When Gluten-Free Is Not a Fad

When Gluten-Free Is Not a Fad

by Chris Kresser

Last updated on

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Gluten intolerance is “fake”—at least according to many recent news stories. But what does scientific research have to say on this topic? Is going gluten-free just a crazy fad? Is gluten intolerance over-hyped as the media claims, or is it a legitimate condition that may be even more common than currently recognized?

Over the last year or so, we’ve seen a glut of stories in the popular media suggesting that non-celiac gluten sensitivity (i.e. people that react to gluten but do not have celiac disease) is a myth:

Even late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel weighed in with a segment that got a lot of attention in both popular and social media.

Just after these stories were published, I wrote an article (“Is Gluten Sensitivity Real?”) showing how the authors grossly misinterpreted and misrepresented the research they claimed to be reviewing.

You can read my article to get the details, but here’s the takeaway: the study those stories were based on in no way disproved the existence of non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), nor did it overturn the large body of evidence that links NCGS to a variety of health problems ranging from type 1 diabetes, to allergies, to schizophrenia, to autism spectrum disorders. (1, 2, 3, 4)

Research shows gluten intolerance is real—and “science journalists” are clueless.

What struck me about those stories—aside from how embarrassing they are as examples of so-called “science journalism”—is how eager the general public seems to be to prove that gluten intolerance is an imaginary or fake condition. I’m not exactly sure why this is. Maybe it’s because gluten-containing foods and beverages like bread and beer have played such a central role in our culture for thousands of years. Or perhaps people simply distrust anything they perceive to be inauthentic or “faddish”.

What the science really says about gluten intolerance

While I can relate to an aversion to fads (don’t get me started on Hipsters), and the gluten-free diet could in some ways be described as a fad, the consensus in the scientific literature is that non-celiac gluten sensitivity is a bona-fide condition with numerous—and potentially serious—manifestations. According to a recent review paper called “Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity: The New Frontier of Gluten Related Disorders”:

“…a rapidly increasing number of papers have been published by many independent groups, confirming that GS [non-celiac gluten sensitivity] should be included in the spectrum of gluten-related disorders.” (5)

Observational studies have linked gluten intolerance with a shockingly diverse range of symptoms and conditions, including:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (6)
  • Fibromyalgia (7)
  • Dermatitis and other skin conditions (8)
  • Multiple sclerosis (9)
  • Peripheral neuropathy, myopathy, and other neurological disorders (10)
  • Schizophrenia (11)
  • Depression (12)
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (13)
  • Ataxia (14)
  • Type 1 diabetes (15)
  • Autism spectrum disorders (16)
  • Ménière disease (17)
  • Endometriosis (18)
  • Insulin resistance and inflammation (19)

I could go on, but I think you get the point. If the authors of the “gluten intolerance is fake” articles had spent even five minutes examining the research, they would have seen numerous papers supporting the existence of non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

And they aren’t just observational studies; some of them are randomized clinical trials (RCTs), which are considered to be the gold standard of medical evidence. In fact, just last month, a new RCT was published that validated NCGS as a legitimate condition. (20) This was a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, and it had the additional benefit of a crossover design (which I’ll describe below).

The researchers enrolled 61 participants without celiac disease or wheat allergy, but with self-identified gluten intolerance. Subjects were then randomly assigned to two groups; one was given a capsule with 4.4 grams per day of gluten (roughly the amount in two slices of white bread), and the other was given a placebo capsule containing only rice starch. After one week of a gluten-free diet, participants then “crossed over” into the other group (those that received the gluten capsules during the first round got rice starch, and vice versa). Crossover studies are advantageous because each crossover participant serves as his or her own control, which reduces the likelihood of confounding variables influencing the results.

The researchers found that intake of gluten significantly increased symptoms—both intestinal symptoms like bloating and abdominal pain, and extra-intestinal symptoms like depression, brain fog, and canker sores—compared to placebo.

As you can see, despite the rash and uninformed claims you may have seen in the popular media, gluten intolerance is indeed a real condition and not just a figment of the imagination. (Of course, if you happen to be one of the people that suffers from gluten intolerance, you didn’t need me—or any study—to tell you that!)

Why gluten intolerance is likely more common than currently estimated

Estimates for the prevalence of NCGS vary widely, ranging from 0.5% on the low end to 13% or higher on the high end. (21) However, there are three reasons why I believe NCGS is much more common than currently estimated:

  1. Current commercially-available tests (with one or two notable exceptions) are extremely limited and miss many people with gluten intolerance. Most conventional tests for gluten intolerance only screen for antibodies to a specific fraction of the gluten protein, alpha-gliadin. But we now know that people can (and do) react to several other components of wheat and gluten—including other epitopes of gliadin (beta, gamma, omega), glutenin, WGA and deamidated gliadin. I reviewed this subject in more detail in my previous article, 50 Shades of Gluten Intolerance
  2. Even the best serological (blood) testing is not 100 percent accurate. An elimination/provocation challenge, where gluten is removed from the diet for 60–90 days, and then reintroduced, is still the gold standard for diagnosing gluten intolerance. However, many physicians are unaware of this and thus do not suggest it to their patients.
  3. Many physicians and patients only suspect—and therefore test for—gluten intolerance when digestive symptoms are present. However, both gluten intolerance and celiac disease can present without any gut symptoms, and only extra-intestinal symptoms like ataxia, schizophrenia, dermatitis, or neuropathy. In fact, the majority of patients with neurological manifestations of gluten sensitivity have no gastrointestinal symptoms! (22) In the case of celiac disease, which has been better studied than NCGS so far, about 30 percent of newly diagnosed patients do not have gut symptoms, and for every new case that is diagnosed, there are 6.4 cases that are undiagnosed—the majority of which are atypical or “silent” forms without gut symptoms. (23, 24)

When you put all of this together, it is almost certain that NCGS is far more prevalent than the current estimates suggest it is.

Is removing gluten from your diet dangerous?

A common objection to gluten-free diets that we often hear from conventional dietitians and physicians is that they are somehow unsafe or dangerous. This is presumably because foods that contain gluten contain some magic ingredient that humans cannot live without.

The most glaring problem with this argument is the simple fact that humans have only been consuming gluten for the past 11,000 years or so, which represents a tiny fraction of our evolutionary history. That’s about 367 generations, compared to the 66,000 generations we evolved in an environment without gluten or cereal grains.

The second problem with this argument is that even whole grains are not very nutrient dense. In fact, when compared with other foods like organ meats, fish, meats, vegetables, and fruits, whole grains are at the bottom of the list. (25) As you’d suspect, refined grains (like flour) are even lower. This is significant because 85 percent of the grain consumed in the US is in the highly refined form, and refined flour accounts for approximately 20 percent of calories consumed by the average American. (26)

Finally, studies that have assessed the nutritional quality of gluten-free diets have, not surprisingly, found that they are not lacking in any necessary nutrient. (27) If anything, people on a gluten-free diet are more likely to increase their intake of essential nutrients, especially if they replace breads and other flour products with whole foods (rather than with gluten-free flour alternatives).

Final thoughts

In my book, The Paleo Cure (previously published as Your Personal Paleo Code), I argued that there are three categories of response to gluten:

  • Tolerance
  • Non-celiac gluten sensitivity, aka “gluten intolerance”
  • Celiac disease

I don’t believe that gluten is responsible for all chronic illness in all people, as some have seemed to suggest. But I think the research clearly supports the existence non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and if anything, it is significantly under-diagnosed.

One of my favorite alternate titles I considered for this article was “Gluten Intolerance Is Not Fake, But Science Journalists Are”. It was disheartening to see so many sensational and poorly researched news stories making the claim that gluten intolerance is not a legitimate condition. Not only were those authors wrong, they were irresponsible and failed to do even the most basic background research about the subject they were writing about. This should be yet another reminder to take what you read in the popular health media with a large grain of salt.

Now I’d like to hear from you. Are there “gluten intolerance deniers” in your life? How do you respond to them? What has your experience been with this issue? Let us know in the comments section.

236 Comments

Join the conversation

  1. I have been suffering for over 2 years now with what I have led myself to believe is candida, an overgrowth of yeast in my body, that my gut’s good bacteria has lost control of. I suffer from fatigue, brain fog, depression, headaches, body aches and pains, blister like bumps on the back of my tongue. At one point I actually thought I was going crazy. I seen several doctors who offered me nothing on my suffering and after several tests could not diagnose anything whatsoever. So after years of research, and learning that over 90,000,000 Americans suffer from candida, I feel I have a pretty good understanding of it and how it feeds and spreads throughout the body. My question is could this be one in the same as gluten intolerance or celiac disease? I take probiotics everyday just to function and watch everything I eat, but sometimes it still gets the best of me. If it is going to be the death of me, I wish the hell it would hurry up because it makes for a miserable life.

  2. This is frustrating, I know the scientist who discovered ncgi, he later went on to rediscovered that there is no measurable response to gluten in the body of someone who does not have Celiacs disease, this is the only study and Information that matters, done at Monash university. The intestinal distress and resulting conditions were due to pesticides used on wheat crops. It’s a fucking fad. Argue all you like, I trust the guy who decided to re examine his own research. Look that up. Guy’s name is Peter Gibson.

  3. Gluten is not myth,it effects everyone stops nutrients from absorbing and causing problems in everyone gut overtime.You know nothing about health.

  4. Hi, I have been eating Gluten free bread for about one year and generally feel better. But I was wondering if the substitute starch used to make these breads are themselves healthy or not? Some of the ingredients seem odd and I am not sure if they are ok to be consumed every day, what do you think? This image is the label for the gluten free hamburger buns I eat:

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1s1Xwot2CcqMTVqRVllM0NYZlJKbmNMeGNDZWtQUURVYUtv/view?usp=sharing

    Thanks for your help
    Alex

  5. The majority of those studies have nothing to do with gluten causing the condition that you listed. For instance, the type 1 diabetic study talks about a specific antibody in people who are ALREADY type 1 diabetics that makes them sensitive to gluten. This in no way implies that gluten causes type 1 diabetes. I must have been the first person to actually check your sources. Before you “educate” others on false claims, it’s best if you back your own claims up. I also find it hilarious that you imply that foods containing gluten are pushed for economical reasons when you are, in the same article, pushing your own book.

    • Exactly; I noticed the exact same wanton use of bogus sources, had my eyes rolling a few paragraphs in, especially at the fact that I know this is going to be the article somebody leans on in debate. The connections between the claims & consequences do not at all justify taking a position on either side. I get you write to live Chris, but zealotry for traffic is despairing to me, shameful for you.

    • hi, did you read the same article, Chris cited? No 15? If yes, please re read, it has some totally different outcome to your kind opinion on this topic:)

  6. As a mortician. I am always surprised how many experts miss the forest for the trees.

    Eg….. Ask your Dr how the digestive system ages.

    If you do not know how your bodies parts / functions age. How can you modify your lifestyle accordingly.

  7. Hi Chris,
    My husband is a non believer about NCGS but I just ignore him and make my own gluten free foods. (Some of which he eats happily).

  8. Dear Chris,
    Thanks for this article. Can you confirm if young wheat grass has or not gluten? Given that this considered a healthy addition to our diets, I would like to know if I can have it…. the information I find online is very confusing. Please advice?

    Yolanda

  9. A few quick points.
    I was on a study of rheumatoid arthritis and diet by Gail Darlington in the U.K. about 35 years ago, and I found that gluten was one of my problems. The specialist wrote a book about her results and she included information on leaky gut that long ago!
    I also developed Hashimoto’s because I used to cheat occasionally. But after finding out that the antibodies to gliaden stay in the system for 3 months, I am completely wheat free, and I have cut my thyroxine down from 100 mg to 25 mg.
    Before I knew about the wheat problem, I found that when I lived (in Iran) or traveled in hot countries (India) – where the wheat is “soft” and did not make European style bread, my symptoms vanished. This may explain why our ancestors could eat grains without too many problems – our wheat has been highly bred for maximum gluten.
    As an aside, this is the same for me with milk. I and my mother and sister are allergic to cow´s milk – again cows have been intensively bred and have a type of casein that is not common. But our family can eat milk products from sheep and goats. Modern agriculture has a lot to answer for.

    • Health conditions dropped as soon as humans adopted agricolture, thus grains themselves are to be blamed anyway…said that, it’s true that things got really worse since we selected more and more gluten rich wheat…Creso wheat contains much more gluten than ancient wheat, with the obvious result to make people sicker sooner. The higher quantity of gluten the more problems…unfortunately this is being misunderstood by many…

  10. I stumbled on this only this weekend. It explains the unbelievable increase in gluten intolerance in the last 15 years. I had no idea that farmers in North America are dousing the wheat in Round Up just before harvest! I looked at government testing of wheat and glyphosate (Round Up) and it is NOT tested for, and the correlation between amount of round up used has followed exactly the incidence of Celiac Disease. It is truly shocking! Round Up has many consequences for human physiology included causing a surge in gut serotonin (causing diarrhea) to interference with memory (through glutamate receptors) and a whole host of other problems. This unregulated use of toxic substances in our food has got to stop. All of us are paying the price.

  11. Do you have any more info on the nutrient density of different foods/food groups? The article you linked to in this post is not digesting well. 🙂 However, I did find this quote, “Overall, starches and grains had very favorable nutritional quality-to-price ratio. These foods appear to be a good choice, particularly whole or unrefined staples, which provide adequate nutrition at a moderate cost.”
    This seems to contradict what you stated in the article pertaining to whole (or even refined) grains and nutrient quality. There’s a podcast suggestion for you, nutrient profiling of different foods. For the science nerds who care.
    Thanks!

  12. “In fact, just last month, a new RCT was published that validated NCGS as a legitimate condition. (20) This was a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial,”

    “The researchers enrolled 61 participants without celiac disease or wheat allergy, but with self-identified gluten intolerance.”

    “The researchers found that intake of gluten significantly increased symptoms—both intestinal symptoms like bloating and abdominal pain, and extra-intestinal symptoms like depression, brain fog, and canker sores—compared to placebo.”

    …………………….

    The study itself didn’t validate NCGS as a legitimate condition. Participants self-identified themselves as gluten intolerant which could explain why they felt the symptoms listed after eating gluten (nocebo effect).

    You simply can’t take that RCT and claim it validates NCGS as legitimate condition.

  13. Gluten intolerance is real. I myself has suffered and discovered that I am one of those that cannot digest gluten.

    Being a Filipino/Asian, I grew up eating rice even for breakfast. When I started working in an offshore oil rig, that’s when the symptoms started showing up. Everyday at work, the only choice for breakfast are all wheat-based: bread, pancakes and cereals. Rice is only made available during lunch and dinner. And so, while at work for about 4 weeks, I am eating bread during breakfast. During my 1st year, I did not notice any problem with it but after that, I began to experience IBS, gas/bloating and joint pains. I ignored those because they disappear when I am home/vacation. My shift is 4 weeks ON/OFF. When I am at work, after a week, I began experiencing symptoms again, then they’re gone during my field break, which I thought is just fatigue or stress at work.

    Also, in one of my shifts, I tried to replace rice with pasta during lunch and dinner, and this resulted to my weight gain of about 7 kilos – which lead me to started investigating which is better between rice and pasta and found out about gluten. After reading articles about gluten (from this site and other sources) and its effects on the gut, I believed that I myself have experienced it, hence, I followed your advise to eliminate gluten for about 30 days and my IBS, gas/bloating and joint pains disappeared. When I re-introduced bread, I begin to experience the discomfort after 3 days which means that before I cannot easily blame the bread because I suspected that the immediate food was the culprit.

    Since Nov 2013, while at work, I am 100% gluten-free and maybe could not feel any better if I continued eating bread during my shift. By the way, my usual breakfast now is 4 eggs with olive oil in it and I follow the Paleo diet where and when possible. Back at home, I consume Virgin Coconut Oil (put in my coffee ala bullet-proof) and stick to LCHF diet as much as possible. Why is that? Because my wife and 2 kids are still craving for pizza and pasta once in a while, though they don’t experience such symptoms. It’s not easy for us to be totally 100% gluten-free for now. What is important is that we know gluten may cause some health problems – my teenage kids knows that after eating gluten, their pimples starts showing up while my wife experience gas and fullness of stomach.

    Thank you Chris for providing us helpful information that are life-saver.

  14. A friend worked at a local restaurant as a waitress. She mentioned that her manager had been making fun of gluten intolerant people as just wanting to get attention. First of all, I avoid that restaurant. Second, wrote a bad review for them warning off other gluten free families. Third, I make sure I let others know to avoid them.

    Finally, if I wanted attention, I think I could easily find more profitable ways to get attention. Being gluten free is expensive, time consuming, and disheartening, especially around the holidays. No one in their right mind would go gluten free and stay gluten free, giving up holiday after holiday of your childhood favorite treats, just to get attention. People make the sacrifice to stay on the diet, because if they don’t they suffer miserably. And that suffering is not something we would want someone to notice. Would I really want an audience when I’m doubled over in the bathroom. Do I really want to share all the details at lunch with co-workers when they ask how it makes me feel to get gluten. No! I don’t even share because the details are so embarrassing. Trust me, if I wanted attention, I’d have been a stripper. I would have made money instead of spending it.

