When we published our book “The Gluten Effect” three years ago, we coined the word ‘gluten sensitivity’ to mean an intolerance to gluten that didn’t fall within the confines of a wheat allergy or celiac disease. We were convinced this condition existed, despite very little to no agreement by the scientific community at the time, based on the results and improved health of our patients.
Today there is officially no doubt that gluten sensitivity exists and affects a great number of people – likely 10+ times those affected by celiac disease.
Where the conundrum lies now is that there is still considered to be no ‘official’ lab test to diagnose gluten sensitivity. Instead, based on a recent report published in BioMed Central, it is more of a process of elimination whereby a wheat allergy and celiac disease are ruled out, but the individual clearly feels better on a gluten-free diet and worse when they consume gluten.
However in the article mentioned above, there was mention of a blood test called an AGA or anti-gliadin antibody test. This is a test that measures the immune system’s reaction to ingested gluten. The paper stated that there was a possibility that the AGA test could be used as a marker for diagnosing gluten sensitivity.
To corroborate that, I came across another study from the University of Bologna in Italy whereby individuals with celiac disease where compared to those with gluten sensitivity and it was found that while those with gluten sensitivity tested negative for all celiac blood tests, over half of them tested positive for AGA.
These researchers stated that AGA could be valuable for those suspected of having gluten sensitivity when celiac disease had been ruled out.
I agree. I find the AGA test to be helpful when testing for gluten sensitivity. However, the AGA test is looking at a small portion of the gluten protein (a very large structure) and there are considered to be hundreds of portions responsible for creating an intolerance to gluten in a patient. Therefore, by looking at only one section, it only makes sense that we would miss diagnosing many people. And sure enough that is the case. Not only do we only diagnose 3-5% of the US population who suffer from celiac disease, when it comes to gluten sensitivity it is likely far worse than that.
For that reason, I use a more comprehensive lab test that looks at a wide variety of potentially problematic proteins and enzymes – 12 in total.
It is quite possible, and I am speculating, that the 50% of patients who didn’t test positive for AGA in the above study, would have tested positive for one of the 11 other components in the above mentioned test. Hopefully future studies will look at this.
More research needs to occur in this area, no argument. But while that is occurring, I don’t want anyone to continue suffering or allow their health to worsen because no one will definitely give them a diagnosis. Too often, patients who test negative for celiac disease are told that they are fine to consume gluten when nothing could be farther from the truth!
If you suspect gluten sensitivity might be causing you to have digestive, emotional, neurological, hormonal or weight issues, please contact me. I am here to help and would be delighted to assist you. Gluten intolerance is a known cause of over 300 diseases and conditions, so it may very well be the culprit affecting your health.
By the way, the lab test mentioned above is called an ‘Array 3’ and it is performed by Cyrex Labs. I have no personal connection to the lab and am simply one of their customers.
I hope you found this information helpful and if you’d like a free health analysis, please call 408-733-0400.
To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”Author of the eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What you don’t know may be killing you!”