Is Gluten the Only Culprit for Non-Celiac Gluten/Wheat Sensitivity?

Nutrients. 2020 Dec 10;12(12):3785. doi: 10.3390/nu12123785.


The gluten-free diet (GFD) has gained increasing popularity in recent years, supported by marketing campaigns, media messages and social networks. Nevertheless, real knowledge of gluten and GF-related implications for health is still poor among the general population. The GFD has also been suggested for non-celiac gluten/wheat sensitivity (NCG/WS), a clinical entity characterized by intestinal and extraintestinal symptoms induced by gluten ingestion in the absence of celiac disease (CD) or wheat allergy (WA). NCG/WS should be regarded as an "umbrella term" including a variety of different conditions where gluten is likely not the only factor responsible for triggering symptoms. Other compounds aside from gluten may be involved in the pathogenesis of NCG/WS. These include fructans, which are part of fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAPs), amylase trypsin inhibitors (ATIs), wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) and glyphosate. The GFD might be an appropriate dietary approach for patients with self-reported gluten/wheat-dependent symptoms. A low-FODMAP diet (LFD) should be the first dietary option for patients referring symptoms more related to FODMAPs than gluten/wheat and the second-line treatment for those with self-reported gluten/wheat-related symptoms not responding to the GFD. A personalized approach, regular follow-up and the help of a skilled dietician are mandatory.

Keywords: celiac disease; gluten; gluten-free diet; irritable bowel syndrome; low FODMAP diet; non-celiac gluten/wheat sensitivity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amylases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Celiac Disease / diet therapy*
  • Celiac Disease / etiology
  • Diet / adverse effects*
  • Diet, Carbohydrate-Restricted / methods*
  • Diet, Gluten-Free / methods*
  • Disaccharides
  • Fermentation
  • Fructans / adverse effects
  • Glutens / adverse effects
  • Glycine / adverse effects
  • Glycine / analogs & derivatives
  • Glyphosate
  • Humans
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / diet therapy*
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / etiology
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Polymers
  • Trypsin Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Wheat Germ Agglutinins / adverse effects


  • Disaccharides
  • Fructans
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Polymers
  • Trypsin Inhibitors
  • Wheat Germ Agglutinins
  • polyol
  • Glutens
  • Amylases
  • Glycine