is best for ourselves and by doing this elimination can and will get us to listen to what our bodies are telling us. I know for years I have been suffering with various pains, bloating, gas. etc. and by doing this elimination of wheat has helped my immensely to be pain free without the pills.

    • Removing gluten from your diet doesn’t make you sensitive to it if you weren’t before. It just makes your sensitivity more apparent.

      This is the “clean windshield” effect. When your windshield is very dirty, a little extra dirt isn’t noticeable. When your windshield is clean, you notice a big splotch of dirt.

      I have many patients who remove gluten for 60 days, add it back in, and don’t notice a reaction. In fact, that was true for me.

      • Hi
        I truly am not trying to be argumentative, but I wrestle with the difference between “sensitivity” and “time to adapt”. If I stop taking fish oil for a while and then take what was formerly a normal dose for me, I burp and feel queasy. But if I take a smaller dose and gradually build up- no problem. I don’t think I am sensitive to fish oil, i.e., my body is stressed by it. But I do think I need to introduce it gradually.

        So, I struggle with understanding how to interpret (especially a relatively mild) negative reaction to a food after having eliminated it for 30 or 60 days. I know this is the whole theory behind elimination diets and that it’s been super helpful to some folks in finding real improvement in chronic health problems. I’m just not sure it’s necessarily conclusive.

        It’s not just an academic question for me. I have Hashimotos and have gone gluten free and then gone back to moderate gluten and can’t say I’ve noticed a direct negative effect. Of course, when I go through an energy slump I wonder if I had steered clear of gluten that would have been better…

        • @ Michelle: many/most functional medicine practitioners recommend 100% avoidance of gluten for life if one has an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s. You can read more about the reasoning behind this in some books: Why Isn’t My Brain Working? and Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms When My Lab Tests are Normal? both by Datis Kharazzian, Hashimotos Thyroiditis by Isabela Wentz, The Paleo Approach by Sarah Ballantyne, Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo, Grain Brain by David Perlmutter. These authors all have websites and blogs so you can Google them too to get instant info.

          • I have a cousin with Lupus and her doctor told her that removing gluten can help her autoimmune disorder greatly.

        • That’s great Michelle. If you can eat it with out a problem then you don’t have to worry about it. I don’t think anyone is suggesting that gluten/wheat sensitivities effect everyone. I am unable to eat wheat, but I can eat barely just fine. Is it the wheat? Is is simply because its so highly processed? Is it because my GI is not healthy and I can’t digest it? I believe those answers will be different for each person. . We must take bio individuality into consideration as we are all unique. One man’s fuel is another man’s poison. So if you can eat wheat and gluten products and it doesn’t bother you then it should not concern you all that much. Believe me, if you have a reaction you know it. However, if you have thyroid problems I guess the other question would be….do you want to eat processed and refined foods? Most gluten and wheat containing products these days are so highly processed they can hardly be considered nutritious.

        • I have recently been diagnosed with Hashimotos. I am currently sub-clinical hypothyroid (TSH at 7.6, but T4 in normal range), take NO hormone replacements and also test positive for the antibodies indicative of Hashimotos. I decided to have a blood test to test for food sensitivities in order to be PROactive and gain control of Hashimotos before any symptoms could progress. Upon testing, I learned I am sensitive to not only wheat, but 24 other foods! The test does not specifically test for gluten. I do not believe I am sensitive to gluten because I do not have sensitivities to either barley or rye (both have gluten). It’s funny because everyone around me says, “oh, you have to go gluten free?” I say, “no, I just can’t have wheat during my elimnation…” They are confused 🙂 For what it’s worth, I highly recommend being tested for food sensitivities. I have been on my elimination diet for almost 30 days so far; I feel the best I have felt in almost 9 months. I will retest my TSH levels in July and I bet my numbers will be down!

