Gluten: A Psychological Nocebo?

Science-Report_Gluten_a_psychological_nocebo_The-Health-Sciences-Academy

by Alejandra "Alex" Ruani — Get free science updates here.

Gluten seems to be the dietary terror du jour.

Bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, even some hams. They all contain gluten.

This sticky-chewy protein compound seems glued to the food industry AND our fearful minds.

Gluten has been blamed for every health problem we most hate and fear, from obesity to memory loss, to inflammation and even cancer.

Whilst coeliac disease and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity exist, and some people legitimately suffer from these conditions, could bloggers, book authors and the media be taking the whole gluten issue too far?

Could a substance that is innocent for most of us cause us harm because we believe it will?

Grab “Gluten: A Psychological Nocebo? ” below:

 

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Conveniently download this 26-page science report. Contains links to extra reading materials and scientific references.

Topics covered in this report:

  1. The dietary terror du jour
  2. Blame the substance, or the belief?
  3. When words are painful
  4. The nocebo phenomenon
  5. The power of suggestibility
  6. The 3 main nocebo triggers
  7. Negative messages around us
  8. Victimisation and the victory illusion
  9. The hidden cost
  10. The biology of expectations
  11. The gluten-free experiment
  12. The second experiment
  13. A psychological sensitivity?
  14. Online health scares
  15. Fear-mongering and sensationalism
  16. So, how can we protect ourselves?
  17. Your key takeaways
  18. Learn more
  19. References and resources

 

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Once you've had the chance to read, I'd love to know...

Are you afraid of eating gluten? If so, why? Have you been diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity? Or is it because you've heard somewhere that it's bad for you?

Leave a comment with your answers. I look forward to seeing what you share!

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SENSITIVITY OR FEAR?

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Alex Ruani leads the research division at The Health Sciences Academy, where she and her team make sense of complex scientific literature and translate it into easy-to-understand practical concepts for students. She is a Harvard-trained scientific researcher who specialises in cravings and appetite neurobiology, nutrition biochemistry, and nutrigenomics. Besides investigating and teaching the latest advances in health and nutrition science, Alex makes it easier to be smarter with her free Science Catch-ups every other Thursday.
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54 Comments

  • Kay

    Reply Reply June 4, 2015

    JMO – most true gluten intolerant or coeliac diagnosed won’t eat out and risk a reaction. I speak from experience as I do have an intolerance that is so severe, when I ingest gluten within 20-60 minutes I am sick with “food poisoning” that lasts for hours. It’s not a fad for me.

    • Alex

      Reply Reply June 4, 2015

      Kay – thanks for sharing! Remember that the nocebo effect doesn’t mean that gluten intolerance is a fad. The nocebo effect is another way to explain the cause of the same symptoms. Caused by a substance or by fear, a sensitivity is a sensitivity, the symptoms are the same, and the cause can be physical or psychological, or BOTH. Another distinction I want to make: nocebo is not of synonym of hypochondria. They’re two very different things and NO ONE should be ashamed of either. We’re all subject to subconscious nocebos, like it or not, and that doesn’t make us “stupid” (excuse my French!). The stupidity is only brought on by those who are careless about the words they choose in their health messages, without any consideration of how they affect others. This is strictly an ethical issue, and my hope is that everyone becomes more mindful of what they say or hear.

  • Sophia

    Reply Reply June 4, 2015

    A good article. This also brings to my mind the food disorder orthorexia. Thinking that in order to be healthy, you may decide to cut certain foods out. Everyone ‘biochemistry’ is unique to them, as your article mentioned about being gluten intolerant or not sensitive. I think that people are sometimes striving to live healthy and may sometimes get caught up in the ‘misinformation’ of glossy experts, who may not have necessarily read up on a subject. This is hence one of the reasons why I decided to embark on the Health Sciences Academy nutritional therapy course. I will continue to read around the subjects, especially as I can ‘indirectly’ be influencing how people look at healthy eating and lifestyle.

