July 15th, 2011
07:42 AM ET

Are there degrees of gluten sensitivity?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Friday, it's Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician nutrition specialist.

Question asked by Sue R. of Oakland, California

I know that I'm sensitive to carbs but I wanted to know how sensitive I was to gluten. I had a test taken by a nutritionist, and it came out positive. So I wanted to get tested by an official M.D., which I did. He tested me for celiac disease, even though I told him I didn't have it. He didn't understand when I told him that gluten sensitivity has different degrees of impact. Was I misinformed? I always thought it was a spectrum.

Expert answer:

Hi Sue! Several people asked me about gluten sensitivity after I mentioned it in my response on celiac disease several weeks ago, so I thought this would be a good time to expand further on this less well-known and much less well-defined condition.

To get the most up to date and comprehensive information, I spoke with an expert in the field, Dr. Joseph Murray, professor of medicine and consultant in gastroenterology and immunology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota.

Murray explained that gluten sensitivity is a real entity and most likely represents more than one clinical condition.

The first is a condition that probably falls under the heading of gluten sensitivity Murray refers to as "celiac lite," meaning that a person may or may not have antibodies in the blood characteristic of celiac disease, does not have the intestinal damage seen in celiac disease (intestinal damage can be confirmed only by biopsy - taking a small piece of the lining of your intestine), but does have symptoms including abdominal pain, bloating, gas and diarrhea and does benefit in terms of symptoms from following a gluten free diet.

The second group of patients, categorized as having nonceliac gluten sensitivity, have the same symptoms of abdominal pain, bloating, gas and diarrhea, but do not have antibodies or the genetic predisposition for celiac disease.

[An earlier version of this post incorrectly said this group of patients do have antibodies or the genetic predisposition for celiac disease.]

They are often told they have irritable bowel syndrome, but their symptoms improve on a gluten free diet (generally within one month).

A recent double blind, placebo controlled Australian study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology strongly suggested the presence of this form of nonceliac gluten sensitivity or intolerance, but was unable to determine the cause.

So assuming that celiac disease has been ruled out by your doctor (antibodies to the protein TTG are the most accurate, according to Murray) and depending on your symptoms, you may have gluten sensitivity. There is no reliable test to diagnose gluten sensitivity, according to Murray, so whatever your nutritionist ordered is not medically approved.

If your symptoms resolve after one month on a gluten free diet, and the diet does not stop working several months later, this is probably the case and you should do your best to follow a gluten free diet long-term.

One thing to consider is that many people feel better on a gluten free diet because they are eating less food overall (due to fewer choices) and cutting out most sources of refined grains, both of which are a good idea even if you don't have gluten issues.

Your "sensitivity" to carbs may also relate to blood sugar fluctuations and insulin resistance, both of which can improve by reducing total and particularly refined grain intake.

Follow Dr. Melina on Twitter.

soundoff (747 Responses)
  1. read this

    Hello just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in your content seem to be running off the screen in Chrome. I'm not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with browser compatibility but I thought I'd post to let you know. The design look great though! Hope you get the issue fixed soon. Cheers


    May 5, 2021 at 13:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. truck air filter

    I really like it whenever people come together and share opinions. Great blog, continue the good work!


    May 5, 2021 at 17:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. bmv near me


    May 5, 2021 at 19:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. marketing training


    May 5, 2021 at 22:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Eye Doctor


    May 5, 2021 at 22:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. google

    Thanks for your marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed reading it, you
    could be a great author. I will remember to bookmark your
    blog and definitely will come back in the future. I want to
    encourage continue your great job, have a nice evening!

    Here is my homepage – google

    May 6, 2021 at 01:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. News

    Yesterday, while I was at work, my cousin stole my iPad and tested to see if it can survive
    a twenty five foot drop, just soo she can bee a youtube sensation. My apple ipad
    iis now broken annd she has 83 views. I know this is completely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

    May 6, 2021 at 01:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. semi truck tire repair near me

    You've made some decent points there. I checked on the web for additional information about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this site.


    May 6, 2021 at 03:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. mercedes cargo van


    May 6, 2021 at 09:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. RV Sound System Orange County

    Hi, I do believe this is an excellent web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I'm going to revisit once again since I bookmarked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide others.


