According to reports, only one-third of people diagnosed with gluten sensitivity actually experience adverse side effects from gluten intake. What’s more intriguing is that among scientists, gluten intolerance isn’t actually a thing. Or at the very least, it doesn’t even exist.
According to the New York Times reports, 30 percent of people in the US say they want to eat less gluten, and the portion of households that are purchasing gluten-free products hit 11 percent last year. But not only are these products no more healthy for youth an their gluten-packed counterparts, it appears to be very little science backing up many people’s claims to be needing them.
As study, led by a team of gastroenterologist from the University of Spedali of Brescia in Italy, involved recruiting 35 volunteers who have been diagnosed with non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), an autoimmune disorder that flares up with gluten intake.
These volunteers had been living off a strict gluten-free diet for at least six months before the study, and were then asked to complete a series of “challenges” involving eating gluten-containing and gluten-free flours. Completely blind to what they were actually eating, the volunteers were given sealed sachets simply labelled “A” and “B”, each containing 10 grams of flour.
For the first stage of the experiment, the volunteers were given one type of flour and were told to sprinkle it over pasta or soup once a day for 10 consecutive days. They were then given 14 days to go back to their normal diets, and then repeated the challenge for another 10 days using the other type of flour.
During the process, they were asked to report any symptoms of pain, reflux, indigestion, diarrhoea, and constipation, using a rating scale of 1 (no adverse effects) to 7 (severe adverse affects). Once they were all done, the volunteers had to guess which of the sachets contained the gluten-containing and gluten-free flours. If they guessed correctly, because their side effects linked up with the reality of what they had been eating, they were classified as having NCGS, regardless of the prior diagnosis.
Te results were: 12 of the 35 volunteers could be classified as having NCGS based on the given criteria. According to Ross Pomeroy,
Of the remaining subjects, 17 identified the gluten-free flour as causing symptoms and 6 were reported to have no adverse symptoms during the trial whatsoever. Also of note, most subjects tended to experience very mild symptoms throughout the trial. On average, participants rated the majority of gastrointestinal symptoms at 3 or lower on the aforementioned scale.”
In conclusion, even though the symptoms were self-reported, they do agree with another recent study conducted in Australia that also suggests that for many people, gluten intolerance is all in their head.