Your abdominal issues and other symptoms are not in your head! That’s the finding from researchers at Columbia University, who have confirmed that wheat exposure can trigger a systemic immune reaction and intestinal cell damage even in people without celiac disease. In fact, more people are estimated to be living with non-celiac wheat sensitivity than celiac disease.
What is causing these symptoms?
The symptoms of non-celiac wheat sensitivity include severe abdominal difficulties such as pain and bloating, neurological issues, fatigue and other problems that closely resemble celiac disease. But patients with these symptoms who tested negative for celiac disease or wheat allergy were left without answers—and often facing doubt about the legitimacy of their condition.
Now, for the first time, researchers have identified specific biomarkers that explain wheat’s damaging effects on some people who do not have celiac disease or wheat allergy. And although following a gluten-free diet eases symptoms, gluten has not been specifically identified as the cause in these cases, leading researchers to adopt the term non-celiac wheat sensitivity.
Working toward answers
While more research is necessary to understand non-celiac wheat sensitivity, these findings provide validation for the hundreds of thousands suffering from symptoms without an established cause. Often dismissed as hypochondriacs or just being dramatic, these patients can take heart in knowing that science is bearing out their assertions that wheat negatively affects their health and well-being. With this new finding comes hope that research is moving toward the long-term goals of increasing diagnosis rates, relieving symptoms and improving quality of life for those suffering with the condition.
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