    • You know the only real reason I dislike people who claim they’re gluten free? Because they like to use the term “gluten free” no less than three hundred times every time they go to a restaurant. No one cares. Just order gluten free items. If you don’t know what gluten free is and feel the need to brag about it– educate yourselves. As a waitress I can’t stand the “[email protected]@$#@E” type.

      • Misha, I wonder if you had coeliac disease or a close friend of yours had it whether you would be so disparaging of your customers requirements. It is very difficult to have a normal social life with this condition. Imagine that every time you wanted to eat out with friends or family that you would fear the consequences (in my case symptoms such as bone/joint pain, stomach cramps, bloating, nausea, depression and diahrroea/constipation amongst other things for a week or more after eating out). Imagine that this happens week after week (if you eat out) and you can get a feel for life as a coeliac. I rarely eat out anymore because I don’t want to risk becoming ill and I don’t want to cause a fuss and draw attention to myself – in addition to that there is always the contamination issue in a restaurant that handles gluten. I am sure that there are some customers which annoy you with their constant questions but they just want reassurance – nobody wants to get ill after eating out. I understand that ‘no-one cares’ and I don’t expected them to – it doesn’t affect them – but please try to put yourself in their shoes to see it from their point of view sometimes.

  15. My husband has been on a gluten/wheat-free diet for the past 15 months due to a yeast infection. The infection is now gone but we both continue to follow the diet. I’ve read and have been using the Paleo diet during this time. The problem now is that my husband’s cholesterol levels have gone up even though he is taking Crestor (which I’ve been told/read is a statin and is no good)…but the doctor does not want him to stop.

    Do you think this has to do with the Paleo way of eating?

    • Oh my,
      Dear Madeleine Mantha,

      Please please watch the documentary Statin nation, to save your husband. Please also read these articles and special report: http://chriskresser.com/the-diet-heart-myth-cholesterol-and-saturated-fat-are-not-the-enemy
      http://chriskresser.com/heart-disease

      there is so much great information on why cholesterol and saturated fat are not the cause of heart disease.
      Then get him on Enzyme co q 10 to repair the damage of statins. They are useless, they are dangerous, and high cholesterol at the levels you’re told is high is NOT a danger, this has been proven.

      To answer your question, YES, and it’s not a bad thing.

      All the best!

    • My cholesterol level was borderline (after a few months of not eating well). My dr wanted to put me on statins. I said absolutely NOT! Just because the dr “wants” him to stay on them, doesn’t me he has to! It’s his life and his body and he has the right to refuse his drs advice! Do your own research and decide for yourself if you think statins are safe. (Hint- they’re not) My mother took statins for years until my brother found out and immediately took her off them 9 years ago. She will be 99 years old in 3 weeks and is just fine!

  16. Chris – Is there a good gluten-free app for dining out that you would recommend? Bringing food from home everywhere I go is not always feasible, and tonight I ate out and inadvertently had gluten in my meal. I had a steak salad, which I thought would be fine, but it turns there were fried onions in it. I only realized it after I looked up the food allergy chart on the restaurant’s website. It’s incredibly frustrating to have to do a detailed google search of every food place I consider eating at, not to mention the paranoia is probably not doing my health any good.

  17. Hey Chris,

    It was interesting to see Ménière disease mentioned, as my mother is currently suffering with the debilitating effects. Have you treated Ménières patients successfully? Any tips besides gluten avoidance?

    Thanks again for being such a great resource over the years.

    • I had permanent tinnitus and often dizziness (which I assumed was from years of personal stereo and Ipod listening) until I gave up gluten. I actually stopped eating gluten foods hoping to improve my migraines.

      Three months in and my tinnitus has gone… the dizziness 90 percent better and the migraines are on the mend. I am no longer eating any grains now and generally follow a paleo diet.

      The biggest improvement is mental clarity. It is like coming out of a trance.

      I wish your mum well.

  18. Chris,

    While I haven’t made up my mind on this issue because when you look at ALL of the evidence – including the article linked below – it’s just not conclusive yet. I agree that one cannot ignore the wealth of evidence suggesting that something is going on with gluten, or more aptly, the many foods that contain gluten. I respect how willing you are to adjust your opinion in light of empirical evidence (something many in the alternative diet/medicine community seem to staunchly oppose). I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts on Gibson’s suggestion that FODMAPs may actually be the culprit, not gluten, but that they are conflated in the research because they are both often present in the same foods (though not always).

    Here’s a link to the article: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23648697

    Even though you don’t cite this paper in your article directly, one of the articles you linked claiming the gluten sensitivity is a myth does cite this as a major source. It seems to me that this finding is an important one…

    Thanks!
    Nick

    • Indeed it’s not only about gluten, but also about FODMAPS and all the other bad stuff you can find in grain, why? Because grains are not the proper food not only for we sapiens, but for any other mammal as well. We have to start to talk about food, more than gluten, fodmaps, carbs, protein and fat..we are made to eat meat, fish, veggies and fruit, not for grains, we are not birds. We are not made for flour and any other refined stuff because it’s not natural, you can’t pick them up and eat without being processed. We should start from here, not with the attempt to find how we can make grains good for us. How silly it’s to avoid gluten and eat another non species specific food..let’s restart from our true nature

      • I get where you’re coming from on this Alessio, but I don’t think this approach makes sense. By this rationale, we shouldn’t live in any climates that we can’t survive in naked since, by definition, we cannot survive there. We necessarily need to process animal hides and fur in order to survive there, and while what we wear doesn’t affect our body chemistry, the cold most certainly does.

        OK, that might be a silly counter example, but it illustrates the point that this kind of reasoning doesn’t lead anywhere productive.

        Want something a bit more concrete? OK. We shouldn’t eat any meat we cannot catch with out own bare hands because naturally, we were not “meant” to use tools to catch our prey either, nor were we “meant” to cook the meat we can catch with out hands, since this is, again by definition, processing our food out of its natural state.

        I assume most people would counter that this is different from grains, but I challenge that assumption and ask: why is it different? Why is using tools and processes to obtain and process our food OK when it comes to meat but not when it comes to plant life? In essence, there is no difference. We take naturally occurring grains, harvest and process them with tools, and then cook them so we can extract sufficient energy out of them. And mind you, this is not any different with meat or other vegetables – cooking specifically is a process that makes it easier for us to digest and extract nutrients from our food sources.

        What we should really be basing the discussion on is *empirical evidence*, of which we have plenty. We know, indisputably, that many people tolerate gluten and FODMAPs perfectly well, and I’m sure Chris would agree with that statement. In fact, for people who do not have issues related to the ingestion of FODMAPs, they actually provide many many benefits by contributing a microbiome in your digestive tract that improves nutrient absorption – eliminating FODMAPs from your diet if you are not sensitive to them would actually be detrimental to your diet. Aside from that, there is a whole variety of plants that have no gluten that do contain FODMAPs, like peas, beans, leaks, cabbage, cauliflower. Should these all be eliminated from our diet as well?

        Lastly, what all of this totally overlooks is that, the human digestive system is among the most advanced and versatile digestive systems in the animal kingdom. It can handle a variety of foods that is almost unrivaled in the animal kingdom. One of my main gripes with the paleo diet is that it assumes all paleolithic era humans ate a similar diet, but to the best of our knowledge that simply isn’t the case, diets varied greatly, not only between different peoples, but by the same people during different times of the year. Nor is it the case that humans didn’t start eating grains until about 10,000 years ago, we have evidence leading back to over 100,000 years. What changed 10,000 years ago is that we started farming, using agriculture to expand our food supply. What also happened at the same time? We literally started wallowing in our own waste, which we had previously left behind when we moved on to the next area as nomads. I think the connection between living in your own waste and disease is much stronger than the one between the food one eats and disease, especially when those same foods did not cause disease for the 90,000 years preceding that time.

        All of this is to say that the only effective way we have of answering any of these questions is by applying the scientific method and basing our knowledge off empirical evidence. I can’t see individual atoms or electricity, but I know they exist and have a good sense of how they work. The same goes for what we empirically know about food, it is no different. And I commend Chris on his marshaling of evidence in his articles and arguments – he is one of the few individuals who supports paleo diets etc. who actually does.

        • You arise a point and then contradict yourself, if you just told that lions need meat it means that there’s a natural order, otherwise every living beings could do whatever he wants. This is the absurdity of your thought.As Lisa pointed we can’t go turn back time but we can do the best according with what we have now at our disposal. I can be biased or not but I act according to the best theory for me that follows the evidence around me, without necessarily following the blind official dogma, the same that says that bees can’t fly according to our engineering, the same that believed that the sun was rotating around the earth, and apples have not been falling from a tree until Newton didn’t elaborate the gravity theory.If you are good with your grains I’m very happy for you, I am for freedom of choice, I wish the best for your open mind, good luck.

          • My last thought, people who manage to get rid of dogmas and think at an higher point of view are always blamed to be subversive, to be blind, to be exremist, not to follow “science”, to be biased etc.. but on the other side, it takes a bogus study like the china study and others to legitimate in those blaming minds a theory that it’s nothing else than an apparent demonstration of the lack of causation. It takes far less than a clue to legitimate a theory that is useful to keep the business of the lords of the world and on the other side in front of a hubris of evidence they deny until death. Who is actually indoctrinated?

          • Alessio – you’ve given yourself away with that bee example. That is another example of conventional wisdom being based on pure pseudoscience. Don’t believe me? Read up on it here…

            http://www.snopes.com/science/bumblebees.asp

            Look, at this point it’s obvious that you’re not actually basing what you say on science and empirical evidence, or at the very least, you’re not really researching your claims before you make them, otherwise you wouldn’t have cited the bee example. As such, I don’t see any point in continuing a debate.

            • Nicholas.
              The only people I know who read snopes (this is not an insult or attack but rather a compliment) are only the smartest people I know. I have a friend (snopes reader) who has an IQ close to Einstein’s who I can barely keep up with. She is lucky enough to have found someone to marry who is almost as high IQ as her. She doesn’t have a large number of friends, and they are very select, because again, she can only have certain conversations with certain people because of the high level at which she can communicate. You remind me of her in a way. You are so adept at picking up on the most minute flaws of every nuance of every casually mentioned example and are able to expertly tell us why it doesn’t support the argument and therefore renders the argument invalid. You have many talents for debating and i’m sure you have won many debates in the past. There is no physical trophy but it would seem you’ve won, fair and square according to the rules of debate. Thanks for playing.

            • Nick, good strategy, you fight to be right, to win a debate, not to find the truth. It’s a good strategy to seek for any marginal fault that has a little to do with the main point just to dismiss the person rather than the theory. It’s just a pathetic attempt when someone is out of arrows to face the main point.

    • Nicholas, I think we have to distinguish when animals have to survive and when they are thriving. Any animal species can adapt for a short time to a different food in order to survive, but it doesn’t mean that they evolve to this diet. Saying that grains have been part of our diet for 100 thousands of years is not right, though they could have eaten them occasionally it doesn’t mean that it’s a proper food for sapiens. Second, another proof that we can’t adapt so well is coming indeed from the fact that the more we move far from our habitat, the more we struggle to survive, not to thrive. Eskimos lost a lot in terms of well being, and despite the attempt of our body to put up with the lack of sunlight, what we see is more surviving than thriving. The fact that cooking and processing food is gonna turn any stuff into a proper nourishment is not logic. Indeed we also have other prooves, when we cook food we loose a lot of stuff, vitamins etc.., the more we process them the more we loose. When you cook meat well done at very high temperatures, you’re gonna change the structure of proteins and you have etherocyclic amines that can provoke cancer. Further, the theory of increasing nutrient density cooking food and brain capability is fascinating but inaccurate because our brain has been increasing at such rate far before we started to handle fire, and what we have in our hands now suggests that it’s more about increasing the meet intake itself rather than cooking. Look at the panda bear, it started to eat bamboo millions of years ago but he never totally evolved to his new diet, indeed it would be extinct if we didn’t intervene. A lion can survive eating pasta but it doesn’t thrive with it. If you read research of paleoantropology at the beginning of agriculture you can see the evidence of the loss of health. Our digestive system is set to survive as any other living beings, but it doesn’t mean that we can thrive.

      • With this I’m not claiming that we shouldn’t cook, but it makes more sense to me thinking that the proper food for a species is the food that can ideally be eaten without any technological process and this evidence is supported by research as soon as we go to analyze the food. Any further research enlights a new problem with grains and legumes…OTOH, How many people are there with read meat intolerance?
        Despite the attempts to blame red meat, there is no single evidence that relates grassfed beef with any single issue.
        For me the best way to eat is about raw veggies and a steak just seared on both the sides, of course some starchy plant can be added, honey and fruit. Our body speaks for us, when I eat like that I am like a tiger, I squat 200 kg without problems, when I eat grains or legumes I’m not well at all, though I don’t have any apparent intolerance. If someone has a more reliable theory that overcomes the hubris of evidence we have against such food that relates the chronic pandemic illness we have around, I’ll be happy to embrace it.

        • Alessio – I’m having trouble with several of your claims.

          First, how are you distinguishing between thriving and surviving? Given the explosive population growth humanity has experienced since the paleolithic era, it is very difficult to say that humanity is not thriving. Your subjective experience of humans not thriving because they are not doing what *you feel* they should be doing is greatly add odds with the indisputable fact that if humanity were merely surviving, it would not be experiencing explosive population growth.

          Second, I question the assertion that eskimos are worse off that our ancestors. What are you basing this claim off of? Based on much of what you say, they should be better off given that their food source is much more ‘organic and natural’ than that of anyone in the developed world.

          As an aside, this is ultimately a debate about science and determining what is healthy via empirical means, not merely ideas not founded in empirical observation or experimentation. As such, proof doesn’t exist – you can only disprove claims in science, not prove them.

          Third, I never made the claim that brain size had anything to do with cooking food. Cooking food did, however, did free up time to engage in other ventures, such as tool-making, because we didn’t need to spend as much time eating food from which we didn’t draw as much energy and resources. Yes, it’s true that cooking some foods can diminish the amount of a certain nutrient, but that is completely beside the point. What matters is *how much can we extract* from the food, not how much is present in it. And from that perspective, cooking essentially pre-digests food for us so we don’t need to put as much time and energy into digesting the food to obtain the same level of nutrients. This isn’t an idea, it’s has been empirically demonstrated and is as close to fact as you can really get in science outside of physics.

          Fourth, pandas are going extinct because of our intervention, not despite it. And no, they’re digestive tracts are fully capable of drawing all the nutrients they need from bamboo. Just like cows can draw all the nutrients they need from grass, and rabbits from timothy hay. Lions absolutely cannot survive of just pasta – cats, including lions, are *obligate carnivores*, they will not last beyond a few weeks without meat, much less a generation. Again, these aren’t ideas, guesses, or notions, these are all substantiated claims backed by a lot of scientific inquiry. To counter them, one would need some pretty strong evidence suggesting otherwise, can you point me to those sources?

          Fifth, there is a wealth of evidence that red meat can be harmful. Some red meat is ok, but eating too much red meat is harmful. Where is your evidence to the contrary? To much consumption of red meat leads to heart disease, again, it’s well established.

          Lastly, your personal experience with food is *not* representative of humanity’s ability to consume food healthily. You, by simple fact of mathematics, are statistically totally insignificant. Anything that works for you is just that, something that works for you, until you can verifiably demonstrate that it’s broadly applicable to humanity. There is also the simple fact that, since you believe you will not be well if you eat grains and legumes, that you will not be well because of placebo effect. The placebo effect is SO strong that all medical trials require *double-blind placebo controlled* studies to determine effectiveness of a drug because, if I give you a sugar pill and tell you it will cure your rash, for some individuals it will in fact cure the rash even though the is *no scientific mechanism related to the sugar at all* that has contributed to your rash disappearing. It was simply the will of your mind and the idea that the pill would help you that made the difference. It’s one of the most remarkable phenomena observed in biology so far and we have no explanation for why.

          All of this is to say that I believe the burden of proof for your claims falls with you. If you really want or need me to, I will substantiate every single one of my claims with a list of sources underlining my arguments. I challenge you to do the same – provide empiricial and objective sources that indicate what you say is true, and they should be credible, based on scientific inquiry, they cannot just be an article where someone wrote this or that, they need to have truly demonstrated that their claim is the case.

    • Nick,

      I addressed the FODMAP issue in my original response to the Gibson paper (linked to in this article), and elsewhere in the comments section. Gibson’s paper did not show that FODMAPs were the sole culprit in the population he studied, because they experienced improvement on a GFD diet while still consuming FODMAP foods like legumes, which are much higher in FODMAPs than wheat.

      Furthermore, even if his study population was sensitive only to FODMAPs and not gluten, how could that possibly disprove the existence of NCGS in other populations? That doesn’t make any sense, especially given the overwhelming amount of evidence supporting it.

