What is the Difference between Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease?
Gluten intolerance is a broad term used to describe people who have issues with eating gluten. The term includes people with celiac disease as well as those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease
While they are different conditions, both involve the same treatment – the elimination of gluten from the diet. For those with celiac, however, the strict avoidance of gluten is absolutely imperative. On the other hand, those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity simply should avoid or limit gluten.
Celiac disease is when gluten causes the body’s immune system to attack the lining of the small intestines. It is an autoimmune disorder, which means that when you ingest gluten, the body’s immune system attacks itself. Specifically, the body will attack the the lining of the small intestine and destroy the villi. These are the tiny finger-like projections that protrude from the lining of the intestine.
With CD, the person must actually ingest the gluten orally into his/her system for a negative reaction to occur.
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is generally referred to as a gluten intolerance or being gluten intolerant. It results in many of the same and different symptoms as celiac disease. Their main difference is that celiac causes damage to the villi of the small intestine. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or simply gluten intolerance, however, does not cause this damage.
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity results in an adverse response or stress response of the body when gluten is in the diet. Some researchers argue that non-celiac gluten sensitivity can and often does involve an immune system response; however, unlike celiac disease, the immune system attacks the gluten rather than attacking the body itself. In its attack, the body will fight off the gluten through inflammation, which manifests as its symptom.
With both illnesses, whether celiac or non-celiac, gluten is the culprit.