    May 6, 2021 at 13:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. appliance store near me

    I wanted to thank you for this excellent read!! I definitely enjoyed every bit of it. I've got you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post…


    May 6, 2021 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. storage near me


    May 6, 2021 at 17:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. rv alignment


    May 6, 2021 at 17:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Forklift Dealer Orange County


    May 6, 2021 at 17:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. toilet repair near me


    May 7, 2021 at 06:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Order Kegs Online


    May 7, 2021 at 08:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Forklifts Orange County


    May 7, 2021 at 08:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. estate sales near me

    Everything is very open with a clear clarification of the challenges. It was truly informative. Your website is very useful. Many thanks for sharing!


    May 7, 2021 at 15:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Forklift Tires

    Good post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon everyday. It's always helpful to read articles from other authors and use something from other websites.


    May 7, 2021 at 18:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. auto paint supply orange county


    May 7, 2021 at 19:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Seo Marketing Companies

    Aw, this was an exceptionally nice post. Taking the time and actual effort to make a top notch article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a lot and don't manage to get anything done.


    May 7, 2021 at 23:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Social Media Marketing Program

    Good info. Lucky me I discovered your blog by chance (stumbleupon). I've saved it for later!


    May 7, 2021 at 23:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. motorhome repair shops near me


    May 7, 2021 at 23:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Social Media Marketing Pro

    You need to take part in a contest for one of the greatest sites online. I most certainly will highly recommend this website!


    May 8, 2021 at 02:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Video Marketing Agencies


    May 8, 2021 at 06:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Hexclad Hybrid Pan Reviews

    Have you ever thought about including a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is valuable and all. Nevertheless think of if you added some great pictures or video clips to give your posts more, "pop"! Your content is excellent but with pics and clips, this site could undeniably be one of the greatest in its field. Superb blog!


    May 8, 2021 at 11:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Internet Marketing Mechanics


    May 8, 2021 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. rv parts indio


    May 8, 2021 at 14:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Seo Marketing Service

    Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It will always be interesting to read through articles from other writers and use something from other web sites.


    May 8, 2021 at 14:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Social Media Marketing Jobs Orange County


    May 8, 2021 at 15:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Google Marketing Engineer


    May 8, 2021 at 17:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Internet Marketing Club


    May 8, 2021 at 20:05 | Report abuse | Reply

    I visited many websites except the audio feature for audio songs
    current at this web page is genuinely fabulous.

    May 8, 2021 at 21:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Social Media Marketing Specialist


    May 9, 2021 at 00:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Internet Marketing Services California

    I blog quite often and I seriously appreciate your content. The article has really peaked my interest. I am going to book mark your website and keep checking for new information about once per week. I subscribed to your Feed as well.


    May 9, 2021 at 01:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Social Media Marketing Agency Anaheim


    May 9, 2021 at 04:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Social Media Marketing Companies Orange County


    May 9, 2021 at 06:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Social Media Marketing Reviews


    May 9, 2021 at 13:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Digital Marketing Services


    May 9, 2021 at 17:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Content Marketing Near Me


    May 10, 2021 at 13:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Digital Marketing Agency California

    A fascinating discussion is worth comment. I do think that you should write more on this subject matter, it might not be a taboo matter but typically people do not speak about these topics. To the next! Many thanks!!


    May 10, 2021 at 15:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Video Marketing Programs


    May 10, 2021 at 18:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Social Media Marketing Companies

    This site was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something which helped me. Cheers!


    May 10, 2021 at 22:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Social Media Marketing Program


    May 10, 2021 at 23:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Digital Marketing Quote

    This is a topic that's close to my heart... Cheers! Where are your contact details though?


    May 11, 2021 at 00:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Internet Marketing Business


    May 11, 2021 at 01:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Local Marketing Consultants

    Very good article. I'm experiencing some of these issues as well..


    May 11, 2021 at 02:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Digital Marketing Consultant Near Me


    May 11, 2021 at 04:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Digital Marketing Program

    A motivating discussion is definitely worth comment. I think that you ought to publish more about this topic, it may not be a taboo subject but generally people do not talk about these issues. To the next! Cheers!!


    May 11, 2021 at 05:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Internet Marketing Event


    May 11, 2021 at 09:22 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.