  19. I shadow a doctor for something mostly unrelated to nutrition. However, any time the mention of grain- or gluten-free comes up with a patient, he always makes THE SAME (verbatim) “joke”: “Only 10% of people following a gluten- or grain-free diet need to do so. The rest need to see a psychiatrist.” It comes up at least once a week. And every time, I die a little inside. Since he’s not actually advising anyone specifically on nutrition, and since he will play a big role in my academic career, I don’t say anything but how I wish I could send him ALL of those studies you posted.

    Thanks for being a voice of reason in the scientific community.

    • I’ve been reading this back and forth between you Nicolas F and Alessio.

      I believe you misunderstood Alessio on a few points.

      The reasons for our population growth are not due to thriving, you missed the point. All the hungry people, sick people, rx drugs, cancer, MS, chronic diseases, autism etc is not thriving. Alessio did not need to define thriving because it’s obvious to me and probably a few others.

      You also misunderstood what he meant about Eskimos losing a lot, he was referring to what they lost when they lost their way of life – look at the health of the indigenous people since adopting the SAD diet (see WAPF for more). Your statement that “you can only disprove claims in science, not prove them” doesn’t mean Allesio is wrong and in fact he did not say anything that this community hasn’t already seen proven. If the placebo effect had worked so well in the first place, no one would would react poorly to wheat at all since their belief that nothing was wrong with wheat to begin with would not be disturbed by real symptoms. I personally was happy obliviously eating my pasta while slowly and gradually developing into full blown stomach and skin problems.

      If you would like to eat wheat yourself go ahead, there’s more to go around now that we’re not having any, so enjoy it. Maybe the placebo effect will protect you for the rest of your life and maybe you’ll live up to the point that the problems kick in. Just like dying of other causes before cancer eventually gets you. Sure placebo works with many things, certain things, but you’re overstating that the placebo effect works in every case to the same degree. It will not work against everything, nor are you qualified to tell anyone they should rely on it as you suggest with your reference to studies, or believe in it more, when those who are not diagnosed celiac (myself included) have been through/over/around every corner of experience testing/eliminating/introducing wheat to be sure it’s not something else.

      Right here on Chris Kresser’s site is a definitive article explaining why your ‘well established’ red meat studies need more explaining, and from you, closer attention. Don’t bother throwing the china study at us either, if you do you’re quite behind on your research. You can find it yourself by using the search tool here.

      You can also spend your time listening to Abraham Hicks instead of being here if you don’t want to learn the latest research, or if you are such an expert yourself, start a blog like Chris Kresser did and let us know what the website address is so we can check out your references for ourselves if we feel like spending our time with you more. I wouldn’t because you are dogmatic and you have one leaning and I can see that I cannot learn anything new and valid from you. When it comes to painful symptoms and a desire for better health people will generally choose the better safe than sorry approach, and we love to learn more.

      It’s an interesting (and tired) tactic there you used to shift the burden of proof to Alessio making him do your homework for you. If you have so many studies that can disprove everything, then direct us to your website. Also you could have asked him nicely to provide back up if you wanted to know more from him.

      I used to be like you. Quoting that old red meat stuff, talking about how the intestines are too long to digest meat, that our teeth are not like a wolf’s, that our stomach acid etc… my problem was that I confused blind faith with blind belief. I learned there is a difference.

      • Lisa, you perfectly caught my thought and well explained it, thank you very much. I suggest Nicholas to start to read the work of Cordain, Eaton, Kaplan, Lindeberg and others, read paleopathology at the origins of agriculture. If you visit also the websites of Cordain and Wolf you can find many interesting links to research and academic articles. But beyond that look at the evidence around you, is nature so malignant to want us ill? Or there’s something wrong with our lifestyle? In our society the norm is confused with the right thing, but logic suggest me that Nature’s rules are the reference point, thus the burden of the proof should be on who wants to “improve” nature, it has to be demobstrated that man made stuff is better, not all the other way round. We take for granted any man made product right away, but nature already prooved many times that its rules are not so easy to be overcome.

        • I’m not going to respond to any more individual points Alessio or Lisa have made because going through each would take an eternity and I simply don’t have time to sort through the copious scientific literature demonstrating the validity or invalidity of this or that claim.

          I will however close with this. My main gripe with most of the assertions both you make is that they are based on the false premise that there is some natural order to the world and a certain way that things should be. (We shouldn’t eat grains, we should eat meat, we should have the same diet as people 10,000 years ago*, etc.)

          For example, in your last post, you ask whether nature is so malignant to want to kill us. It’s an absurd question because nature does not have that kind of agency. Nature doesn’t care, nay, nature *cannot* care about our well-being because nature is not sentient and does not have any intentions. Nature, as such, is a human construct, a name that we have created and applied to what we observe as the natural world around us. When you forget about that, and engage in the line of reasoning that says nature should be this or that way, you draw a false distinction between natural and artificial, one that exists only in your mind but isn’t real. If I hold a match to oxygen and hydrogen gas, it will explode and create water, water that is in no way distinguishable from the water coming out of your tap (save for any impurities), or water produced as a result of a dehydration reaction in your cells or during cellular respiration. Regardless of whether one came from human intervention and the other from a so called “natural” process they are still exactly the same.

          Lastly, while I’ll check out the resources you listed, I won’t limit myself to them. I’m well aware of confirmation bias and can clearly see it at work in your recommendations. I keep an open mind, and more importantly, when I am presented with *strong empirical evidence* the conflicts with my beliefs, I change my beliefs because they been demonstrated to be false. From what I can tell, Chris Kesser does the same, as any self-respecting scientist does. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the majority of people in the alternative diet/medicine community, as they cling to their beliefs despite the evidence, not because of it.

          * One the note of eating the same foods we did 10,000 years ago – I think it’s worth pointing out that this is literally impossible. Humankind has intervened, bred, cross bred, and manipulated every single food source we consume to a degree that none of what we eat now remotely resembles how these foods would have “naturally” appeared 10,000 years ago or more. And ALL of that happened well before the advent of genetic engineering at the molecular level. Dogs were once wolves and are barely recognizable as such, and quite literally the same thing goes for our food.

          • I too don’t have time (or energy) for more debate on this, but to summarize, I will say sure we don’t have to throw away our modern ways and live exactly like cave men (which is as you said impossible, and I agree) but if you really feel that your hybridized modern wheat is better for human consumption than for example an ancient grain (never mind no grains) and if you feel there has been enough generational evolution to healthfully assimilate all of it better than those of the past, then by all means, bon appetite.
            It’s a personal decision we must respect for one another.

  20. Hi Chris, thank you for this article. For the last year I’ve been fighting psoriatic arthritis and lupus and also “fighting” my traditional rheumatologist on starting humira injections. I was a strict vegan for years and now have added healthy fish and “happy” pig, cow, chicken and eggs back into my diet slowly. My Integrative physician had me eliminate gluten from my diet starting last July. Originally I was skeptical knowing that my celiac test was negative and being a Western medicine trained Pediatric Nurse Practitioner to boot! But, I’m a true believer in non-celiac gluten sensitivity as a diagnosis because I’m a perfect example. I’m doing very well now — no longer have “sausage fingers” and am back at work now. I’ve also started my own business called All Cooked Up which teaches families how to cook whole food meals and how to cook meals for a diabetic or for someone who is gluten sensitive. I’m passionate about spreading the knowledge that “food is your medicine” through my new business. And, I appreciate people like you who are so thorough in your research and passionate about helping others through knowledge. Thank you!

    • Hi Sandy,
      I know I’m asking this question on an old thread, so you probably won’t see this, but I figured it’s worth a try. You refer to no longer having ‘sausage fingers’ – was this the ‘chronic’ form? I have arthritis and one of my fingers has been swollen for several years now, I’m wondering if there’s any chance of (AIP) Paleo curing it or if I’m just stuck with it for the rest of my life!

  21. So many wheat loving sceptics in my life! Colleagues, friends, some family. I don’t believe I’m gluten sensitive, but my husband is and we’re loving the paleo lifestyle. I’ve wasted a lot of energy trying to explain why I don’t eat wheat – what I’ve found is that a sceptic can’t be convinced until they’re ready. Instead I try to focus on what I’m doing and lead by example 🙂

  22. Your list of conditions/symptoms for gluten intolerance mirrors the same list of conditions/symptoms for people with MTHFR and are not able to properly process synthetic folic acid.

    Is it possible that these people are not gluten intolerant, but they have MTHFR defects instead?
    Was the gluten used in these trials free from folic acid?

    From what I understand the government had mandated adding folic acid to any commercial breads and flours since before the year 2000.

  23. Hey chris,

    You have mentioned how probiotics tend to make people with constipation tendencies even worse sometimes. I have also read elsewhere on others people pages that you have had good experience in constipated patients with the soil based organisms in prescrpt assist. Is this true? why do you think, if so?

  24. I suffered for many years with fatigue and brain fog. My doctor said it was menopause and offered me anti-depressants (which I refused). After reading Wheat Belly I realized those were the symptoms I had. After removing wheat and sugar from my diet, i had more energy and my brain fog disappeared; as well as my joint pain. (Doctors offered me cortizone shots for arthritis in my back which I refused.)

  25. As Chris mentions but doesn’t emphasize, it’s not just gluten that’s a problem with wheat. I had severe basal thumb arthritis that went from needing surgery to being 95% cured after I stopped eating a tablespoon of wheat germ every day on my yogurt. WGA is toxic. I just wish more people knew. How many arthritis sufferers have no clue it may be exacerbating (if not causing) their pain? 🙁

  26. Hi Chris,
    What do you think of the idee that round-up (a banned pestiside in Holland) with is used just before harversting wheat to boost production is also a big part of the gluten problem. If you eat wheat you eat gluten and some of round up left in the wheat at the same time?

    • re: … round-up (a banned pestiside in Holland) with is used just before harversting wheat to boost production is also a big part of the gluten problem.

      That practice is called “dessication” and is used to terminate growth for harvest. The crop is killed by the glyphosate (RoundUp) uptake.

      Very convenient for the farmer. And for the consumer? Well, everyone who eats wheat is the lab rat for that on-going experiment. It could be hard to isolate the effects of the glyphosate, given the other problems with wheat.

      Note that dessication only works on grain crops that are NOT “Round-Up Ready” GMOs (no wheat presently on the market is GMO). RR-Ready GMO crops will of course also have glyphosate uptake, because applying it to the growing plant without killing it is the whole point of RR-Ready.

      As others are pointing out, gluten is far from the only problem with modern wheat. Glyphosate uptake, in many markets, is also on rap sheet, along with the high-gly amylopectin-A, WGA, exorphins, D-amino acids, phytates and various allergens.

  27. Hey Chris – As far as who was behind the “Fake” reports, well no one’s mentioning that in both the Wheat Belly, and Grain Brain, the FACT of GMO’s causing a 40% rise in gluten since GMO”s were started growing wheat back in the early 90’s. Heck I never had a gluten problem in the 80’s eating sandwiches, but now, no I can’t eat gluten, or can hardly anybody else, as the body seems to be having a hell of a time dealing with all the extra gluten. Simple, the pro-GMO lobyists have a lot negativity going around, so go figure.

    • There is a pizza place I eat at on occasion where they import their flour from Italy. I’ve never had a single digestive issue with the crust there.

      The same can’t be said of other pizza places I’ve been to where the crust is made from domestic (and most likely GMO) wheat flour.

      • re: … where they import their flour from Italy.

        That may have done one or both of two things:

        1. The source wheat probably had no glyphosate (RoundUp) uptake, as this is rare in Europe. By the way, just in the last few days, WHO has classified glyphosate as a “probable carcinogen”. Glyphosate is not just used on glyphosate-resistant GMOs. It is also used on non-GMO grains to terminate growth for harvest, a process called “dessication”.

        2. The wheat may have been more traditional strain, or even an heirloom, and not the runt mutant goat grass that passes as “semi-dwarf hybrid wheat”.

        re: … and most likely GMO) wheat flour.

        There is no GMO wheat on the market yet, and with the latest WHO move, there may never be. The market for a RoundUp-Ready wheat in particular probably just vanished (and RRR wheat does exist in the lab, with 2 unauthorized field release escapes, neither of which made it to market).

        Non-GMO notwithstanding, modern wheat is still a frankengrain. It was just mutated by means other than explicit gene insertion It was the subject of radio-mutagenesis, chemo-mutagenesis, crossing with non-food grasses (goat grass), embryo rescue and accelerated seasons – perhaps not GMO™ using the industry’s Simulated English dictionary, but a gmo nonetheless.

      • I live in Italy and people do suffer from digestive issues as well. Of course chemical can worsen things but the main issue is always about species specific food… ancient egyptians had the same our problems, as any other population whose main foods are grains, legumes and dairy products. Of course industrial and refined food, GMO, chemicals and other stuff play an important role, but it’s not just about them.

  28. I know I have a problem with gluten because every time I eat it my joints ache the day after, I get bloated and have the brain fog and lack of energy. I feel my best when I don’t eat any gluten or wheat whatsoever (to me this includes other grains as well) and eat a strict paleo diet with very low to no sugar. I guess if people don’t see you running to the bathroom or with a skin rash it’s hard to show there is a problem.

  29. Did any of those science bloggers contact Peter Gibson and ask him about what his study proved? If they had, he would have set them straight. I’ll wager that not one of them spoke with him.

    • Exactly my point elsewhere in the comments section. I don’t think Gibson ever would have claimed that his results disproved the existence of NCGS.

      Sadly, this phenomenon of reporters grossly misinterpreting study results—often in the interest of creating a headline with more “sizzle”—is the rule, rather than the exception.

  30. I believe we are all gluten intolerant to varying degrees.
    For me, going gluten free and minimizing sugar cleared up my alopecia areata and osteoporosis in my elbow. It took 3+years to completely clear up.
    Other benefits such as good skin and improved eyesight and less grey hair at 60.
    I have so many anecdotal cases of gluten poisoning.
    It’s a no brainer for me.

  31. I want to say that you, Chris Kresser, have hit a home run with this article.

    Not only has there been a great wave of affirmative response, but now doesn’t Chris have just the proof to the world that NCGS exists, or at least that removal of gluten from the diet fixes problems for all these non-Celiac people? Who is going to argue with all these testimonies? Who is going to pick apart each and every comment? Who is going to claim that all these people are delusional? Who would think these stories are fabrications?

    I say Chris should make the comments here serve the greater population, and publish these results in whatever form brings the greatest relief to the ailing population in the shortest time, and I hope he can make a well earned buck in the process. There is no doubt to me that this is an issue that should change the eating habits of at least one continent, and at the same time cut health care costs tremendously.

    Thanks again, Chris for getting the sick people active in helping their neighbors and total strangers convinced of one more way to restore health.

    • Thanks, Glenn. If this article changes a few minds on the existence of NCGS, and serves as a resource for those that are suffering from it and want to explain it to friends and family members, then it has accomplished its purpose.

  32. I know many people who assume that because gluten-free is becoming more talked about, that it must be “fake” or a “fad,” ignoring that gluten intolerance has been around a LONG time, just harder to detect until now. Thanks for clarifying a lot of things about it.

  33. Thank you for the article. I finished the 30 day reset diet March 2 and have continued on the gluten free and sugar free components.
    I struggle with an undiagnosed neurological problem which started suddenly in 2007 when my right leg would not move down a set of steps in an arena! I thought immediately it was MS (brain not sending message to move). I walk with cane to avoid falling and need assistance at times. Long story short, I have seen 11 neurologists in some of the best hospitals on the east coast with no diagnosis. I see a slight improvement. How long to see real results from gluten free diet.

    • See a Naturopath MD. I like Dr Glidden Utube presentations.
      It may be you lack a mineral or are allergic to something else. Iodine is an issue. Dr Brownstein is good for iodine information.

    • Hi Cathy,

      Most people will see benefits from removing gluten within 30-60 days. If you have not, it could mean that you are not sensitive to gluten and there is something else contributing to your neuropathy—or at least that gluten is not the major or sole contributor. Other things to consider with neuropathy would be B12 deficiency (search “chris kresser b12 deficiency” in Google for more info), methylation problems, and G.I. problems like SIBO, fungal overgrowth, or disrupted microbiome. I’d recommend finding a skilled functional medicine clinician to work with.

    • Hi Cathy,

      Another possible reason might be that your myotomes (muscle-nervous system connection) might be “switched off”. This is really common with gluten related disorders.

      It can be switched back on with a 3LT Laser and foundation training.

      Good luck 🙂

  34. As a mom of someone with wheat allergy, I get frustrated with the people in my life who want to eat g-f not because of an intolerance, but because they just somehow believe it is “healthier.” This behavior is what looks like a fad and what gives those of us who really do need to eat this way a bad name. There is no way that simply replacing white wheat bread with bread made out of rice starch or tapioca starch is “healthier.” When my daughter was still nursing, I avoided wheat as well, and I had several well meaning people ask if I felt so much better not eating wheat. Of course not–I’m not allergic nor am I intolerant. I felt better that my daughter wasn’t in pain but that’s all. This assumption that everyone would be better not eating this is also “faddish” and leads to people not believing those who really do need to avoid it.

