Should you be gluten free and not have Celiac disease?

1 in every 133 Americans” develop Celiac and 10 times as many people as that will not eat gluten or have gluten be part of their diet. Celiac disease “is an autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.” About five years ago my uncle found out that he has Celiac disease.  A good majority of his life he had lots of stomach problems and never went to go have it checked.  After he found out he had Celiac,  his way of eating was completely changed and now he has to be more conscious of what he puts into his body or else he will feel severe abdominal pains.  This led me to think about how there are so many people who are gluten free in America but do not have celiac to back up their reasoning to be on a gluten-free diet.  Before researching, I thought what could really be the problem going gluten free without having celiac, it seems like a healthy diet?

There are many people that go gluten free even if they have not been diagnosed with celiac. This reasoning, though, is not solely because they want to diet.  There are people who react more to “FODMAPs, or fermentable oligo-, di-, and monosaccharides and polyols, which are certain types of carbohydrates including wheat, lentils, and mushrooms that can draw water into the intestine and potentially ferment, causing digestive problems for some people.” This led to a study done in 2013.  A double-blind placebo trial of 37 individuals was conducted.  Two groups were randomly formed and for 2 weeks the individuals were given a small amount of FODMAPs and were either put on low or higher dosages of gluten or a placebo(the control group). A two week break period occurred where the scientists looked at the immune activity and symptoms of the patients to see if anything had changed.  The results showed that gastrointestinal symptoms improved when a lower dosage of FODMAPs was taken and got worse to a similar degree when gluten was taken and only 8% of the people tested were observed to have gluten-free effects.  No third variables could affect this study due to it being a double blind placebo trial and it affectively ruled out reverse causation. So these people who were on gluten-free diets without having Celiac, in reality were not being directly affected by the gluten but by the FODMAPs.  Those individuals thought that if they stopped eating gluten their problems would be fixed. Their experiences of “feeling better” when not eaten gluten are very real but in all actuality no changes occur to their bodies when gluten intake stops.  What is interesting is that when people think that something is suppose to help their body, they can make themselves believe that they are getting better.  Their mind is covering up the fact that no changes have occurred while their gastrointestinal problems are as great as ever before.  This was a very credible study that I think shared a lot of useful information.

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This is the difference of what the inside lining of ones intestine should look like if not damaged by celiac verses damages by celiac.  

There is a difference in the symptoms of celiac verses ones who are affected by FODMAPs.  Some symptoms of celiac include:

  • abdominal pain
  • diarrhea
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • numbness(legs,arms,feet)/balance problems


These are all the main symptoms of celiac and how much each of these symptoms are prevalent in one with celiac.  

FODMAPs patients can have gluten sensitivity, but to a much less degree than those with celiac disease. These individuals are usually sensitive to list of foods containing certain carbohydrates. When individuals who are not gluten sensitive or do not have Celiac, completely cut gluten out of their diet they have the chance of it actually backfiring on them.  Mark DeMeo, M.D., director of gastroenterology and nutrition at the Adult Celiac Disease Program at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, “there’s nothing magical about a gluten-free diet that’s going to help you lose weight.” What ends up happening is people will go gluten-free but eat the gluten-free snacks that are still high in calories and fat.  People think that going gluten-free means going on a healthy diet.  This is not the case unless you choose not to eat the “bad” gluten free foods as well.  This limits what foods you can eat, leading to overeating and possible weight gain; the opposite of what those individuals were looking for to occur.

Yes and No, to answer my hypothesis above. There are some people who need to go gluten-free because their body cannot tolerate the gluten intake. There are also being who go gluten-free because they think their body is affected by gluten in the same way as celiac disease when in reality has much less of an affect on the internal parts of the body. And then there are the other people who just decide to go gluten free because they think it will be a healthy diet for themselves. Going gluten-free can have both positive and negative effects. If you think that eating gluten is affecting how your stomach feels on an every day basis go get your blood taken, as a blood test is the only way to find out if one has celiac disease or not.


2 thoughts on “Should you be gluten free and not have Celiac disease?

  1. John Wilson Mcavoy

    Growing up the only thing i knew about gluten was that my cousin was celiac, that is until about 10th grade. thats when my family found out that my grandmother is gluten sensitive, and my mother, and all of us kids. Gluten sensitivity means that you can eat gluten and not feel any immediate effects, but in the long run it can have serious implications, including chemical imbalances in the brain which can lead to depression. Growing up my sister always had horrible migraines and stomach issues, but once she went gluten free she never had another one.

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