Unless you have coeliac disease, your ‘intolerance’ to ‘gluten’ probably has nothing to do with gluten at all.
There have been many studies pointing towards ‘gluten sensitivity’ not being a real thing, but if you’re one of those people who don’t have coeliac disease but still can’t seem to stomach gluten, there may be another wheat component to blame.
A new study published in the journal Gastroenterology, shows that what people think is sensitivity to gluten probably has nothing to do with gluten at all. Instead the real culprit is the carbohydrate fructan, which is found in grains like what, rye and barley.
But if you’re opting for gluten-free foods to avoid having gut problems, we also have to warn you that gluten-free foods like agave, artichokes, asparagus, garlic, leeks and onion contain the nasty fructan.
Researchers from the University of Oslo in Norway and Monash University in Australia, studied 59 non-coeliacs who ate a gluten-free diet and asked them to eat three different types of cereal bars: one containing gluten, one containing fructan and one with neither. They were split into three groups, with each person eating one bar a day for a week, before having a week’s break and then eating the next bar.
After six weeks, the results found that 24 people experienced the most discomfort from the fructan bar, 22 people experienced the most discomfort from the placebo, and 13 people experience the most discomfort from the gluten bar.
The researchers concluded that opting for foods that are low in fructans but still contain gluten, might help ease troubled stomachs, while also helping to lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Foods that contain fructan
While it may be difficult to maintain a diet completely free from fructan, being mindful of lowering your intake of these foods might be the answer to helping your digestion sensitivity.
- Pomegranate (more than 38g)
- Ripe banana
- Most dried fruits
- Chicory root
- Globe and Jerusalem artichoke
- Beetroot (more than 2 slices)
- Savoy cabbage (more than ½ cup)
- Bulb of a leek
- Mange tout (more than 5 pods)
- Onion (white, shallots, Spanish)
- Spring onion bulb
- Snow peas (more than 5 pods)
- Pumpernickel bread
Is a gluten-free diet healthy, or really just a fad? WSJ investigates.