Allied Health Senior Research Projects

Document Type

Senior Research Project (Restricted)

Presentation Date

Spring 4-7-2020


Gluten, diet


One can scarcely go to the grocery store now without seeing signs for the gluten free section. The sudden rise of this type of diet raises many concerns as to why one might avoid gluten. A gluten free diet (GFD) is the main line treatment for Celiac disease, but nowadays anyone seems to be following a GFD for numerous motivations. This clinical research study investigates motivations such as weight loss, health benefits, increased energy, and overall “well-being” motivations for a GFD. So is a GFD beneficial for improving gastrointestinal and metabolic health? In regards to the most popular motivations, all four are either contradicted or not supported by any studies found . With the steep incline of GFD adherers came the Non-celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) population. This population claims to suffer from celiac-like symptoms upon gluten consumption, but test negative for Celiac disease. As of now, there is no strategic or standard protocol for this diagnosis. Two international double-blind washout studies were done to test the prevalence of the symptoms in NCGS patients upon the induction of gluten. In both, the relapse of symptoms was insignificant compared to those with no relapse. Further studies were evaluated regarding if there are alternative causes to the symptoms experienced. In the NCGS population, investigations were done to compare the effects of FODMAPS and gluten on NCGS patients. In this study, the highest ranking of symptoms were among the FODMAP groups. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is another clinical condition that is also treated with a GFD. A double blind study done on these two populations together with gluten protein induction. In both populations, no symptoms were produced, pointing to other sources being the culprit of symptoms. A third study was reviewed regarding the induction of gluten on solely NCGS patients on the serological level. No retaliation in the mucosa was shown suggesting towards yet a different cause. All of these point to the need for further investigation. With these negative results, it is evident that a GFD may not be advantageous. The need for further investigation is due to the adverse health effects that have been found in those who have adhered to a GFD long term. This is in regards to gut microbiota composition and nutrient uptake. Those who had followed a strict GFD for an extended period of time showed low nutrient uptake, as well as higher sugar consumption and numerous deficiencies. In addition, studies on healthy individuals who adhered to a GFD for a short time span instantly showed reduced levels of good gut microbiota, which provides an explanation for low nutrient uptake. With this research being at our fingertips, further research as well as education needs to be given to the public. In regards to FODMAPS, more studies need to be pursued in this being a possible treatment for IBS and NCGS patients. The public, who are blindly following a GFD, need to be educated about the possible health risks and consequences. Overall, further clarification and investigation is required to protect our public’s health.


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