    • Alex

      Reply Reply June 4, 2015

      Sophia – I love your approach. Truly helping others means caring about the way you communicate and wording your messages carefully :-)

  • Sandy Mardon

    Reply Reply June 4, 2015

    I was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity after having had blood tests! I have had chronic inflammation in the gut for many years which improved hugely coming off gluten. However I am very aware of the power words and so enjoyed this report as it gave a very good explanation. Our words carry more power than we realize – those spoken to us as well as the ones we speak.

    • Alex

      Reply Reply June 4, 2015

      Sandy – you captured the heart of today’s report! The sneaky power of words…

  • Darren Biddle

    Reply Reply June 4, 2015

    I fell ill for over 6 weeks with bad stomach pains and diarrohea. After being diagnosed with IBS the doc said i had to find my trigger. First thing i tried cutting out was lactose 2 weeks later, still ill, next was gluten, gradually over the next 7 days i started to feel better, things returned almost back to normal still get pains and aches but i can live my life now

    • Alex

      Reply Reply June 4, 2015

      Darren – glad that you spotted the cause!

  • Gill Ewing

    Reply Reply June 4, 2015

    It’s an interesting topic and one which I have investigated personally to diagnose GI issues I had for several years. I found a mild intolerance to gluten in whole-grain foods but overall no real intolerance – so I eat gluten with care and don’t subscribe to all the hype that goes on around this topic. There will soon be another food nightmare of the month to take its place I am sure!

    • Alex

      Reply Reply June 4, 2015

      Gill – your self-awareness is great!

  • sharon thomas

    Reply Reply June 4, 2015

    15 years ago i realised the cause of my bloatedness after eating certain products. My stomach would move from 0to 10 within the time of around 20 minutes after consuming ceftain products including dairy products.
    So i decided was to do a little experiment with myself by excluding it from my diet for 8 weeks then putting it back in my diet. I could not believe how much my stomach expanded within that short time.

    • Alex

      Reply Reply June 4, 2015

      Sharon – well done for finding that out on your own, it takes patience!

  • Michelle Mansson

    Reply Reply June 4, 2015

    Working in the Aged Care Sector as a Chef, I come across this all to often.
    There are severe cases of coeliac disease which we as Chefs and caregivers need to address on a daily basis. However, a little upset tummy and all of a sudden we NEED Gluten Free alternatives. Lets jump on the bandwagon. Interesting report. Thank you.

    • Alex

      Reply Reply June 4, 2015

      Michelle – thanks for sharing this, what an interesting insight from a Chef

  • Memuna

    Reply Reply June 4, 2015

    A very important insight I think. One must eat these comfort foods but in moderation due to easy availability and comfort we make it a daily habit and therin lies the problem. A varied diet is best.
    Memuna

  • Dan

    Reply Reply June 4, 2015

    After a 2nd trip to the emergency room with a potential SBO i was hell bent of finding out the cause, after bloods and a second opinion form my local GP i was still no closer to the reason i was incapacitated and almost operated on, luckily a very knowledgable mother (40+ years as nurse) who convinced the doctors to not operate, this only after a MRI and 2nd enema.

    So off to a the WWW!! self diagnosis or prognosis….. it works for all the new mum’s of the world!! so it should work for me right!!!
    Nothing really stood out to be a winner when, i was clearly not celiac, and GF or a gluten intolerance wasn’t as big a business as it is today, i.e. no menus with GF….
    Next stop a nature-path & iridologist bingo i was now diagnosed as gluten intolerant back to the WWW and iridologists have as sound a reputation as energy healers! (don’t get me wrong i use both!) but the scientific evidence of both not conclusive enough for me to hang my hat on,

    So deeper research found that it may not be the gluten! Shock horror! but it may well be the way in which we process the flour or the new (1960s -1980s) Select farming of wheat… (have you noticed how all the wheat grown in the paddock is perfect!! far from the old farm days of my grandfather!
    The new wheat and the industrial milling (not old stone milled flour) maybe to fine for our intestines to handle hence the growth of GF intolerance and the rapid growth of “leaky gut”…. for me i try a 80-20 rule….trying my hardest to not be “That person” you go to dinner with hahahah, if i eat to much flour or gluten i have very specific results, 1. i will immediately have a runny nose 2. if i don’t heed this little indicator and eat a wee bit more the next morning i and mildly suffering from lower abdomen pain. 3. if i choose to eat Gluten or flour based products a third time or third day in a row, i will suffer sever pain and mild constipation.