    • I can understand that frustration and I often dance around the topic as well with our family’s wheat allergy. It helps me to ask why it is so important to everyone how another person eats, either way. Sometimes people are just curious, sometimes they might be misguided. Often it is hard for us to grapple with someone else eating a certain way if it threatens the way we eat or even feel about our bodies.

    • Have to say I can’t understand your frustration as thanks to the legions of ‘fad followers’, gluten-free options are more available both in grocery stores and businesses providing prepared food. I also hike so am glad to be able to buy gf grains even though they are sometimes overprocessed e.g. gf pasta.

      My reason for eschewing gluten is the finding that people such as myself with Hashimoto’s Disease (autoimmune thyroiditis) are able to lower their thyroid hormone requirements or have lower thyroid antibody levels after embarking on a gf diet. If I eat gluten, I wouldn’t know but my blood tests would. And yes, people openly tell me I am following the latest fad.

      I’ve heard that here in New Zealand, 18% of children are on a gf diet. That’s enough to get the food producers alarmed about the trend and to continue the fight-back. In the meantime, we now have our national breakfast staple, weetbix, available in a fairly pernicious form of red sorghum.

  35. This is really just one example of a much larger problem; most nutrition research is simply not true. A very readable recent book written by microbiologist and experienced medical school professor, analyzing particular example papers, shows how statistics are manipulated in making claims which are entirely unsupported by the raw data, how large inaccurate data sets are manipulated to produce supposedly precise results and how abstracts often claim the opposite of what the raw data actually shows. Harvard is one of the most prominent well-known institutions involved in this activity, In the book an example is given of the forced retraction of claims showing how eating red meat increases your chances of dying sooner. You probably saw that one on TV but you probably never saw a retraction there.
    Many nutrition papers are are founded upon epidemiological analysis. If you want to see just how erroneous are the claims in these papers then search for the old Seed Magazine article by John Ioannidis entitled “Dirty Little Secret”. Why do Peer Review committees sign off on this stuff, and why do editors refuse to publish letters of correction? The reason is money and as with most mysteries they are often solved by following the money.
    And the book? Read ‘The World Turned Upside Down’ by Richard David Feineman.

    • I love Ioannidis’s work and have referenced it many times. I haven’t read Feineman’s book yet—thanks for the recommendation.

  36. Paradise existed here on earth before the advent of agriculture.
    Wheat. The forbidden fruit. Did you really believe that it was an apple?

    18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

    19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground;

    • funny you should quote Genesis, I have often thought that the scriptures of the Abrahamic religions trace the transition from nomadic to pastoral farming, and chronicle a conflicted society’s changing values. Just look at Cain and Able, one offering grain the other offering meat.

      • Yes. Exactly correct Antonio!

        Have you figured out how Jesus fed the masses with five loafs of bread and two fish? The apostles were fisherman who put down their nets to follow Jesus. They were in a boat when they broke the bread. When everyone was done eating there was meat left in the basket.

        The bread was used as bait and the fish as chum to net baskets full of fish. This is how the bread was multiplied. Jesus taught the people to use bread as bait to catch fish. To eat fish instead of bread, thus curing them of illness.

        Miraculous !

        What more have you observed in the scripture?

  37. Wheat allergies include wheat pollen and every part of the wheat plant! I appreciate all of the gluten-free people as removing the gluten removes the wheat! So thank you for everyone who eats gluten-free.

  38. If there is lactose intolerance, why can’t there be gluten intolerance? Only Northern Europeans and pastoralists from Africa have the gene mutation that allows for the breakdown of lactose past weaning. Since the cultivation of grains only happened within the last 11,000 years, isn’t it possible that some people are better than others through gene mutation at processing the components of those grains. I think there was a study looking at the amount of amylase in saliva and there are differences (amylase breaks down starches). Science can provide some answers, but I think that I know my body better than my doctors. I will continue to avoid gluten, chocolate, nightshades, carob and agave. Not because I am allergic but because I know what they do to my body. Thanks Chris. Keep on providing good, thoughtful insight.

  39. Yes, I’m one of those with NCGS. I have a history of severe IBS and uveitis/iritis – I had to take steroids, as injections in my eye as well as orally, for 2-3 years. In addition, I had a dislocated knee around that time – all of it related to inflammation (autoimmune condition). It changed once I read about gluten sensitivity and tried being gluten & lactose free! My life has changed! Past 3 years, I have been symptom-free! I am very healthy now – can sprint/do P90x workouts etc etc. And no inflammation, no bloating, no pain! If unknowingly I end up having some gluten – I know it the very next day or the day after! Some of my relatives, who are doctors (including one gastroenterologist) tell me that I’m sensitive to gluten because I’ve been avoiding it! I don’t mind being sensitive to gluten, as long as I can be healthy and pain-free!
    So to all those people who say NCGS doesn’t exist – you will know it only if you have it or know someone very close who has it! Call it a fad or whatever else you want to, I’m not giving up my GF lifestyle!

  40. I believe you are discussing the recent NIH study that had few if any controls. This study is the same as the study done in 1987 that showed that gluten sensitivity did in fact exist. However, both studies were flawed. The scientist that did that original study in 1987 reviewed his study and the results and determined that other factors co I led have account Ted for the rests because other factors were not controlled. The same occurred in the more recent NIH study; no controls. The original study from 1987 was subsequently performed again but with stringent controls. It was found that there was no basis for gluten sensitivity and that reducing or eliminating FODMAPS in general might account for participants in other studies reporting relief.

    You need to do a better review of the literature and learn what constitutes good research. Just because a study is double-blind does not make it a good, accurate, scientifically sound study.

    I am not arguing whether gluten sensitivity or intolerance exists. Gluten makes me ill. I might have celiac but will never know. My doctor put me on a gluten free diet and then decided to do biopsies two weeks later.Needless to say, they were negative. But gluten makes me nausea, gives me stomach and intestinal cramps, spasms, and pan, and severe diarrhea. I cannot argument about the existence of a sensitivity or intolerance.

    But you do not do us any good by not doing a decent review of the literature or by claiming this lame NIH study is a good study.

    I was going to post the studies but frankly this is the fourth time I have had to present this information. None of the other three have been able to find an argument to show me that I am wrong. I would also love to teach a course on scientific methods but my fee is much too high for such a large audience. Sorry to be sarcastic but This argument is getting old with this same NON-evidence, over and over. I suppose I am going to have to stop my writing and write something about this for national publication. I don’t even want to argue whether it exists or not. Just get the truth out about the studies that do exist and which ones are actually good studies and why.

    If you look hard enough you can find studies that can show you EVIDENCE of anything you want to believe. Some of them have validity and lead to interesting questions but most of them DO NOT PROVE anything.

  41. That was a very great article! and, hits very close to home. My daughter is currently a Physician’s Assistant student (and very good), and, as is always the case, doesn’t believe gluten intolerance is anything. I have been staying with her for the last 4 months, and am constantly being told that I “am cutting so many important nutrients out of my diet”. I am a holistic nutritionist, (and know exactly what I’m cutting out) and have been gluten free for a long time; now, I’ve just gone cold turkey and become “primal”. Feel wonderful. In general, I’ve found that the medical field and mainstream nutritional sector are anti-gluten-free anything. A lot of money would be lost if people would go gluten-free and not have to be treated or counseled for the disorders the have.

  42. i found this article very interesting. After suffering for over two years from various symptoms my doctors could not figure out and continually losing weight. A rheumatologist diagnosed me with fibromyagia (the illness my family finds to be imaginary) with that I discovered my celiac. By removing wheat and gluten from my diet to try and relieve the fibro symptoms I began to feel better. That’s when my gastrointestinal doctor did an endoscopy to diagnose celiac. Ten years later I feel better and relieved that the medical field has come a long way to bring this illness to the public. It explains many of the symptoms I have that are just odd. Gives me piece of mind. Thank you for the great article.

  43. There are some people out there with open minds but there are far more with closed minds. I learned several years ago that suggesting things to people can be very difficult. I try but if I feel that wall go up, I shut up and just feel sorry for them.

  44. Chris, how can Fasano or others see when the gut is going to close or otherwise? How can we say how many minutes it takes to close the gut after a big mac? It sounds to me ridiculous, and this for me enlights how the effect of grains on our health have been overlooked for 10 thousands years…of course if yoy eat grains once the issue is likely to be fixed straight away, but if you eat a croissant for breakfast, have pasta for lunch, some biscuits in the afternoon and a big mac for dinner, you’re likely to have your leaky gut for a long. And here our genes come out, someone is going to develop some issue right away, for someone else it takes much more, but day by day you’re gonna dig into your capability to deal with something stranger to our dna. Why should we close the shed when the sheep already ran away? Grains are not the species specific food for sapiens nor for any other mammal, furthermore we don’t eat wheat as we pick it up from the soil like a hen, because we don’t have neither the goither, the gizzard, nor the enzymatic wealth of the birds. We need technology to make them ready to be eaten, but in this way we make something stranger to our body how it works, as you point out any time we are meant to eat real food, food that we ideally eat as we pick it up, without any technologic process, we cook meat but we could ideally eat it row, as many vegetables as well. This is the species-specific food for we animals sapiens. Why should we go on with defending the non specific food, when it takes far less to dismiss any other thing? It just takes a myth to make us get rid of fatty foods, and in front of such amount of evidence we are not able to think. This is the main question for me that we should wonder. Of course the issue is about challenging the system where we have been living for thousands years, we are challenging our comfort, we are challenging the business, this is gonna challenge the conventional medicine perspective as well, it means challenging the owners of the world, food industry, big pharma, energy… this is the actual issue. We need real food for what we are meant to. The man made food is going to disrupt our gut whether it’s gonna be about zonuline or microbiote, if you destroy your microbiote you have leaky gut. Why should we go on to eat a non specific food just because are not going to die right away like if we ate a poisonous mushroom. If it was like that we would recognize immediately the harm, but the disguised harm of grains has been overlooked for so long because it takes much more to develop disease, but it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t avoid them if we still haven’t had any problem, are you waiting for a disease to act?

  45. It’s not surprising that there are idiots who feel compelled to “prove” that gluten sensitivity is not real. You can find any number of self-styled “experts” who claim autism isn’t real, ADD isn’t real, and (my favorite of recent vintage) a member of Congress who told a constituent that bipolar disorder (recognized by the conventional medical community for at least 70 years) isn’t real, either. The extent of a person’s science credentials is inversely proportional to his tendency to mouth off about areas where he has no knowledge.

  46. Does it matter what ‘science’ tells us? I am now eating grain free and feel better than I have for some time. I used to have unpredictable mood swings, but now I only have those if I inadvertently eat some wrong foods.
    If your health is less than perfect try cutting out gluten, wheat and then all grains. It is not east to do. And eating at a restaurant is impossible. To buy a meal out is fruit and water or you just have to take your own food.
    I hope that these comments will help someone who is faced with opposition to try.

  47. Great timing. My doc suggested gluten intolerance for all that ails me. But I’m a skeptic and initially doubted this was my problem. Yet I feel so much better GF, so now I am certain NCGS exists. (I did an elimination diet and have been GF for several months.) Once in a while I have some gluten in a meal (usually eating out or at a birthday celebration). These days it’s not my stomach that bothers me with a gluten bomb. It’s the peripheral neuropathy and searing pain that flows through my body after having gluten. That kind of pain makes the decision to be GF pretty easy.

  48. Thank you for this timely article! One son and i have NCGS, the other son and husband do not, and think we are crazy. So I forwarded the article for a quick intro to the FACTS. Thank you for referencing real scientific research articles. Very helpful!

  49. Being gluten-free for years did nothing to improve health issues overall, but these days indulging in a piece of naan or a few bites of bagel on occasion results in a few weeks of “anal leakage” among other lovely effects. So it is avoided. Could care less about “science”, which will always be measuring a moving target, just like feeling better than awful, rather than the usual painfully awful.

    Those in so-called denial just haven’t had the experience, yet. Ignorance is bliss.

  50. The timing of this article is perfect… my college aged son in taking a Nutrition Course for his Community Health Science Degree. He says his teacher tells the class that the Gluten Free Diet is a fad. My son knows that is not true since he has NCGS himself and knows the benefits of the diet. Information like you produced in this article is priceless. Hopefully he will forward to his teacher. Thank you

  51. All i know is this. For YEARS i struggled with epigastric pain, bloating, gas, had to plan outings around the availability of restrooms.

    One blessed evening i bought a pack of cookies and ate too many on the drive home. Couldn’t find the bathroom fast enough, gut pain- just horrible. That evening, finally got to put 2and 2 together. Found Kresser’s website, cut out gluten. Did some more research, came across FODMAP. It’s like a new lease on life. And the best part? If I’m gluten free for several months, i can still have a slice of bread or a beer and feel ok, long as i go back to FODMAP the next day.

  52. Chris,

    Wonderful article. I very much enjoy your approach. I feel it takes a careful look at the research available and presents information in a way that does not succumb to dogma.

    Of potential interest (and without much data to support this view), I suspect humans have been consuming gluten for longer than 11,000 years. Triticum monococcum (einkorn wheat) and Triticum dicoccum (emmer wheat) are some of the earliest cultivated grasses from the “Fertile Crescent”. And while these plants were domesticated approximately 10,500 years ago (or so, for einkorn), that is not the date when they entered our diet (at least not likely the date). The cultivation of grains would have likely required a long time of exposure to this food in the diet to generate familiarity with these species and identify non-shattering forms, but also to figure out how to cultivate them on a larger scale. The date you present is certainly when it entered cultivation, but I would suspect the actual date of first consumption to go back much further (though certainly at a smaller proportion of the diet). I don’t feel it is realistic to consider that humans walked up to this plant (figuratively speaking), realized in a relatively short time it could be cultivated, and drastically switched food procurement patterns without a long history of interaction with einkorn wheat. Cleary, this isn’t a stance that I can provide a lot of supporting evidence (at the moment), but I think there is some logic to it. How far back gluten consumption goes, I’m not sure, but I believe it goes back longer than we realize.

    Again, thank you for the work you do. Ktankeyasin (take care of yourself).

    • Thank you, Arthur, for pointing out the illogical nature of the assumption that humans suddenly began cultivating grains 10,000 years ago without having consumed the wild product for many years. That approach would have been a foolish survival strategy. There is evidence that humans consumed wild grains as long as 20,000 years ago. Scientific American (12/17/2009) claims there is evidence that grain consumption extends back 100,000 years. However, with all the variety in the diets of Paleo-era humans, it’s likely that grains made up a very small part of the diet, and were certainly not the major component they are in today’s diets. They just weren’t sufficiently nutrient-dense to justify the effort needed to prepare them. And most wild triticum-family plants don’t have the gluten content of modern wheat, which was selectively bred for higher gluten content.

      • Re: There is evidence that humans consumed wild grains as long as 20,000 years ago.

        That wouldn’t be surprising, but I doubt there was much strategy to it. Humans likely ate anything that seemed to have short-term nutritional value, and long-term side effects might have gone uncorrelated.

        Grains made it possible for us to be having this debate. Only non-migratory (e.g. agricultural) cultures have the context in which to create technologies that aren’t trivially portable. It can also be argued that we are mostly descended from the survivors of population “bottleneck” events, which favored specific metabolic quirks (e.g. grain tolerance, fructose fat storage, ketotic fall-back). Life expectancy was lower then, as well, so long-term dietary concerns we now have generally didn’t arise.

        The fact that ancients ate ancient grains does not elevate grains to RDA status. Ötzi the Iceman (einkorn eater) tells us: eat authentic neolithic grains – get authentic neolithic ailments. His tally so far includes bad teeth and a full expressed genetic tendency to heart disease.

        Re: … it’s likely that grains made up a very small part of the diet, and were certainly not the major component they are in today’s diets.

        No debate there, and the same is true for added sugars. For most people, reverting to an ancestral diet for their genotype would do wonders. Now where did I put that 7133 BCE cookbook …

        re: And most wild triticum-family plants don’t have the gluten content of modern wheat, …

        My understanding is that emmer actually has more gluten than the modern weed.

    • Yes that is probably the case, BUT today’s grains have been hybridised and don’t resemble the ancient grains.

  53. Chris asks if there are “gluten intolerance deniers” in our life and how we respond to them. Yes, there certainly are. Even among supposedly smart, skeptical people who supposedly respect me and my intelligence. It never ceases to baffle me how we can show up at a gathering and have people marvel at how great we look — because we do; we look and feel better (living Primally) than we have in decades — and proceed nevertheless to tell me that there’s no basis for what we’re doing. Huh? I can even talk about my life-altering gut problems that are now gone, my joint pain and skin rashes and headaches every morning of my life and head full of mucous and constant throat clearing and split fingernails, and more, all of which are completely gone, and still have people willing to argue. So very weird. So how to deal with it? I’ve evolved. Two years ago I tried so hard. I referred people to Web sites and books and studies. It made me stressed and sad for them when I “failed.” So unfortunately, I’ve given up a bit. I won’t waste my time in conversations with people who are not curious or open-minded enough to explore the possibility of being incorrect. I think the intransigence and emotional charge comes from addiction. It’s very powerful, and the threat of giving up ones bread, or beer, causes a fear response that clouds rationality. That’s why they get so gleeful when they think they find support for the status quo. It’s quite sad, actually. But remember what happened when the few people who left Plato’s cave tried to go back and let others know about what was outside, and what they really were doing? It often doesn’t work out so well. So stay healthy, try to help those you care about, and accept that you can’t help everyone. And be grateful for the Chris Kressers (and Alessio Fasanos) who continue to advance and convey the science.

