Celiac Disease or Gluten Sensitivity?

Celiac Disease or Gluten Sensitivity?

We’ve seen an increased awareness of food sensitivities as more and more health issues are undeniably linked to our diets. 

Here we outline the condition Celiac Disease as it compares to what is known as gluten sensitivity.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Along with bread, many common food products contain gluten including pasta, beer, sauces, dressings, and soups. 

Celiac Disease is a genetic condition where the lining of the small intestine isn’t absorbing nutrients from food. Celiac disease is caused by a reaction to the exposure of gluten and an abnormal immune response. Gluten sensitivity however, while sharing similar symptoms to Celiac disease, lacks that autoimmune response.

So what are the symptoms? It can be confusing to differentiate, as they are similar to each other. They often include: fatigue, abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea, or constipation. But because celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, left undiagnosed it can also lead to more serious problems including anemia, liver disease, arthritis, and other deficiencies from the lack of nutrient absorptionV2. Dermatitis herpetiformis is a cutaneous manifestation of celiac disease presenting as a skin rash, and affects 10% of individuals with the condition.

Diagnosis is typically made by a combination of blood tests and intestinal biopsies and the only treatment for celiac disease is to maintain a gluten-free diet.

Like we explained, people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity experience digestive symptoms similar to those of celiac disease. These symptoms also resolve when they stop eating gluten, but these patients do not test positive for Celiac Disease. It is still not clear whether other factors in the production of foods containing gluten may be the cause of symptoms for those with gluten sensitivity. 

We do not recommend drastic dietary changes without first being evaluated by your healthcare practitioner. Working closely with your doctor and registered dietitian will ensure you take the correct steps to support your health and wellness.