    The quantity i can eat is 1 piece of toast or a wrap (GF or wholemeal) or if i am lucky a small pasta dish in 1 day… then have a day to rest. i find croissants Rye (dark), Sprouted or old milled breads and in small quantities sour dough ok, the absolute no no, is any bleached white fluffy commercially baked breads (generally anything with a pretty wrapper!!!

    hope this is of some interest..
    i look forward to reading more about this annoying part of of growing intolerance to the food we have modified from the original seed. Eat well, live long, Dan

    • Alex

      Reply Reply June 4, 2015

      Hi Dan – thanks for sharing your journey with us, and I’m sure you’re not “that person”, at least for 80% of the time, haha ;-) Yes, there is a whole lot more involved in commercial bread than just gluten. We may be intolerant to other ingredients or processing by-products without realising it. Re seed genetics, I’ve seen this today: http://www.producer.com/daily/frankenwheat-a-myth-says-new-u-of-s-research/ I didn’t check it for scientific integrity but it’s interesting and shows the debate is ongoing

  • Sharon

    Reply Reply June 4, 2015

    I was diagnosed with celiac disease nearly 13 ýears ago, and I firmly believe that the diagnosis saved my life. While it is nice to have a larger selection of gluten free options, it does irritate me when people make disparaging remarks about food choices that I have to make. It is NOT a choice for me! As another poster said, the reaction when gluten is ingested.

    Thank you for a good article.

    • Alex

      Reply Reply June 4, 2015

      Sharon – you’re most welcome. And no, it is not a choice for you, I can image how hard it must be to hear remarks for 13 years… take good care of yourself

  • Philip Smith

    Reply Reply June 4, 2015

    Excellent article. The psychology connected to eating and eating disorders is often poorly understood. If we wish to make progress in tackling obesity and eating disorders we need to give much more that simple factual information, we need to incorporate psychology much more to inform our approach. People are swamped by often conflicting information and massive advertising campaigns. Pressure of the food industry to sell more and more product, or scare us into changing to their product and the journalists and bloggers looking for the next sensation give information overload that can make it very difficult for the average person to get a balanced view.

    • Alex

      Reply Reply June 4, 2015

      Philip – glad you enjoyed it! The integration of behavioural psychology/neuroscience with nutrition is something we are really passionate about. The team and I often spend more than an hour on a single sentence just to make sure we’re being responsible with the words we choose without changing the underling meaning… in contrast, when I’m being interviewed by the media, I often discover in the final print that my words are being “spinned” by editors, completely changing the meaning. Journalists and editors feel a lot of pressure to make the headlines, but what’s the social cost?

  • Jen

    Reply Reply June 4, 2015

    I am coeliac. There is no doubt, if i ingest any tiny bit of gluten I begin to throw up, it can last up to 3 days with severe abdominal pain. This is not in my head, we discovered my problem after 84 days of throwing up 10 or more times a day; my intestines had shut down from years of not knowing i was coeliac.

    As a health practitioner i recognize the power of words. I do not believe that wheat or gluten is evil, wheat and other grains contain nutrients that the body needs. I do believe that the processing, pesticides and chemical changes to the environment have greatly increased sensitivity to certain foods, wheat being one of them; however one substance is not the answer to every problem. People want the one quick fix, or one evil to blame. Instead we need to look at lifestyle, what are the other contributing factors, what else do you eat, what is the working and living environment like. Considering all these factors and more will give a clearer picture to the complexity of the problems. I love it when someone says “yeah I don’t eat gluten either, it’s bad!” as they down a diet pop!!!

    Research and education are the answer

    • Alex

      Reply Reply June 4, 2015

      Jen – thanks for sharing, and I love to hear that you’re all in for research and education!