          • I have sensitivities “off and on” depending on the state of inflammation my body is in. I had many foods come up on a blood test during a highly inflammed state. After things calmed down, however, I found I did not notice any issues. One thing to keep in mind when you have an autoimmune issue (I have been dealing with Hashimoto’s for 8 years), is that not every day is the same for your system. Levels of cortisol, sleep, hormones, stress in the form of exercise, mental or emotional all play a part in the level of inflammation in the body. Translation: sometimes a body can “handle” some foods and on another day maybe not so much. I find that if I stay away from a particular handful I know make me feel bad, symptoms are usually at a minimum when I do get into something that my body isn’t fond of.

        • Michelle, I also have Hashimoto’s. One thing to keep in mind is that gluten is the main antibody trigger for Hashimoto’s, but it can take up to several weeks after an exposure for an attack to be in full swing, so it’s not always an immediate thing. The inflammatory cascade can last for quite awhile, however, so if you eat it once in awhile, you never quite get to heal.

          I never noticed any digestive or overt symptoms from gluten after eliminating it for months and then having a little. However, when I got the Cyrex gluten array done, I clearly reacted to gamma-gliadin and transglutaminses 2 and 3. This was after no intentional gluten exposure for years.
          My functional med. doc explained to me that every Hashimoto’s patient she’s had who got genetic testing has come up positive for the Celiac genes. That’s something to be aware of. Also, if you don’t really feel all that much better eliminating gluten, it could be because you additionally cross-react to casein. Once I found out I was one of those people and completely eliminated the casein, that’s when I started seeing more healing results (including much easier weight loss!) than I had been able to achieve before.

        • If you can eat it without it causing inflammation and bloating go for it. For me when I removed gluten/wheat from my diet I lost 7 pounds in days from the inflammation I was losing from not having constant irritation in my system.

          I think of all the Paleo websites in the world Chris Kresser is the most flexible with “If it works for you go for it.” But it truly does not work for many people and the best way to make that determination is to remove it.

          As someone who suffered from IBS for over 20 years I am extremely happy I gave up wheat. I do not have one-tenth the problems I had when I was eating wheat.

        • Many of use whose symptoms are significantly relieved by a gluten free (GF) diet accidentally do part of this experiment from time to time – we get exposed to wheat (or whatever that is excluded by the GF diet) and get sick.

          The idea of using barley is interesting. I might try this, although the consequences of being exposed to whatever it is that causes trouble are pretty unpleasant.

          Since I discovered that a GF diet helps (a lot), I’ve suspected that gluten is not the problem. One reason: the symptoms don’t completely go away. Another: the only known (to me) physiologically verified sensitivity to gluten gluten itself is Celiac diseas, and I don’t have that, per biopsy and blood test.

          • Just giving up gluten is often not enough to heal the problem created by it. You also have to work to heal the intestinal walls, which have been damaged by eating gluten (intestinal permeability). This is why you can still have symptoms and difficulties, even after stopping the gluten.

      • I had this happen to me when I cut out dairy to try and reduce mucus. Had been dairy free for a few weeks and then ate some mushrooms that had been cooked in butter. Ended up in hospital. Since staying dairy free a lot of health issues have cleared up that I did not even know were related.

      • Does temporary food removal cause food sensitivity? I don’t know for sure, but I think it is logical to assume that it could. Any research looking at this?

        Another thought is, if you remove a food because you feel it is a problem, then add it back and find that it is a problem, can’t it still all be in your head? Nocebo?

        Chris, did you and your patients remove gluten, or gluten containing grains?

        • I asked my doctor this very question, and he said no. If you don’t have a problem with gluten, you should not have a problem re-introducing it after period of time without. You most definitely would not experience what I do whenever I have even a trace of gluten: extreme nausea, sore joints, brain fog (as in, can’t think at all and have to stay home from work). We were not born eating gluten, but some of us were born with the ability to digest it properly and others were not. That doesn’t change when you stop eating it.

        • When I go all winter without watermelon, clams or lobster and then eat them again in the summer I don’t react to them. When I don’t have rice for a few weeks and then eat it again, no problems. Think about it, there are foods we do go months without eating and then have some with no consequences. Why would wheat be any different?

