Study: Gluten ‘sensitivity’ probably not a real condition

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(Photo: MGN Online/Celiac Corner)

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DENVER — If you don’t have celiac disease, you’re probably not gluten intolerant.

That’s according to an academic study that effectively overturned the results of a previous one in 2011, which had served as evidence that non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is a real condition, Real Clear Science reports.

Peter Gibson, a gastroenterology professor at Monash University in Australia, conducted the original study that helped kick off the gluten-free craze, but was not satisfied with its results.

So he and a group of researchers carried out a new one, giving 37 people with a declared gluten “sensitivity” and irritable bowel syndrome four separate diets.

The results? Celiac disease is a real condition that hampers a person’s ability to digest gluten, but the so-called non-celiac sensitivity doesn’t appear to exist — at least biologically.

Self-labeled “sensitive” subjects reported worsening gastrointestinal symptoms no matter what diet they were fed — whether it was gluten free or not. Data from the study suggested a “nocebo” effect, similar to when people imagine symptoms from Wi-Fi and wind turbines, Real Clear Science reported.

“Gluten, I think it’s a bit of a social contagion,” food writer Michael Pollan told Huffington Post.

From the study:

“These data suggest that NCGS, as currently defined, might not be a discrete entity or that this entity might be confounded by FODMAP restriction, and that, at least in this highly selected cohort, gluten might be not be a specific trigger of functional gut symptoms once dietary FODMAPs are reduced.”

A low-FODMAP diet is a common prescription for those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome.

The results from the study were published in Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association, last year.

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