Category: Science


Yes, Gluten Sensitivity Is Very Real

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see an article either in print or on the Internet indicating that the notion of going gluten-free is entirely overblown. Typically, the conclusions often sounds something like, “While only about 1.6% of Americans, those with confirmed celiac disease, need to be on a gluten-free diet, there is absolutely no reason for anyone else to adopt this diet.”

Statements like these are generally made to convince people who may be considering eliminating gluten or who may already be on a gluten-free diet, to go back to eating gluten-containing foods. Clearly, for those of us who have done the research to understand how gluten can affect certain people, pushing back against this type of sentiment has always been a challenge.

Generally, our response has always been supported by well-respected, peer-reviewed, scientific literature. As such, it was really very heartening to see this wonderful scientific review in the Journal of the American Medical Association in August of this year.

The authors clearly support the notion that non-celiac gluten sensitivity is in fact very real indeed, and, according to the authors, very common.

Further, the researchers call attention to the fact that individuals with non-celiac gluten sensitivity may not only have gastrointestinal issues but other issues as well, including arthritis, depression, cloudiness of consciousness, headache, irritability, muscle pain, neuropathy, anxiety, anemia, and coordination difficulties.

And again, this report is put out by the American Medical Association and was written by researchers affiliated with some of the most well respected institutions in the world including Harvard Medical School and the European Biomedical Research Institute.

No doubt, we will continue to see nonscientific publications from naysayers as it relates to the notion of gluten sensitivity apart from celiac disease. I think it is very important in debates centered on these very important topics that we do our very best to support our positions with well-respected research.

  • DJ Helriggle

    This absolutely has to be true. I have been off of gluten for two weeks and I feel amazing! My depression and anxiety has abated, I’m clear headed, full of energy and I’m losing weight…nice bonus! Other than going on a low-carb diet and supplementing with probiotics, I haven’t made any other lifestyle changes. I’m not an expert, but in my mind, it has to be the gluten. Years ago, one of my doctor’s told me that, “Gluten is nasty stuff.” I wish I would have listened to him.

    • David Perlmutter

      Never too late to start taking steps to improve your health. Wishing you all the best DJ.

      • DJ Helriggle

        Thanks Dr. Perlmutter! Your books have changed my life!

        • Pixelsnap

          Fascinating account, and thanks for sharing it. It’s the old “When the student is ready, the teacher shows up.” 🙂 Our once-young bodies were incredibly forgiving at one time, making all the adjustments and steering our boats more or less on-course despite all the neglect we threw at them. As they lose a bit of that resilience, it’s a wise move to listen more carefully to the signals they send. I just *loved* making bread, for years, handing it to my children, friends, acquaintances, as a token of love, glutinous though it was. The best of the best, sourdough only, zero commercial anything, old “emmer” as a grain base, ground right here in my kitchen. Then, suddenly, from every direction, I start hearing about microbiomes, belly critters of all kinds AND a weirdly named book I had read about a few years ago but never bought, suddenly pops into my head, two or three times the same week… OK. I hear ya. I am almost finished reading Brain Maker now, just EATING IT UP (zero-gluten paper stock) and thinking, like you, “Why didn’t I listen?” Student wasn’t ready I guess. 😉

    • Dr. Brian R. Ferguson

      As a doc who consistently recommends a gluten-free diet, can you teach me 1. what you WISH your doc had said, instead of ‘Gluten is nasty stuff’, that would have been more effectual? and 2.What was it that led you to make that change THIS time? What was the tipping point? I would appreciate your input to help me leverage teaching moments with my patients for whom I suspect a GF diet is worth considering.

      • DJ Helriggle

        Hi Dr. Ferguson! I guess I really didn’t appreciate my doctor’s sense of urgency surrounding gluten. This was way before there was much research on how bad it is for you. If he would have said, “Don’t eat gluten,” and told me why, I may have listened. The tipping point was my depression and anxiety. Both conditions were out of control, despite being put on multiple medications. I knew there had to be a better way, so I began to do some research and that’s what led me to Dr. Perlmutter. Getting physically active, cutting out gluten and sugars, supplementing with probiotics and taking advantage of other natural solutions has changed my life! I’m off of 2 of my three anti-depressants and should be clear of all of them within a few weeks.

        • Dr. Brian R. Ferguson

          Thank you, DJ. I appreciate your transparency and for sharing your experience. I wish you continued success in your journey to health.

      • Jody Bladin

        It’s awesome that you recommend gluten-free to your patients. When I first came across a esoteric practioner I was very bloated and felt heavy and very uncomfortable in the stomach and 15 kilos heavier than I am now.
        She just presented it to me by saying, try it and feel how your body feels in a couple of months. She also explained to me how it had changed her life too. That gluten is just like a glue that sits in the stomach causing havoc and how there is so much more gluten in our products today than ever before.
        It makes a huge difference if you live it too, people can see and feel the difference in you and you can explain your experience of what you live.
        I knew I had an opportunity here, I could either stay the way I was, or I could do this and see what happens.
        example: It’s a bit like a doctor telling you to give up smoking and yet he smokes himself. The patient is not going to listen if you are the smoker.
        More and more people are starting to realize how the body rejects gluten.
        I also made the choice to stop consuming dairy and refined sugar……….my choice no allergies etc.
        My body is amazing now compared to where it use to be.
        I’m so glad I chose to give it ago that day. Hope this helps.

