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What is gluten sensitivity?

Gluten sensitivity is a condition with symptoms similar to those of celiac disease that improve when gluten is eliminated from the diet. People with gluten sensitivity can experience symptoms such as “foggy mind,” depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)-like behavior, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, bone or joint pain and chronic fatigue when they have gluten in their diet, and other symptoms are also possible. While these are common symptoms of celiac disease, these individuals do not test positive for celiac disease or for a wheat allergy.

People who have been diagnosed with gluten sensitivity do not experience the small intestine damage or develop the tissue transglutaminase (tTG) antibodies found in celiac disease.

There is no cure for gluten sensitivity. The only treatment is to follow a gluten-free diet.
Dr. Mark Hyman, MD
Family Medicine
A gluten sensitivity is actually an autoimmune disease that creates inflammation throughout the body, with wide-ranging effects across all organ systems including your brain, heart, joints, digestive tract, and more. It can be the single cause behind many different “diseases.” To correct these diseases, you need to treat the cause -- which is often gluten sensitivity -- not just the symptoms.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that ALL cases of depression or autoimmune disease or any of these other problems are caused by gluten in everyone -- but it is important to look for it if you have any chronic illnesses.
Some individuals have gluten sensitivity, which means that while they don’t have the full-fledged, autoimmune response seen in celiac disease, they may still suffer from some of the gastrointestinal discomfort as well as other symptoms.

Individuals with gluten sensitivity may be able to safely tolerate small amounts of gluten. Consequently, reading ingredients labels when shopping is mandatory to know which food products may contain gluten.

All individuals, whether with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, should work with a registered dietitian to develop a healthy, well-balanced diet that meets their unique medical and nutritional needs. When a variety of grains are eliminated from the diet, an individual could fall short of their daily vitamin B and fiber needs. 
 
You can find a local registered dietitian at: www.eatright.org
Picture of food label
Amy E. Myers, MD
Family Medicine
Food sensitivities tend to cause vague symptoms like brain fog, headaches, migraines, joint pain and fatigue. In this video, functional medicine specialist Amy Myers, MD, explains how food and gluten sensitivities can affect the body. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.