Research from Milan, Italy, suggests not all people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) must strictly avoid gluten forever. A small study of 22 patients found their responses to reintroduction of gluten varied widely. Some became sick again while others tolerated high-gluten diets.
After following a gluten-free diet for three weeks, volunteers consumed a low-gluten diet for one week. Two patients dropped out because they did not want to continue. Four others had adverse symptoms. Fourteen who reported none after the first week then switched to a mid-gluten diet. Six reported a symptom relapse. Eight who passed the second test without symptoms stepped up to a high-gluten diet for one week. All of them tolerated it without symptoms.
Those who finished the third week without problems were told to resume a normal gluten-containing diet. Others who experienced a relapse at different points were advised to continue a gluten-free diet or consume gluten at a low enough level to avoid symptoms.
While hopeful, this study has several weaknesses. The findings beg further research to see whether some NCGS patients can tolerate some gluten using a personalized approach. Long-term health effects of reintroducing gluten are unknown.