  • Francis

    Some gluten free products are loaded with carbs. Which makes it a little difficult, its a learning process, alrhiugh beneficial

    • David Perlmutter

      Absolutely! Need to be careful with all of those.

  • Jody Bladin

    Choosing to be gluten free and dairy free was one of the best choices I have made. My body thanks me everyday. NO more bloating and feeling like I have bricks weighing me down in my stomach. My body feels so free and light now. I would never go back.

    • David Perlmutter

      Wonderful to hear you’ve found the lifestyle plan that works for you.

    • lalitgambhir

      Thanks Jody. I wonder what replaces dairy fat. I have three very sick family members who are unable to cope up loss of dairy fat in their diet. Nuts and seeds do not work. I am sure your experience can help us.

      • Nancy

        Coconut oil can substitute very nicely for butter… even whipped cream!! Check with Google 🙂

        • lalitgambhir

          Thank you Nancy

      • Jody Bladin

        I am not a naturopath, so I can only say to you what I know is true for me. I agree with Nancy, Coconut oil is great. But I also use the dark Olive oil, sesame oil, avocados, salmon, these are a few. You can also use almond paste instead of peanut butter, Plus I take Krill and cod liver. Hope this helps.

        • lalitgambhir

          Thanks so much Jody for providing options.

  • Grace

    First of all THANK YOU Dr. as I am just learning about how important the diet is on our health.
    I am curious if there are any studies on the consumption of IPA beer? As you know it has exploded the market and I was enjoying them until I started having weird gurgling coming from my gut. I wonder if the hops has an effect on the bacteria in the gut? I realize that alcohol is very bad for your health but I do enjoy a beverage now and then and the hops laden beer seemed to be the only one that gave me this gurgling reaction.
    Thanks again Dr. and I am learning so many beneficial and healthy alternatives from you and your colleagues. Life saving and I am spreading the word. It is a difficult task as we all grew up in a totally different world. Change is hard for people, especially if it takes effort.

    • David Perlmutter

      Best to avoid: gluten and carbs.

  • Luc Chene

    Dr Benkim has been told by some of his patients that the reaction to wheat was much less with European wheat, than American wheat. Indeed in Europe, there was no such thing as Dust Bowl because of poor soil management.
    In Texas an article of the ADA in 1942 wrote about a ‘cavity free town’ they found out that the soil was extremely rich in minerals.
    So, one aspect of gluten problems could be mineral depletion.

  • Beth E

    Dr. Perlmutter,
    First, Thank you for this site! I am a 42 year old female who has suffered from Eczema since childhood. As I got older I had a great handle on it and didn’t have any issues until recently. To add approximately a year ago I started having severe stomach issues. Several exams were done and nothing discovered. Over the past 2 month I started having skin issues again only it came on different than what I typically experienced with my usual Eczema out breaks. It was on my wrists, elbows, knees, back and even my scalp. I went to my dermatologist and was again told it was eczema. I was given an ointment which was not helping. Frustrated I still press on each day with work and dealing with these issues. My work place is doing a special health clinic and during a meeting with a Dietician she noticed my skin. She asked me some questions and made it clear to me she is not a Dr but believes that I have Celiac disease. She stated that she too has been diagnosed and my skin and issues sounded so much like what she went through around the same age. She is older now and has learned so much. I went back to my Dermatologist and suggested this and was told that it is a rare disease and I don’t have it. I am so confused because I have not been tested for it and I do know that certain gluten foods do upset my stomach. So how do I get this figured out? I am so frustrated. I was told it is just my age and my skin type. Why do doctors not want to look into any other possibility. I feel like if they can’t figure it out they throw out the age thing or something as such. Please Help!

  • Elizabeth Barron-Hudson

    I am non-celiac gluten sensitive. I have had most of the symptoms that you describe through the years. This started at age 30. I finally went gluten free three years ago. The GI distress resolved immediately. I am age 71 and this completely changed my life. Gluten Sensitivity is REAL!

    Elizabeth Barron

  • Kristy Cohan

    I am so grateful for access to current health research. I was dismayed yesterday when I received my month ARRP newsletter and on the front was “Fad and Myths of diet”. Inside they discounted issues with gluten and the benefits of coconut oil.
    I wanted to scream… how long will our highly educated doctors continue to keep their heads in the sand?
    Keep up the great work!

  • Annie

    I’ve not eaten gluten for months now and I feel no different. I live in South Africa where we can get grains that are not as heavily processed as elsewhere. Could that be why I feel no different? Also dairy. I only consume raw dairy products, other than the odd cheese made from pasteurised milk. Have found no difference in my gut for sure. Still as constiated as a brick ….. So now I don’t understand

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