A gluten free diet has become all the rage recently with a worldwide market for gluten-free products nearly at $2.5 billion. People with an autoimmune condition called celiac disease, have to eat a gluten free diet because foods that contain gluten will trigger the immune system to attack the small intestine lining.
While other people that have not been diagnosed with celiac disease, still complain of the same systems as people with the condition. They get symptoms after consuming gluten which include bloating, abdominal discomfort, flatulence and headache. It has become that people believe they have what is called nonceliac gluten sensitivity.
What is nonceliac gluten sensitivity? No one really knows the truth because there’s no scientific evidence behind it. Dr. Roberto Corazza and Dr. Antonio Di Sabatino who wrote an opinion piece in the February 21 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine say, “Considerable debate about nonceliac gluten sensitivity has recently surfaced on the Internet, with a sharp increase in forums, patients or patient groups, manufacturers, and physicians advocating a gluten-free diet. Claims seem to increase daily, with no adequate scientific support to back them up.”
The researchers reported that only a few studies have tested the condition of nonceliac gluten sensitivity. One randomized controlled re-challenge trial found gluten worsened functional symptoms in celiac-free patients. While another uncontrolled, unblinded subgroup study found a gluten-free diet had brought relief to people who had gastrointestinal problems, but did not have the confirmed celiac disease.
What is gluten? Gluten is a protein in wheat, rye, and barley that is commonly found in bread, beer, pasta, and a wide range of other processed foods containing these grains.
Gluten is just one of the components in the complex protein mixture in wheat flour, and which doesn’t mean it’s responsible for these symptoms. Other proteins, such as alpha-amylase/trypsin inhibitors or yeast, could play a role in such symptoms people are having. Starch malabsorption could trigger a similar reaction as gluten would with a diagnosed celiac patient.
The Dr’s went on to explain, “Many of these patients were formerly on highly restrictive diets, had already withdrawn gluten from their diet, and were convinced that it had helped to limit their irritable bowel syndrome-like symptoms.”
Walter Coyle, MD, of the Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, California said in an email to MedPage Today, “There are a whole host of people who do not meet celiac criteria but have symptoms with gluten. It may not be gluten, but other substances in those foods, like fructans. I think we need more science and less hype.”