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In the last two articles we discussed two gluten disorders, Celiac Disease and Gluten Allergy. This article will cover the 3rd phenomenon in the gluten free realm, Gluten Intolerance. This gluten disorder is fairly new to the game and can be a much trickier animal.

Gluten Intolerance

Gluten Intolerance is not only a newcomer into the world of living a gluten free lifestyle, but is MUCH harder to diagnose. In fact, it is almost impossible and done primarily through trial by error. Usually, people have already been tested for Celiac and gluten allergies and the tests have come back negative. They have been through a battery of other tests prior to this diagnoses as well, to no avail.


When it comes to testing for Gluten Intolerance, or Non-Celiac Wheat Sensitivity (NCWS) the gold standard is to remove 100% of the gluten from your diet. There are some tests that you can request for your doctor to run, such as the IgA anti-gliadin antibodies, IgG anti-gliadin antibodies or IgA anti-endomysial antibodies tests. However, these have a tendency to come back with false negatives due to the fact that they aren’t testing for every sub-fraction of the gluten protein.

Therefore, removing gluten entirely from your diet once you have reached the end of your rope with testing and still have no answers is the way to go. Even though NCWS is not considered an auto-immune disease there has been some recent research at Columbia University that shows damage to the intestinal cells due to the triggering of an immune response. The study is inconclusive at this point as to whether it is the gluten causing it or some other factor, but the studies will continue until a clear answer is reached.


Even though NCWS may not be considered an auto-immune disorder currently, the symptoms are still eerily similar to those of us with Celiac. Some of these include:Meditainment: Meditation That Takes You Places

  • Abdominal Pain
  • Adrenal Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Bloating
  • Brain Fog
  • Canker Sores
  • Cavities
  • Constipation
  • Cramping
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fatty Stool
  • Flatulence
  • Hormonal Imbalance
  • Joint Pain
  • Lack of Immunity
  • Migraines
  • Mouth Ulcers
  • Nausea
  • Skin Rash
  • Weight Gain/Loss

Of course, with the symptoms varying so widely across the board, NCWS can easily be misdiagnosed as something other than what it is. Celiac Disease and Gluten Allergy are hard enough to diagnose, but this one is even HARDER!

The Solution

Once you and your practitioner have reached the point where you suspect NCWS is the culprit of your symptoms, then a 100% gluten free diet is the way to go. What this means though, is that you cannot have ANY gluten in anything at all in order to see if the removal of gluten makes the symptoms abate. If you have gluten when you go out sometimes, or eat small amounts in sauces and such, the issues will not be resolved.

In fact, when this is done instead of 100% gluten removal you can actually have the opposite reaction. The reason for this is because you have begun to remove the offending matter from your diet and your body has begun the healing process. But if you go back and add in some of the offensive proteins, which causes an overreaction by your body’s immune system and, in turn, exacerbates the symptoms.
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So the only full proof solution is to continually keep gluten out of your diet exclusively for 3-4 months and see how you feel. If the symptoms have abated after that period of time, then you have found the culprit. If not, then you may need to give it more time, in case you accidentally got gluten into your diet during that time period, or gluten may not be the culprit. In which case, back to the drawing board.

The Takeaway

Now that we have discussed the 3 different types of gluten disorders, it should be easier to discern why people ask how allergic you are when you eat out. Just remember that Celiac is not an allergy, but it is misconstrued as one frequently. Even though they aren’t exactly the same, the symptoms can be extremely similar as can the reactions.

Those with Celiac cannot eat anything made with gluten or gluten containing products. Those with allergies and intolerances cannot eat anything made with gluten but they can also may not be able to breathe it in or apply it to their skin as well. Whereas, those two things are not an issue for those of us with Celiac due to the fact that the gluten must be ingested in order to create the immune response.

So next time you are out and somebody asks you how “gluten free you are” hopefully now you have a better idea of why the question has been posed and how to answer it.

Do you have Gluten Intolerance and if so how did you find out? Have you been able to stick with a 100% gluten free diet and what are your favorite gluten free foods?