    • Naomi,
      Your comment is going up on my bulletin board. And I might make a few extra copies for my purse to hand out as needed. Very well said – thanks!

    • Naomi–You hit the nail right on the head!! I cannot walk-and know that if I could get ridof gluten 100%-I would be able to improve joint and walking performance–but let’s face it–I AM TOO CHICKEN to give up my favorite food-TOAST-I plan to give it another go in April. My withdrawal symptoms(severe headaches for one) are so severe-I am forced to return to-OH NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!-BREAD.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!-Best Wishes-JM.

    • Naomi,

      I feel your pain! It is sometimes interesting to turn and ask the person, from a place of pure curiosity, why it is important to them that the way you eat is a “fad,” and not based in science. Why is it important for them to prove you wrong? Sometimes I find their claims are based on personal insecurity and feeling threatened by something they don’t feel they can or want to do. You’re right that you can’t reach everyone, and sometimes they have to get there in their own time. I sometimes laugh imagining what it would be like to try and “coach” my 20 year old self to change the way I ate and what I believed about medicine and food.

      • Wheat and sugar bind to our opiate and dopamine receptors in our brains. People are addicted to them and if they have yeast overgrowth their second brain, the microbiome in the gut is sending very strong messages to their brain to consume carbs. This addiction is strong and controlling, and the withdrawal can be unpleasant. The Paleo lifestyle has improved my families health mentally and physically. If people are interested in what we do I share, and I always mention the addiction and that trying a whole food based diet for 30 days is the first step to take. However, I advise them that the first two weeks could be rough and to be prepared for that possibility. Personally, I feel our obesity epidemic is mostly the result of wheat and sugar addiction. Everyone in my family has NCGS, and going gluten free was the first step towards better health, but embracing the Paleo lifestyle and balancing our microbiome have resulted in the best overall health we have ever experienced.

  54. I had been suffering from very painful Bursitis in both hips for 15+ years. I had several cortisone shots, reluctantly, but the pain was that bad. I also went through several rounds of physical therapy, the Bursitis always came back. Recently, my Ortho doc suggested it’s time to remove my Bursae sacs. I decided to try the natural route before resorting to a surgery that might not even work, so I went Gluten free. Within 2 weeks the pain was gone. I can’t believe what a different life I live now. You don’t realize how much pain controls your life until you don’t have it. So to the nay-sayers in my life, I don’t have time to listen to you, I’m going on a hike, or maybe a bike ride, or better yet a walk on the beach, none of which I could do without a lot of pain just 4 months ago.

    • Wow I had the same problem and my doctor just shrugged it off like it was no big deal, like it was normal for me at the age of 17 to have such symptoms. I have been suffering for YEARS.
      I’m now 37 and no one will convince me my grain free diet is ELITIST.

    • Melinda,

      Exactly! Well said. My experience with diet change was also life-changing (or perhaps I should say, life-giving). Your words remind me not to let the nay-saying taint my gift of improved health.

  55. I’m old enough to remember the days when vegetarian diets were seen as the healthiest way to eat, and grains were a big part of that. I even ground whole grain berries for bread (it was tasty). The thing is, I notice that if I didn’t eat bread, it was much easier to not gain weight. I stopped eating bread a while ago. About 3 years ago, I went gluten-free though I have no overt symptoms of GS. I think people don’t want to believe that gluten can be problematic is that they can’t bear the thought of giving up bread and grains in general

  56. I’ve read that some farmers spray wheat crops with Monsanto’s “Round Up” in order to “ripen” the wheat for quicker harvest, especially in northern regions that have a limited planting season. According to what I’ve read, it’s impossible to tell which wheat has been sprayed because it’s perfectly legal to do so. I wonder if spraying poison on our wheat could be related to some of the problems experienced by those who consume wheat. Makes common sense to me.

    • Nikki yes you’re right. Go to Mercola’s website for the answer to your exact question on Roundup on grains.

    • Nikki, conventional framers may spray many things besides wheat with RoundUp. It doesn’t make the crop ripen faster, but desiccates the foliage and non-food parts of a plant, making it easier to machine-harvest the desirable part of the plant after that has ripened.

  57. I heard it is the ‘gliadin’ NOT the gluten… ???

    Gliadin is a class of proteins present in wheat and several other cereals within the grass genus Triticum. Gliadins, which are a component of gluten, are essential for giving bread the ability to rise properly during baking.

  58. I have a question about Glutenin. I have heard from a therapist I am working with that those with type A blood type do not have the enzyme to break down Glutenin in wheat. (am i spelling that correctly..hmm) anyway, she attended a seminary in Las Vegas on Anti Aging where she heard this taught. I have been trying to track down information regarding this claim. Do you have any information regarding this claim? According to the conference speaker, it was a fact.

  59. I haven’t read this article yet but it is so frustrating when people say to me that having to eat gluten free is a fad that I am following. Ten years ago I was so sick I had to leave my job because I couldn’t explain to my bosses why I was in the bathroom so much and so long. I had to figure out the problem on my own – my gastroenterologist just gave me some useless pills and thankfully I avoided a colonoscopy. It wasn’t until I tried a macrobiotic diet that I discovered that when I did not eat gluten, I was okay, and when I did, I got very sick. I realized it wasn’t the macrobiotic diet, it was not eating gluten that helped. I have now lived ten years mostly free of severe IBS symptoms as long as I don’t eat gluten unknowingly, which has happened several times thanks to unaware servers and friends.

    • Marilyn Perhaps you can help my understanding of the macrobiotic diet. A friend’s mom was on it to heal her cancer but when I looked it up, it was described as 50% grains..
      Can you please clear that up for me?
      Thanks. Lisa
      ps I too have had to go on medical leave. I feel your pain.

  60. I believe that most people who have a reaction to grains, specifically wheat, barley and rye, possibly have a huge micro-biota imbalance.

    Our ancestors were hunters and gathers and they ate off the land. Much of the food and liquid they consumed was brimming with mega doses of environmental bacteria.

    Now most of those bacteria actually died as they passed through the harsh gastric system (gastric barrier), but some didn’t. These specialized strains also developed an uncanny ability to survive in the outside environment and then pass through the acidic gastric system to end up thriving in the intestines – these became nature’s true probiotics.

    With thousands of years of exposure to these specialized strains of commensal organisms, humans have actually come to require the presence of these strains for proper, healthy function of many of our biological systems. In fact research has identified that they can ultimately provide the following benefits.

    * Immune modulation to reduce allergies and asthma.
    * Immune stimulation of peripheral T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes to fight colds, flus and infections.
    * Decrease in frequency of urinary tract infections.
    * Reduction in side effects related to antibiotic therapy.
    * Effective treatment for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
    * 
Diminished duration of diarrhea, specifically in children 3 to 36 months of age
    * Reduced incidence of irritable bowel syndrome diarrhea.
    * Immune response to adenovirus and influenza-A in-vitro.
    * Improvement in pain scale in Rheumatoid arthritis patients .
    * Reduces the inflammation associated with Crohn’s disease, IBS, ulcerative colitis.
    * Improved growth of the natural flora.
    * Improved digestion of food and a thus improved
nutrient absorption.
    * Production and absorption of critical nutrients –
i.e. carotenoids, quinols, vitamins and enzymes.
    * Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
    * Reduction of cholesterol.
    * Detoxification of the intestinal tract.

    With this ability to live and reproduce in two very different environments (outside the body and inside the body), these strains are said to have a “biphasic” lifecycle. The most well known, well studied and widely used biphasic probiotics are from the bacillus species. In particular, bacillus subtilis, bacillus clausii and bacillus coagulans. However, our modern sterilized food systems have all but eliminated these critical species from our diet.

    Bacillus species are quite abundant in the environment and subsequently found as commensal, transient organisms in the gastrointestinal systems of mammals, insects, invertebrates, birds, marine life and even reptiles.

    Although they have always been classified as “soil organisms,” studies from the Microbiome Project are starting to reveal that they are actually digestive tract organisms that use the soil as a vector for transfer from host to host and they have been doing this for thousands and based on some strong evidence, possibly even millions of years.

    Digestive health is paramount to our overall health. An unhealthy digestive system results in an over-growth of bad bacteria and yeast. Food cannot be broken down properly, essential nutrients are not absorbed and the immune system is compromised leaving us
    fatigued and rundown. Over-growth of bad bacteria leads to a higher risk of infections, allergies, and inflammation, which can lead to symptoms of constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, acid reflux disease, eczema and often weight gain.

    So could something as simple as repopulating the GI system with these strains, via a method that can bypass the harsh environment of the gastric and bile acid system, (not mainstream probiotics) be a means to reduce the impact that gluten may have on those who experience NCGS?

    • Steve, I believe the way you do about the microbiome. I just received my MegaSporeBiotic and haven’t tried it yet. It has the 3 strains of Bacillus you mentioned and Bacillus Indicus HU36 and Bacillus Licheniformisand says their scientists have found a way to deliver these probiotics safely to the digestive system and past the stomach acid to where they need to go. I hope they repopulate my microbiome.

    • Steve, I thought you explained your point of view magnificently. And you were careful to word your final question such that you are speaking only of “reducing the impact” of NCGS. You are not denying it’s existence, but explaining that there are healthy steps to restoring more primitive ratios of gut microorganisms that may lessen the stress on bodies that suffer NCGS.

      I think your theory is tenable and should be tested.

      Though I am virtually off all grains now, I made the move away from wheat and other grains just as a safety measure. I’ve never noticed any reactions to grains by my body, yet I still recommend people consider ridding their diet of gluten, especially.

      In my case, my lack of NCGS symptoms may be due to my microbiome. I’ve had it analyzed via the American Gut project and it certainly is not very similar to the average American gut microbiome. I have far more microbial variety than normal. My diet consists heavily of organic, above-ground veggies, with occasional portions of organic meats, cheese, eggs and bone broth and sweet potatoes. I tend to run low on protein, very low on carbs, and high on fat. This diet and the gut microbes may have been protecting me for years from gluten sensitivity. Throwing the gluten away of course will show no change. No worries. I’m content.

      As to your suggestion to repopulate the gut in a positive direction, but avoiding the threat to probiotics from the gastric acids, I think it’s unnecessary to immediately think of taking more drastic measures like fecal implants. Studies show the microbiome changes, day to day, and week to week. Species will rise “out of the ashes” so to speak, and get there, and even get to prominence, if one just eats the right foods and none of the wrong foods. Eating a variety of foods, including weeds, fermented foods, and even dirty foods are good ways to increase desired populations of microbes in the gut. Taking probiotics is a crutch to use when one is in trouble. Same for implants. If you don’t eat right, the probiotics, including implants, don’t persist. Almost a waste of time. But food variety and choice is the best way to maintain a healthy gut, as I’m sure you and most others here already realize.

      • I have long believed that the increase in prevalence of gluten intolerance and celiac is due to changes in our microbiome, more so than changes in the way that wheat is cultivated (though that probably also plays a role).

      • Hi Glenn, eating a diet that is varied, and preferably seasonal, is a great way to go. However, eating a diet that is right for a person metabolically is an art. I had my diet requirements determined via Metabolic Typing a couple of years back, and then again recently – I’m a Mixed Type. And I tend to make food choices in the same manner as yourself in line with my associated food list – which is also very large and varied.

        Unfortunately most people go through stages of food elimination to determine where, or even what, they may have a reaction to, when the answer, with some, is most predominantly the fact that they do not have a large enough diversity of intestinal flora to handle the day to day excesses because of poor lifestyle choices – smoking, excess alcohol, no exercise, bad sleep related habits, bad or wrong dietary choices, and other associated choices – pharmaceuticals, pain medications, PPI’s (Prilosec), chlorinated water, poor stress management, over-exposure to EMF’s, to name just a few.

        If you couple the above detrimental elements with a diet that does not naturally contain Soil Based Organisms (SBO’s), or healthy bacteria, due to the purchasing of foods where use of pesticides and other means of reducing ‘harmful germs’, and double or triple washing having been used, then the outcome, depending on the person, may possibly be unfavorable.

        This is where something like a real probiotic – in fact another commenter Michelle made reference to MegaSpore Biotic (check it out online) – would most probably be of benefit.

        I’m not advocating popping pills per se, but believe that a seeding of a good probiotic – something like Megaspore Biotic – followed by a maintenance dose every now and then, given the positive results coming out of the Human Microbiome Project in relation to the bacteria associated with that product, might just be ‘what the doctor ordered’ for people whose diet may be lacking where it counts most resulting in GI related issues.

  61. My son and I have been gluten-free for awhile now, and might go into the SCD diet as well, since our eczema isn’t gone yet. My husband is not on the bandwagon. He is an athlete, and he says he needs his carbs—lots of them—in order to perform with the best. I’m not sure how to combat that.

    I do cheat on our gluten-free diet every once in awhile, simply because if I’m hungry and out and about, the muffins call to me. If there were more gluten-free options out there life would be easier. It’s also true that, since I don’t have a huge obvious reaction to gluten immediately, I don’t feel as much pressure to avoid it. These challenges I’ve outlined are probably common reasons for people to not always be perfectly gluten-free!

  62. Yup, I may be in denial, but here’s my question:
    I have looked at the gluten content of beers and, with the exception of wheat beers, most of them are very low in gluten. Should beer be lumped in with other gluten containing foods? Is this reasonable or justified?

  63. What I don’t understand with this and many other issues is how come they cannot be conclusively proven by science so that there would be no need for all this frustrating debate? I have myself left out grains from my diet some 4 months ago because it just makes sense to me and it has brought some improvements to my life, but then there are all these official experts saying that it is nonsense. If there are tests that actually reveal gluten sensitivity, one would think that would be an avenue to prove the existence of gluten sensitivity. One problem, I find, is that people get so entrenched in their own views and do not work together in order to find the truth, but just want to prove the opponents wrong.

    • Jessica,
      Keep in mind that science is often completely unreliable due to the massive power of economic interests. Conventional doctors say that their “science based medicine” is the only sound and trustworthy source…

      Really? Is that why the FDA allows the gross distortion of science when pharma companies advertise their drug’s effectiveness with RELATIVE RISK? This should be illegal. When a drug trial shows a drug to be effective in a mere 3% of study participants, and the placebo is effective in 2% of study participants, the drug is advertised as 30% effective (such as in reducing heart attacks for example with cholesterol lowering drugs).

      Just look up Relative Risk online… this scam has been exposed in numerous newspaper/ newsmagazine stories as drug sales continue to climb.

      SO MUCH FOR THE HIGH AND MIGHTY “SCIENCE BASED MEDICINE”.

      • To clarify, the “relative risk” formula is arrived at by calculating the difference in effectiveness between the drug and the placebo in clinical drug trials… to give a grossly inflated “effectiveness” in studies. (The difference between 3% and 2% is 33%.)

        The FDA condones it, and doctors know they are being fed a line of BS by pharma reps. Next time a doctor tells you how effective a drug is, ask if the “science” is based on relative risk or actual risk. If they say actual risk, look it up yourself to be sure.

        What does this have to do with gluten?? A lot since so many non-celiac gluten sensitive people are “managed” with ineffective, potentially dangerous drugs, and miserable for years until the lucky ones figure it out.

    • Jessica–I believe that Gluten sensitivity is a real problem-and the yakkers are in denial.You will notice the same “M.O.” in people supporting fundamental religious views.
      Remember how many years the tobacco companies tried to defend their views regarding the carcinogenicity of their products-JM.

    • Yeah I agree it’s a shame, unfortunately “the science” most of society summons to solve our problems is just a story rather then some infallible truth, told and weakly fitted to factual data points. More often than not a majority of its form is shaped by the biases and preconceived notions. The only way to progress is to generate enough strong data points so that the shitty stories fit the data about as well as fitting a whale into a keyhole.

  64. Chris,
    One more thing I would add is that gluten has a similar molecular structure to our thyroid hormones.

    If someone has leaky gut, gluten will be absorbed into the blood stream and like a good immune system should, the immune cells hunt it down to metabolize the gluten.

    Because of its similar resemblance, our immune system sometimes mistakes our thyroid hormones for gluten and thus attacks our thyroid hormones. Now, imagine you have a leaky gut and are eating gluten all the time. This can create a chronic hypothyroid condition.

