Study Questions Gluten Sensitivity & Explains The Real Benefits of Gluten-Free

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Eating less gluten is a good idea for many people, but probably not because of gluten itself, according to a new study.

Gluten sensitivity (not celiac disease, which definitely makes one sensitive to gluten) has been called into question by a recent study, but the study also finds a biological reason that gluten-reduced or gluten-free diets do in fact make people feel better. The findings, by Biesiekierski, et. al., published in the May 2013 issue of Gastroenterology (meaning many of you have likely already seen the report in your own copy), identified a different culprit: FODMAPs. FODMAPs are a set of carbohydrates and monosaccharides which include fructose, fructans and galactans. These compounds are found in a range of foods, some of which are also main sources of gluten, namely wheat and rye, but also traditional good guys, including avocado, cauliflower and mushrooms.

In the study, researchers found 37 adults who did not have celiac, but did report that gluten caused them to have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The subjects were placed randomly into high-gluten, low-gluten or control diets and evaluated on a host of biological measures and by fatigue. After one week, 22 subjects were moved to a different diet for three days.

The results: only 3 out of 37 subjects showed gluten specific results. However, all 37 enjoyed reduced IBS on a low FODMAP diet. More research needs to be done to confirm these results, but it seems that people who report improved health from a low-gluten or gluten-free diet may be getting those benefits by cutting down on FODMAPs. Get ready for no-FODMAP recipes and a FODMAP-free section of Whole Foods.

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