          • So, you know that people do not have trouble reintroducing other foods? Do you have any research to back that up? I would greatly appreciate if you would share it. How about when a vegan reintroduces meat, and has trouble digesting it? Does that mean meat is bad for them? Does that mean everyone may have trouble with meat. Of coarse not, right? They just need some Now Foods Super Enzymes, per Robb Wolf. Get that acid production going. But, wait. Why did they stop producing stomach acid?

            Personally, I think you are making broad assumptions based on your personnal experience, and your obviouse bias towards wheat.

            I don’t eat much wheat. And I think if wheat is a problem for you, you should not eat it too often either. However, that is a far cry from, wheat is satans spawn and it is killing everyone. I think, with time, the Paleo community will slowly fade back to the middle, with grain and gluten consumption. Just like they did with beans. Just like they did with fruit. Just like they did with dairy….

      • I just had some genetic testing done. I have MTHFRS mutations which makes me unable to process folic acid very well. About 50% of the population has this mutation to some degree and to them the folic acid, that is added to all white flour, is toxic. What if all these people that feel better when not eating wheat and/or gulten or grains have this mutation and it is the folic acid that is causing the problem not the grains. This gives you something to think about.

      • How about those of us with autoimmune disease (Hasimoto’s) that never had an obvious gluten intolerance, but are instead avoiding it per our doctors in order to help reduce inflammation?

      • Yes, Chris, I think some people may be confusing the term sensitive in medical practice when it refers to your body considering itself being under attack by substance (allergy) or at the very least simply not possessing the necessary arsenal of chemicals to deal with a substance (intolerance) as compared to when your body builds up a tolerance to a particular chemical.

        An example might be when one is a regular coffee drinker, quits for six months, then starts back up again. That person will notice extra alertness, speediness, wakefulness, focus, whatever. This is because as the person continues to drink coffee the brain makes many attempts from different angles (producing contrary neurotransmitters, etc) to make up for the fact that the cellular receptors for adenosine are being used up for caffeine. Without adenosine the brain has a difficult time moving into it’s rest phase so it needs to adapt in other ways.

        Then quit coffee for awhile and the brain will self regulate again as the adenosine receptors again begin to be used for adenosine.

        Start drinking coffee once again and your brain has not yet made all the adaptations necessary to make up for the fact that less adenosine is getting to the cells so you feel the full effect of all the caffeine.

        At no time, however, has your body suddenly configured differently to now consider caffeine an invader to be fought off nor has it suddenly lost the biochemical ability to deal with caffeine.

      • I wonder if you had made any changes to your diet that may have contributed to a healthier GI tract?
        I’ve removed all bread including xanthum gum GF bread for years, but last week due to a trip to the states and all the food rules found myself ravenous 7 hours after my breakfast and surrendered to a bun with cheese at a bakery. A whole week of spinal pain was all the convincing I need to recognize that my condition is not completely healed.

    • Ha. This a non argument. Remove spinach from your diet for 60 days, then reintroduce. It’s not likely you’ll react violently to spinach.

    • Your comment didn’t apply in my case. I went close to a year without any gluten whatsoever, (although its always possible I had some accidental exposure at some point), I was quite careful to avoid it. Last weekend to test whether I had become sensitive I had three quarters of a large pizza, and a few beers to wash it down, and felt fine. My body did not react violently.

    • I get so frustrated by these studies!! I can understand the annoyance of the “gluten free” epidemic that has taken hold, but to tell me that if test results don’t show me as gluten sensitive, means I’m NOT gluten sensitive? I have removed it from my diet, felt so much better in so many ways, then felt lousy after bringing it back? A Dr holding a piece of paper does not know my body better than I do. Thank you so much for this Chris. You have helped me in so many ways!!

      • Hahahaha…I am familiar with the epilepsy community as I myself have the disease. Many people have the requisite two seizure diagnosis with negative EEG’s and MRI’s. I guess this means the seizure that they have and that people witness are all in their heads.

