Gluten related food sensitivity has become increasingly common over the past several decades. In a recent study, researchers examined the effect of gluten consumption among individuals with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Thirty-seven individuals were randomized to consume 1 of 3 diets (high-gluten, low-gluten, or placebo). All diets were otherwise low in FODMAPs (a type of carbohydrate found in many foods that is often poorly absorbed and can lead to gastrointestinal upset), to minimize the effects of other foods known to cause digestive distress (e.g., bloating and gas). Participants then went off the diet until all symptoms from the diet resolved and then consumed the next diet. The researchers looked at psychological (i.e., fatigue) and physiological (i.e., markers from blood tests) outcomes while participants were on each diet. Results revealed that negative symptoms were not related to the amount of gluten consumed. The findings also demonstrated a “nocebo effect” (i.e., an anticipatory effect), as all participants reported worse symptoms to the first diet (regardless of which diet it was). In sum, the results from this study highlight the need for further research examining the effects of FODMAPs on individuals with apparent non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
From our perspective, this research provides further evidence regarding the myriad factors that can be involved in gut disorders. While this study did not address the potential psychological effects of life stressors on physical symptoms, research shows that stress plays an important role in gut symptoms. Furthermore, the findings from this study suggest that if you think you have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, lowering your intake of FODMAPs may reduce your symptoms. In order to ensure that your symptoms are not from a more serious underlying cause, make sure to talk to a medical professional and get properly tested for celiac disease (and other gut related disorders) before starting a low FODMAP (and/or gluten-free) diet (see link below for more information). Working with a member of our team can help you determine if sensitivity to FODMAPs is responsible for your gut related symptoms (e.g., bloating, constipation, diarrhea, gas, nausea) and can help you to enhance your health.
Original research article can be found at Gastroenterology.
How do I know if I have been properly tested for celiac disease? What tests to ask for: Blood Testing for Celiac Disease
What are FODMAPs anyway?