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Is Gluten Sensitivity Real?

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is gluten sensitivity real, is gluten intolerance real
Sources of gluten can cause episodes of intolerance for those who are sensitive to it. istock.com/ChristianJung

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. #glutensensitivity #gluten #foodintolernance

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)

Please share this article with your friends if you think it might help clarify this issue for them.

361 Comments

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  1. 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!

  2. After having Enterolab.com 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!

  3. 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. 😉

  4. 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 🙂

  5. 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…..

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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
      bread…

  10. 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.

      Cheers

      Steve

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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
    http://dx.doi.org/10.4172/2161-0525.1000210

  14. 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.

  15. I am wondering if gluten, or white flour is healthy or rather not.. Is gluten evil? Or is that it is GMO?

  16. 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.

    • This is not an argument . It”s a conversation about auto immune related issues. Join in!

      Cheers
      Steve

  17. 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

    • 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

      Cheers

      Steve

      • 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!!

  20. 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.

        Cheers
        Steve

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<div class='gf_browser_unknown gform_wrapper qc_box_container_wrapper gform_legacy_markup_wrapper' id='gform_wrapper_9' ><form method='post' enctype='multipart/form-data' id='gform_9' class='qc_box_container gform_legacy_markup' action='/is-gluten-sensitivity-real/comment-page-8/' novalidate> <div class='gform_body gform-body'><ul id='gform_fields_9' class='gform_fields top_label form_sublabel_below description_below'><li id="field_9_1" class="gfield field gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible" ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_9_1' >Email<span class="gfield_required"><span class="gfield_required gfield_required_asterisk">*</span></span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_email'> <input name='input_1' id='input_9_1' type='email' value='' class='large' placeholder='Your Email' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" /> </div></li><li id="field_9_2" class="gfield health-concern field field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible" ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_9_2' >I want to improve my...</label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_select'><select name='input_2' id='input_9_2' class='large gfield_select' aria-invalid="false" ><option value='' selected='selected' class='gf_placeholder'>I want to improve my...</option><option value='Weight' >Weight</option><option value='Energy' >Energy</option><option value='Digestion' >Digestion</option><option value='Brain' >Brain</option><option value='Overall Health' >Overall Health</option><option value='All of the Above' >All of the Above</option></select></div></li><li id="field_9_4" class="gfield gform_hidden field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible" ><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_4' id='input_9_4' type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' aria-invalid="false" value='8566' /></div></li><li id="field_9_5" class="gfield gform_hidden field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible" ><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_5' id='input_9_5' type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' aria-invalid="false" value='Skin' /></div></li></ul></div> <div class='gform_footer top_label'> <input type='submit' id='gform_submit_button_9' class='gform_button button' value='Download eBook' onclick='if(window["gf_submitting_9"]){return false;} if( !jQuery("#gform_9")[0].checkValidity || jQuery("#gform_9")[0].checkValidity()){window["gf_submitting_9"]=true;} ' onkeypress='if( event.keyCode == 13 ){ if(window["gf_submitting_9"]){return false;} if( !jQuery("#gform_9")[0].checkValidity || jQuery("#gform_9")[0].checkValidity()){window["gf_submitting_9"]=true;} jQuery("#gform_9").trigger("submit",[true]); }' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='is_submit_9' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_submit' value='9' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_unique_id' value='' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='state_9' value='WyJbXSIsIjVkYTAyNjYxOTg4ZDNhZGQwOTU0Yzc4NDcyNDk5YmM4Il0=' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_target_page_number_9' id='gform_target_page_number_9' value='0' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_source_page_number_9' id='gform_source_page_number_9' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_field_values' value='popup_name=Skin' /> </div> <p style="display: none !important;"><label>&#916;<textarea name="ak_hp_textarea" cols="45" rows="8" maxlength="100"></textarea></label><input type="hidden" id="ak_js" name="ak_js" value="94"/><script>document.getElementById( "ak_js" ).setAttribute( "value", ( new Date() ).getTime() );</script></p></form> </div>
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