Though only about one-percent of the population is actually believed to have celiac disease, the gluten-free lifestyle is more popular than ever. Right now, the gluten-free industry is valued at over a billion dollars in the U.S. And, thanks to new research legitimizing gluten-sensitivity as a real, medical condition (maybe), it only going to get bigger.
However: In his new book, Gluten Attack: Is Gluten Waging War on Our Health?, David Sanders, a gastroenterologist at the University of Sheffield’s Institute of Gluten-Related Disorders claims that people who experience bloating and other intestinal issues after eating gluten could have a medical condition he calls “celiac lite.”
“In patients with celiac disease, gluten stimulates immune system cells known as T-cells, in turn stimulating attack cells which damage the finger-like projections that line the small bowel, causing them to flatten (known as villi, these help absorb nutrients from food),” Sanders writes in a section of his book published by the Daily Mail. “The immune cells also create antibodies that 'remember' how to attack gluten in the future. This is known as our adaptive immune system—and it's how the body defends against diseases. Patients with gluten sensitivity do not have this response to eating gluten; instead, studies have shown they experience a reaction via a different part of the immune system called the innate immune system. This, if you like, is a more basic immune response—typically against bacteria—and there is no stored memory after the event. But it does cause inflammation, which may explain symptoms in gluten sensitive people.”