Is gluten sensitivity — without diagnosed celiac disease — a myth? A new study says no.
Published in the Journal of Nutrition, the research aimed to assess the association between gluten intake and inflammatory biomarkers across a diverse population.
The study included a cross-section of 1,095 young adults aged 20 to 29 who self-reported their gluten intake. Using liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry, the researchers examined levels of 54 plasma proteins in the participants.
They found that among those who consumed more gluten, levels of plasma ∝2-macroglobulin, a marker of inflammation and cytokine release, were significantly elevated. This demonstrated a direct link between eating gluten and inflammation in nonceliac individuals.
“Gluten sensitivity, quite apart from celiac disease, is a very real entity,” says David Perlmutter, MD, board-certified neurologist, American College of Nutrition fellow, and author of Grain Brain. “Gluten consumption enhances the permeability of the gut lining, and this sets the stage for inflammation throughout the body.”
An estimated 18 million Americans have nonceliac gluten sensitivity, which is not diagnosable via a blood test but has similar symptoms of celiac disease, including gastrointestinal issues, “foggy mind,” headaches, and joint pain.
The study results add to a growing body of evidence finding that, like celiac sufferers, nonceliacs can experience relief and improved health when they cut gluten from their diets.