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    Jefferson Adams

    Gluten Unlikely to Cause Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Healthy People

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      A recent study says that gluten does not cause gastrointestinal symptoms in healthy people.


    Caption: Image: CC BY 2.0--stewartesmith

    Celiac.com 08/28/2019 - Do people who avoid gluten for lifestyle reasons actually have some sort of underlying health or medical condition that makes a gluten-free diet beneficial? Or, a simpler way to put the question: Who benefits from a gluten-free diet, and who does not?

    A team of researchers recently set out to see if people without celiac disease or gluten-intolerance, who eat a gluten-free diet, are gaining any benefit. 

    The research team included Iain David Croall, Imran Aziz, Nick Trott, Paola Tosi, Nigel Hoggard, and David S. Sanders. They are variously affiliated with the Academic Unit of Radiology, University of Sheffield, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, United Kingdom; the Academic Unit of Gastroenterology, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield, United Kingdom; and the University of Reading, School of Agriculture Policy and Development, Reading, United Kingdom.

    Although the gluten-free diet is necessary for people with celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), and other types of clinical gluten sensitivity, the scientific consensus is that gluten is safe for most people. 

    Still, numerous celebrity and athlete endorsements of the gluten-free diet have promoted an image of gluten as “unhealthy,” leading numerous people to adopt the gluten-free diet as a lifestyle choice. American market research found that nearly half of all gluten-free food consumers do not have celiac disease or gluten-sensitivity, while nearly two-thirds believe that gluten-free food is generally healthier. 

    This trend is partly responsible for the explosive growth in the worldwide gluten-free industry, which is projected to see revenues of about $4.7 billion in 2020. 

    The researchers feel that the perception of the gluten-free diet as a "fad" has harmed people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance. They feel that clarifying exactly who will benefit from a gluten-free diet, and who will not, will help to inform the public and clinicians on these issues. 

    For this reason, the team conducted that first double-blind randomized controlled trial (DRCT) of gluten in healthy control subjects, under the assumption that the gluten would not cause symptoms in people without gluten sensitivity. Volunteers attended 2 study sessions, and were then educated by a dietitian about a gluten-free diet and asked to follow a supported gluten-free diet for for 2 weeks. The researchers then measured gluten-free diet adherence using the Biagi score. 

    For their study, the research team recruited unpaid adult volunteers with no diagnosed gluten-related disorders, who followed gluten-containing diets. 

    The study aimed to recruit 30 subjects to divide into 2 groups. No previous data in healthy individuals are available, but NCGS DRCTs have reported gastrointestinal symptom changes induced by gluten, which would carry 89.2% power if observed within a group of n = 15. 

    Volunteers received blood screens for celiac disease antibodies. The trial was supported by the personal research funds of Professor Sanders, and sought ethical approval from the Yorkshire and Humber Research.

    The results of the study show that gluten does not cause gastrointestinal symptoms in healthy people. Basically, people who eat gluten-free absent some clear medical benefit may be falling victim to public misconception of gluten, and likely gaining no health benefit from eating gluten-free.

    Read more at Science Direct.com

    Edited by Jefferson Adams


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    Guest GlutenFreeSF

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    Two weeks seems a bit short of a time frame to asses the longer term impact of a gluten free diet and GI symptoms are hardly the only symptom affected by gluten intake so I would say this study is rather limited in what conclusions can be drawn from it. The best test is still for individuals to go on a GFD for several weeks to months and see if their symptoms (whatever they are) improve.

    Also there is a typo in your article, it reads "n ¼ 15", it should be "n=15".

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    Yeah, this is pretty silly.  Why would you expect people that already report being healthy and well to be even more healthy and well by restricting gluten? And for that degree of statistical power (89.2%) with only N=30 means they assumed huge effects.  You can't statistically detect anything subtle with 30 people.

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    Interesting title.  Tell that to my significant other who went gluten-free voluntarily and lost 50 pounds & no longer complains of bloating.  He now has an occasion hamburger out without ill effects. Best to be off gluten & gliadin. 

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    It is now reported that 54% of adults and 54% of children in the United States are chronically ill. Dr. Kenneth Fine wrote more than 10 years ago that, based on the HLA-DQ genes and his research,  only 1% of people, who have two DQ4 genes, have no potential for gluten sensitivity, and that about 50% of people have active gluten sensitivity. Dr. Tom O’Bryan recommends to people who do not feel well to get  a wheat sensitivity blood test that detects antibodies to as many wheat gluten peptides as possible. 

