In short, YES! There are 3 major categories of wheat or gluten-related diseases: celiac disease, wheat allergy, and gluten sensitivity. It can be very difficult to distinguish between the three based on symptoms alone. For this reason, food allergy/sensitivity testing can be very helpful in identifying what type of food allergies you may have.
- Affects approximately 1 in 132 individuals
- Confirmed by a 3-part test: antibodies to gluten in the blood, atrophy of the small intestine (biopsy), and improvement with a gluten-free diet
- Confirmed by the presence of IgE antibodies to wheat (blood test)
- Food “allergy” symptoms tend to occur within 24 hours of eating the allergenic food (peanut allergies, for example, involve IgE antibodies)
- Can present like celiac disease with symptoms including: asthma, eczema and digestive issues
- Estimated to be 6 times more common than celiac disease!
- Confirmed by presence of IgG and/or IgA antibodies to gluten (blood test)
- Gluten sensitivity can be difficult to identify through food journaling because the symptoms resulting from the sensitivity can occur 24-72 hours after eating gluten and do not always affect the digestive system (see below)
The most common symptoms that can be caused by gluten sensitivity are (and frequency):
- Abdominal pain (68%)
- Eczema or skin rash (40%)
- Headaches (35%)
- Foggy mind (34%)
- Fatigue (33%)
- Diarrhea (33%)
- Depression (22%)
- Anemia (20%)
- Numbness in arms, finger or legs (20%)
- Joint pain (11%)
If you suffer from one of more of these conditions, consider eliminating gluten from your diet for a minimum of 3 weeks to see if you improve. Food allergy testing can also help identify food allergies and sensitivities to a variety of foods.
Source: Doherty, C. (2012). Defining Gluten Sensitivity. NDNR. www.ndnr.com