  65. After numerous tests and an MRI scan, our doctor diagnosed my wife’s excruciating stomach and bowel movement pain as stress. It was terrible to watch her suffer as she didn’t know why food was litterly killing her, in my opinion. Her daughter suggested she go gluten free. She read the symptoms online. She immediately stopped all grains. The symptoms completely stopped. It was night and day. I joined her although I don’t seem to notice much difference when consuming a bit of bread. Although I have been Paleo and sugar free for two years now, I experienced a whole host of benefits. We avoid grains and sugar like the plague and feel much happier and healthier. Bottom line, we will all find a way to continue eating bread and flour. It’s flat out addicting. When I was on the carb rollor coaster. I had to eat like it was an emergency. I was more irritable and short sugar tempered. Most would never believe that unless they have experienced it for themselves. Organic and clean keeps me from being mean!

  66. I experience bloating and discomfort when I eat bread or pastries, but have not noticed problems when I drink beer. Does anyone else experience this? I wonder if I’m not so much sensitive to gluten as to other components in wheat?

  67. “people simply distrust anything they perceive to be inauthentic or “faddish”” is part of it.

    Among the problems I see:
    1) Celiacs and people intolerant to gluten who occasionally eat it anyway, sending mixed messages about the authenticity and seriousness of the issue.
    My partner sees this as a restaurant owner & caterer. As most recently as 2 days ago he took time to explain his mostly gluten-free menu to a customer who said she was “acute celiac” and informed her that the fryer is exposed to gluten. Then he saw her knowingly eat something that contained gluten off a friend’s plate.

    2) People who go gluten free just for the hell of it, for the trendiness (those who do “fake intolerance”) ruin it for the people who truly get sick from consuming various amounts of gluten. I hear celiac friends ranting about this. If they could eat gluten they would.

    3) For a couple of years now “gluten free” has been used as a marketing ploy. For example, a box of tea shouldn’t need that proclamation. That riles me up.

    • My wife and I have a running joke about all of the products labeled “gluten-free”. I think the most ridiculous we’ve seen so far is a bunch of bananas that were labeled gluten-free.

      • Agreed.
        I have first hand/second hand experience – my mother is gluten intolerant, sister in law has celiac.
        I’ve often seen “Now Gluten Free!” on items that have never & could never contain gluten, like fresh spinach.
        Ridiculous.

  68. Chris,

    Thank you for posting this article! I am a integrative/ functional minded dietitian with NCGS and recently was in a heavy debate with a “denier.” I was so surprised by how strongly this person felt – even going as far as to say that GF diets will soon fade, similarly to how eggs were once thought of as the reason for high cholesterol(now largely dis proven). This person claimed to have “read all the research on both sides of the issue” and didn’t see a scientific reason for all the fuss with gluten. At the end of the conversation I simply asked her this: If it makes other people feel better to eliminate something from their lives, why do you feel the need to challenge that? How is it effecting you? Would you ask someone in an abusive relationship why they were trying to get out of it? Maybe that is an extreme example, but people with NCGS know that it impacts your quality of life every day. Us in the industry know that it is truly the opposite of a fad and the research conducted on gluten and all of it’s components in relation to chronic conditions and long term health is just beginning…..more to come!

    • Anyone who has truly read the research on NCGS could not come to the conclusion that it doesn’t exist. Arguments could be made about prevalence, mechanism, immune response, conditions associated with, and even causality, but not existence.

  69. I think the prevalence of intelerance is much higher then even u think. Thomas Obrian said 40-60% of the population. I would not be surprised if EVERONE was sensitive with wildly varing responses of intensity and resulting problem. Use the precaustionary principle look both ways when crossing the street and never eat gluten again.

  70. Also — we should all plan on the problems with “science” journalism to get worse. The last school to offer a course specifically in science writing, Johns Hopkins, recently closed its program.

    I’m not aware of any schools that offer a specialty in this type of writing anymore. I guess we just have to hope that there will be journalists who have actually taken statistics and have any kind of science background. (Holding my breath … not.)

  71. I think the backlash began because so many self-appointed gurus went around proclaiming that gluten is poison and NO ONE should it eat, ever. People don’t like being lectured to.

    For me, it’s cut and dried. When I went on an elimination diet, my perioral dermatitis (horrible rash around the nose, chin, and even up to the eyes) disappeared. When I reintroduced gluten, it came back. I tested it time and time again. One time the rash came back when I didn’t think I’d eaten anything suspect (turns out the Morningstar veggie burgers are not soy, but almost entirely “textured vegetable protein,” or gluten).

    • Hey Juanita!
      Finally a name. I have suffered from what seems to be perioral dermatitis since I was about 17. First I gave up milk and that cleared it up. Then a few years later it came back. Went to numerous doctors and was diagnosed with impetigo, cold sores and acne. I was prescribed different treatments, some of them quite painful. When I said it was exacerbated by milk I was told that there was no connection between diet and skin problems. One doctor finally listened and gave me a topical antibiotic that took 6 weeks to work and I had to used it everyday for 5 years.

      Fast forward to 2 years ago and I discovered paleo and Chris Kresser. I gave the elimination diet ago and within a few months I could stop the topical treatment for good. I went back to my doctor and told her my findings… Of course skin problems are one of the biggest symptoms with Celiac/Gluten Intolerance! (Okay she was not one of the deniers in the first place, so I give her credence for that).

      Well now I have a name (beyond saying “I used to suffer from acne/dermatitis mainly around my mouth and nose but sometimes up into my eyes that used to weep/bleed and was impossible to cover with make-up”). At the beginning if I consumed gluten I would get small patches. Now I am very compliant because of the reaction I get if I consume any: Vomiting, bloody diarrhoea, swelling of the abdomen, painful joint swelling. Ha ha gluten intolerance doesn’t exist… Take a walk in my shoes…

  72. I had bad gas all my life. My Mom as well. Once we stopped gluten we stopped being so fun and musical at parties. Now our friends no longer want to hang out. This whole gluten thing has ruined my life. I used to be a comedian with the one joke that never gets old now I’m just a normal person. U RUINED ME MR KRESSER!!!!!

  73. I try not to bring attention to my dietary restrictions but when it gets brought up, so many people would rather verbally challenge my diagnosis (gluten intolerant but never tested for CD) than allow me to continue not eating x, y, or z. I’m sure it has a lot to do with what we see in the media about gluten. I just don’t understand it. Its so frustrating to work this hard at getting healthy again only to have people challenge our efforts and not take us seriously. I really hope that in time there wil be more awareness and general understanding of gluten intolerance. Thanks so much for touching on this subject!!!

    • Not exactly sure what you’re asking, but the numbers in the article are references to scientific journal articles that support the information being presented. You can click on them to see the studies.

  74. I had to stop eating gluten 8 years ago. The prevalence of the belief that gluten-related disorders are just a fad meant that I was too embarrassed to approach my doctor about this – I was under the impression the doctor wouldn’t believe me (which happened to my mother a few years earlier). Therefore I only stopped eating gluten long after I had realised it was causing me problems, and I was never tested for coeliac disease.

    I am now in a limbo where I HAVE TO avoid gluten (it makes me extremely ill – not just a bit of ‘tummy trouble’) but no-one believes it could really be a problem – I am always being ‘stealth-glutened’ when I visit my family because I am unable to convince them that my symptoms are real. This means I now rarely see my family because the symptoms can take weeks to ease off again.

    This is having a huge negative impact on my quality of life. It shouldn’t be like this. The authors of these irresponsible articles denying gluten-disease have little understanding of the misery they’re creating.

    • Wow…they actually put gluten into or use gluten containing ingrediants into your food. On purpose.

      That is tantamount to knowingly spike your punch (without your consent) or sneaking nuts into a hyper allergic person’s cookies.

      I wouldn’t want to visit your family either if they seem bent on knowingly causing you distress.

    • Wow hilary your family sounds abusive. you have a very good reason to stay away from them. Sorry but I would cut them out of my life and find new people to call family. Your health is more important then pretending you have a white picket fence family. You’re better off.
      your chris kresser family loves you!

    • Hey Hilary,
      Just lie and tell them you had the tests done and you are celiac. If they don’t respect your dietary needs then they don’t deserve the truth.

      Try a few books on family relations and assertiveness like “Co-dependant no more” or “A woman in your own right”. I’m sorry but that kind of behaviour from them is toxic and you deserve better. It might also help your overall health/stress relief to be able to detach from their behaviours and learn that you have right to express your very relevant needs.

      Love to you,
      Orla

  75. Hi there,
    I also agree that people who experience difficulty with wheat could be responding to the fructans rather than the gluten. I avoid wheat for both reasons, because of the fructans but also because of the evidence showing the drawbacks of wheat/gluten.
    Perhaps those who tolerated other fodmaps (like legumes) but did not tolerate wheat were sensitive to certain fodmaps but not others. For example, if they could eat legumes, perhaps they could digest galactans decently well, but not the fructans in wheat. I am currently working with a highly accomplished fodmap specialist who has told me that people can tolerate some fodmap groups better than others. This could be the case for those who are not celiac, but can’t tolerate wheat, but can tolerate other fodmaps. They could simply not do well with fructans. But, yes, in the end of the day, it means removing wheat products regardless of whether it’s the gluten or the fructans they are reacting too.
    Great conversations here!

    • Could you share the name of the FODMAP specialist? I have a friend who is in dire need of such help. Right now, she only tolerates 6 foods.

  76. It’s ridiculous to call gluten intolerance a spurious fad. I know first-hand that it is real.

    33 years ago, I discovered that I suffered from gluten intolerance, but not celiac. It was a lonely time to have a “wheat allergy.” I went from doctor to doctor and It took me a year to figure out why I had a permanent sore throat, chronic congestion and frequent migraines. A chiropractor heard my symptoms: I felt okay first thing in the morning but was sick by 11 a.m. — and deduced it might be something I was eating for breakfast. She suggested elimination diets for dairy and wheat and I found the culprit.

    I test negative for celiac but my symptoms were very tenacious and predictable. I recommend Dr. David Perlmutter’s book “Grain Brain” for a good discussion of gluten intolerance and how testing for and eliminating gluten can dramatically cure a wide range of neurological conditions.

  77. Several years ago, I connnected symptoms that I had been dealing with four years prior to this discovery with a gluten sensitivity. Therefore, I cut out wheat and gluten. Within a year, milk products had a similar effect on me. Then legumes, quinoa, rice, and most recently, nightshades followed suit. Seems like the only starches I can tolerate come from fruits and sweet potatoes.

    I suppose there are people out there who think I’m on some fad diet. I lost about 40 pounds. A friend suggested that I might have anorexia! If she only knew how much I eat when I know it’s ‘safe.’ Unfortunately, ‘safe’ happens less and less often. There are no functional medicine practitioners here … My doctor said, “This just happens as you get older.” Huh? So within a couple of years, when I’m unable to tolerate anything and I’ve still got a six-year-old to take care of, am I still dreaming that I’ve got gut issues?

  78. You bring up a great point about the concept — and harm caused by — “science journalists.” These are people with little to no scientific background, in the same way that most pharmaceutical reps have absolutely no medical training and are usually hired because they look good, and yet their published words carry major weight in the world of pop culture “journalism.” We see this now across the spectrum of living and healing naturally, through foods and alternative/functional medicine. It behooves neither the food nor the pharmaceutical industries for people to get healthy, and they will do whatever they have to in order to push their agenda. Thank you for pushing back!

  79. Let’s put it this way: my health is much better without wheat. It just is. Chris, what about the idea that eating foods with highly treated wheat and processed flour can be damaging, apart from their gluten content?

  80. Everyone should avoid foods with Gluten. If any want to know everything ask Dr. Glidden/Wallach. I have no medical conditions listened to them and feel excellent.

  81. Excellent article Chris! Of course, as most of the people reading this, there are some gluten-free haters in my life. I understand though… We’re human and humans get addicted and comfortable. Most don’t like change. It’s unfortunate that most don’t make the health improving and health sustaining changes needed on a daily basis. They break once, twice, or however many times, however often. Even when one’s health reaches that point of the doctor delivering news that no one wants to hear… They still resist change! I’m glad you mentioned so many of the neurological problems induced by gluten because that’s what I often tell people when I’m asked why do I go gluten-free. When I calmly respond with because I care about my brain health, they’re attention gets a little sharper on what I’m saying… And doing.
    In Gratitude

  82. Chris – my son was recently diagnosed with ADD. He is also having a terrible time with his gut. He is only 8 years old, and we are very leery of medicating him without exhausting other avenues. Although my husband and I are willing to pay out of pocket for the test, there is apparently only one lab in the country that tests for sensitivity (is this right?). Can you explain more, or refer me to the right source about how the elimination/provocation challenge works? Is it simply reintroducing gluten after a period of time without to see if problems arise and if so what types of problems would I be looking for?

    • Hi Sarah,

      Many labs test for gluten intolerance, but there’s only one commercial lab test that I know of that tests for intolerance to all of the different fractions of the wheat protein, including glutenin, wheat germ agglutinin, deamidated gliadin, and gluteomorphin as well as the three different types of tissue transglutaminase (2, 3 & 6). This is Cyrex Labs Array #3: http://www.joincyrex.com/page/2193/Array-3-WheatGluten-Proteome-Reactivity-and-Autoimmunity-Screen. Note that I have no affiliation with Cyrex and do not benefit from recommending them.

      Note that it’s possible to get a false negative on that test if you’re not eating gluten. The recommendation is to eat some wheat products for a couple of weeks, then wait about 21 days before taking the test.

      For the elimination/provocation protocol, you would remove all wheat and gluten products strictly for 60 days, and then reintroduce. If intolerance is present, it is usually very obvious. Hope this helps.

  83. Before I went Paleo I was getting headaches everyday and thought that it was my hormones because that’s what the doctors told me. Within 2 days of giving up grains(and that is the only change I made at first) I no longer had headaches. That is what I tell people about when I try to get them to go Paleo. I don’t mention Gluten or anything – just my experience with it because I don’t want to scare people off. A lot of people think that because bread has such a big presence in the bible that it must be Ok to eat, they don’t realize that they were sprouting their grains and that the grain was vastly different than what is being grown today.

    • I’d like to point out that the sprouting process does change things a bit along soaking of legumes although it’s best to do a thorough, detailed client comprehensive analysis/assessment to discover what potential dietary roadblocks are present before giving blanket recommendations for anyone. Assessing, testing, and not guessing is what differentiates leading experts(dr/CCN/FDN/Nutrition Coaches) above the rest of the pack! Also, I seem to do well and still lean as always 3-4 hours post meal when I have 2 slices of my Squirrely sprouted grain toast(sunflower/sesame seeds/only grain is sprouted non-gmo whole wheat. I’d like to ask your thoughts on Kamut or Khorasan Wheat commonly produced properly back in the Egyptian days? Thanks. Love your work.

  84. From about the age of 16 (I’m now 60), I suffered with brutal heartburn/reflux daily. As I aged, I periodically had medical investigations that led nowhere. One doctor actually got angry with me when she wanted to prescribe Tagamet (this before the current OTC versions were available) and I refused, as I was hoping to find the cause. Maalox was cheap and a constant companion, I would not leave the house without some and it was a permanent fixture on my bedside table. Over 12 years ago, well before the ‘fad’ really hit, a naturopath, testing for another problem entirely, told me that his testing seemed to reveal gluten intolerance, though he found nothing related to the problem that had brought me to his office. I had not heard of such a thing, but immediate removal of gluten from my diet resulted in immediate cessation of heartburn/reflux without there being any further changes to diet or the amounts of food I ate. I, of course, LOVE gluten and would occasionally eat some. Small, occasional ingestion of gluten would not set off a reaction, but if I got cocky/careless and ate too much or too frequently, guess what? Clearly my gut can digest some gluten, but very poorly indeed, and I don’t need any scientific research to prove it. As to other personal conditions that may have been linked to the gluten intolerance, I can only conjecture. I am now muddling along in paleo world, trying to find the foods and ways of eating that suit my tastes, schedule and habits. And there is no Maalox in my house.

    • Unfortunately, Maalox may have been compounding your problem. When you take Maalox (or Tums or Rolaids) it decreases the amount of acid in your stomach. The receptors on the mucus lining of your stomach then recognize that the stomach has less acid than it is supposed to and steps up production of acid. Then you’re needing more Maalox. With Maalox as your “constant companion” I suspect that may have been the case. You may have unknowingly been making your condition more miserable. I’m glad you found the source however. Congratulations!

  85. Ironically, immediately prior to reading the above article, I read another one by Brian St. Pierre from Precision Nutrition entitled: “Settling the Great Grain Debate: Can Wheat & Other Grains Fit Into a Healthy – and Sane – Diet?” Here is the link:
    http://www.precisionnutrition.com/grain-wheat-debate?utm_source=GrainDebate&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GrainDebateEmail

    Rather than explain all of the apparent contradictions, I would recommend simply reading that article. Two reputable sources with two different takes on the gluten debate. No wonder people are confused!

    • First, I’ve never claimed that all people should avoid all grains all of the time, nor have I claimed (as others have) that everyone is gluten intolerant. So I do not disagree with that part of the article you linked to. However, there are some gross inaccuracies, which I have addressed in my article. This one stands out:

      “But all of this is up in the air. Experiencing doubts, the researcher whose work seemed to prove the existence of NGCS performed a more rigorous follow-up study. He and his colleagues concluded that NGCS actually does not exist.”

