Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) is a term used to describe a condition where people have symptoms that are similar to celiac disease but they don’t have celiac disease.
People with NCGS don’t get intestinal damage, nor do they test positive for celiac disease or wheat allergy.
You may see terms like Non-Celiac Wheat Sensitivity (NCWS), Gluten Sensitivity (GS), or Gluten Intolerance (GI) getting used interchangeably, but they’re essentially the same thing.
They’re just different names for NCGS.
In this post, we’ll go over:
- What is Gluten?
- What is Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, and How It’s Different from Celiac Disease and Wheat Allergy
- How Can You Tell if You Have Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
- How to Treat Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
Let’s dive in!
What is Gluten?
Gluten is the protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye and other grains. Gluten is also found in certain products such as lipsticks and certain medications.
Specifically in wheat, gluten makes up ~80% of the total proteins.
Wheat flour itself is such an important food and ubiquitous food ingredient – aka, it’s in so many food products.
Wheat flour does have a lot of beneficial nutritional properties, like protein, fibre and trace vitamins and minerals.
The gluten proteins in wheat are what cause pathogenic immune responses and hypersensitivity reactions in susceptible people.
The group of these conditions are called “gluten-related disorders” (GRDs).
- Celiac disease (CD)
- Wheat allergy (WA)
- and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS)
Together, these 3 conditions affect around 1-7% of the people worldwide.
What is Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity and How is it Different than Celiac Disease or Wheat Allergy
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity is NOT Celiac Disease.
Celiac Disease is a genetic disorder where consuming gluten causes an immune reaction, including damage to the small intestines.
If you need to go gluten-free for celiac disease, go here.
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity is NOT a wheat allergy
Wheat allergy is an immune reaction to foods containing wheat.
How can you tell if you have Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity?
The symptoms of NCGS overlap with celiac disease and other intestinal conditions like irritable bowl syndrome.
Symptoms of NCGS include:
- Abdominal Pain
- Skin Problems
- Muscle & Joint Pain
- Brain Fog
You won’t necessarily get all of these symptoms.
They can show up within hours or days after consuming gluten.
For me, I had really bad reflux or “GERD” which caused bad bloating, stomach pain, extreme nausea and all day burping.
I didn’t know what was the problem until well, I did.
More on my story here.
So far, the best way to determine if you have NCGS is to go on a gluten-free diet and see if your symptoms go away.
If so, then you’d be considered “gluten intolerant.”
How to Treat Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity:
The best and easiest way to treat this is by eating a gluten-free diet.
To get started now, grab my freebie Cheat Sheet: Foods to Avoid with Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity:
Here at Eats by April, I’ve got a ton of recipes from breakfast to dinner that are gluten-free and carb-friendly. Check them out!
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity is Still A New Concept
NCGS is a relatively new disorder, so the getting a super specific and definitive definition remains tough right now.
Because researchers haven’t pin-pointed the pathophysiology of the condition, it’s very difficult to figure out how to diagnose and how to explain symptoms that don’t have to do with the gut like headaches, brain fog, and depression that are commonly reported in people reporting gluten sensitivity.
Many even think that there’s more to blame than just gluten, but the research isn’t there yet to confirm this yet.
Right now, there’s no way to test or diagnose someone with NCGS easily.
But developing a safe and effective diagnosis is currently in the works.
As researchers continue to study Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, I’ll be there every step of the way to keep you in the loop.
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If you found this article helpful, check out these post:
Asri N, Rostami-Nejad M, Anderson RP, Rostami K. The Gluten Gene: Unlocking the Understanding of Gluten Sensitivity and Intolerance. Appl Clin Genet. 2021;14:37-50. https://doi.org/10.2147/TACG.S276596
Saunders, A. Is gluten intolerance real? March 12th, 2021. Accessed on-line at: https://eatsbyapril.com/is-gluten-intolerance-real/