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Anecdotally, many people find that removing gluten-containing foods from their diet improves their IBS symptoms. But does this mean gluten can cause IBS?
Multiple clinical studies have failed to confirm any gluten-specific side effects on people with IBS (or self-reported NCGS – non-coeliac gluten sensitivity).
Why could this be?
All humans (healthy and unhealthy) don’t absorb fructans in the small intestine, which means they make their way down to the large intestine where they are fermented by our gut bacteria.
While smaller doses of fructans are generally well tolerated, larger amounts can cause bloating, excess gas and abdominal pain. In people with IBS, these symptoms are experienced at lower doses.
Fructans are a FODMAP which just so happens to be present in many gluten-containing foods. So, when you remove gluten from your diet, you are also reducing your intake of fructans by-proxy.
This is why, during the elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet, you can eat many ‘gluten-free’ products. But really, this is because there is currently no market for labelling foods as ‘fructan-free’…
Did you know, that there are FODMAP-safe servings of some fructan/gluten-containing products, like:
- White wheat bread (1 slice)
- Wheat pasta (1/2 cup / 74g, cooked)
- 100% sourdough spelt bread (2 slices)
Traces of wheat, for example like that found in soy sauce, are also suitable on a Low FODMAP Diet.
Here’s the bottom line…
Cutting gluten out of your diet puts you at risk of nutritional deficiencies, so you might not be able to get enough nutrients such as:
- B vitamins
Also, wheat is a prebiotic fibre which is good for your gut! It increases populations of beneficial bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli.
There is no good evidence that gluten causes IBS
So, why would you want to go gluten-free if you don’t truly need to?