      That is not at all what Gibson’s study showed, nor did Gibson ever claim that NCGS doesn’t exist. As I said in the comments below, people in Gibson’s study that were on a gluten-free diet experienced resolution of symptoms even while eating other foods high in FODMAPs (like legumes, which are much higher in FODMAPs than wheat), which conflicts with the idea that the patients in the study were only sensitive to FODMAPs, and not gluten. Also, even if the patients in that particular study turned out not to be gluten intolerant, interpreting that finding to mean that NCGS doesn’t exist in anyone is simply absurd, and ignores the hundreds of papers linking gluten intolerance to a myriad of conditions.

      • You’re misinterpreting the results I think.

        No group had “high” FODMAP intake. In fact, FODMAP intake was low in the diets in the study.. that was the point of the study. Gluten specific effects were only noted in 8% of participants, and during the cross over no effects were observed.

        Can you provide more context as to where you’re reading something different?

  86. Chris, thank you for all your work on the important topic of gut / gluten intolerance, etc. After I found you, I spent the better part of a week reading EVERYTHING you’ve written. After 5 years of struggling with feeling absolutely terrible, insomnia, weight gain, “hangry”, pre-diabetic, missing 1/3 eyebrows. I have found relief! I have only been off gluten for a few weeks and the change is nothing short of a miracle. My family does support me, but I do think they think I’ve lost it. Making bone broth, FODMAP, celtic sea salt in my water etc. After passing through menopause and feeling like I wasn’t going to live past my 50’s. Your research has put me back on the bath to healing. So grateful for all you do here. Thank you!!

    • Sarah, I’m so glad you’ve found relief. Welcome to the community, and congratulations on following your intuition and going against the grain (pun intended!).

  87. Hi Chris,

    Thank you again for a very informative article! You didn’t mention kidney disease, but I think my kidney issues and gluten are related. In a nut shell: In 2009 I was an altruistic kidney donor. Even though I was a vegetarian for 10 years prior to that they announced me to be very healthy before they took it. Two years later, after many years of digestive issues I started a paleo diet and never felt better. I am, however, a sugar addict, so every year as I commence making holiday cookies for my entire universe, I fall back and eat paleo WITH cookies and wash it all down with beer! I usually fail to get myself undercontrol for several months. In February my doctor ordered blood tests and sent me to a Nephrologist who ordered tests again and last week informed me that I am @ stage 3 kidney disease! How did that happen so quickly??? I have a daughter-in-law who’s a PA and another one who’s a Nurse Practitioner and BOTH + my son’s are giving me all kinds of hell because I am insisting on trying to beat this by seriously cleaning up my diet before I have to go back in May to be retested. I am not diabetic and do not have high blood pressure. when I am good I eat the healthiest diet I can, including homemade: bone broth, water kefir, sauerkraut, & kombucha. I eat all organic, healthy fats, little fruit and tons of vegetables. I run, do yoga, and workout. I am 66 years old and only take meds for hypothyroidism. Do you have ANY thoughts about this? My kids are worried that I am waiting too long since this seems to have come on so suddenly, but the Nephrologist himself scheduled my appointment in May…hello! Thank you again for all you do for us!

    • Please keep us posted on your kidney journey. Do you have bubbles in the urine. I do and understand that it is the kidneys dumping the protein it cannot handle and 10 years down the line you may get kidney failure. What tests did they do that show you have Stage 3 Kidney disease. Nothing shows up on my blood tests. I also have blood in the urine that can’t be seen but testing can’t find out where it is coming from. I just heard somewhere of a kidney and liver problem with gluten. I think you are on the right track in trying to heal yourself. Best wishes.

  88. My husband was told for years that he didn’t have Celiac Disease because his blood test was *always* negative. Finally, after much research, I pushed for the doctor to send him to a gastroenterologist. It took 1.5 years for my husband to get in (yay “free” Canadian healthcare), but he finally got a gastroscopy. He was already eating a gluten free diet, and of course, the biopsy came back normal. The he started eating gluten again for a few months, got a gastroscopy again (as well as a colonoscopy to rule out Chrohn’s and Colitis), and the biopsy showed Marsh I or II (villi still intact, but inflamed). Our gastroenterologist rightly interpreted that as Celiac Disease (even though it’s non-specific) because his duodenum was not inflamed while on a gluten free diet, and was inflamed while eating gluten.

    With that said, we also suspected SIBO because his vomiting would not end, even on a gluten free diet, so we begged his GP for some Rifaximin, and ever since he took that, everything has been GREAT. Vomiting GONE. And that was persistent for about 3 years (at least, when we noticed that it couldn’t possibly be another stomach “bug”). Even his asthma has improved!!!

  89. My dear wife was a denier, until she saw the positive changes.

    My facial skin, problematic since adolescence, cleared up.
    My mood improved. No SAD for the last two winters.
    Best of all, the arthritis in my right shoulder cleared up. Not just improved… went away totally, after 15 years of increasing pain and the promise of a steroid shot if I wanted it.

    For me, gluten may not be the culprit, though. Or at least the only culprit. I have since thrown out many fruits and grains, along with yeast and legumes, in order to get relief from daily bloating, gas and fatigue. My issues seem more related to FODMAPs than to a single protein.

  90. I think the issue with Gluten non Celiac is the additives people eat with these products for instance tomato sauce etc numerous people now have not a clue they are fructose or even sugar intolerance…There is absolutely nothing good about sugar it is 100% a toxin so is synthetic fructose it is killing people dead I was told decades ago by a Gastroenterologist who said I was sensitive to gluten but my tests came back for Celiac negative so I went on gluten free now I stopped eating any grains breads pastas oatmeal etc they now are on my never eat again list I am going Ketogenic without these products…I am going back to eat the way life is suppose to be if it has a box I refuse to buy it at all…

  91. Thank you for your informative article. I have NCGS yet find it very hard to make close family members see the real problem. It is obvious I cannot eat wheat, particularly, as I have a severe reaction and get an obvious rash on my chest. However, because the doctors tests have said that I am fine, people don’t believe me. Close family friends still think I should just ‘try’ gluten again or think it is something completely different that the doctors haven’t found yet. I know what it is, I know how I feel and I will never eat Wheat again. I just wish doctors would realise it as it took me 7 attempts at the doctors before I gave up with them!

  92. Hi Chris,

    You wrote this: “What struck me about those stories—aside from how embarrassing they are as examples of so-called “science journalism”—is how eager the general public seems to be to prove that gluten intolerance is an imaginary or fake condition. I’m not exactly sure why this is.”

    I just had a discussion about gluten intolerance with a ‘non-believer’ this morning, discussions like this remind me of an idea by Schopenhauer: All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

    I guess gluten intolerance is somewhere in those first two stages…

  93. These articles attacking the science on gluten are personally offensive to me. They have the stench of a powerful agenda along the same lines as the climate change deniers.

    Chris, I looked for my symptom (asthma) on your list and it wasn’t there, so I’m betting your list of gluten or wheat induced ailments is still not complete.

    Do you know how badly I would like to relive the first 45 years of my life without asthma? Sadly it isn’t possible to turn the clock back. I had gotten used to it but I never realized how bad it was until it was gone. There is no telling what my athletic potential could have been–I could never work out near my potential because I would reach a point I could no longer get enough air in my lungs. Now I am 47 and still amazed I can easily run a mile without gasping for air.

    Breathing treatments and inhalers didn’t fix anything for me, the best they could do is relieve symptoms. I eventually stopped using them.

    And in my case you can’t blame dairy or other grains–I still eat dairy, oats, white rice. The biggest change in my diet these past two years is total elimination of wheat.

    No doctor or medical professional has ever diagnosed me with an intolerance by the way–I had to figure this out on my own.

  94. I was disheartened to hear some of my friends quoting these articles about gluten sensitivity being false. They were laughing about it and they had no idea that I suffer with intolerance from it. The doctor told my father, back in 1973, that he was allergic to wheat. Sadly, his philosophy way “eat it and force your body to accept it.” He developed diabetes and died from complications from it. I come from a family of 5 boys and me, the only girl. Two of my brothers and I have developed gluten allergies, all in our fifties, the same age as my father. I suffer from SIBO and was treated for that as well. I have found that wheat is not my only intolerance. All grains give me issue. I knew I was in trouble when my dietician told me I should be able to eat white rice, and when I told her I could not, she got a blank look and told me to eat it. I am not putting something in my gut that causes me issues just because I “should be able to eat it”. I think we all need to listen to our body and follow what it is telling us. If I stick to meat, fruit and vegetables (limited ones because of low fodmap) I feel better no argument about it.

  95. Chris, I’d be interested to know your view on Dr Stephanie Seneff’s work that it may be glyphosate, rather than gluten itself, which underlies the gut and digestive problems that so many people are experiencing?

    • @Isabel
      I too would love to hear about any studies done to further investigate Dr. Seneff’s theories about the high amounts of glyphosate being sprayed on wheat(which is not the only crop being sprayed). I don’t mean to imply that this would negate the idea that NCGS is a real condition. I personally believe it is a true condition but I wonder if a certain portion of the NCGS population may be experiencing issues with wheat and not with all other gluten-laden foods. Perhaps, residual glyphosate in certain crops can be to blame for some of the NCGS population’s intolerances.

  96. This was a great read.

    Just wanted to share – I suffered from severe insomnia and anxiety (granted, quite possibly a result of the insomnia) for 2.5 years, from the age of 23.

    I saw many different doctors during this time, none of whom were particularly helpful nor particularly interested in what brought on my nightly heart palpitations/sweating/panic attacks. I suffered brain fog, was irritable and uncharacteristically anxious – the entire ordeal controlled my life – it was debilitating.

    Convinced it was a psychological problem, I finally I saw one doctor, who promptly took me off gluten and within 2 days I was sleeping like a baby. That was four years ago and I still sleep like a baby (except for the 4 times I have accidentally ingested gluten).

    I cannot understand people’s disdain for those claiming gluten intolerance – I know with 100% certainty that gluten ruins my life and completely changes my personality.

    Moreover, I really feel for those who may not even know that this could be the cause of their troubles too.

    • It doesn’t contradict anything I’ve written here. There was a statistically significant difference between gluten and placebo in the RCT. But even if there were not, when evaluating a question like this you have to look at the bulk of the evidence, which is what my point is—and what I’ve done in this article, and others.

  97. It is still truly amazing that most physicians continue to deny gluten as a problem when faced with the onslaught of scientific fact, but we’ve seen that before (cholesterol and heart disease?). All my chronic patients have improved after going gluten free. What more proof is needed? Too bad “big food” has just as much influence as “big pharma”, and sometimes they are one and the same!

  98. Chris, I have no dog in this race and am still on the fence on whether gluten sensitivity is real or not. I’ve read Fasano papers etc. that link gluten to zonulin and intestinal permeability in vitro. So theoretically it could be a real and it’s certainly plausible. That said, none of the RCTs have provided good evidence to support the hypothesis – and many would suggest gluten is not the real culprit.

    That also goes for the Di Sabatino et al. paper you mentioned here. Disclaimer, I didn’t get access to the PDF through my university and haven’t read the full text. But Alan Argon pointed out some massive flaws in the paper in his recent research review issue. Specifically:

    – The researchers used wrong statistical test and had they used the correct test the results probably wouldn’t have been significant.
    – The study smells like a fishing expedition. They did 28 comparisons and found ‘significant’ differences in only 5. It’s not clear that they corrected for multiple comparisons.
    – 22 out of 29 patients experienced higher symptom scored during the placebo period and 44 out of 59 were classified as having ‘low’ symptom score. So we see that most people with self-declared gluten sensitivity had no problems with gluten.
    – Only 3 people out of 56 experienced strong symptoms, as per the criteria set by the researchers, during the gluten period, meaning that 53 people got no or mild symptoms.

    Assuming that the criticism is correct, I don’t see this paper providing strong evidence for non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

    I have to say that I don’t doubt that people get better when they remove gluten from their diet. It just seems that it could be something else in gluten containing foods that caused the symptoms.

    • This may be the latest Fasano paper (Feb 2015):
      MDPI/Nutrients: Effect of Gliadin on Permeability of Intestinal Biopsy Explants from Celiac Disease Patients and Patients with Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity

      “This study demonstrates that gliadin exposure induces an increase in intestinal permeability in all individuals, regardless of whether or not they have celiac disease.”

      • I love Fasano’s work, and don’t dispute his finding. However, there is the question of clinical significance. Drinking alcohol regularly also increases intestinal permeability, yet moderate alcohol consumption is almost always associated with positive outcomes in observational studies. The gut is a very dynamic organ, and can go from being permeable to impermeable in a matter of moments. That’s it’s job. The problem is if it gets stuck in the permeable state.

        Although Fasano has written these papers showing that gliadin/gluten causes intestinal permeability even in healthy people, he does not believe that all people should avoid gluten. Here is an excerpt from an interview I did with him on my podcast a couple years ago:

        We identified two fragments, one of the gluten components, it’s called gliadin, that when introduced to epithelial cells they induce, like for bacteria, zonulin release. And this, again, happens to everybody. What is the difference between everybody and the people that develop a problem with gluten like celiac disease is that while for me, for example, because I don’t have a problem. I eat a Big Mac. I have gluten in there. These fragments release zonulin, which increases permeability. Stuff comes through, including gluten. My immune system that is tuned to do the job right will clean up the mess, and I will not even know that all that happened. Also because this open-and-close is short. It’s a matter of minutes that it will open and a matter of minutes that will turn to be closed. People with celiac disease, on the other hand, when they do something like that, not only do they have much more zonulin produced than I do, but also the opening is much more prolonged because these doors get stuck open, and therefore you give much more time for substances from the environment, including gluten, to come through. And now on this other side, you find this immune system that is not tuned to do the job right, and when they see this enemy, they start to mount an immune response to attack your own body, and that leads to celiac disease.

        You can listen to the full interview here. I highly recommend it.

        • Chris, thank for the reply.

          Re: The gut is a very dynamic organ, and can go from being permeable to impermeable in a matter of moments. That’s it’s job. The problem is if it gets stuck in the permeable state.

          … or is merely held at permeable chronically by diet.

          The typical modern diet is a continuous provocation by gluten-bearing grains, and probably other leak-enabling agents. Back when the USDA would admit what was in the MyPlateOfMetabolicSyndrome, they were advocating 60% of calories from carbs, and most of that from “healthy whole grains”, which basically means runt mutant goat grass (misleadingly sold to us as “semi-dwarf hybrid wheat”). It’s in the majority of processed foods.

          Anyone not paying detailed attention is consuming modern wheat continuously.

          Eating heirlooms is no real help either. There was yet another trial lately of kamut vs. modern wheat that showed once again, that heirlooms are slightly safer than modern (and both got beat by rice this time, which although GF, is far from completely benign).

          There are close protein mimics to gliadin in barley, rye and corn as well. When Monsanto doesn’t get the results suppressed, there are also concerns about gut impacts from novel GMO crop genetics and the pesticide uptake that they enable.

          Re: Although Fasano has written these papers showing that gliadin/gluten causes intestinal permeability even in healthy people, he does not believe that all people should avoid gluten.

          I know that about him, but when I look at his research, it screams “precautionary principle”.

          Why eat grains at all? Where is the double-blind cross-over peer-reviewed science supporting any RDA at all for grains? The only unconfounded science we appear to have says “eat something else”. The personal testimonials are striking. The re-exposure horror stories are jaw-dropping. But these are mere anecdote, dismissed by formal science that sees nothing worth patenting, and dismissed by consensus medicine who were taught by omission that diet doesn’t matter anyway.

          One thing we seem to never hear from the NCGS skeptics is: “sure, eliminate all sources of gluten for your diet for a month and see what happens.”

          And oh by the way, give careful thought to what, if anything, you replace those calories with. Most processed GF foods are high-glycemic junk (and that part of the GF phenomenon really is a fad).

  99. Anyone who is sensitive to gluten should also GET TESTED FOR PARASITES! I had to go GF and sugar free for many years as when I ate any food containing these my stomach would bloat up like i was 3 months pregnant. I had bad IBS symptoms. I was finally diagnosed with D Fragilis a gut/bowel bacteria. Under my Dr we cleared it with antibiotics, antiparasitic herbs, change of diet & continuing healing leaky gut. And now I am like a new person! back to a nice flat stomach & no IBS. I am from Australia where there is a 100% accurate test for 10 x types of parasites. Its called the Feacal Multiplex PCR test. I dont know if you have anything as accurate in the USA as it was developed in Australia. But this is an area that more people need to get tested for & treated. It was a relief for me & my son as we both had it. Our iron & b12 levels are back to normal. before that I had to have shots as the D Fragilis was taking all of my iron & b12. my health has skyrocketed now 🙂 Just wanted to share. Good health to you out there!

