Most of us have heard all about the horrors of gluten.  For some it’s because gluten is bad for their health and they avoid it as much as possible.  For others, it’s because they’ve got celiac disease, which is when the stomach starts to injure itself in an effort to digest gluten.  But what about those in the middle?  Non-celiac gluten intolerance is when someone is unable to process or digest gluten effectively, meaning they should avoid gluten, but not to the extreme of celiac disease.  Here’s what you should know.

What gluten intolerance means

When you find out that you are living with gluten intolerance (and not celiac disease) it does mean some changes in your diet, but not to the extreme that a positive celiac diagnosis would entail.

Simply put, finding out that you have gluten intolerance — or, gluten sensitivity, as it is something referred to in order to differentiate it from celiac disease — means that your body is unable to effectively digest gluten.  When the body ingests gluten, the proper digestive enzymes are missing and the rest of the body must adapt by struggling to break down the ingredient and push it through the body’s digestive tract until it comes out the other end.

With non-celiac gluten intolerance, the process of digesting gluten is often thought to uncomfortable (and will vary depending on severity) but it won’t cause any damage to the stomach lining or digestive tract to eat it.  In this case, gluten should be avoided as much as possible, but it’s not the end of the world if you eat it, all things considered.

One of the common comments is that a lot of the symptoms for gluten intolerance mimic celiac disease. This is absolutely the case and the main difference really is the fact that celiac disease means that you could be damaging your stomach lining and traditional gluten intolerance will not result in the same damage. That’s part of why understanding which you are living with is so important.

How can I know which it is?

Obviously, you want to make sure that you know which one you are dealing with.  The best way to get that diagnosis right is to consider a food intolerance test.  This is an easy at-home test that will use a sample of either blood or hair to test against hundreds of ingredients in a lab setting.  The response of your sample will be measured against the normal parameters of sensitivity and the results will be sent to you. This will tell you what your body is intolerant to and even how severe the intolerance is.  Amongst those intolerances could very well be gluten.

If you determine that you aren’t gluten intolerant by the test results, you’ll be able to talk to a specialist and see about getting a similar test conducted specifically for celiac disease.  When it comes to potentially doing damage to your stomach or simply dealing with a traditional intolerance, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.  A food intolerance could be a part of that and it may even inform you on other intolerances you never knew you had.