Coeliac versus gluten intolerance


We had some letters about our article on gluten intolerance checks.

One reader wrote in to say that the website for buying one of these tests said that it couldn’t be bought in France.  We tried the links and they do seem to work, but if other readers have difficulties, please let us know.

Another reader said:

I have just read the article about the at-home gluten intolerance test (originally from Connexion I gather).  I felt compelled to write as I think that the content is really misleading to Anglophones. It suggests that gluten intolerance is the same thing as Coeliac disease, which, according to Coeliac UK and the NHS (see more below), is absolutely not the case.   

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease not a food intolerance. With Coeliac disease, the body’s immune system attacks itself when gluten is eaten (gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye – with oats often effected because of cross contamination during processing). Coeliac disease causes damage to the lining of the gut and means that the body cannot properly absorb nutrients from food.

Gluten intolerance, (also known as non-coeliac gluten sensitivity) is when symptoms similar to coeliac disease are experienced, but no antibodies are produced and there does not appear to be damage to the gut lining.

Third, and often confused with gluten intolerance, is wheat allergy, which is a reaction to proteins found in wheat. This sometimes life-threatening allergy is triggered by the immune system and usually occurs within seconds or minutes of eating.

Coeliac and wheat allergy are both As far as I’m aware, there is no test available for ‘gluten Intolerance’ (see This NHS page says specifically: “A number of companies produce food intolerance tests, but these tests are not based on scientific evidence and are not recommended by the British Dietary Association (BDA).”

For more info, see

[Thanks for pointing out the differences, Ed]