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Weaning From Gluten May Be Pointless For Many (article and comment summary)

Photograph of 4 gluten sources. Top: High-glut...

Photograph of 4 gluten sources. Top: High-gluten wheat flour. Right: European spelt. Bottom: Barley. Left: Rolled rye flakes.

Weaning From Gluten May Be Pointless For Many (22 February 2012 article at Medical News Today)

People who do not have celiac disease and believe they have “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” may be weaning themselves off gluten unnecessarily, researchers from the University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy, reported inAnnals of Internal Medicine. The authors added that the majority of people who avoid gluten have “nonceliac gluten sensitivity” – those with celiac disease are a minority among gluten avoiders…

The authors say that some people who think they are food sensitive and do not have celiac disease may be abstaining from gluten unnecessarily. They suggest that non-celiac gluten sensitivity may be a perceived sensitivity, and one caused by the nocebo effect of gluten ingestion or wheat. Nocebo effect is a negative placebo effect, as may occur when somebody takes a medication and experiences unpleasant side-effects which are unrelated to the pharmacological action of the drug. The nocebo effect is linked to the individual’s prior expectations of a side effect.

The researchers give examples of patients who strictly abstained from gluten, and believed their gluten-free diets helped reduce their symptoms. However, very few of them had ever undergone a proper diagnosis procedure.

They believe doctors should think about performing open or single-blind gluten challenge tests on those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity – at least until a valid biomarker for non-celiac gluten sensitivity is found….

The comments overwhelmingly were against the research findings. Some argued that their symptoms/conditions cleared with gluten free diets despite not being diagnosed with celiac disease. Others wrote that gluten free diets resolved other conditions as autoimmune disorders.

This comment supporting the researchers stressed the importance of teasing out variables..

I believe that many people who eliminate gluten often eliminate foods that are high in sugar, fat, and contain other non-nutrative additives. While they believe gluten was the culprit it was probably the junk food and highly processed foods that caused them to feel many of the symptoms.

In my humble opinion, there is something to gluten free diets. I believe they are helpful to many and perhaps not just those suffering from celiac disease. However I don’t think there is enough evidence that everyone should go gluten free because our digestive systems were not “designed” for gluten.


February 22, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition, Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment


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