Coeliacs disease, non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), gluten intolerance, wheat allergies... these are all things we've heard in passing. Perhaps from some of their non-specific symptoms, we've self-diagnosed as gluten intolerant.
Or lost weight opting for a gluten-free lifestyle (which just meant you weren't eating bread, pasta, pizza, pastries because the GF version is damn expensive so its better to bulk meals with veggies right?) because GF is healthy...
But what about people who actually have a problem with gluten? I know I sometimes opt for GF if my body isn't tolerating wheat very well but that's only after I suss out the ingredients. I'd rather put wheat in my body than some random mix of weird starches, gums, preservatives and additives.
So let me explain the differences between coeliacs disease and NCGS.
If you missed my social media post about what gluten is, click here for a quick info lowdown and then continue reading!
Coeliacs disease is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks the gluten protein as if it were a foreign body here to harm you - much like it would a virus. But in this case the attack isn't solely on the gluten particle, but the lining of your gut. You have fine hair-like cells, called villi, lining your small intestine which get damaged in this autoimmune process against the gluten proteins.
The damage caused to the lining leads to an increased intestinal permeability - the fancy name for leaky gut. This causes the small intestine to stop absorbing nutrients correctly meaning there are a host of nutrient deficiencies that can occur. Symptoms may include anaemia, headaches, bloating, fatigue, depression, foul smelling stool, skin problems, brain fog, joint problems, anxiety and, of course, severe digestive issues
Coeliacs disease is hard to diagnose - the symptoms listed can easily be attributed to may other ailments and aren't specific to coeliacs disease - and blood tests may result in false negatives depending on how long you have adopted a gluten-free diet. It is better to go for blood tests BEFORE you cut gluten out of your diet.
The tests for coeliacs disease are an IgA antibody blood test and an intestinal biopsy to ascertain the structure of the intestinal villi)
NCGS is a condition in which a person can't tolerate gluten, have similar symptoms listed above for coeliacs disease but test negative for coeliacs disease (blood test AND intestinal biopsy).
Some research has shown that NCGS doesn't result in increased intestinal permeability and isn't classified as an autoimmune condition. But it also doesn't elicit an allergic reaction (like a wheat allergy) so it isn't an allergy either.
Diagnosis is hard because there is no tests to confirm it's diagnosis, and the symptoms are, once again, non-specific enough that there are many ailments that could cause those symptoms. Often, NCGS will be considered a diagnosis of exclusion which means all other possibilities are ruled out and this is what is left. These are often disheartening with no treatment from the allopathic medical world.
So where does gluten intolerance and wheat allergies fit in?
Well gluten intolerance is often used in the same context as NCGS and may considered "worse" than NCGS but to me, a reaction to gluten (that isn't autoimmune) is a reaction to gluten and I would address digestive issues and gut lining. Although gluten intolerance and NCGS aren't characterised by a leaky gut, it's the first place I'll tonify, strengthen and address. The gut is, after all, our second brain!
A wheat allergy is completely different!
Gluten is just one of many proteins found in wheat. So when someone who is allergic to wheat consumes it, they get an allergic reaction mediated by your IgE antibodies which attack the wheat as if it is a foreign body. Now, the rest of the body is on high alert and reactions can be from nausea, pain, vomiting to swollen lips and tongue and anaphylaxis. In this case, all forms of WHEAT must be avoided and gluten may be tolerated in wheat-free forms such as rye, spelt etc, provided that there isn't a problem with gluten (coeliacs disease, NCGS, gluten intolerance)
If you think you may suffer from some sort of negative reaction to gluten or wheat, there are treatment options for you! If you would like your own individualised treatment plan relating to any health ailment you would like addressed, email me or send a message via my contact form ☺️
Yours in health,
~ Love Health & Wellness ~