Your 'Gluten Intolerance' May Actually Be From Something Else In Wheat


Oh gluten, the least trendy protein of our time. As gluten-free has transcended science and exploded into diet fad, scientists increasingly suspect that gluten intolerance -- apart from actual celiac disease -- doesn't exist at all. The true culprit could be a group of carbohydrates, including one in wheat called fructan.

A new story from NPR's Eliza Barclay does an impressive job of summarizing the recent history of gluten research, which you can be forgiven for finding confusing. In fact, Peter Gibson, the very professor behind the first study with major evidence of non-celiac gluten intolerance, published a paper in 2013 that debunked his earlier study. That's right, the guy who first came up with gluten intolerance has reversed course.

But where are these "gluten intolerance" symptoms -- pain, nausea, bloating -- coming from if not gluten? Gibson's 2013 study also put patients on a diet low in FODMAPs, or a group of carbohydrates called fermentable oligo-di-monosaccharides and polyols. Gluten-free diets didn't help these patients, but a low FODMAP diet did.

Now FODMAPs is a real mouthful, so here's what the group of carbohydrates include. In wheat, the predominant FODMAP is fructan, but it's found in other foods, too. "FODMAPs include fructose (found in some fruit), lactose (found in some dairy products) and galactans (found in some legumes)," writes to Barclay.

Gluten sensitivity may not have to do with gluten, but it may not totally be a nocebo affect either. "FODMAP-free" though, doesn't really roll off the tongue. [NPR]

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    Spelt wheat does not contain fructan, so you can still get your bread fix if you're on a low FODMAP diet.

      That's good news. Actually, I was avoiding spelt bread for no reason. Thankyou sir.

      I followed up on your tip and found this. Question 5, cover this point from the same team at Monash who did the original research.

      There must be more to this FODMAP story. Wheat really reacts badly for me, while bread only has a small makeup of FODMAPs compared to garlic or onion or others that are supposed to be the most reactive.

    Yeah I mentioned this on the other article about the non-existence of gluten sensitivity.
    It is why people can go off gluten and feel better. So, people talking down to others who say they are "gluten intolerant" really need to do their research. Although the existence of gluten intolerance other then coeliac disease may be debatable the fact is people could actually feel better when they cut gluten out for other reasons.
    My doctor suggested that I go on a low / non FODMAP diet to deal with my stomach issues. And I have to say at it's most strict it is a PITA. However, it does seem to be making a difference.
    Trying to balance that with hitting my macro's for working out though is proving interesting.

      Oh I'll keep on talking down those who say they're gluten intolerant, because the science is pointing to that being silly.
      The FODMAP findings are interesting, I hope it turns out to be real.

    You can counter the lactose intolerance with enzyme pills, and (from what I've been told) the fructose intolerance by balancing with at least as much glucose. As far as I know eggs are basically safe FODMAP-wise.

    I have a brother who is coeliac and also somewhat FODMAP intolerant. However, lately he's eased up a little on the FODMAP restrictions - he says in low doses they help loosen up his gut a little.

    Being coeliac, he really HAS to avoid gluten however, in any dose whatsoever.

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