  • Sarah

    Reply Reply June 4, 2015

    The power of the mind is an amazing thing. However, having kept food diaries on and off for 2 years, I can confirm that something troubles my gut consistently. Cutting out gluten foods for non-gluten alternatives simply increases the amount of fat, sugar and chemicals in your diet. I am coming to suspect that the sensitivity I suffer is a result of chemical processes that do not appear on food labelling. Are we quite sure that the “nocebo” research isn’t simply the food industry hitting back at the public? I.e if they say gluten is ok, then it is. Rinse and repeat for any other troubling ingredients. What the consumer desperately needs is FULL TRANSPARENCY into how the food we consume is prepared.

    • Alex

      Reply Reply June 4, 2015

      Sarah – I’m with you regarding transparency (on labels and manufacturers’ websites). Have you seen the show “food factory” on Discovery channel? I actually suggest that you don’t watch it. HUGE nocebo for me!!

  • Betty

    Reply Reply June 4, 2015

    I have been gluten free for over 3 years. I have NOT been diagnosed by a professional. In order to be diagnosed, I understand that I would need to resume eating gluten, which I am not willing to do.
    Originally I tried going gluten-free after researching on the web and finding that a persistent skin condition could be caused by a gluten intolerance. A few weeks into the effort, I saw no change in the skin condition, but came to realize that I had been migraine-free for the entire time. I had suffered debilitating migraines a few times a week for 30+ years. I was surprised to research and find that there was a possible connection, and stayed with the GF plan. I, and those around me, noticed an increase in overall well-being and energy.
    A few months later, a well-meaning vegetarian friend served me lunch one day, graciously swapping out the bun of the veggie burger for a gluten-free variety. The following day I woke with a dread, depression and anxiety that I had not felt in a long time. Planning a cookout that evening, and thinking the veggie burger was actually quite good, I decided to purchase some that afternoon. Only then did I, as a matter of habit, flip over the package to view the ingredients and see that WHEAT GLUTEN is the second ingredient in that particular product. More research educated me in the effects of gluten on mental and emotional issues.
    My other major revelation came on a road trip, where my daughter and I traditionally enjoyed licorice strings. Without any thought that they might contain gluten, I indulged as we had in the past. My digestive system reacted so quickly and so badly that I thought to look at the label and was surprised to find that they contain gluten as well.
    It has been, and continues to be a learning process, but I have no doubt that gluten decreases my quality of life, and I have thankfully gotten to the point where I don’t apologize for my dietary choices.
    I think those of us who believe in the benefit of gluten-free FOR OURSELVES, are better received if we proclaim it as a choice (albeit an obvious one). I compare eating gluten with “finishing that bottle of champagne”. I CAN do it; but I will suffer for it. Usually the champagne wins, but the gluten never does. And, yes, I will continue to tell others about my choice and why, because I sincerely wish that someone had told me many years ago that I could change my life by changing my diet.
    Do I believe many people give up gluten because it’s trendy? Not entirely and not for long. I have never convinced anyone to go gluten-free, regardless of how many symptoms they complain about that may be caused by gluten.
    I look forward to seeing other stories posted, and appreciate all points of view. But I do shake my head at those who judge my “choice” when it does not affect them at all.

    • Alex

      Reply Reply June 4, 2015

      Betty – thanks for sharing, when our lifestyle choices change, judgment by others is inevitable, but your health comes first :-)

  • Clay Caldwell

    Reply Reply June 4, 2015

    I was diagnosed as gluten sensitive through a food allergy blood test. Cutting gluten and most dairy from my diet changed my life. When I look back at my life and realize how much suffering I could have avoided by doing this sooner I get kinda angry. So glad I figured out what was happening and turned my health around. Can’t understate how much my health and quality of living have improved since making those cuts. Gluten-free versions of traditionally gluten containing foods is NOT the answer. Processed food in general is poison and people are waking up to that fact.

