"We obtained from the following diseases, gluten ataxia, multiple sclerosis, autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depressive disorders, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, dermatitis herpetiformis and epilepsy, studies in which either a determination of gliadin was refered or a treatment, with/without gluten, was applied and evaluated. The ingestion of gluten seems to be related to disease, when there is no EC, SGNC or wheat allergy [Celiac Disease]. Suspicions about the benefit of GFD as a complementary treatment is borne in semi-clinical trials and cohorts, either as a causal factor in the pathogenesis, or improvement of symptoms." From the abstract of a Spanish study that was released just prior to Christmas, in the December, 2014 issue of Nutrición Hospitalaria (Is Gluten the Great Etiopathogenic Agent of Disease in the XXI Century?)
"Wheat-related disorders have become a growing area of clinical and scientific interest and can be categorized broadly as: autoimmune-mediated; allergic; and non-autoimmune/non-allergic conditions. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) and non-celiac wheat sensitivity (NCWS) present on this spectrum as disorders associated with adverse gastrointestinal and extra-intestinal manifestations following exposure to gluten and/or other wheat-related constituents. NCGS/NCWS is increasingly considered in patients with unexplained symptoms after the exclusions of celiac disease and wheat allergy. As objective diagnostic data and specific biomarkers are lacking, response to a gluten-free/wheat-free diet can confirm the presence of NCGS/NCWS. An association with irritable bowel syndrome has been detected, and the effects of other food components, such as fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols [FODMAPS], may contribute. Our organization and synthesis of extant knowledge pertaining to wheat-related disorders may advance current practice and research efforts toward an improved understanding of NCGS/NCWS as an evolving clinical entity." From this month's issue of Expert Review of Gastroenterology and Hepatology (Wheat-Related Disorders Reviewed: Making A Grain of Sense)
In case you haven't heard, NON-CELIAC GLUTEN SENSITIVITY is a fad. It's not real. It's a myth. It's all part of an elaborate hoax, of which "health-nuts" are the brunt of the joke. At least that is what you would think if you follow popular media. Over the past few years there has been a steady increase of articles on this topic, most claiming that people are being taken advantage of by the food industry whose hot new product line just happens to be "Gluten Free" (HERE is a pastor who had to chime in with his two cents).
So who's right in this debate? Is it comedian Jimmy Kimmel, who, like great attorneys, has the uncanny ability (not to mention the video editing capabilities) to make people look really stupid --- something that is usually easy to pull off when dealing with lay-persons trying to discuss scientific subjects such as Gluten (or VACCINES)? Or is it the researchers, scientists, and physicians who seem to be telling us in mass that Gluten is a significant etiological / pathological component of 21st century disease? Both groups can't be right. In the words of Kimmel, someone in this debate is full of "bull_ _ _ _".
While it is certainly true that "Big Food" --- many companies who happen to be subsidiaries of "Big Pharma" --- is CASHING IN, and it seems that FODMAPS probably play a much bigger role than we initially thought, the cold hard truth is that Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) is as real as it gets. I would argue that all we have to do is go to the scientific, peer-reviewed literature to see this phenomenon in action. For instance, take a look at the abstract of a paper from a 2013 issue of the journal Nutrients (Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity: The New Frontier of Gluten Related Disorders) that was co-authored by 26 physicians and researchers from around the world
"An overlap between the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and NCGS has been detected, requiring even more stringent diagnostic criteria. Several studies suggested a relationship between NCGS and neuropsychiatric disorders, particularly autism and schizophrenia. Recent studies raised the possibility that, beside gluten, wheat amylase-trypsin inhibitors and low-fermentable, poorly-absorbed, short-chain carbohydrates [FODMAPS] can contribute to symptoms (at least those related to IBS) experienced by NCGS patients."
One of the things that I have tried to do in my numerous posts on Gluten, is to show you that large numbers of NCGS symptoms --- many scientists believe the majority of symptoms --- are characterized as "extra-intestinal". In other words, forget about the classic ("intestinal") signs of Gluten Sensitivity for a moment (bloating, gas, IBS, etc, etc); Gluten is causing an array of other problems ---- most of them categorized as NEUROLOGICAL, AUTOIMMUNE, or CHRONIC INFLAMMATORY (HERE and HERE are a couple examples). I want to touch on some of these today. For those who are interested, the GLUTEN-FREE DIET (GFD) I recommend is found by clicking the link.
Also be aware that Celiac Disease is an Autoimmune Disease whereby the body attacks it's own small intestine. If you have read THIS POST, you will realize that hundreds (maybe thousands) of Autoimmune Diseases start (or at least have a tendency to be started) via development of a sensitivity to Gluten. In other words, there are hundreds of potential Autoimmune manifestations of Gluten Sensitivity that can in no ways be described as Celiac Disease because they do not attack the small intestine. It is important to understand that the designation of "Celiac Disease" does not necessarily mean that one's Gluten Sensitivity is worse, it simply means that it is related to an Autoimmune attack on your small intestine (there are usually other manifestations as well). Here are the things being touted as not only related to Celiac, but to NCGS as well.
NCGS is not being diagnosed much of the time because doctors are typically ordering the wrong tests. The best test that looks for all aspects of Gluten, is from Cyrex Labs. However, I am still a fan of doing things the old-fashioned way ---- with a THIRTY DAY ELIMINATION DIET. Not only are tests inaccurate more than anyone cares to admit, but some people's Immune Systems are so depleted that they are not raising enough Immune System response in the form of antibodies to be accurately measured. On top of this, unless your doctor is really up on current research; because so much NCGS is only "extra-intestinal" and / or neurological, there are no GI symptoms to alert them that Gluten should be a prime suspect.
Furthermore, removing Gluten from your diet is in no ways dangerous. When I see people decrying NCGS as stupid, faddish, or misguided, I have to laugh. You see; there's really no drawback to eating Gluten Free as long as you stay away from THESE PRODUCTS. The truth is that grains ---- particularly modern grains that are often GMO ---- are not nearly as healthy as we have been led to believe. A study (Nutrient-Dense Food Groups have High Energy Costs: An Econometric Approach to Nutrient Profiling) from the July 2007 issue of the Journal of Nutrition showed that while less expensive than WHOLE FOODS such as meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, whole grains came in last as far as nutritional density is concerned (and no; bread is not a good source of fiber ---- HERE).
Despite the fact that many people tout a Gluten Free Diet as unhealthy because it is cutting Gluten --- which some must believe to be an essential nutrient --- out of the diet, a recent study from a pediatrics journal --- Spain's Anales de Pediatria --- called Nutritional Assessment of Gluten-Free Diet. Is Gluten-Free Diet Deficient in Some Nutrient? had this to say about the subject. "The gluten-free diet has minimal deficiencies, similar to those present in the diet with gluten...." In other words, any nutritional deficiencies seen in the GFD were virtually the same as those seen in non-GF diets.
Don't kid yourself for even one moment about NCGS. It's not only real, for many it's an all too real, living, breathing, nightmare. If you have any sort of chronic health issue or unresolved CHRONIC PAIN, you should really contemplate doing a Thirty Day Elimination Diet as outlined in this post. It could be the step that changes your life, and worst case scenario, it's not going to hurt you. For more information about solving Chronic Conditions, HERE is a great starting point.
Dr. Schierling completed four years of Kansas State University's five-year Nutrition / Exercise Physiology Program before deciding on a career in Chiropractic. He graduated from Logan Chiropractic College in 1991, and has run a busy clinic in Mountain View, Missouri ever since. He and his wife Amy have four children (three daughters and a son).