Over the last several months, I have written several posts on the misinformation not only by the press but by so called experts on whether gluten sensitivity is a myth.
Those of us not diagnosed with celiac disease have borne the eye rolls, sneers and downright condescension of doctors, waiters and family alike. The echoes of “it’s all in your head” still ring in our ears. Finally, it seems we are at last vindicated.
There have been several articles published lately, citing that non-celiac gluten sensitivity does really exist, to the relief of those of us who suffer daily with this condition, yet are mocked incessantly.
In the article-Is gluten sensitivity for real? Armin Alaedini, assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University in New York City, states:
“We don’t know what is triggering this response, but this study is the first to show that there are clear biological changes in these individuals,”
“Based on our findings, we hope there would be greater recognition of this condition. This is a real condition. There are individuals who may not have celiac disease or wheat allergy, but still have a sensitivity to wheat,” Alaedini said.
This is huge-it means that science is finally recognizing that you don’t have to have celiac disease to have gluten sensitivity.
“Basically, this group has been left out and almost sort of relegated to figuring things out on their own,” Alaedini said. “Some people have even been accused of imagining this condition.”
Between 0.5 percent and 6 percent of the general population are estimated to have non-celiac wheat sensitivity, Alaedini said, although he cautioned that a lack of good diagnostic tools have hampered efforts to come up with a solid and accurate estimate.
The analysis of 80 patients with non-celiac wheat sensitivity found that these people experience an immune response to gluten that’s less focused and more wide-ranging than that found in celiac disease, Alaedini said. These patients were studied alongside 40 people with celiac disease and 40 healthy people in a “control” group.
People with non-celiac wheat sensitivity did not experience an autoimmune reaction. And, they didn’t have T-cells — a specific form of white blood cell — attacking living cells in the body, as occurs in celiac disease, Alaedini explained.
But people with non-celiac wheat sensitivity did show evidence of an acute and systemic immune activation that did not occur in celiac disease, accompanied by signs of cellular intestinal damage.
The results suggest that people with non-celiac wheat sensitivity suffer from a severe immune reaction because microbes and food particles can seep through their weakened intestinal barrier and into their bloodstream, the researchers explained.
“This intestinal barrier is so important in health. It keeps all those bacteria and food molecules in the gut away from the rest of the body, so it doesn’t trigger immune responses that can cause disease,” Alaedini said.
This seepage does not occur with celiac disease, despite the damage done to the intestine by the disorder.
The findings were published online July 25 in the journal Gut.
This is a great victory for us. I sincerely hope that this is a turning point for all of us who live this lifestyle not because we want to, but because we have to. Granted, things have gotten easier as time has gone on, but it is still a challenge to find a safe gluten free meal when restaurants, food companies and yes, even airlines include gluten containing items in so called “gluten free” meals.
Add to that dairy intolerance and nut allergies, and you have a recipe for disaster. I also hope that dairy and allergen free meals will become more of a mainstream choice, and not a game of Russian Roulette.
Thanks to Dr. Alaedini and Columbia University for publishing this article.