Non-Celiac Gluten/Wheat Sensitivity
People with non-celiac gluten/wheat sensitivity experience symptoms similar to those of celiac disease, which resolve when gluten is removed from the diet. However, they do not test positive for celiac disease.
Some people experience symptoms found in celiac disease, such as “foggy mind”, depression, ADHD-like behavior, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, bone or joint pain, and chronic fatigue when they have gluten in their diet, yet do not test positive for celiac disease.
The terms non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) and non-celiac wheat sensitivity (NCWS) are generally used to refer to this condition, when removing gluten from the diet resolves symptoms, after testing negative for celiac disease and a wheat allergy.
Until now it was thought that people with NCGS/NCWS only experienced symptoms and did not have any intestinal damage. However, in July 2016, a team of researchers at Columbia University Medical Center, published a study confirming that wheat exposure in this group is, in fact, triggering a systemic immune reaction and accompanying intestinal cell damage.
It is estimated that the impacted population is equal to or even exceeds the number of individuals with celiac disease (the vast majority of whom remain undiagnosed).
At this point, research has not confirmed that gluten is the culprit triggering the immune reaction as is the case with celiac disease. Other potential culprits include amylase-trypsin inhibitors (ATIs) and fructans (found in FODMAPs). Each of these contain gluten, but gluten may not be the cause of the syndrome.1 According to head researcher of the study, Dr. Armin Alaedini, “there is some ambiguity there, which is why we are referring to it as non-celiac wheat sensitivity for now.” Intolerance can be triggered by gastrointestinal infections, medications, and surgery.1