Non-Celiac Wheat Sensitivity: An Allergy or Not?

    Tuesday, 10 December 2013 00:00  Blog

Some individuals suffer from a wheat sensitivity that is not related to celiac disease. New research suggests that this non-celiac wheat sensitivity may be an allergy. While it was formerly considered an innate immune system response, that opinion is slowly shifting.

So what exactly is non-celiac wheat sensitivity and what types of symptoms does it cause? Essentially, this term applies to individuals who cannot tolerate wheat in their diets, yet lack the intestinal damage and antibodies present in people who have celiac disease. Symptoms can include headaches, joint pain, and numbness in the legs, arms, or fingers. In other words, it affects many major organs, including the nervous system, gastrointestinal tract, and skin. Symptoms disappear completely when wheat is excluded from the diet, making it a treatable condition.

In order to consider whether or not non-celiac wheat sensitivity is an allergy, it’s important to understand the two major categories of food allergies. The first is known as IgE mediated allergies. These cause an almost immediate reaction. In other words, if you’re allergic to peanuts and you eat peanut butter, you could have trouble breathing or notice the appearance of hives within minutes. The second type of food allergies are labeled as non-IgE mediated. These affect the gastrointestinal tract and may not produce symptoms for an extended period of time. Celiac disease falls into this second category.

To learn more about this research, which was just published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, visit Science Daily online.

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