    This study is just another attempt by big ag designed to put the brakes on people going gluten-free. 

    Again, the restriction in the study of only looking at gastrointestinal symptoms for a short time is part of the mainstream propaganda (lie) that what you eat, as long as it is called “food” and “safe” (I.e. free if pathogenic microbes) can only affect the gastrointestinal tract. This study is part of a pattern of industry propaganda and restriction of studies that will shed a bad light on what industry is selling (advertising) and banks are deeply invested in. 

     

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    To RICHARD D.----you completely missed the point here---they did not RESTRICT Gluten in the healthy people---they challenged them with gluten to see if it would cause any symptoms and it did not----people with non celiac gluten sensitivity generally develop symptoms promptly---within hours-- so 2weeks seems adequate in that regard.  Admittedly the numbers are small but still not one healthy person reacted to gluten

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    To GlutenFree SF guest---you also completely missed the point of the paper---they were not assessing the long term effects of a GFD--just the EXACT OPPOSITE!!---they were looking at the short term effects of a gluten containing diet---to see if it would cause symptoms in otherwise healthy people---to see if any might actually have non celiac gluten sensitivity---in this condition people usually develop symptoms in hours so 2weeks is more than adequate and based on prior studies with NCGS--if you are just looking at GI symptoms--30 is a adequate number----no healthy person developed any symptoms--so they concluded Gluten does not cause GI symptoms in healthy people.   Now if you ARE HAVING symptoms already and think they are due to gluten that is another story---you can then go on a GFD for a period of time to guage its effects but I would recommend seeing a gastroenterologist to be checked for celiac disease

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    To LAURA---your significant other WAS NOT the type of person this study was looking at----they were evaluating how HEALTHY people with NO symptoms would react to gluten---if your S.O.needed to lose 50lbs and had bloating he was NOT healthy---he would not have made the study---since he seems to have responded to a GFD he probably has NON CELIAC GLUTEN Sensitivity or Celiac disease and should have been evaluated by a gastroenterologist

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    To Michael---not sure where you got your statistics---50% chronically ill---define chronically ill---Sure, Dr Fine says 50% of people are actively gluten sensitive--because the  stool tests he uses to evaluate for GS are positive 50% of the time!---these are his own proprietary tests, performed in his OWN private lab---never submitted for accuracy, verification or reproducibility and not approved for use by FDA---which is why you can order it yourself on-line and pay by credit card! Name me another diagnostic assay to test for a disease that is positive 50% of the time---you get the exact same results flipping a coin---let's see does this person have GS---heads yes, tails no!! Likewise none of the gluten antibody tests recommended by T. OBryan are recognized as valid tests--positive antibodies does not necessarily indicate positive disease.  The author of the article David Sanders is a well known and respected, and long time researcher in celiac disease and the author of many other research articles in this field and the work was funded by his hospital---NOT "big Ag"---I don't believe he charged anyone for this info. unlike these other practioners of "big Al"(alternative practitioners)  who act like football tipsters---just send in your $100--for your life changing video on the best kept secret for WELLNESS This study had nothing to do with "big Ag" and everything to do with BIG SCIENCE---let's see the evidence!  Your criticism of the study is that it only looked at GI symptoms for a short period of time is entirely misdirected--that was the very objective of the study--to see if healthy people would get GI-symptoms from gluten--- in the short term---trying to recreate the condition of NCGS----none of the people who criticized the study had any understanding of what it truly was about---but that's OK---you are all entitled to your opinion--after all what does Dr Sanders know anyway

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    15 hours ago, Guest ANTHONY C. said:

    To RICHARD D.----you completely missed the point here---they did not RESTRICT Gluten in the healthy people---they challenged them with gluten to see if it would cause any symptoms and it did not----people with non celiac gluten sensitivity generally develop symptoms promptly---within hours-- so 2weeks seems adequate in that regard.  Admittedly the numbers are small but still not one healthy person reacted to gluten

    I think you might want to try reading a bit more closely.  FTA: "Volunteers attended 2 study sessions, and were then educated by a dietitian about a gluten-free diet and asked to follow a supported gluten-free diet for 2 weeks".  You seem to be inventing your own facts.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. He previously served as Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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