In the United States, 30 to 40 percent of the population has some form of sensitivity to gluten.

If you react badly to gluten but don't test positive for celiac disease, there are two possibilities:

You might actually have celiac disease, but your testing was done improperly or was insufficient to yield conclusive results. In my personal opinion — shared by a lot of other health experts — celiac disease is way underdiagnosed and is often simply misdiagnosed.

You might not have the genes that cause celiac disease, but still be highly sensitive to gluten.

 In his book Healthier Without Wheat: A New Understanding of Wheat Allergies, Celiac Disease, and Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance, Dr. Stephen Wangen, a naturopathic doctor and specialist in food allergies and digestive disorders, has shown that nearly one-third of people who did not have the genetic marker for celiac nonetheless had antigluten antibodies in their stool. These antibodies create the same kinds of problems as the celiac response: a highly reactive immune system that goes after gluten and does a lot of collateral damage to the small intestine at the same time. Interestingly, these antibodies decrease when gluten is removed from the diet.

Unfortunately, much of the traditional medical community still doesn't recognize gluten sensitivity. In most doctors' minds, if it's not outright celiac, it doesn't exist.

In fact, you might not test positive, either for celiac or for any gluten sensitivity. Yet, you yank the gluten and feel a lot better. So, in my opinion, that's the best test. If you are eating gluten and feeling bad, what is going on? Something that gluten is doing is causing some kind of inflammatory response in your body. This could be creating other problems as well.

What's the moral of the story? Avoid gluten, at least for the 21 days of Cycle 1. In Cycle 2, we'll find out whether you can tolerate it.

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