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Do I have to Re-introduce Gluten in Order to have an Accurate Gluten Sensitivity Test Done?


Question:  Do I have to re-introduce gluten in order to have an accurate gluten sensitivity test done?
 Answer: Yes and No

 If a person knows they are sensitive to gluten and have gone on a gluten-free diet, and want to know if they can have gluten again, then a  challenge is in order (reintroduce gluten). THIS IS STRONGLY NOT RECOMMENDED. The gluten challenge has many cases of people who were damaged (some permanently) from the reaction to reintroducing gluten Even Small Amounts of Gluten Cause Relapse in Children With Celiac Disease, Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition 34:26­30,   and it is no longer a requirement for diagnosing celiac disease Am J Clin Nut 1999;69:354-65.

 Among 374 children in whom celiac disease was diagnosed before the age of 2, 5% developed an auto-immune disorder while on a gluten-free diet. Of those who went gluten-free, had years of no symptoms, then went back on a gluten-containing diet, 3.65% prevalence of systemic auto-immune disease with less than 12 months of eating gluten 9.1  % prevalence for 13-36 months of eating gluten again 26.3% prevalence for > 36 months of eating gluten again This means 1 out of 4 people who were sensitive to gluten, went gluten-free and eliminated all of their symptoms developed auto-immune diseases within 3 years of eating gluten again. Gastroenterology 1999;117:297-303.

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 If you know you are Gluten Sensitive, and you've gone on a gluten-free diet, and you want to know "am I better", then testing will confirm you are being successful in 'quieting down' the inflammatory cascade that occurs with gluten sensitivity and which sets one up for the development of autoimmune disease.

 And if you want to 'throw the dice', if you want to gamble that you won't be the '1 out of 4' who develops an autoimmune disorder, then you would want to first check and make sure your tests are negative while being on a gluten-free diet, then do your gluten challenge and test again 1-2 months later. Once again, not recommended to do this.

 Many people do not develop celiac disease until later in life. So even if one tests negative now, if they're genetically vulnerable, celiac disease can develop at any time as a result of the body no longer able to handle the stress of life. Something will be the 'straw that broke the camels back' and a person who has had negative tests in the past will begin producing the antibodies and begin the tissue destruction that will eventually manifest as Gluten Sensitivity and/or celiac disease. So in this scenario, these people want to know if they're genetically vulnerable.

 The question is, am I sensitive to wheat?  When a test looking at Gluten Sensitivity comes back positive, it tells us the immune system is reacting to an exposure to gluten. And if you are not eating gluten, it's one of a few things:

  •  A hidden exposure to gluten
  •  A cross-reactive food
  •  A cross-reactive virus or bacteria
  •  A poorly functioning GI Tract (consider Array #2-Intestinal Antigenic Permeability Screen)
  • An unknown cause (potentially Refractory Sprue). welcomes your comments below (registration is NOT required).

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11 Responses:

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said this on
07 Feb 2011 4:05:06 PM PST
I agree wholeheartedly! Why take a risk of damaging your GI tract when it is unnecessary. I believe gluten is bad for most of us!

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said this on
14 Feb 2011 2:43:23 PM PST
Interesting article. Is there another way to determine if you have celiac disease without consuming gluten again?

atieh ghavamiadel
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said this on
14 Feb 2011 10:52:35 PM PST
It is 100 percent true.

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said this on
15 Feb 2011 6:38:04 AM PST
I wish this article were more coherent. I've read it and I still don't know what sort of test I should get to find out if I'm gluten sensitive without doing a gluten challenge. I found the end particularly confusing. Very poorly written.

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said this on
20 Feb 2011 4:41:52 PM PST

You might want to look at the tests available through Enterolab. They can do a gene test to determine if you have one of the genes known to cause celiac disease, or if you have the genes that are known to cause gluten sensitivity/intolerance. They can also do other tests for immune response to gluten and a test for fat malabsorption. The tests are not diagnostic - but they can provide helpful information if you are not eating gluten. The website has a valuable FAQ that should answer your questions. I decided to test my kids when I found I carry one of the celiac genes. So far they don't have any immune response. Good luck!

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said this on
22 Feb 2011 9:47:50 PM PST
I've suspected I had celiac for some time now. I had the blood test last year but I wasn't eating gluten, it was negative. Now the Gi doc wants to do a biopsy of my small intestine to see, she states that is the only way to tell if I have celiac. I read that I should not go on the diet until after the test, because it could come back negative again. I have been eating small amounts of gluten, with no major outbreaks. but I don't feel as well as when I am gluten free. This article gave no no clue as what to do. So I guess if I want to know for sure, which I do, I will continue to eat gluten until my test. I already have auto immune disease and I'm definitely not a child. Also my mom was gluten sensitive all her life, and my dad probably had it too, he had severe IBS. Odds are I am too.

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said this on
10 Aug 2011 12:21:32 PM PST
I'm in the same boat and going for the endoscopy tomorrow, I was told the only way to get a for sure answer is the endoscopy while eating gluten. As soon as I get tested, going gluten free, even if it tests negative... what a terrible way to do it tho, eat this, it'll make you feel like crap, but we can then diagnosis you! My dad has "IBS" but if I come back celiac I told him to get tested for it as well. I also have Grave's disease, an auto immune thyroid condition. Some of my other autoimmune bloods are coming back high. I think the biopsy will come back positive for celiac.

Crystal Carter
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said this on
23 Mar 2011 1:43:28 PM PST

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said this on
27 Jun 2011 8:32:31 AM PST
I'm disappointed. The article does not answer the question: "Do I have to Re-introduce Gluten in Order to have an Accurate Gluten Sensitivity Test Done?" My suspicion is that if we are GF for a certain period of time we don't have those antibodies there to if we are GF (it obviously makes us feel better) then how do we separate between a sensitivity and celiac without reintroducing?

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said this on
29 Sep 2011 11:35:26 PM PST
Blood test for genetic coeliac. blood test for TTG antibody ELISA. Eat gluten for 1 meal a day for 2 weeks (the most the average coeliac can bear - you'll feel miserable), have the gastroscopy (uses an endoscopy) and you'll have a certain result. I have had Graves disease and suspect genetic coeliac my entire life (constipation and gut pain since I can remember) and now at 43 finally found the symptoms match reaction to gluten. Only stopped (on my own diagnosis) gluten for 10 days and now my gastro asked me to start again just for 10 days before my gastroscopy. I had wheat laden bread (just a slice) at 11.30 am and by 4 pm I look 6mths pregnant (slim size usually) and gut pain and so tired I'm in bed. I'm not looking forward to the 10 days of pain but I put up with it previously for my life, so whats another 10 days to know for sure? Ive already stuffed up my insides and have Graves Disease so what's to loose? I want to know 100 percent if I'm giving up gluten for the rest of my life. Confusing article and not to directive on what to do, but hey! at least it got us all thinking, sharing and leaving a post to help each other. Good luck fellow bloaters, I'm looking forward to knowing coeliac or not. If I am then I know I can do a gluten free diet for life and you never know, I may for the first time this summer have no pot belly protruding from the top of the bikini - and no grumpiness from the pain. All good.

Beverly Kendrick
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said this on
05 Jun 2012 10:56:17 AM PST
I have reason to believe I'm celiac. I plan to have the test sometime this Fall. Looking back at some problems my relatives had, I think they had it too, but were told it was something else. I dread having to eat gluten. I have had allergy tests. I have allergies to at least 5 gluten free flours as well. I have allergies to many fruits and vegetables too.
I listen to my body and I have found out many interesting facts. I have concerns for some of my other relatives too. that is why the test are important to me.

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