Celiac disease vs gluten intolerance vs gluten allergy

WORKOUTS (post race):

Core work + arms (minimal) + walking + stretching

I’ve been keeping my workouts very low key this week. Today was the first day that I attempted to run, post-race. It didn’t last long. My legs are still too tight and I could feel some not-so-fun-pulling in random places. #thatsoundedwrong


Thanks to all of you for your encouraging comments about my attempt at going gluten free for 30 days! You guys truly are the best!

Now, I’ve been contacted several times from folks who are a little confused about Celiac disease and want to know a little more. I’m not a registered dietitian, but I’ll let you know what I do know from my major (Nutritional Science with a specialization in Physiology and Metabolism).

NOTE: I’m about to get really nerdy on you again. I promise I won’t be offended if you completely skip this post.

Wheat allergies, gluten intolerance, and Celiac disease ARE different.

A little background about immune responses before I talk about the differences:
Our normal immune systems clear foreign substances (antigens), without adverse reactions. Part of this process requires antibodies, or immunoglobulins, which are produced by B cells.

Classic food allergies, have an immunoglobulin E (IgE) mediated immune reaction. IgE antibodies actually help to eliminate parasites from the body, but these are also present during classic allergic reactions to food. Thus, some food allergies can be detected by testing the blood for these antibodies (IgE, and some say IgG as well).

A gluten intolerance, does NOT involve an immune response. Exposure to gluten would cause a reaction in the GI tract, but none of this would be detectable by an antibody test.

Celiac disease is an inflammatory small intestine disorder caused by a T cell-mediated autoimmune response to gluten ingestion. Simply put, this autoimmune disease causes one’s body to essentially attack itself. For Celiac disease, this means that T cells (when exposed to gluten), produce cytokines that start an inflammatory and autoimmune reaction. During this reaction, villi (which line the small intestine and aid nutrient absorption) are flattened and become inflamed.

Sorry if none of that made sense. Feel free to contact me if you need me to re-explain something or just want to chat about it!

I also found this video. This doctor explains this topic much better than I do (but he doesn’t talk about the intolerance portion)

So back to why I am doing the 30 day gluten free experiment.

NOT because I think I have Celiac disease. I am 99% sure I do NOT have Celiac disease.

Gluten and dairy have been shown to cause inflammation in some people. I am simply doing this experiment because I think that I might have a minor intolerance.

Yes, I could get tested. BUT here’s why I decided to do this food experiment first

  1. I hate needles and I don’t think this affects my life enough to endure that. ha.
  2. I like food experiments (I have gone vegetarian in the past). I think it is a great way to walk a mile in another person’s shoes. I have several friends with Celiac disease. While I know it is difficult to constantly monitor one’s dietary intake, I think it is easier to understand if I briefly experience this process first hand.

Hope that clears things up a bit. But like I said, please feel free to contact me at !

Have you ever tried a “food experiment?”

How many times did you fall asleep trying to read this? wait, don’t answer that…

12 thoughts on “Celiac disease vs gluten intolerance vs gluten allergy

  1. Great post, I cut out wheat a few years ago and it solved so many problems. Problem is I love carby foods so have spent a lot of time hunting down the best free-from alternatives, there’s a post on my blog about it but sounds like you’re doing well on your own!

  2. I stayed awake – its pretty interesting to get the science side of it actually. {I did a level 3 in Human Biology, so this stuff, its cool!} I’ve been tempted to try and do a vegetarian diet for a month and see how it goes so I may try that in the not to distance future.

  3. Aside from cutting most processed foods out of my diet (Which cleared up my skin like whoa!) Ive never experimented with my diet.

    Keep the nerdiness coming! I love reading it, good luck, I hope this helps!

  4. I made gluten free naan last nite and it came out great! I started with this recipe.
    The dough was too wet so I added 1/2 C at a time, garbanzo bean flour til it was more of a doughy consistency. I think it took about 3/4 C. I also cooked it in coconut oil and formed the patties in my hands which were greased with coconut oil to avoid sticking. Loved how it came out and will take it tonight to our Indian cooking potluck! I’m going to try other recipes from this site. Oh and I used almond milk. Though it takes time to cook, at least you know what’s in it sans preservatives!

  5. Just so you know, that allergy test is nothing! I had one a long time ago and you don’t really feel much of anything! Definitely not like getting a bunch of shots! I promise! So if you ever do decide to get it, don’t sweat it!

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