  100. Whenever someone tells me that gluten intolerance isn’t real, I first ask them if they have ever removed it from their diet to test it. I then tell them that I have, and I know for a fact that when I eat it, I get sick. So whatever side of science they want to side with, I tell them that all I know is I get extremely sick when I eat anything with gluten.

  101. i have asked this elsewhere, and it would be an excellent question for those writing articles that treat “gluten free” as a pejorative:

    Is there a single relevant scientific study that demonstrates in any way that not eating wheat or grain is detrimental to health? Anywhere?

    That’s it. If it isn’t detrimental not to eat it, what is the problem?

    • Please don’t take this as an attack against you or your position. I’m simply giving friendly criticism to your statement.

      Whether or not eating wheat and grains is detrimental to health is irrelevant here. You are both shifting the burden of proof and making a logically fallacy of moving the goal posts.

      First, people who claim have gluten is a problem outside of celiac disease have to provide evidence for their claims. That’s how science works. It’s not for the skeptics to prove the negative.

      Secondly, what you are saying here, in essence, is that it doesn’t matter what the science says on this. Not eating wheat and grains is not harmful anyway.

      While one could argue that not eating wheat and grains is not unhealthy to people in rich countries, and it could even be healthy for many. But what about people in poor countries. People who don’t have access to the same variety of foods we have.

      One could also argue that grains are probably crucial for humanity’s food safety. They provide cheap and storable source of calories. It’s probably much harder and more expensive to store other foods. Also, I’m not sure we could grow enough calories to feed humanity without grains.

      So not eating grains could be very damaging ecologically.

      • What what what? Grains become sustainable…there’s a bunch of evidence that enlights how grains are actually destroying the planet! Poor people are like that because the domination machine exploited them and their lands and now we are forcing our junk food to them leading to the need of big pharna as well. Of course there’s a growing business around them. We are too many beings on the planet and the uncontrolled need for grain cultivation is only worsening the problem. The only solution now is getting back to the grasslands and the grassfed breeding.

      • Seppo,

        I totally understand where you are coming from on a science, black and white facts, but as a functional doctor and helping many patients with their health issues, many stemming from changing their diet and helping the destructive tissue heal, has been nothing short of a miracle to these people. I have myself have had horrible GI problems which was all related back to Gluten and parasites. Is everyones problem the same? No, and that is why we are doctors of cause. Some patients may have a mold issue in conjugation with a food sensitivity, giving them a non GI relates symptom. I believe the issue in the accumulation of our environment (foods, water, air, other toxins), genetic predisposition, and stress. Everyone chemical experiment is unique. But the Gluten*wheat*Glyophate issue is real and will only get worse.

        • Dr Joe,

          Let me just put it out there that I eat almost no wheat or grains. I also have gut issues and eating grains more than occasionally causes a lot of issues. Nothing serious but certainly enough to realize there’s a problem.

          I don’t doubt that grains cause issues for some people. My beef is with that people seem so fixated on gluten intolerance and proving that it’s real. As I stated in one of my other comments, it’s certainly plausible that non-celiac gluten intolerance is real. But most RCTs, the only studies that can really answer the question, come back negative. Which raises the possibility that it could be something else in grains that causes the problems.

          Why does this matter? If you tell people that they have to avoid gluten, and the real problem is something else in wheat/grains. These go ahead and buy gluten-free bread made of wheat.. well, you see where we have a problem.

  102. My daughter originally would throw fits and lose control of her emotions when she was exposed to gluten. I hate it took us a year to figure it out. Our family and close friends accept it mostly but I have a few friends that took pleasure in sharing the gluten is fake stories. She now is showing 3 of 5 of the tics for tic disorder which again almost disappeared after removing dairy.
    I, like most, was do excited to feel this good and wanted to share the news but mostly just prefer to eat quietly and lead by example.

  103. A few years ago, I was suddenly paralyzed and unable to move for a week. After extensive testing, my doctor discovered and so explained to me that my body “maxed out” on both gluten and dairy and said that I should no longer eat either in order to regain my health. Since then, I’ve eaten neither and have noticed a tremendous difference in my energy levels, cognitive abilities, and overall health. When someone tells me that the sensitivity isn’t real, I usually look them dead in the face and say, “Cancer isn’t real either.” This usually shuts them up.

  104. In the Fall of 2012, I developed a slight stiffness in my back. Within weeks my condition worsened to the point that my left leg partially paralyzed. I went to a series of doctors and eventually was diagnosed with primary lateral sclerosis (a condition closely related to ALS) by three of the top neurology centers in the country. I was told that there was no cure and no treatment. I read on-line that a neurologist in the UK had linked unexplained neurological problems to gluten sensitivity and began a gluten-free diet. After seeing Dr Terry Wahls’ TedX discussing how a Paleo diet reversed her MS symptoms, I expanded to a full Paleo diet myself. Over the past 2 years my condition has continued to improve, and within 8 months of beginning the diet I was able to discard my wheel chair, walker, and cane.

  105. I wonder if a big part of gluten intolerance today is related to the fact that many of our gluten containing foods; especially breads , are made to yield 50 or more times the amount of gluten than normal. The food industry had a lot to answer .

  106. I’m a nutrition student at a major college and the undergraduates in the food science program went CRAZY over these articles online. They ate it up like gravy. A really alarming amount of people were just gleeful to have an excuse to tell people they were being stupid and faddish for eating gluten-free. It was obvious when those articles came out that it was a sentiment that had been bubbling for a long time and really resonated with a lot of people. I think they felt personally insulted by the idea that other people have fundamentally different needs than they do. I have noticed an attitude among some in the allegedly ‘pro-science’ community where health food has come to be viewed as anti-science or as junk science that threatens ‘real science’ somehow. Some people who are really attached to their junk foods have this kind of mentality, where you’re committing some crime against society if you don’t just eat ‘normal food’. I suppose they think us health food nazis are coming to take away everyone’s toys and they have to fight back. I find it extra ironic that research tends to be on health food’s side, yet these are usually the same people who will say it’s wrong not to follow the modern medicine method 100% because it’s backed by Science and Research. Obviously, we really have lost the meaning behind those terms.

    • Easier to go along with the group and to think less.
      Some people resent others that take a responsibility for their own health and don’t eat ‘normal’. They don’t want to feel bad about their inability to ditch their comfort foods. They don’t want to go to the extra effort of not eating processed rubbish. They don’t like having their belief system challenged – it seems to scare them on some level to think that a lot of what they believe is wrong. They resist thinking for themselves. Some have an inferiority complex because of struggling to understand things and choose to disbelieve them instead.
      A lot of people just don’t seem to ‘get’ that everyone is physiologically different to them and will react to different things.

    • The concept of “biochemical individuality” has been lost somewhere in the past We humans are alike, yet we are different. What helps one person can sicken another. Jack eats peanuts as a great snack, Alex eats peanuts and immediately vomits. When Functional Medicine practitioners listen to individuals, their symptom, diet patterns, family history, along with blood tests and etc. something amazing happens. When people are treated as individuals, they get better, healthier, Biochemical individuality is real. That means one-size-fits-all medicine dispensed by big pharma, medical schools, and journalists, is wrong, misguided, and needs to go! P.S.Add Hashimoto’s (autoimmune thyroid disease) to your list. Hashimoto’s patients should try a gluten free, dairy free, soy free plan. It will help some individuals!

    • Well stated, both Grace and gh!

      Grace, you happen to be in an environment where you can study the responses quite well and I appreciated your view on this.

      I think gh has nailed the reason we see the non-believers react with relief on hearing information that more aligns with their beliefs. It’s about belief systems. Not just a few people though. I happen to believe, after a lot of reading on this subject, that we ALL suffer from belief system superiority over logic. Superiority in that beliefs tend to take precedence, instinctively, and protectively. We are wired that way. Logic takes a back seat to beliefs, especially when time is of the essence, and who isn’t short on time to really mull matters and give an honest look at new data?

      A great book to read on this is “Blink”. It confirms what gh says: it scares “them on some level to think that a lot of what they believe is wrong.” I’ll just add, it scares all of us to think that what we believe is wrong. It’s very time-consuming to re-arrange a considerable section of the mental associations you’ve made regarding a subject. It’s scary to contemplate having to do that. It’s far easier to “just keep believing”.

      If one doesn’t believe this, just consider how you would feel if the other side here had much more convincing arguments than what Chris and his sources had produced. Consider what it would be like to have to abandon the NCGS belief thanks to truly convincing contrary evidence. It would be tough on all of us. New beliefs would have to be forged. One can’t just adopt new beliefs in a matter of minutes. A lot of mental gymnastics are involved. It’s downright painful.

      We feel superior in this particular contest, due to our beliefs not being challenged substantially. But I don’t think we are superior in terms of mental capacity to those wishing to debunk NCGS. I honestly feel for those defending wheat as a safe food. Probably, if they can live long enough, they all will be swallowing a bitter pill at some time in the future, and it will take quite a while to digest.

  107. I think it IS a fad for some, but I do believe that for many, wheat is just not such a good idea, never was, certainly not in the quantities we tend to consume it now as opposed to the occasional handful of grains likely consumed by our ancestors.

  108. I spent years with terrible excema all over my hands. The backs of them were cracked, bleeding and weeping. And both stingy and sooo itchy!! I had to wear gloves to bed at night to stop myself tearing at them in my sleep. I tried steroid creams, natural creams, nutritional supplements, wore gloves when cleaning. Nothing worked and I spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars trying to fix it.

    Then I gave up bread and grain food when I went “Paleo” and lo and behold! Yes, the excema went away. It took a few false starts, but eventually the connection started to become very obvious.

    When I would still have gluten grains on occasion and if over a few days, the bubbling in my skin on my fingers started and the red patches came up on my hands. It is not psychosomatic. It is physical and it is real.

    Now I no longer want to eat that food group and find it very easy to say no. And I feel much better for it.

    Who wants to eat poison?!

    • I was a few months into full paleo when I realized my eczema had disappeared. It is something I’ve had my entire life prior with regularly almost daily/weekly dry skin, bleeding, itching, etc. I’ve wrecked many clothes and bed sheets over the years. I’d sometimes claw for hours in my sleep and wake up with torn up skin. Now it is entirely 100% gone.

      I have tried many lotions and medications over the years. While some would provide a little relief, it was only partial or temporary. Now I don’t even use lotion, and my skin is healthier than ever. I was even surprised when people would start commenting on how good my skin looks. I didn’t really notice it myself since it was a gradual change.

      What a great benefit of eating paleo because I didn’t even know I was going to cure eczema doing it.

    • Helen,
      Your story reflects mine as well. The rash appeared on only 3 fingers on my right hand – very odd – no doctor could explain it. The change in diet was what seemed to cure it. I’ve been symptom-free since July 2014. I also noticed some “bonus” benefits – losing weight and my allergies have disappeared! I used to get itchy eyes and other symptoms (even with allergy meds) when I was around animals. Now I can actually spend hours on end with them (no meds either) 🙂 I’m happy for your healing!

  109. And yes, I’m constantly dealing with deniers. I’m very discrete about my gluten intolerance -it effects me but it usually wears off by the next day.

    I don’t bring it up in social circles – because you get mocked.

    My son is much more sensitive. We had someone feed him gluten to prove to us that it was all in our head.

    He had a migraine that night and got sick.

    Needless to say, those aren’t people we plan on being around anymore.

    • Mike, the wide misperception has got so bad that some people are lumping all gluten “claims” together. We had a neighbor do the same ‘all in your head’ test to me…and I’m celiac! I’m one of the lucky ones whose digestive system reacts strongly and quickly (this actually is lucky, weaker reaction means a celiac patient may continue to eat the stuff until their gut celia are flattened/irreparably damaged, they’ve been malabsorbing long enough to get severe definciencies, etc). So as it happened, I reacted while we were still at their barbeque. My husband sued them in our local town court, most of our neighbors shunned them. They moved away the next year.

      • oh my goodness! how did you find out what they had done? I’m so glad you took action! You should make a blog post of your story and post the documents (redacted if you have to) to show the world! A lot of people could really benefit from your story.

  110. Among all people eating gluten free, I think there is a large gluten free fad which may contribute to the perception that gluten sensitivity is not real. I think for some people it is fun and cool to say “I’m gluten free.” Like a cool new diet to try. But I don’t find much relevance to that and the potential for gluten senstivity, what is relevant is the realclearscience piece, second to last, where research suggests some “gluten sensitivity” may actually be FODMAP sensitivity. This piece does not support the assertion that anyone is quick to discard gluten sensitivity without reason. Far from it, the piece appears to try to explain it at a deeper level. I think there is a lot we do not know right now, but just as we should not be quick to dismiss gluten sensitivity, we should not be quick to dismiss that FODMAPs may be actual problem for many, not simply gluten. We eat largely gluten free because when we tried it and stopped eating those processed carbs (bread/pasta) 15 lbs melted away for me in a few months, and in about 2 weeks the difference was noticeable in my then 3yo daughter (her rib cage showed up). I don’t think we are gluten sensitive as we still enjoy some naan or pita on occasion when eating out.

    • The Gibson paper that all of these articles were based on did not prove that gluten isn’t an issue in IBS patients, or that FODMAPs were entirely responsible for their symptoms. The patients in that trial experienced a resolution of symptoms on a gluten-free diet while continuing to ingest FODMAPs from other sources, like legumes (which are a much richer source of FODMAPs than wheat).

      That said, is it possible that some patients with IBS are reacting to FODMAPs rather than gluten? Of course. Does that disprove the existence of gluten intolerance in people with IBS, or all other people? Of course not—and that’s what those articles claimed.

      Also, it’s worth noting that from a practical perspective, FODMAP and gluten intolerance will lead to the same outcome: removal of wheat products from the diet.

      • Gluten and Fodmap was a pain in the butt for me. It meant I had to eliminate foods that I enjoyed. I had to find a balance because the non food groups activated more pain which lead to further harm IBS/D. I accept Gluten food not as a diet, rather that I have no choice if I want to live a peaceful life.

      • The Gibson study actually removed people with DQ2/DQ8 and others who had an immune response to wheat.

        The study still concluded 8% had NCGS and Gibson went on to to another study that showed gluten was causative in causing depressive symptoms.

    • It is not cool to say I am gluten free. It is life. I had various test that indicated issues, which lead to an investigation and possible surgery. Gluten free food allows me to eat more food with no pain. I can enjoy every moment. Those who are not gluten free will never understand.

  111. With Alzheimer’s disease sometimes called “diabetes of the brain,” and PCOS sometimes called “diabetes of the ovaries,” I wonder if it’ll be long before all the NCGS conditions will have new names:

    Rheumatoid arthritis will be “celiac of the joints.”
    MS will be “celiac of the nerve cells.”
    Schizophrenia & ADHD will be “celiac of the brain.”
    (Etc.)

    It would be good, in a way, because it would remind people of the connection between gluten and those conditions, in the same way that “diabetes of the brain” connects insulin/glucose to Alzheimer’s. I don’t think gluten is the *only* factor in those conditions, but it’s certainly a major (perhaps even the primary) contributor.

    • We already seen that gluten stimulate zonulin whether one is celiac or not, zunulin is related to leaky gut and leaky gut is related to autoimmune disease. I’m wondering, according to this, everyone should be gluten “intolerant”, why are we still here arguing about it? If this is true, how can we say that there are people who tolerate gluten? It seems to me all the other way round.

      • Technically – no one can properly digest gluten as we don’t have an enzyme in the body to break it down. This applies to everyone – NCGS, Celiac and regular folks too.

        • Mike, you are right, we homo sapiens, like any other mammal on earth, don’t own the enzyme to properly cut the binding between proline and glutammine, i.e. gliadine and casein, thus it’s really astounding to me to hear about such issue. We are not birds and that’s all, it doesn’t take any high science to understand it. We become so slave than the “latest” fake study to deny the evidence, is it actual science or following the blindness of some scientist, who deny the evidence for the sake of someone’s business? Folks look at the evidence.

  112. It’s good to hear you are already defending the deeper science on gluten, Chris. This attack from the popular science writers is bound to continue.

    You said you were not exactly sure why the general public seems to be eager “to prove that gluten intolerance is an imaginary or fake condition”. I agree with your conclusions though. We must remember that this whole counterattack is probably being funded by the organizations that profit from the status quo consisting of people feasting on empty calories and getting degenerative conditions.

    I’ve found recently that a twin of this attack on us gluten-phobes is the attack on the low-carb clan. I’d swear it’s funded by big-Ag and big-Pharma. There are more and more bloggers out there these days talking hard to re-interest people in the safety of eating sugar. It’s only slightly insidious. But consistently they claim that the closer to simple sugars you ingest your carbohydrates, the better off you are. It also steps totally around discussing sugar addiction, A1c implications, the value of carbohydrates bound in fiber, etc.

    Most of these pro-sucrose bloggers got their initial ideas from Ray Peat, and have offered little new science to back up their claims. In fact, they offer hardly any science, but, just as for the supporters of gluten, they can quickly find a willing audience of believers.

    Keep up the good work.

  113. “This should be yet another reminder to take what you read in the popular health media with a large grain of salt.”

    Don’t do that! Salt is deadly! 😉

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