Why your negative gluten test may have been wrong

gluten sensitivity testing

If you tested for whether gluten might be behind your chronic health issues but a blood test came back negative, are you wondering, “Now what?”

Although it’s possible gluten may not be a problem for you, there’s a high probability that test result was inaccurate. Conventional testing for gluten sensitivity misses many important markers and can give you a false negative result. As a result, you may be told gluten is not an issue when in fact it is provoking your autoimmune disease or chronic health condition. Gluten has been linked in the literature to 55 diseases so far, most of them autoimmune.

Fortunately, newer testing has been developed by Cyrex Labs to catch the cases of gluten sensitivity that conventional testing misses.

Why standard blood tests often fail at diagnosing gluten sensitivity

Standard blood tests for gluten sensitivity have a less than 30 percent accuracy rate. Gluten has to have significantly destroyed the gut wall for blood testing to be effective. In many people, gluten damages other tissues in the body, such as neurological tissue.

Current tests only screen for one component of wheat, alpha gliadin. Yet people can react to at least 12 different portions of the wheat protein.

In some people, other foods such as dairy can trigger a gluten-like immune response because the body sees them as one in the same. This is called cross-reactivity. Conventional doctor’s offices do not screen for this.

Standard testing only looks at the response of one set of immune cells. If those cells are depressed due to immune exhaustion, results could be inaccurate. More thorough testing compensates for immune depression by testing a variety of immune cells.

Gluten damages more than the gut

Standard testing also only looks at whether gluten sensitivity is destroying gut tissue. However, in many people, gluten does not cause an immune reaction in the digestive tract to the same degree it does in the brain or in the skin. In fact, most people are affected neurologically by a gluten intolerance. Fortunately, we now have ways to screen for that.

Which part of wheat do you react to?

Gluten sensitivity isn’t as cut-and-dry as once thought. (Also, the word “gluten” is technically incorrect as “gliadin” is the portion of wheat that triggers an immune response.)

Wheat is made up of more than 100 different components that can cause a reaction, not just the alpha gliadin component most tests use.

Other parts of wheat that can cause gluten sensitivity include different forms of gliadin besides alpha gliadin, the portion of wheat found in whole wheat, the sticky portion of gluten, wheat that has been altered through industrial processing, and wheat opioids — substances produced during the digestion of wheat that have addictive properties similar to opiates. People with a wheat opioid sensitivity may go through severe withdrawals on a gluten-free diet.

In addition to comprehensive gluten sensitivity testing, Cyrex also tests for the following: foods that cross react with gluten, damage that gluten can cause to your gut and your brain, and autoimmune reactions (when your immune system attacks and destroys body tissue) that may have gone undiagnosed yet cause chronic symptoms. For more information about advanced immune testing, contact my office.

Gluten can cause depression, anxiety, brain fog and other brain disorders

gluten depression anxiety brain fog

Do you suffer from depression, anxiety disorders, brain fog, memory loss, or other brain-based issues? While conventional medicine turns to drug treatments, recent research points to poor gut health as the root of mental illness. This is because inflammation in the gut triggers inflammation throughout the body, including in the brain, bringing on depression, anxiety, brain fog, memory loss and other neurological symptoms. Although many factors affect gut health—and hence brain health—one of the more profound is a sensitivity to gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and other wheat-like grains. In fact, a gluten sensitivity has been found to affect brain and nerve tissue more than any other tissue in the body.

Gluten sensitivity once was thought to be limited to celiac disease, an autoimmune response to gluten that damages the digestive tract and is linked to depression. However, newer research has confirmed the validity of non-celiac gluten sensitivity, an immune response to gluten that causes many symptoms, including digestive problems, skin rashes, joint pain, and neurological and psychiatric diseases. Recent research shows gluten degenerates brain and nervous tissue in a significant portion of those with gluten sensitivity.

How Does Gluten Affect Mental Health?

Gluten can affect mental health in a variety of ways.

For instance, gluten sensitivity can lead to depression, anxiety, brain fog and other brain symptoms by irritating the lining of the small intestine, resulting in “leaky gut,” a condition in which the intestinal wall becomes overly porous. This allows undigested food, toxins and bacteria into the bloodstream where they trigger inflammation throughout the body and brain. Also, certain harmful bacteria that travel through a leaky gut into the bloodstream release toxic molecules (lipopolysaccharides) that are linked to depression and various psychiatric disorders.

Another way gluten can trigger depression is through gluten cross-reactivity. Because gluten is similar in structure to brain tissue, when the immune system attacks gluten in the blood, it can confuse brain tissue with gluten and accidentally attack brain and nerve tissue as well.

Gluten is also known to disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria in the digestive tract. There is a relationship between gut bacteria and the brain, and an imbalance in gut bacteria has been linked with psychiatric disorders.

The gut damage caused by a gluten sensitivity can also prevent the absorption of nutrients essential for brain health, especially zinc, tryptophan, and B vitamins. These nutrients are critical for the synthesis of brain chemicals that prevent depression, anxiety and other brain-based disorders.

What Steps Can You Take?

If you are experiencing depression, anxiety, brain fog, memory loss, or other unresolved brain-based issues, testing for gluten sensitivity can be a valuable tool in knowing how best to manage it. Addressing leaky gut is also paramount.

Ask my office for more information on leaky gut and the connection between gluten and depression, anxiety, brain fog, memory loss, and other brain-based disorders.