    • There are many foods that I eat only once or twice a year… But I don’t react violently just because they have been ‘eliminated’ for over 60 days! If this type of simplified thinking we’re true, we would all be in trouble when we eat the first cherries of the year, or the odd time we eat lobster, etc…

    • This isn’t true at all. I was on a gluten-free diet for two years due to some gut issues. After I healed I started eating wheat products again and DID NOT have any issues.

      • Laurel, your issues are completely different to the millions of others suffering with gut issues. Congrats on being healed as others continue to experiment and try to figure out what is going on with them. I find it interesting that millions and millions of people didn’t have these types of issues back in the years far before I was born. All of these issues are in fact to due our nutrition. Agriculture continues to be fabricated in labs. Strains continue to change (how fast we will never know). Seems like a lot for our systems to continuously try to re-adjust to. Who knows if my issues are grains or if it is the gluten in the grains. All I know is that I am sick and tired of feeling ill. As I am sure millions of others are. When I eat a diet absent of grains (period), I feel like a whole different person. If I eat a donut, bread (wheat, white, whatever), pasta, etc, it feels like absolute hell. I have the classic indigestion, heartburn, bloating, stomach pains, skin issues for a couple days or longer and it is getting really old. I used PPI drug Prilosec and it COMPOUNDED my issues. My entire digestive system shut down. My food WOULD NOT DIGEST. I started taking notes on EVERY meal I ate. All sorts of combinations of foods. Meals with meat, meals without meat, meals with grains, meals without grains. Meals with veggies, meals without veggies. And every other combination I could think of. I go to doctor with my findings. Tells me to try Nexium. I said “screw Nexium”. I am tired of masking the symptoms. I want to know why I feel like crap when I EAT FOOD!!! IT HAS TO BE THE FOOD!!! I give up. I go to a different doctor that practices conventional PLUS nutrional medicine. She spent 1 WHOLE HOUR with me (completely unconventional). She read my entire diary I was writing. She IMMEDIATELY said, “darling, you could be having issues digesting grains”. I was like “what”? She said some people just have a harder time digesting grains and that it could be the wheat or the gluten in wheat. She told me that the blood tests are not always going to tell you if you are sensitive. She said she believes in listening to our bodies, not medicating our bodies to mask symptoms. If a food bothers you, you remove it. Plain and simple. Another man’s fuel could be another man’s poison. She had me go on 12-week elimination diet. I took extensive notes. After the 12 weeks was over, I spent 4 weeks re-introducing the foods I eliminated back into my diet. Boy was that a challenging 4 weeks. It was the baked goods that did me in. Cramping pain, heartburn, indigestion, acne flareups. You name it. I just wanted to die. So Laurel, this is not a cookie cutter society in which everyone is like Laurel. Good day to you. You are part of this attack problem on people dealing with these very real issues.

    • The purpose of that comment makes total sense. Eliminate sugar from your diet for 60 days, then eat sugar. And I’m guessing you won’t feel so well. It’s not that people are mocking the “gluten intolerant”, it’s that we are skeptical of the fact that correlation does not always equal causation.

    • @Delilah – removing wheat or gluten from your diet for 60 days does NOT make you become gluten sensitive. If you react on the re-introduction of gluten / wheat, it means that you ARE gluten or wheat sensitive in the first place. This is true for any foods that you are sensitive too. Its called an elimination diet. This is because the body adapts (or rather limps along) with each small injury caused by the intake of the offending food. However over a long time, each small injury adds up to become chronic disease.

      I’m telling you this because I am a physician for over 14 years and that’s how our immune system works. If you want to know the details, for eg IgG related immunity, I can do too, if you prefer.

    • @Delilah: Your argument is flawed. Correlation does not imply causation. Yes, you do become “sensitive” to wheat if you cut it out for 1-2 months, but that’s not because you cut it out. It’s because you were already sensitive to it, and since you cut it out, your immune system started working properly again, enough to recognize wheat for what it really is: poison.

