How To Test For Gluten Intolerance And Celiac Disease

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How to test for gluten intolerance and celiac disease

I have found the single best ways to determine if you have an issue with gluten is to take it out of your diet for at least 30 day and then reintroduce it.  Please note that gluten is a very large protein and it can take months and even years to clear from your system so the longer you can eliminate it from your diet before reintroducing it, the better.

The best advice that I share with my patients is that if they feel significantly better off of gluten or feel worse when they reintroduce it, then gluten is likely a problem for them.  In order to get accurate results from this testing method you must elimination 100% of the gluten from your diet.

Another way to determine if you are gluten sensitive is to ask your doctor to order the following tests:

  • IgA anti-gliadin antibodies (these are found in about 80% of people with Celiac disease)
  • IgG anti-gliadin antibodies
  • IgA anti-endomysial antibodies
  • Tissue Transglutaminase antibodies
  • Total IgA antibodies
  • Genetic testing (HLA DQ2 and HLA DQ8)
  • Intestinal biopsy (for celiacs)

I’d like to mention that one potential problem with testing is that gluten is made up of several hundred peptides and gliadin is made up of 12 different sub-fractions.  Most modern day testing focuses on only the alpha-gliadin (one of the twelve sub-fractions) and therefore there is considerable room for error and false negative tests.  There is a new laboratory (Cyrex Lab) that has recently opened that is testing for these sub-fractions and may help to minimize false negatives.

At the end of the day, I tell my patients that your body knows better than any test.  If you feel better when you take gluten out of your diet or feel worse when you add it back in and you have a negative test result – you still have an issue with gluten and don’t eat it!

I often get a lot of comments from readers when I write about giving gluten up for 30 days to test for gluten sensitivity.  I am not referring to testing for celiac, yes the gold standard to diagnose celiac disease is still an intestinal biopsy and identifying celiac is important since it’s an autoimmune disease.  However, for those who suspect that they have gluten intolerance rather than celiac, the single best way to determine gluten sensitivity is to remove it from your diet and see how you feel without it and how you feel when you add it back in.


How to treat gluten sensitivity and celiac disease

Eliminating gluten 100% from your diet means 100%. Even trace amounts of gluten from cross-contamination, medications or supplements can be enough to cause an immune reaction in your body. The 80/20 rule; or “we don’t eat it in our house, just when we eat out” is a complete misconception. A Lancet article published in 2001 states that for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, eating gluten just once a month increased the relative risk of death by 600%.

I tell my patients that even though the outward manifestation of eating gluten may be mild bloating or headache, inside their body, their immune system is being stimulated and the effects may last for three to six months.

For many, simply removing 100% of gluten from their diet isn’t enough. The damage that has been caused to the gut lining must also be healed. Additionally, I often find that there are other infections in the gut such as parasites, Candida, bacterial overgrowth, and bacterial imbalances that need to be addressed and corrected. For some, there may be a need to go completely grain-free due to the cross reactivity of gliadin sub-fractions in non-gluten grains.

When in doubt, go without. You’re not missing any vital nutrients by not eating gluten. In fact, you may be saving your life or the life of someone you love.

 

Interested in learning more about gluten?

eCourse_Gluten

Take our Guide to Gluten eCourse! This course outlines a proven method to help you determine your own body’s reaction to gluten. Our objective is to empower you to discover how gluten affects your body and how to thrive without gluten in your diet.During the course, you will have access to a number of worksheets, shopping guides, and checklists that you can complete in the comfort of your home. The more worksheets and checklists you complete, the more helpful and effective this eCourse will be for you.The focus of this 4-hour eCourse is to provide a detailed understanding of gluten and the tools to enjoy a gluten-free lifestyle.

The Myers Way Guide to Gluten eCourse includes:

  • 4 hours of information and worksheets
  • Gluten-containing foods list
  • Signs you have a gluten sensitivity
  • How to test for gluten sensitivity
  • Gluten sensitivity risk factors
  • Symptom tracker
  • Gluten-free grocery list
  • Gluten-free travel tips

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You will learn about:

  • Gluten and its effect on the gut
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8 Responses

  1. Karen Trainor says:

    I explain gluten sensitivity to my friends like this: even ONE crouton is enough to keep my symptoms aggravated for up to 6 months. Yes, just one crouton!

  2. [...] Amy Myers, MD – How to Test for Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Disease [...]

  3. [...] as well, however, there are some inherent problems with this testing. Check out my article, “How to Test for Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease,” for more information regarding [...]

  4. […] as well, however, there are some inherent problems with this testing. Check out my article, “How to Test for Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease,” for more information regarding […]

  5. Laura says:

    Hi Dr. Amy. First, thanks for all your efforts – you are making a difference in the lives of SO many people. Second, a question regarding gluten testing. I want to have my 3 kids tested for gluten problems as a result of positive gene tests for HLA-DQ (from Entero labs). The Cyrex array 3 has appeal to me; however, Entero lab offers a stool test that measures gluten antibodies. It has been explained to me that the antibodies in the stool testing would show up prior to any results appearing in the blood. Can you explain some pros/cons of these approaches? I would also consider an elimination diet for the kids; however, I was diagnosed as gluten sensitive last month. I’ve probably had it for ten years (when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s) and just chalked up all the symptoms to being a busy mom….. so I”m not so trusting of my symptom evaluation skills. Some science would be appreciated as I guide my family to better health. Thanks again:)

    • That’s not 100% true and no one really knows. It’s a piece of the puzzle! ask Enterolabs if they test for the fecal IgA level now — they used to not. and you need to know the igA level to see if you cna respond. but really what do you need the test for? your kids are pos for the gene so either they have a sensitivity now or they will in the future — get them off gluten ASAP and save your money

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