Gluten – Whats the Real Difference?

There can be multiple reasons why people choose to eliminate gluten or wheat. It can get very confusing between the different kinds of diagnosis that someone may have. Hopefully this blog will help you decipher what is really going on. 


Celiac Disease

This is a genetic autoimmune disorder.  Someone with celiac disease has an allergic reaction to gluten in the small intestine. After having constant inflammation from gluten exposure, the villi, or the brush like border, on the gut will become smooth. Once this border becomes smooth the body will not absorb foods properly. Not only can this cause gut discomfort but also malabsorption. This condition can be diagnosed by a small intestine biopsy. Those with celiac disease must only avoid gluten.


Wheat allergy

A wheat allergy is an immune system reaction to any of the proteins in wheat. There are hundreds of different proteins in wheat. With this kind of allergy, the body has a specific antibody against something that is wheat. This kind of allergy is where you see anaphylaxis or trouble breathing. The diagnosis of these kinds of allergies is a radioallergosorbent test (RAST). This is a blood test using testing for specific antibodies. Those with wheat allergies must avoid all wheat proteins and products. 


Non-celiac gluten sensitivity

This sensitivity is not an immune reaction or a genetic condition.  This is when someone does not have the brush border shrinkage that is seen in celiac disease. These people alse text negative for specific antibodies against wheat protein yet they are still suffering from symptoms. This is title is only given once celiac disease and a wheat allergy have been ruled out yet eliminating gluten helps with symptoms. These people typically avoid just gluten at first. If they have sensitivities to other wheat proteins, they may have to avoid all wheat products as well.