      Ponder this please: We traditionally eat figs, cherries, mulberries etc only for a few days a year. Especially for figs, they can be found fresh only for a month or so. For mulberries it’s only about 10 days. So if cutting down a food and re-introducing it would cause distress, it means that all seasonal foods would create that distress. But they don’t. It’s only glutenous grains and wheat in specific that does. Which means that something ain’t right about them.

      Not cutting down wheat because you’re afraid of how you’ll react if you eat it again, it’s like hiding behind your own finger (Greek expression). Be true to yourself and your body.

    • “Eliminate gluten for 60 days, and then try to eat it again.”
      Eliminate broccoli for 60 days and then try to eat it again. Or apples. Or cod.
      Guess what? Nothing will happen. Your body will not have lost or lessened the ability to deal with it. That says it all for me.

      So why on earth would I want to feel a litle bit shitty all the time (gas, diarrea, joint pain, depression, bleeding gums and so on) just to be able to digest wheat a little bit better than I do now? Because, sure, I react more violently now than I did before but feeling lika crap all the time was normal then. Now I only feel crap when I inadvertly eat wheat and that happens really seldom.

    • That response is just your body saying “HELL NO” Do not put that crap into me again. I just.. JUST.. started to feel GREAT.

    • What I want is to not suffer from crohn’s diease and avoiding wheat does that for me. I don’t care if other people don’t believe it. I would like to see them get a literal pain in their butt when they get exposed to even small amounts of wheat.

    • Hah, you could say the same thing about cigarette smoke. Go live in an environment with smokers 24/7 and you will cease to react to it. Go into a smoke free environment for 60 days, then go back to your 24/7 smoker’s environment. You will definitely find that you are ‘sensitive’ to smoke. But does this mean that smoke exposure is fine for you? That you only became ‘sensitive’ to it from your abstaining period? Of course not. Smoke is not good for us, and that’s why you react after being away from it. It’s the same with gluten. Why would you react to it at ALL if you’ve abstained from it if it is not bad for you? Most of us can abstain from fish or apples for 60 days and not have a reaction when we eat it again. That’s because those things are not bad for us. If you react to something violently after abstaining from it for 60 days, you might consider that it’s not meant to be in your body.

    • Delilah don’t you mean “gluten sensitive”? You may experience it differently, but every now and then I’ll go GF for a week or two with no ill effects after resuming.

      Key thing for me is that for the last 15 years I’ve tried to avoid WHEAT and have felt much better for it compared with the previous 45 years when I was oblivious to a sensitivity I didn’t recognise (I’d thought it was normal to feel that way).

      My conversion to a wheat-free diet was more or less fortuitous. No-one’s advice or opinion, not even mine, were a factor. Now the only advice I really listen to is that of my own body.

    • Delilah you are exactly right!! I can’t believe this article would actually say something like that. It makes it really hard to trust anything else that they said. The best way to see if you are sensitive to gluten is to GET TESTED. Stopping wheat will cause the bacteria that help digest gluten to start dying off… Giving you a gluten intolerance for the rest of your life. I have Lymphocytic Colitis and Celiac disease which are both treated with a gluten-free diet. I also cannot eat dairy. Please people I have been living with this restricted diet for about 3 years now, DO NOT GIVE YOURSELF A DISEASE. This is also the main issue with the Paleo diet… after about 3 months on it you can’t go back!

      • Oh, for Pete’s sake, Katt. That is a load of hogwash. LOL! Not trying to be mean, but you can’t just give yourself a disease like Celiac or even cause gluten sensitivity. You have to have a genetic pre-disposition for it. Wow, just wow!

    • Are you the same troll that hits up all the vaccine articles poo-pooing any one that questions vaccines, or aspartame, or cell phone radation?
      We’re all just a bunch of kooks right?
      The Medical-Corpocracy knows best for all of us.

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