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Jane Anderson

Gluten Sensitivity - What We Now Know (And Don't Know)

By February 16, 2012

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Gluten sensitivity -- also known as "non-celiac gluten sensitivity," "gluten intolerance" or even "gluten allergy" -- has been real to many of us in the gluten-free community for a long time. But researchers now are starting to agree that such a condition exists, to debate how to diagnose it, and to consider what health risks it might pose.

Last week's release of a paper from top celiac disease researchers (including Drs. Alessio Fasano, Peter Green and Marios Hadjivassiliou) outlining an algorithm physicians can use to diagnose gluten sensitivity should help to spur significant debate on the subject. Hopefully it also will lead to further research on gluten sensitivity, its causes and treatment, and how it relates to celiac disease.

To take a look at exactly where we stand right now, I recently interviewed Dr. Fasano, along with Dr. Kenneth Fine (founder of Enterolab, which offers direct-to-consumer gluten sensitivity testing) and Dr. Rodney Ford, who first theorized that gluten sensitivity may be a primarily neurological condition. Based on those interviews, plus reviews of the little peer-reviewed research available on gluten sensitivity, I've written the following series of gluten sensitivity articles:

Gluten Sensitivity - The Basics
Gluten Sensitivity vs. Celiac Disease
How Many People Have Gluten Sensitivity?
Gluten Sensitivity Symptoms
Gluten Sensitivity Tests
Gluten Sensitivity Health Risks

Put all together, these articles spell out where we are in our current understanding of gluten sensitivity.

Unfortunately, there's still plenty more that we don't know about gluten sensitivity -- for example, it's not clear if someone who's "just" gluten-sensitive (as opposed to celiac) can cheat on the gluten-free diet without risking health repercussions (this is obviously a really important question!). We'll know more as research continues. In the meantime, I hope this gluten sensitivity series helps you to understand this condition.

Keep up with the latest in the celiac/gluten intolerant world -- sign up for my newsletter, connect with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter - @AboutCeliac.

Image Getty Images/Steve Satushek

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