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Study Finds People with Gluten Sensitivity have not been Properly Tested

Update Date: May 08, 2014 10:54 AM EDT

A gluten-free diet is prescribed to people with celiac disease, which is a condition in which the body is sensitive to gluten. For these people, consuming gluten can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort. Due to a recent surge in the popularity of a gluten free diet spearheaded by celebrities, more and more people have decided to jump on this trend, believing that they might have non-celiac gluten sensitivity. However, according to a new study, researchers found that many people who claim to be sensitive to gluten never had the proper tests to confirm it.

In this study conducted at the Eastern Health Clinical School of Monash University and Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, the team, headed by Jessica R. Biesiekierski, interviewed 147 participants. The participants were in their 40s and mostly women. They all believed that they had some kind of gluten sensitivity. 58 percent of them had a strict, gluten free diet. Roughly 25 percent of the participants continued to have symptoms despite eating a gluten-free diet.

When the researchers tested the participants, they found that 72 percent of them did not have symptoms that would have diagnosed them with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. 44 percent of the participants had decided to adopt a gluten free diet on their own. 21 percent were persuaded to go on a gluten free diet by an alternative health professional. The rest of them were recommended to follow a gluten free diet by their dietitians or primary care practitioners.

The researchers stated that even though cutting out gluten does not harm the body, people who are misdiagnosing themselves with a gluten sensitivity are less likely to seek care to determine what they are actually suffering from. This could lead to years of discomfort that will not be alleviated by removing gluten from one's diet.

"They start to Google their condition and they come across this idea that they may have this gluten sensitivity," Dr. Alessio Fasano, director of the Center for Celiac Research at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children in Boston, said according to FOX News. "Nonetheless because after months, if not years, of no answer for the issues of why they are having these symptoms [patients] decide to go on a gluten-free diet because they have nothing to lose."

The findings were published in the Nutrition in Clinical Practice.

On a more comedic note, late night talk show host and TV personality, Jimmy Kimmel took to the streets to find out what people know about gluten. The answer? A lot of people have no idea what gluten is.

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