Do You Have A Gluten Sensitivity?

By: Dr. Michael Morsillo – Newmarket Naturopathic Doctor

We’re currently at a very interesting time – where we’re becoming very well-informed about our foods and our diets; however, despite all of this information, we’re as confused as ever about many aspects of nutrition.  Certainly, gluten has to be at the forefront of all of this confusion – which is why I’d like to discuss gluten sensitivity.

Since I discuss diet and nutrition with just about every single patient that comes into the clinic, I would say that confusion about gluten comes in two forms:
1) Some people have tested negative for Celiac Disease with their medical doctor, so they’re convinced that gluten couldn’t possibly be the cause of their symptoms.
2) Others believe that gluten is the root of all evil and is the cause of all of their health concerns and symptoms.

Both of these are wrong.  I think some of the confusion comes from the fact that ‘gluten sensitivity’ has been a very poorly defined concept.  I also find that many people will use “gluten sensitivity”“gluten intolerance”, and “gluten allergy” to refer to the exact same thing.  Let’s clear this up by describing the difference between Celiac disease, wheat allergy, and gluten sensitivity.

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune condition whereby the ingestion of gluten triggers our immune system to attack our own small intestine.  As a result, the lining of our intestinal tract can become damaged, leading to malabsorption and several nutritional deficiencies.

Wheat Allergy is an allergic condition whereby the ingestion of wheat products triggers IgE antibody production, leading to an anaphylactic reaction (hives, throat swelling, difficulty breathing).

Gluten Sensitivity is a syndrome in those who do not have Celiac Disease nor a Wheat Allergy, but who still have symptoms resulting from the ingestion of gluten.  This is why the proper term for this condition is actually “Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity”, (“NCGS” for short).  Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity is estimated to be approximately ten times more common than Celiac Disease.

Gluten Sensitivity is also poorly recognized because it can cause a broad set of symptoms, which are often attributed to other conditions.  Gluten Sensitivity can cause the following symptoms:

Gastrointestinal Symptoms:
– GERD/Heartburn
– Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
– Bloating
– Cramping
– Constipation
– Diarrhea

Non-Intestinal Symptoms:
– Fatigue
– “Brain Fog”
– Depression
– Headaches
– Anxiety
– Pain
– Eczema/Rash

If you’re thinking that one or more of your symptoms might be a result of Gluten Sensitivity, here are a few things you can do:
1) Ask your naturopathic doctor or medical doctor to test you for Celiac Disease and Wheat Allergy.
2) If the above two conditions have been ruled out, you can ask your naturopathic doctor to run a Food Sensitivity Test.  This test will test for Gluten Sensitivity, as well as sensitivities to 100+ other foods in your diet.
3) You can also work with your naturopathic doctor to do a trial run of a Gluten-Free Diet and pay close attention to any changes in your symptoms.

Yours In Health,

Dr. Michael Morsillo, H.B.Sc., N.D.
Newmarket Naturopathic Doctor