People can react to gluten by developing celiac disease or non celiac gluten sensitivity. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks both gluten and the small intestine, leading to the damage in the small intestine that characterizes the condition. Non celiac gluten sensitivity is a non autoimmune reaction to gluten that can cause symptoms similar to or identical to those experienced by people with celiac disease; however, it does not lead to the gut damage associated with celiac disease.
Symptoms of celiac disease or gluten sensitivity run the gamut from gastrointestinal issues to anemia, bone disease, depression, fatigue, and migraines.
“Gluten- Free” Foods
The most surprising thing for many people is that virtually all foods labeled “gluten- free” aren’t completely “free” of gluten: Most adhere to the FDA’s labeling guidelines, which means they contain less than ppm gluten, but those are still levels that may cause reactions in some people.
To err on the side of caution, limit gluten- free labeled packaged foods, and pick and choose the ones you buy carefully. Look for foods that are certified by celiac organizations such as the National Celiac Association, the Gluten Intolerance Group ( which runs the Gluten- Free Certification Organization or GFCO program), and the Allergen Control Group/ Canadian Celiac Association.
Especially during the holidays, but also year- round, emphasize fresh vegetables, fruits, and unprocessed poultry, fish, and meat. Using as many of these naturally gluten- free ingredients as possible— by making a vegetable stuffing instead of a bread stuffing, for instance— is the most surefire way to both avoid gluten and eat a nutrient- rich diet that supports overall health.