  • Beth Ely

    Reply Reply June 4, 2015

    I enjoyed this article which supported my suspicions and gave the name “nocebo” to my vocabulary. It is so difficult to decipher nutrition information. I work with people who are rabidly, anti-gluten, anti microwave and anti all those “letters.” It makes me crazy!

    • Alex

      Reply Reply June 4, 2015

      Beth – happy to hear you’ve added this new word to your vocabulary!! It makes us more resilient of negative health messages, almost like an armour :-)

  • anne keyth

    Reply Reply June 4, 2015

    Fascinating report. Nocebo also applies to those of us who have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Nocebo psychology isn’t exclusive to healthy people, we actually see it MORE in those with the condition. It’s the fear. I think the report is very balanced, it focuses on psychology. Food nocebos are the problem, gluten is just one example. And I have the condition, so trust me, I fear foods even when they are gluten free.

    • Alex

      Reply Reply June 4, 2015

      Anne – excellent observation! A “nocebo” effect doesn’t invalidate a “substance” effect. Either or BOTH combined may play a role!

  • Mike

    Reply Reply June 4, 2015

    I enjoyed this report so much. It has helped me to be more mindful of what I tell others. I am a personal trainer and I see many of my colleagues planting nocebos in their clients’ heads all the time. “Don’t eat carbs. Don’t eat gluten. Don’t eat that. It’s bad for you…” Terrible. The last thing I want is to scare other people into a disease. In Britain we survived on bread and milk for centuries. I’m sure our genes adapted to gluten a long time ago! And don’t get me started with Italians who are very healthy on home-made bread, pasta and pizza!

  • Sophie Ash (Research Analyst)

    Reply Reply June 4, 2015

    I loved this report! Thanks Alex. As Mike rightly said, there are so many “professionals” out there giving extremist advice and gluten is one of the main “culprits”. I’m a firm believer of being critical of everything you read: even from the best of sources. Gaining an overview of all the scientific findings and making up your own mind is the only way you’ll ever be sure of something (or putting trust in the few people who you know can do this for you, like The Health Sciences Academy research team!). It frustrates me that millions of people are likely to be following restrictive diets without any reason for it. Get tested and follow the appropriate steps to determine how gluten affects YOU and don’t listen to anyone else ;-)

  • Rory T.

    Reply Reply June 4, 2015

    Right on! When I read online words like “this is poison”, “this is toxic”, “this is harmful”, “this will kill you and your children”, etc. I feel sad. I feel that whoever uses the words “poison” or “toxic” is being irresponsible. Don’t they get the damage they are causing with their scare mongering? Everyone that writes or speaks about health needs to get some training on the nocebo effect on DAY 1. Mandatory!! Scaring people about health issues is NOT ethical…………. The 2015 study about how the internet is feeding health nocebos is an eye-opener. Even doctors and nurses should be mindful of how they speak to patients. Like the example in the report. Thanks HSA for alerting those who are in charge of health messages, they should be more careful with the words they use.

  • Chris

    Reply Reply June 4, 2015

    Interesting. I have celiac sprue and was undiagnosed for 40 years. I sought medical advice and many doctors missed the diagnosis. In knowing what we do about celiac, I can look back at my family history and see that many of them also suffered from it. I find it interesting that many Americans can go to Europe and not have the issues they have in the US when they eat the same diet. I’ll save that discussion for another day.

    • Alex

      Reply Reply June 4, 2015

      Chris – I’m so sorry to hear you had to wait for 40 years for a proper diagnosis! Thanks to coeliac campaigns, cases like yours can be detected sooner. Coeliac disease is a complex genetic disorder and a simple DNA test can tell you whether or not you carry the genetic variants that predispose you to it. If you have children, it may be worth having them tested too. However, blood tests and biopsy also need to come back positive for a complete diagnosis

  • MIMIDS

    Reply Reply June 4, 2015

    Frankly, I really don’t care what other people do, say or eat. I never followed the current health trends and diet fads. But what I do know is that I began to get a nasty, itchy, and eventually blistery rash. I thought it was from the sun, sunscreen, laundry soap, even a bug bite. I also blamed my extremely painful bloating on simply eating too fast.

