Wheat and gluten can hurt you even if you don’t realize it and don’t test positive for celiac….
It’s interesting that Celiac can strike at any time, and that even if you don’t test positive, you could still have an allergy….and that your symptoms could be mild or severe…and that you may never know the damage gluten is - or is not causing you.
Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that can appear at any age and is caused by an intolerance to gluten.
Cooper tested negative for celiac disease, but the doctor advised her to try a gluten-free diet anyway.
“Within a week of eliminating [gluten], I started to feel markedly better,” says Cooper, now 36, from Melbourne, Australia. “It wasn’t a gradual feeling better; it was almost a crossing-the-street kind of thing.”
In fact, experts now believe that celiac disease represents just one extreme of a broad spectrum of gluten intolerance that includes millions of people like Cooper with less severe — but nevertheless problematic — reactions to the protein.
While celiac disease affects about 1 percent of the U.S. population, experts estimate that as many as 10 percent have a related and poorly understood condition known as non-celiac gluten intolerance (NCGI), or gluten sensitivity.
“Gluten is fairly indigestable in all people,” Leffler says. “There’s probably some kind of gluten intolerance in all of us.”
Experts now think of gluten intolerance as a spectrum of conditions, with celiac disease on one end and, on the other, what’s been called a “no man’s land” of gluten-related gastrointestinal problems that may or may not overlap.
Celiac patients can also develop headaches, tingling, fatigue, muscle pain, skin rashes, joint pain, and other symptoms, because the autoimmune attack at the root of the disease gradually erodes the wall of the intestine, leading to poor absorption of iron, folate, and other nutrients that affect everything from energy to brain function.
People with gluten sensitivity sometimes experience these far-reaching symptoms as well, though it’s less clear why.