Gluten sensitivity: fact or fashion statement?

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Purpose of review

In recent years, the concern over food sensitivities in general and gluten intolerance in particular has sharply increased. Patients and medical providers are awash in various claims about the potential implications of including or excluding gluten from the diet.

Recent findings

Three main conditions are described with respect to gluten: wheat allergy, celiac disease, and nonceliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). Wheat allergy is a type 1 hypersensitivity reaction to nongluten proteins within wheat. Celiac disease is an autoimmune reaction to the gluten protein resulting in damage to the small intestine with genetic associations. NCGS is a diagnosis of exclusion and, to date, no biomarkers have been identified for this condition.


When evaluating and treating patients with potential reactions to gluten, it is important to distinguish among wheat allergy, celiac disease, and NCGS. Each condition has distinct dietary and treatment implications.

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