To go gluten-free now is bang on trend. Just about 1 percent of the Americans have the celiac disease, about 1/3 of the adults in the United States are attempting to cut the gluten out of their diet. Why? Many people think that the gluten-free foods are healthier, but in fact they are not, and 6 percent supposedly have the new syndrome of gluten intolerance, which is called “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” or NCGS.
According to the results of one new study, most people diagnosed with this condition can’t tell the difference between flours that contain gluten and gluten-free flours after eating both. Just 1/3 of the patients experience symptoms after eating gluten.
But, what is the difference between NCGS and celiac disease? Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease where the body makes a mistake and identifies the components of gluten like a potential threat and because of that attacks them, and in the process it damages the small intestine. While the celiac disease can be monitored and diagnosed by checking the levels of the biomarkers in the body, none of these signs have been identified in the NCGS. The intestinal biopsies fail to discover any differences that can be used to diagnose the disease.
So, how do you know if you really have NCGS? The diagnoses relies on the self-reported symptoms that are experienced after the consumption of gluten – bloating, abdominal pain, fatigue, nausea – much like what the celiacs suffer. But even if these symptoms are brought about by eating a food that contains gluten, who’s to say that the gluten causes the problems, and not something else in the food? The existence of this health condition is therefore still so much up to discuss, and the studies trying to compare the responses to gluten and placebos in the supposed sufferers have made a mixed bag of results.
The researchers in Italy gathered a bunch of people with clinical NCGS diagnoses and then determined their devotion to a gluten-free diet by means of a questionnaire and an antibody test. Those people who had stuck to it for three months minimum to trial onset – 35 persons – were then enrolled.
The participants in the study were randomly split into 2 groups and given one sachet of flour – simply labeled A or B, and asked to sprinkle it on pasta or soup for 10 days. The one had gluten in it, while the other didn’t, but according to the previous tests, they were indistinguishable by sight. After that, they were given a 2 week break before swapping to the other flour. The participants were asked to record any kind of symptoms they experienced, like constipation, indigestion, and diarrhea.
In Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics is described just 1/3 of the participants met the clinical criteria for the NCGS, managing to identify which flour contains gluten in it and at the end of this study and reporting symptoms following the ingestion. Half of those people that thought that the gluten-free flour had gluten in it, claimed that they experienced gastrointestinal symptoms after consuming it, but not when they consumed the flour that really contained gluten.
The researchers confirm that they don’t have a clear explanation for these discoveries, but they think that the people recording symptoms might not actually be sensitive to the gluten, but some other ingredient in the cereal. As an example, the studies have shown that difficult-to-digest carbohydrates called FODMAPs can erupt the inflammatory bowel disease. One another possibility is the nocebo effect, where the people record symptoms because they anticipate them.