What is non-coeliac gluten sensitivity?

By Geraldine Georgeou

It seems there is no dirtier word than ‘gluten’ in the public arena right now. The supermarket aisles are filled with gluten-free breads and snack offerings, but is there any evidence to suggest that anyone without coeliac disease should ditch gluten for their health?

People with coeliac disease must avoid gluten – but what if you aren’t?

Coeliac disease is a condition where the lining of the small intestine is damaged due to sensitivity to the protein gluten, which can be a serious thing to manage as people with coeliac disease must avoid breads, cakes, sandwiches and pizzas that contain wheat, oats, barley and rye.

“Is there any evidence to suggest that anyone without coeliac disease should ditch gluten for their health? The overarching answer is no. Non-coeliac disease is a real condition, but you need advice from a health professional before removing gluten from your diet.”

Going gluten free without a medical diagnosis and expert help may provide no benefit. In fact, it could result in nutritional deficiencies and lower-fibre diets that aren’t good for your microbiome.

There is research to support the claim that a cohort of people have what’s called non-coeliac gluten sensitivity. These people are intolerant to gluten and experience many of the symptoms that a coeliac may have, such as:

  • diarrhoea,
  • bloating,
  • abdominal pain,
  • fatigue,
  • brain fog.

Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity doesn’t give permanent intestinal damage from eating gluten, as it does in people with coeliac disease.

Those who have non-coeliac gluten sensitivity do not tend to develop the nutrient deficiencies that people with coeliac disease get, however they do have a higher tendency to get skin irritations and inflammation.

Research has found that more than half of patients with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity also presented with hives and swelling (36 per cent), generalised itching (10 per cent), psoriasis (9 per cent) and eczema (45 per cent).

The Australian Healthy Skin Diet has more details on how to deal with this sensitivity.


What else is in the book?

There is more information on probiotics, prebiotics and gut health in The Australian Healthy Skin Diet, along with healthy skin recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert and a four-week eating plan.