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What is Non-Celiac Gluten-Sensitivity?

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credit: womenshealthmag.com

credit: womenshealthmag.com

If you have been suffering symptoms that seem related to gluten, it may be possible that you have non-celiac gluten sensitivity.  In my case, its likely I have non-celiac gluten sensitivity and I also have Hashimoto’s disease which again means -no gluten for me!

WHAT IS NON-CELIAC GLUTEN SENSITIVITY?

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is a reaction in the digestive tract that causes gastrointestinal symptoms similar to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).  When a person cannot tolerate gluten, they experience symptoms similar to those with celiac disease, but they lack the same antibodies and intestinal damage as seen in celiac disease. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity might be an “innate immune response, as opposed to an adaptive immune response (such as autoimmune) or allergic reaction.”  As of right now, there is no diagnostic test available (that’s why I said it’s likely I have non-celiac gluten sensitivity).

WHAT IS AN INNATE IMMUNE RESPONSE?

An innate immune response is not antigen specific, meaning that it is nonspecific as to the type of organism it fights. Although its response is immediate against invading organisms,  the innate immune system does not have an immunological memory to invading organisms. Its response is not directed towards self tissue, which would result in autoimmune disease.

As described by Davidson College: “The most basic aspect of the human innate immune system is the epithelium, which is the tissue that makes up the skin and the linings of the gastrointestinal, respiratory, and urogenital tracts. Using the tight junctions that bind the individual cells tightly together, the epithelium provides a strong physical barrier against invasion of pathogens. Internal epithelium, such as those lining the respiratory tract, also secrete mucus as another physical barrier; the mucus prevents many pathogens from being able to live on the surface of the epithelial cells. Epithelial cells mount a non-specific chemical attack against pathogens; for example, the extremely acidic environment of the stomach prevents many infections. Also, certain cells in the intestines secrete molecules called α-defensins that have antimicrobial properties, and similar molecules called β-defensins, are found in the mouth, urogenital and respiratory tracts, and on the skin.”

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF NON-CELIAC GLUTEN SENSITIVITY?against the grain

A person will experience these symptoms hours or days after they’ve ingested gluten: Extraintestinal (non-GI symptoms), such as: headache, “foggy mind,” joint pain, and numbness in the legs, arms or fingers.

HOW TO GET DIAGNOSED

Through a process of exclusion, I first got tested at a hospital in San Diego (Scripps) for a wheat allergy and for celiac disease. Both were negative, but it wasn’t until I met with a Hashimoto’s expert, that a gluten elimination diet was recommended.  All of my symptoms (IBS distention and bloating, Hashimoto’s dizziness, lack of sleep, nausea) have improved on a gluten-free diet.

WHAT TO DO NOW?

Accept that this is part of your life and don’t get upset if there’s a food you can no longer eat.  Sure it can be hard when I am sitting with my family and they are all eating pizza and there’s no gluten free foods in site, however, I’d much rather feel better that night and several days after!  Plus, I end up eliminating a lot of junk food anyhow.  The Low Fodmap diet has helped me, as well as a gluten free diet and the fact that I naturally love fruits, veggies and lean meat (mostly fish).

other resources: celiaccentral.org //wsj.com//

If you have any comments, please share them below!  Thanks!

~ Colleen

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