Coeliac disease is a disorder that makes people react really, really badly to gluten proteins in wheat, but is in fact actually incredibly rare with only about 1 per cent of people suffering from it.
So why all this hoopla around gluten and the increasing trend of people saying that wheat based products like pasta and pizza make them feel sick?
Well, new evidence suggests it may be the ‘fructan’ molecules, not the gluten, causing the stomach upsets.
The study involved 59 non-coeliac adults with gut-sensitivities, who were all on gluten-free diets and who identified as gluten-sensitive to eat three types of cereal bars. One bar contained gluten, one fructan and the other neither fructan nor gluten.
The participants ate the gluten containing bar once a day for a week, then waited a couple of weeks until they did the same with the fructan containing bar and then repeated this for the bar containing neither fructan nor gluten.
The bars all looked and tasted exactly the same, so the participants didn’t know what it was they were eating.
Interestingly, Muir and Gibson found that it was the fructan bar that triggered 15 per cent bloating and 13 per cent more gut problems overall than the other two bars.
Those percentages may not seem like much, except the gluten containing bar had absolutely no effect on any participant.
Fructans are found in wheat, barley and rye, but they are also found in onions, garlic, chickpeas, cabbage, and artichokes.
It seems that if you are gluten-sensitive, it’s probably not the gluten at all. Whilst cutting out wheat eliminates a lot of fructan from your diet, you may still find yourself bloating or having an irritable gut through other foods which contain fructan.
Katie Ellard, a gastroenterologist at Mater Hospital in Sydney, told the New Scientist that many clinicians are now prescribing low-FODMAP diets to people with stomach troubles.
The FODMAP diet is usually for people with irritable bowel syndrome, and it cuts out the food groups which contain fructans, along with some other nutrients.
So, if you think you have a gluten sensitivity or you have some gut issues, talk to your doctor or accredited practising dietician about giving FODMAP a go and you may be able to eat gluten after all.
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