It’s Fructan, Not Gluten, That’s Causing Stomach Problems, Says New Research

The gluten-free craze may be misguided since there's another culprit behind bloating, says new research.

 


The gluten protein may not be the real reason for why many people experience bloating after eating wheat-containing food. Instead, a new study proposes fructan as the potential culprit for the sensitivity some are exhibiting.

As much as 13% of the population have bloating after eating gluten-containing foods and seek out alternatives. But perhaps, they should be looking for fructan-free products instead, say researchers from the University of Oslo in Norway and Monash University in Australia.

What is fructan? It’s a kind of carbohydrate found in wheat but also in onions, garlic and some other vegetables. Fructan was already found to be behind symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, which is what caused the scientists to give it another look.

The study involved 59 people who were self-diagnosed with gluten intolerance. They were given muesli bars to eat for several weeks, with some having gluten, while others had fructan or neither of the ingredients. 

The scientists found that the participants only developed bloating symptoms after eating fructan-containing bars. Other bars, including those with gluten, did not cause the distress. This led the researchers to conclude that fructan, not gluten, may be behind the bowel problems. 

One big reason it’s important to figure this out - people who are on a gluten-free diet were found to have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes by other recent research.

It should be noted that what the scientists have looked at here is gluten sensitivity that’s not related to celiac disease. Patients with that illness do need to stay clear of gluten, which causes damage in the small intestine.

You can read the new study “Fructan, Rather Than Gluten, Induces Symptoms in Patients With Self-reported Non-celiac Gluten Sensitivity” here, published in the journal Gastroenterology.

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