    When I stopped eaten wheat/gluten, these problems went away. When I experimented (i.e. ate wheat/gluten) these problems returned When I stopped again, they went away. I don’t need to “believe” it will cause me physical harm– in fact, I was in denial for quite some time. I KNOW it will cause me physical harm.

    I don’t “fear” anything– a cupcake or a slice of toast don’t scare me. But the fact remains– when I eat wheat/gluten, I get a horrible rash and a stomach ache. When I don’t eat wheat/gluten, I don’t.

    I don’t know why this is such an issue– why does anyone care what I eat or don’t eat? Why is it such a fight to disprove or dismiss the negative impact wheat/gluten has on some people?
    I also don’t eat sugar and that seems to annoy people as well– they keep telling me sugar is “fine”.

  • Linda

    Reply Reply June 4, 2015

    I don’t believe that it’s necessarily gluten that people are reacting to, it’s a whole range of additives in breads, and many don’t react well to carbohydrates. I think we have been bombarded with so many processed grains, that our bodies can’t digest. There are way more people who are gluten sensitive or FODMAP sensitive, suffering with symptoms such as IBS, and they don’t even understand! Doctors and many nutritionists and dieticians don’t understand either. People seem to want a pill to fix everything, and sometimes that just doesn’t work. Food and diets should be the first place to look when the gut isn’t happy.

  • Anna

    Reply Reply June 4, 2015

    This report is interesting to me for a number of reasons. First, its been a while since I have read anything that doesn’t suggest that gluten should be blacklisted, this is probably because I lean towards veg, meat/fish, dairy and fruit (just because these foods energise me the most) and the writers of the websites I visit for food inspiration tend not to be in favour of gluten. So it’s refreshing to be reminded that no single food is the cause of all nutritional evil.

    Second, because it highlights that the needs of people with genuine coeliac disease and gluten sensitivity may be de-valued by the increase of people possibly suffering from a nocebo affect.,

    Finally, because I have suffered the nocebo affect myself, not so much with food intolerance but through a cycle of stress and migraines, so I know that it exists. For years if I had the slightest hint of a migraine, I would start to anticipate all the other symptoms until, guess what, I had a migraine. I have now learnt to control my negative thoughts and reduce the number of migraines I have. I spent years avoiding chocolate, red wine and various other known triggers, but now I can have them all in moderation, without instantly worrying about the consequences and triggering a physical stress response.

    I imagine that many of the issues resulting from gluten today are not a result of insensitivity but of quantity. Gluten is consumed at breakfast, lunch and dinner by many people and forms the bulk of each meal in many cases. For me it goes back to the cliché ‘everything in moderation’.

    Thank you for the report and for all the suggested reading and resources.

    • Alex

      Reply Reply June 4, 2015

      Anna – what an insightful comment, I’m truly impressed with your self-awareness and the way you’ve been training yourself to escape possible nocebos. Brilliant.

  • Jim

    Reply Reply June 5, 2015

    I love these science reports. Awesome info! Thanks

  • JoJo

    Reply Reply June 5, 2015

    It’s a really interesting topic and I think “gluten free” has indeed become fashionable and synonymous with “healthier”, which unfortunately is not the case in a lot of instances. For example gluten free bread tends to have more sugar added to it than traditional bread, so it isn’t a healthier choice for those who might only be suffering gluten nocebo.

  • Emma

    Reply Reply June 5, 2015

    I really found this article useful. Many thanks!

  • Anna

    Reply Reply June 5, 2015

    I have several members of my family who have coeliac disease and other autoimmune disease that are connected to coeliac disease, thus genetically there is a probability that I will get it at some stage in my life. However until that point I will not stop eating gluten. I completely understand if people feel ill when eating something to stop eating it…but it might not be the gluten but something else that is also contained within that food. Also as a manager of an autoimmune department I have found that coeliac screening has gone up massively in the last few years.

