Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS)
Last Updated: 9th February 2023 · Written by Nida Ali
Gluten is a protein found in grains and wheat-related plants like spelt, barley, and rye. The two main proteins in gluten are called Glutenin & Gliadin, which bind to each other to form a network that supports dough and allows the bread to be light and fluffy. Amino acids present in both gliadin and glutenin help the two proteins to form hydrogen bonds with each other. Gliadin is the major cause for concern and is responsible for all the adverse health effects of gluten. When you experience gluten intolerance symptoms, gliadin is the most likely culprit. Gluten is present in the following:
|bread, baked goods, and food
|rye bread, and pumpernickel
|bread, pasta, and cereals
|soups, pasta, cereals, coloring
|rye, beer, and cereals
|cakes and muffins
|sauces, dressings, and brewer’s roux
Gluten intolerance is when the body doesn’t absorb the carbohydrate as it should. The substance stays in the guts and ferments, resulting in sickness. Researchers have suggested that in people with gluten intolerance, the intestinal lining is compromised, allowing bacteria into their blood or liver and causing inflammation.
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is a condition characterized by intestinal and extra-intestinal symptoms related to ingesting gluten-containing foods without celiac disease and wheat allergy.
NCGS’s symptoms are characterized by intestinal and/or extra-intestinal symptoms following ingestion of gluten-containing grains. Those symptoms can be easily mistaken for coeliac disease (CD) due to the similarity in manifestations after ingestion of these grains. NCGS is not an allergy or an autoimmune disorder like coeliac disease. NCGS’s pathophysiology is very confusing as there is an overlap in symptoms between NCGS and other functional gastrointestinal disorders. There is not a clear definition for NCGS. Still, as sensitivity, the symptoms are due to immune-mediated reactions that do not always occur in the same way when people ingest gluten-containing grains(1). An innate immune response, the lack of serum TG2 antibodies, and the missing association to HLA-DQ2/8 alleles mainly characterize NCGS.
Even if NCGS is not an autoimmune or allergic reaction, symptoms are still causing problems for people with this sensitivity. Symptoms usually appear soon after ingesting gluten. The only way to relieve these symptoms is by eliminating these grains from the diet. The best practice in diagnosing NCGS is only by gluten withdrawal and double-blind placebo challenge protocols. The prevalence rate of NCGS is unknown but is suspected to be higher than that of celiac disease. It is estimated that 99% of people with gluten-related issues are unaware and ascribe their illness/symptoms to other health issues.
Common sensitivity symptoms
- Symptoms similar to IBS
- Abdominal Pain
- Headaches, Migraines
- Foggy mind
- Joint and muscle pain
- Leg or arm numbness
6 categories of foods to avoid on a gluten-free diet
- Gluten-containing grains like wheat, barley, spelt, Kamut, rye, and couscous.
- Condiments like soy sauce, BBQ sauce, malt vinegar, ketchup, gravy mixes, and spices blend.
- Wheat-based pasta and baked goods. There are plenty of gluten-free options widely available in supermarkets that you could try.
- Beverages like beer, pre-made coffee drinks, and drink mixes.
- Processed food
How to be tested
There is a lack of NCGS epidemiological studies in many populations because it’s only recently that the scientific community has recognized the disease and the lack of sensitivity and reproducible biomarkers for its diagnosis. Thus, if you suspect that gluten could cause your problems/symptoms, our tests could help you identify the cause of your problems. Since there are no specific tests to diagnose NCGS, you must first rule out coeliac disease, wheat allergy, or any other possible causes of your symptoms.
Here at LifeLab, we can help you test for allergies and intolerances/sensitivities. Our comprehensive test, Complete Body Test, can help you check for 38 Allergies and 79 Intolerance. So, you can rule out wheat allergy as the cause of your symptoms and test for wheat intolerance/sensitivity. If you know that allergy is not the reason, you could use our Basic Intolerance Test (40 food and beverages) or Complete intolerance (160 food and beverages) tests. Take steps now to identify a gluten intolerance and adjust your diet.
Allergies and intolerances can greatly impact your life. To manage your symptoms, it’s crucial to take a reliable allergy test to tell you which foods are to blame. Browse our full range of testing kits available at Lifelab on our website, or take our handy online test to help you choose the best test.