What is Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity?

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity from the National Foundation of Celiac Awareness


Your blood test for celiac disease came back negative. Now what?

Celiac Disease vs. Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity handoutIf you have been suffering symptoms that seem related to gluten, it may be possible that you have non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Research estimates that 18 million Americans have non-celiac gluten sensitivity. That’s 6 times the amount of Americans who have celiac disease. Researchers are just beginning to explore non-celiac gluten sensitivity, but we’d like to educate you on what we’ve learned thus far.


Non-celiac gluten sensitivity has been coined to describe those individuals who cannot tolerate gluten and experience symptoms similar to those with celiac disease but yet who lack the same antibodies and intestinal damage as seen in celiac disease. Early research suggests that non-celiac gluten sensitivity is an innate immune response, as opposed to an adaptive immune response (such as autoimmune) or allergic reaction.

Humans are born with an innate immune system. An innate immune response is not antigen specific, meaning that it is nonspecific as to the type of organism it fights. Although its response is immediate against invading organisms, the innate immune system does not have an immunological memory to invading organisms. Its response is not directed towards self tissue, which would result in autoimmune disease.

Unlike non-celiac gluten sensitivity, celiac disease is antigen specific (including tissue-transglutaminase, endomysium and deamidated gliadin antibodies, and in some small children also gliadin antibodies) and does result in an attack on its own tissue. Intestinal damage, or enteropathy, is the direct result.


What are the symptoms of non-celiac gluten sensitivity?

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity shares many symptoms with celiac disease. However, according to a collaborative report published by Sapone et al. (2012), individuals with non-celiac gluten sensitivity have a prevalence of extraintestinal or non-GI symptoms, such as headache, “foggy mind,” joint pain, and numbness in the legs, arms or fingers. Symptoms typically appear hours or days after gluten has been ingested, a response typical for innate immune conditions like non-celiac gluten sensitivity.                   Celiac Symptoms here


If the symptoms are so similar, how is it different from celiac disease?

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity has been clinically recognized as less severe than celiac disease. It is not accompanied by “the enteropathy, elevations in tissue-transglutaminase, endomysium or deamidated gliadin antibodies, and increased mucosal permeability that are characteristic of celiac disease” (Ludvigsson et al, 2012). In other words, individuals with non-celiac gluten sensitivity would not test positive for celiac disease based on blood testing, nor do they have the same type of intestinal damage found in individuals with celiac disease. Some individuals may experience minimal intestinal damage, and this goes away with a gluten-free diet.

Research has also shown that non-celiac gluten sensitivity does not result in the increased intestinal permeability that is characteristic of celiac disease. Increased intestinal permeability permits toxins, bacteria and undigested food proteins to seep through the GI barrier and into the bloodstream, and research suggests that it is an early biological change that comes before the onset of several autoimmune diseases.


For more Information please go to National Foundation for Celiac Awareness




    • Wendy
    • May 8, 2014

    My name is Wendy, and when I was very young I would get very, very sick. So sick my mom would sit in the bathroom with me while I was on the toilet puking in the basin she was holding for me. I can’t remember if I had diarrhea all the time when I would get sick, but I would always get very nauseous, and throw up for prolonged periods. At these times, and being, so young I thought I was dying, and it happened a lot over a period of time. Why my parents didn’t take me to a doctor I don’t know. When I grew up, and got older looking back on it I even wondered if someone hadn’t poisoned me, because I would get, so very, very sick.
    As I went through my life there were other times when I would have problems with my stomach, and even get pains, sharp pains, and when I got my dad this one time to take me in after extensive tests, and hours of waiting, and being in discomfort, and pain, they gave me their diagnosis. Indigestion. I not only couldn’t believe it that they could be so rude to come back with such a ridiculous, and embarrassing diagnosis, it was also the fact that they completely wasted my time too, while I was in discomfort, and at times pain.
    Anyway you would think all this fun time I had with my stomach, and getting sick would be enough, but later on, a few years ago I started have problems with my legs. Only none of the doctors knew what it was, they finally said it was something hereditary, but they still didn’t know it was an allergy to wheat, and gluten, I know, my family doctor now knows, Thank God, but it took to hell, and back before I found out. My left leg especially would get all red, and swollen, and blistery, so it looked like it was really infected, I would get really scared, and upset, call 911, they rushed me into the hospital for a leg infection. A very serious leg infection that kept trying to spread up my legs, it was mostly the left leg, the right leg wasn’t nearly as bad, now these are supposed to be trained doctors. They put me on very strong antibiotics as well, by the way, for Gluten intolerance is what it actually was, and then I ended up getting a bowl infection called Cedif, from the antibiotics they were giving me, and that could of killed me. They had me in isolation for a month, because of the bowel infection, and they finally sent me home before I had even recovered from it. They just wanted me out of there, they didn’t like me being there, because they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me, so they just got rid of me, simple as that. And that is a very, very sad, and very sick story which would make anyone with any compassion or heart want to say why? Because believe me I did.

    1. Thank you for sharing Wendy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Come Be Social :)


I was diagnosed w/ Celiac disease in 2010, after 7 agonizing years of misdiagnosis. Once I started living gluten free I felt 100% better than I did, but something was still amiss. Giving up gluten was only the beginning of my long journey to gut health and healing.

Everyone is different, there’s not one lifestyle that can work for everyone. Living the gluten free lifestyle is not an easy one and can be very overwhelming: from grocery shopping and social events, to deglutening your own household. I

Let me help you navigate through the gluten-free maze more seamlessly with tips, tricks, humor, healthy recipes and more.

Ditch the Diet Live the Lifestyle ©

Subscribe Today for Free Healthly Living Tips


Find More Following GlutenFreeGal