  • Jenny

    Reply Reply June 7, 2015

    I have never experienced any food sensitivity or allergy of any kind. My husband and two of my children have been tested for gluten sensitivity at our doctor’s suggestion and none showed any sensitivity. They didn’t believe that was their issue.

    However, I have seen the social paranoia and willingness of people to believe they have a gluten sensitivity without much evidence and I have also seen people suffer for years before their doctor finally finally diagnosed them with celiac’s. In those cases their health dramatically improved upon elimination of gluten from their diets.

  • smitharaj

    Reply Reply June 8, 2015

    It was good to learn about gluten.

  • Hazel bannister

    Reply Reply June 9, 2015

    I am certain there is a nocebo effect on people whether it’s for gluten sensitivity, or something else, when the seed of doubt is planted by what we may read or listen to, then that’s where problems start. Of course there are people that genuinely can’t have gluten, or sugar, or salt etc……but for the ones that can, then eating these products in moderation with other foods will not do harm.
    I eat whatever I feel like, but I am not a habitual eater. I eat two or three times a day, drink tea, herbal tea and water during the day, and I feel great. It was suggested to me a few months ago by a naturopath, who clearly was trying to sell me stuff, that I should cut down on gluten, wheat and sugar. I went home thinking wow if I cut any of these down I might as well just be dead as I don’t eat much during the day as it is. I work in a health store and am an iridologist, I listen to my customers and try and help them where I can, without placing doubt in their minds. I get great results.

  • Laurent

    Reply Reply June 9, 2015

    This is a great science report Alex. I think it is important to stress out that there are still major concerns in our understanding of dietary triggers of gastrointestinal symptoms. The difference between coeliac disease, wheat allergy, irritable bowel syndrome, non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) and other food intolerances is not always clearly distinguishable. This, for example, renders difficult the interpretation of the few clinical trials that focus on NCGS because of weaknesses in the definition of NCGS, inclusion criteria, participants with elevated markers of coeliac disease and also non-distinction between gluten and other wheat components. Also, there is not yet any evidence suggesting that a gluten-free diet (GFD) is directly detrimental to follow outside of coeliac disease. However, one of the problems with unnecessarily following GFD is that it can lead to under diagnosis of other conditions. For example, it has been reported that two third of patients with self-percieved NCGS do not have coeliac disease adequately excluded (Biesiekierski et al., J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2011).

  • Marie

    Reply Reply June 10, 2015

    This is very interesting; I have been diagnosed with gluten sensitive after I got fatigue syndrome (as many others). I have never had problems with any kinds of food before. I have had fatigue syndrom for six years now and for seven months ago a doktor finally found out what was wrong with me after some blood tests. I had viruses and infections in my body from Mononuecleoses and virus in my lungs. I have had this in my body for manus years. And this has affected my food problems. I have been taking strong antibiotics for seven months and I’m finally starting to get better. What I am excited about is when I get well again, will I also tolerate gluten like I did before I got sick? Time will show and I can’t wait to see what happens.

  • Hazel bannister

    Reply Reply June 10, 2015

    Hi Marie
    The post you have submitted is so interesting. It reminds me if a saying that my reflexology teacher uses that is “behind every screaming child is the mother” – this means that the symptoms you present with are not necessarily the cause. Just like in your case – I hope that when you are fully recovered you will be able to tolerate gluten again – good luck xxx

  • Emma

    Reply Reply June 11, 2015

    Hi
    What an interesting article. Personally I believe there are many more factors to blame not just gluten. Surely as a species we have eaten bread products for hundreds of years without becoming sick and therefore gluten alone cannot be to blame. I believe it is all the modern chemicals and additives that we put in our food these days that are to blame. Unless we actually go back to hunting and gathering!! LOL we will always have unwanted symptoms from the food and drink we consume.

  • Hi! I just wanted to let you know that our new science report looking at the latest 2015 science on NCGS has been published: “How is non-coeliac gluten sensitivity diagnosed?” You can find more details and the content index here: https://thehealthsciencesacademy.org/science-reports/gluten-sensitivity/ Access to this optional resource is for premium subscribers. Enjoy! Maria (THSA team)

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