Sensitive to Wheat? Gluten Might Not Be the Problem, New Study Says


November 2, 2016

Last Updated:

April 30, 2019

Image via Shutterstock

Bad news for bread lovers! A new study has found that certain proteins in wheat (hint: not gluten) may aggravate symptoms of people who suffer from inflammatory conditions, like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma. These proteins, called amylase-trypsin inhibitors (ATIs) are also linked to non-celiac gluten sensitivity, the scientists concluded.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany, determined that the ATIs found in wheat cause an immune response in the gut that can spread to and affect the kidneys, lymph nodes, spleen, and brain.

If the researchers’ conclusion is confirmed with future studies, the condition “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” might need to be renamed, the lead researcher Professor Detlef Schuppan stated, since it’s possible the ATIs are causing the sensitivity rather than gluten itself.

This is interesting news to people who do not have celiac disease but claim to feel better on a gluten-free diet—it may have been the ATIs, which would have also been eliminated through a gluten-free diet, that were the culprits all along. 

While many nutritionists argue that whole grains are an important part of a healthy diet, other experts, including Integrative Nutrition visiting teacher Dr. William Davis, author of bestselling book Wheat Belly, believe otherwise. You can watch a video of Dr. Davis’s argument here.

Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all answer, and Dr. Davis’s theory is one of more than 100 that we cover in our curriculum. At Integrative Nutrition we believe in bio-individuality—paying attention to what foods makes you feel your best for the long-term and basing your diet around those items.

Do you eat a gluten-free diet? How has it benefited your mood and overall health? Share in the comments below!

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