Wheat Sensitivity Is Real (Even if It’s Not Celiac Disease)

If you think you have general wheat sensitivity and tire of your friends smirking when you reveal why you try to avoid foods like pasta and bread, you now may have a scientific reason to back up your dietary preferences. The groundbreaking report comes from a group of scientists out of Columbia University University Medical Center.

Published in the journal Gut, the recent research may have cracked the code as to why some people have wheat sensitivity. This study differs from those that have come before it because it didn’t examine celiac wheat sensitivity, but the harder to define “general” wheat sensitivity millions of Americans claim to suffer from. The study also may help doctors test for run-of-the-mill wheat sensitivity via a simple yet definitive test.

“I do hope that this results in greater recognition of this particular condition,” Armin Alaedini, the lead author of the study, says.

“What we’re studying is to help identify individuals who may really benefit from certain treatment strategies.”

About the test

Doctors can test for celiac disease with a blood test that reveals tell-tale antibodies and a small intestine biopsy; a wheat scratch test can diagnose a wheat allergy.

But this new research may help a third group of people who do not have celiac disease or a wheat allergy. These patients experience stomach pain, diarrhea, bloating, altered mood, and fatigue when they eat products with wheat, rye, and barley. A questionnaire and a several month wheat, rye, and barley-free trial period traditionally diagnosed this sensitivity.

The study

Alaedini and researchers examined 80 people with non-celiac wheat sensitivity (NCWS). The team compared samples of the group’s blood to 40 people with celiac disease and 40 people without celiac disease. The study participants were on a non-restricted diet when samples were taken.

“They found that people with NCWS had certain biomarkers in their blood, distinct from those with celiac disease, that indicated intestinal cell damage,” the Huffington Post reports.

“Other markers also showed that their immune systems had been activated against microbial antigens that may have leaked from their guts to the rest of their bodies.”

Next, the scientists examined a subset of 20 people with NCWS. Researchers asked them to “eat a diet free of wheat, rye, and barley for six months,” the Huffington post adds.

“Afterward, they tested the participants’ blood again and found lower levels of the biomarkers that indicated immune system activation and intestinal cell damage. The participants also reported that they were suffering from significantly fewer symptoms.”

This is welcome news because we all know everyone feels better when the food they eat doesn’t turn against them. Also, it doesn’t hurt that science can back the claim up.


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