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What Is Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity?

By Expert HERWriter
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There are many dietary changes being made these days ranging from the Paleo Diet to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), to the Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet (GAPS) and to the Gluten-free Diet.

Books, websites, and Facebook pages are being created in order to educate and share information about these different plans.

Those having success want it to be known that they are not simple the latest fad trend.

When looking at gluten-free eating in particular, an entire micro-industry has exploded in order to serve this population of people. There are a variety of reasons that a person might decide to go gluten-free.

It becomes confusing when a blood and/or biopsy test comes back negative for celiac and that person feels better on a gluten-free diet.

A relatively new condition has been coined known as “non-celiac gluten sensitivity.” This is in play when a person has a reaction when they eat gluten-containing foods , yet they are not celiac in that their blood tests are negative and if they have a biopsy it is also negative.

This has become confusing to many, including gastrointestinal doctors. And this is why new research out of celiac centers across the United States are focusing on this condition. It is estimated that many more Americans have this gluten sensitivity compared to those who have actual celiac disease.

Symptoms of non-celiac gluten sensitivity can be the same as celiac and include gastrointestinal issues like gas, bloating, stomach pain upon eating gluten products, diarrhea or constipation and heartburn.

Additionally, research shows that people can experience headaches, joint pain, fatigue, unclear thinking and hormonal issues. These symptoms may occur hours or a few days after eating gluten, which may make diagnosis difficult.

There is no official test for this condition other than to completely eliminate gluten for an extended period of time (typically 6-8 weeks) and then reintroduce it and see how the body feels.

Health care practitioners prefer that you test for celiac disease first if you suspect a gluten problem as a gluten-free diet will render a celiac test “negative” since no gluten would be in your system. However it would be a false-negative.

If you decide to try a gluten-free diet, keep in mind that gluten-free does not mean calorie-free nor is it necessarily healthier. There are gluten-free doughnuts, cookies, cakes, brownies and other yummy treats that are just as laden with sugar and carbohydrate as the non-gluten originals.

A gluten-free diet does not mean you are going to starve either! There are plenty of alternatives and plenty of foods (think meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds) that are inherently gluten-free.

Many grocery stores and health food stores offer gluten-free consultations or tours plus they may also have entire gluten-free sections to make shopping easy.

If you have questions, make an appointment with your health care provider or a practitioner skilled in the area of the gluten-free lifestyle.


Lundin, K., Sollid, L. Advances in Coeliac Disease – Non Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity. Web. 1 May, 2014. Retrieved from

National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. What is Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity? Web. 29 April, 2014. Retrieved from

Reviewed May 5, 2014
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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