Are You Gluten Sensitive and Don’t Know It?

are you gluten sensitive and don't know it, woman in pain image

Could you be gluten-sensitive or Celiac and not know it? Have you noticed that gluten-free foods and menus are everywhere these days? As someone who was diagnosed with Celiac Disease myself, I am very grateful for that. But I also hear a lot of people comment “Gluten-Free is just a fad”, or “going gluten-free is a gimmick”. This is so NOT TRUE! Read on to learn why…

Why going “gluten-free” is not just a fad or gimick

According to a recent NY Times article, Celiac Disease and non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity and are on the rise. It’s estimated that one out of every 100 people has Celiac Disease – however, only 17% are actually diagnosed. I was diagnosed in 2000, and even then it took me about two years of doctors visit for a variety of issues before I finally got a diagnosis of Celiac.

A study by Aristo Vojdani, Ph.D., UCLA Research Neurobiologist, indicates that 30% of all Western populations have gluten sensitivity. Are you Celiac or gluten sensitive and undiagnosed? Many symptoms other than typical gastrointestinal issues are now being implemented, including chronic headaches.

The University of Chicago reports that Celiac Disease has increased in the past 50 years, and that’s not just from better diagnosis. So why are these ailments increasing, and how do you know if you are affected?

As Dr. David Perlmuter asks in the book Grain Brain, “If gluten is so bad, how have we managed to survive so long while eating it?”

The answer may surprise you…

Our ancestors didn’t consume nearly as much gluten as we do today. Today’s grains are completely different than they were even 50-100 years ago. Today, they contain much more gluten than grains of the past. Let’s face it; people love their bread, and the fluffier and chewier the better, right? So what is gluten? And how did grains get so full of gluten anyway?

What is gluten anyway?

Gluten is a glue-like protein found in grains like wheat, spelt, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). This protein can be very hard for some people to digest and break down. In fact, it’s so “glue-like” that today it’s actually used in glue for envelopes and stamps! It acts as a binder, and also makes bread and other baked goods more fluffy and chewy. So here’s a little history on gluten—and how it came to be so problematic for many people to eat.

A little gluten history lesson

In 1948 the Rockefeller Foundation mandated an increase in yields of cereal grains. As a result of this “Green Revolution”, thousands of wheat varieties were created (hybridized) by the 1960s. It’s estimated that as many as 40,000 varieties of hybridized wheat were developed in the last half of the twentieth century. And many of them with much higher gluten content than previous varieties—because people like the fluffiness and chewiness that gluten adds to bread.

Is sourdough gluten-free?

Interestingly, prior to about 100 years ago, almost all bread was fermented (think sourdough) due to a lack of refrigeration. And that fermentation process actually broke down and removed the gluten protein from bread and pancakes, etc. before they were ever eaten. So people ingested way less gluten back in the day.

Recent studies have shown that the sourdough process can in fact break down the gluten protein. Be aware, however, that most store-bought “sourdough” bread commercially available today is not really fermented bread, and may in fact have added extra gluten added to it.


No digestive issues? You could still be gluten sensitive…

Digestive issues are one of the more common symptoms of Celiac and non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. However, many other seemingly unrelated conditions have also been linked to both Celiac Disease and non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, including:

  • IBS
  • ADD / ADHD
  • Eczema and Chronic Skin Rashes
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Epilepsy, Seizures, and Turret’s Syndrome
  • Schizophrenia
  • And several cases of Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), and Cystic Fibrosis have actually turned out to be misdiagnosed Gluten Sensitivity or Celiac Disease.

Celiac Disease or non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity—how  to test

Do you have any of the symptoms listed above, with or without gastrointestinal distress? If so, I recommend being tested for Celiac and gluten sensitivity by your wellness provider.* There are several different tests for Celiac, and non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, including genetic testing and an upper GI biopsy. However, I recommend first taking the Cyrex Array 3X blood test. This is the most comprehensive gluten-sensitivity test available today. If that comes back positive for gluten sensitivity, you may also want to take the Cyrex Array 4 blood test, which tests for 24 “cross-reactive” foods that gluten-sensitive people may also have similar reactions to.

It’s worth noting that Insurance may not always pay for these tests. However, if it saves you years of pain and discomfort as your health continues to spiral downward—it may be worth getting tested even if you have to pay out of pocket. If your wellness provider can’t or won’t order these tests or others, please book a free call with me, I can help you get the functional wellness blood tests you need.

Gluten is found in more foods today than ever before

Though there are Gluten-free options everywhere these days, gluten hides everywhere. It can be found in virtually every type of processed food and in a variety of hidden forms (like stamps and envelope glue as mentioned above, as well as personal care products). So if you’re not reading labels regularly and deciphering ALL of the hidden code words where gluten lurks, you may be ingesting much more gluten than you realize.

Here are some hidden sources of gluten. Be sure to check out my gluten-free recipes page too.

If you have been diagnosed with Celiac or non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, and need help adjusting your diet and living a gluten-free life, book a free call with me, I’d love to help you with gluten-free health coaching. I’ve been living gluten-free since 2000 and would love to help you make the transition. Also, if you suspect you’re gluten-intolerant and need help getting tested, please reach out as well.

*If you think you have a gluten intolerance, DO NOT stop eating gluten until after you have been tested. Being off of gluten may alter your test results.


  1. Bob Giswold on October 21, 2014 at 6:00 am

    HI Heidi
    I looked into the cyrex3 test and it seemed like a major hurdle. I could not find the cost of it either. Have you had it? Do you know anyone who has?
    Thanks for your effort with Happy Well Life…
    Love Bob

    • Heidi on October 27, 2014 at 12:41 am

      Hi Dr. Bob, great question, thanks for your post. Yes, I’ve had some of the Cyrex tests done myself, and with my health coaching credentials, I’m now able to order them for my clients. Let’s chat.

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