Gluten Allergies Don't Exist, Says Specialist Doctor, And Neither Do Hypoallergenic Pets

Gluten Allergies Don't Exist, Says Specialist Doctor

The key symptoms of a gluten allergy may be a combination of migraines, mood swings, deep fatigue and a gamut of gastro-intestinal problems from constipation to diarrhoea. Not pleasant, you'll agree.

So be prepared for another gut-twister - apparently those symptoms are all in your head, according to an allergy specialist based in the United States. And the UK's leading charity Allergy UK agrees.

“It was shocking to me, the amount of misinformation that is available to the general public,” he said. Dr Stukus is an allergist at Nationwide Children's Hospital and assistant professor of pediatrics at Ohio State University.

At the top of his list is people claiming to be allergic to bread.

"Gluten has been blamed for all that ails humanity. But there are only three disorders you can attribute to gluten on a scientific basis: coeliac disease, wheat allergies and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity.

“Then there’s this claim about ‘gluten allergy,’ which really doesn’t exist. It’s not really a recognized allergy. Wheat is a recognized allergy — but a lot of people will misinterpret that as gluten.”

Director of clinical services, Maureen Jenkins from Allergy UK agrees.

"Everything that is written here is true. Quite understandingly, it's the terminology that confuses people as allergic disease is complex. Coeliac is a very serious auto-immune disorder that seriously damages the lining of the small intestine, reducing its ability to absorb nutrients. It affects at least 1 in 100 people in the UK and should be medically diagnosed.

"A few people have a sensitivity (not allergy) to gluten in foods, causing wind and bloating, but no damage to the gut. There are some severe inflammatory joint disorders that seem to improve on a low carbohydrate diet. This is not allergy but is related to effect on a specific gut bacteria and should not be confused with allergic conditions affecting the intestinal tract."

Talking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, The Food Doctor nutritionist Alice Mackintosh says while it is rare to be 'allergic' to gluten, it isn't as simple as that. "Allergies and intolerance are an incredibly complex area and simply self-diagnosing one is a rather misguided way of managing the problem," she says.

"You tend to know about it if you have a full blown allergy to something and it isn’t that common for allergies to suddenly develop for no reason. Gluten is no exception and unless you have coeliac disease, it is rare to actually be ‘allergic’ to gluten itself.

"The crux is that foods containing gluten such as bread, pasta and cereals etc – which are very prevalent in the western diet - often have a number of other ingredients that can cause problems for people. Wheat and yeast are the front runners and if your digestion isn’t up to scratch, symptoms can develop that may lead you to think you have a problem with these types of foods. This is a very common problem we see in clinic, and managing digestion is a far more straightforward and sustainable route to the solution. Unfortunately however, the ‘gluten-intolerant’ bandwagon is perhaps an easier one to jump on these days given the prevalence of it in the media.

"That being said, there is no doubt that people would do well not to overdo gluten in the diet namely because the processed and refined foods in which it is so often found contain little benefit to us other than being a basic form of energy. Going for healthy alternatives such as brown rice, quinoa, lentils and beans that are naturally gluten free and nutrient dense is a better way of avoiding gluten and getting more variety in the diet."


Coeliac's disease, is not just an allergy to gluten, it's what gluten does to the immune system.

  • Coeliac disease is a lifelong autoimmune disease caused by intolerance to gluten
  • 1 in 100 people have the condition
  • Symptoms include bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, wind, constipation, tiredness, headaches, sudden weight loss, hair loss, anaemia and osteoporosis
  • Once diagnosed, it is treated by following a gluten-free diet for life
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis is the skin manisfestation of coeliac disease.

Source:Coeliac UK

Dr Stukus, whose work is being presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) has also said that we should disabuse ourselves of the notion that pets can be hypoallergenic.

"Allergens are released in saliva, sebaceous glands and perianal glands," the Daily Mail reported him as saying. "It's not the fur people are allergic to. It is true that some breeds are more bothersome for allergy sufferers than others’ – which is why some people are fine around some breeds and not others."