Living with gluten intolerance

What is gluten intolerance?

It is a response to gluten, a type of protein found in food. A person may get sick after eating gluten making them feel tired, nauseous or bloated. Another name for gluten intolerance is non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) [1].

What is gluten?

Gluten is a type of protein found in barley, wheat, rye and other grains. It’s in a lot of common foods and drinks, including cereal, pasta and beer. Gluten can also be in things like vitamins, cosmetics and even certain medication s2].

Is gluten intolerance the same as coeliac disease?

Gluten intolerance and celiac disease are different. People with celiac disease have an autoimmune response to gluten. This means their bodies try to fight against gluten as if it were a virus. This reaction causes inflammation and damage to their digestive tracts. Celiac disease is the result of an abnormal gene. People with celiac disease also have high levels of certain antibodies in their blood, which are substances that fight gluten. Gluten sensitivity and celiac disease cause a lot of the same symptoms. But people with gluten sensitivity don’t have an abnormal gene or antibodies in their blood [3].

Is gluten intolerance a food allergy?

An intolerance and a food allergy aren’t the same. A food allergy, such as a wheat allergy, is when your immune system overreacts after you eat a certain food. An allergy might cause itching, vomiting or shortness of breath. Gluten intolerance isn’t an allergy to gluten.

What are the symptoms of gluten intolerance?

People may experience the following symptoms for several hours or days after they consume gluten [2]:
  • 1. Abdominal pain.
  • 2. Anemia.
  • 3. Anxiety.
  • 4. Bloating or gas.
  • 5. Brain fog, or trouble concentrating.
  • 6. Depression.
  • 7. Diarrhea or constipation.
  • 8. Fatigue.
  • 9. Headache.
  • 10. Joint pain.
  • 11. Nausea and vomiting.
  • 12. Skin rash.
Many people with gluten intolerance also have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

How is gluten intolerance treated?

There’s no cure for gluten intolerance. But most people find relief from symptoms by following a gluten-free diet. You should work with your healthcare provider and a dietitian to plan your diet. You can also ask your healthcare provider about adding probiotics to your diet. Probiotics help increase the good bacteria in your gut. They may reduce symptoms of bloating, gas or constipation. Some research suggests that taking certain enzymes may help you digest gluten. But experts are still investigating this treatment. Talk to your healthcare provider before taking any enzymes [2].

Related content

To know more about this topic, check out episode#30 on DOTIVthepodcast titled Gluten Intolerances with a Nutritional Therapist” with hosts Guni & Thasha and guest Yessica Rodriguez.


  1. Wangen, S., 2009. Healthier without wheat. Seattle, WA: Innate Health Pub., pp.55-96.
  2. Ryberg, R., 2019. The gluten-free kitchen. New York: Three Rivers Press.
  3. Green, P. and Jones, R., 2020. Celiac disease. New York: William Morrow Paperbacks, pp.26-33.
Living with gluten intolerance

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